Close to the Source Holiday Gift Guide
On the day after Thanksgiving, while walking my dogs in my neighborhood, I saw my first Christmas decorations of the year (not in a department store). I still can’t get over how quickly people launch themselves into the holidays—but I’d better not tarry too long; Chanukah begins the evening of December 12. At Edible San Diego, we want to give you a jump start as you plan your holiday gift giving strategy. Over the past couple of years, I’ve discovered a wealth of local products, shops, and food purveyors that I’ve featured in Close to the Source. Here are 10, both favorites and new finds I haven’t yet written about. I hope they’ll be inspiration for your holiday shopping flurry.
Kitchens for Good Condiments: Jam and mustard and pickles, oh my! Kitchens for Good, the hybrid nonprofit based in the Jacobs Center, launched yet another new venture over the summer: making condiments for sale to the public. You can find their wares online as a gift set: Apple of My IPA, Orange You Glad We Called It Marmalade, and Drunk Mustard. The Good Gift Set is $22. It’s also a feel-good purchase since the funds go right back into Kitchens for Good programs.
You can find the Kitchens for Good gift sets online.
Sabor Imports: Chef Sara Polczynski’s culinary import business is all about authentic Mexican products. She collaborates with Chef Susana Trilling of Seasons of My Heart in Oaxaca to sell a feast of gourmet items. There are her four mole varieties: Red, Black, Chintestle—or smoked—and Coloradito. There are the jellies—all made with Oaxacan chiles: Chile Canario, Red Chile, and Jalapeño. I have fallen in love with the flaky sea salt. And, of, the chocolate! This is handmade Oaxacan chocolate, a blend of cacao beans with Mexican cinnamon and turbinado sugar. Add it to the mole, make hot chocolate, bake with it, or snack on it. Me? I chop it up as finely as I can and add it to my cappuccino.
You can find the products on the Sabor Imports site, as well as Specialty Produce, Catalina Offshore Products, and Seaside Market.
Domaine Santé: If you or your gift recipient is looking for a new and different sweetener, Domaine Santé claims to be a new, healthier sugar replacement for both kitchen and bar. Founded by Jeff Josenhaus, the Grant Hotel’s longtime mixologist and certified sommelier, and his wife Emily, a nutritionist, Domaine Santé is a line of California grape nectars made from wine grapes. The three flavors are All-SASS, Bored-O BLANC, and Bored-O ROUGE and come in 187 and 750 ml bottles. You can buy them separately or buy a small gift set for $36 or mine sample set for $19.
Domaine Santé can be purchased online (free shipping on orders oer $50) or at the Little Italy Mercato, Specialty Produce, Grant’s Marketplace, The Patio Express, Vom Fass, and Pacific Provisions. Different sizes are available at different retailers.
San Diego Winery Guide: As San Diego County’s wine presence continues to grow, it’s time for a guide to every winery, vineyard, and Tasting Room in the region. And here it is, written by wine writer, educator, and producer John Alongé. According to Alongé there are nearly 120 wineries in the County—not even including Temecula. The $32.95 book, published by Georgian Bay Books just this past summer, features photos and maps, tips for creating your own wine tour, who serves food or is dog friendly or has an outdoor patio.
The San Diego Winery Guide can be purchased on Amazon.com.
Cutwater Spirits Company: San Diego may be known for its microbreweries, but spirits are now catching up. Cutwater Spirits Company started out as an offshoot of Ballast Point Brewing but is now its own thing, complete with distillery, tasting room, and kitchen. Cutwater Spirits produces whiskey (Devil’s Share single malt), gin (Old Grove), vodka (fugu), rum (Three Sheets), liqueur (Opah), mixers (Mai Tai, Spicy and Mild Bloody Mary), and canned cocktails. Pick up products at their Convoy District retail shop or, for a real spirits geek, create a holiday gift experience with a free production facility tour or a tasting tour($10 a person) and a meal.
Cutwater Spirits is located at 9750 Distribution Ave. They serve brunch, lunch, dinner, and cocktails (including a happy hour Monday-Thursday).
Sugar and Scribe: Sugar and Scribe owner Maeve Rochford launched a trio of “Chef Maeve” products last year that you’ll want to include in a gift basket: Spiced Cranberry Chutney, Orange Cardamom Fig Glaze, and Praline Pecan Pie Filling. These three are family favorites and so versatile. The chutney is a tangy condiment for the holiday table and beyond. The glaze is perfect on a pork tenderloin (savory) or to top ice cream (sweet). Rochford actually warms it and pours it on pancakes. And the pie filling is fab for pie (I made it), but terrific to use in sweet rolls or, again, spooned over yogurt or ice cream. Sugar and Scribe has more recently introduced their own S&S coffee blend, roasted by Dark Horse Coffee Roasters. They also have a full range of baked goods, of course, and Irish treats to fill stockings with.
The jarred goods can be found at Sugar and Scribe, as well as on Amazon Prime, and at Carlsbad Gourmet.
The Chocolate Lush: Chocolatier Ashley Drake may be a classically trained savory chef—she’s even worked at Addison. But seven years ago she turned to making artisan chocolates. She periodically appears at Catalina Offshore Products and other venues to sell them, but for the holidays you need to email her, go to her website or Facebook page to place an order. Drake is offering 2-piece boxes for $5, 6-piece boxes for $12, and 16-piece boxes for $30. Everything is hand made without additives or preservatives and have a seasonal twist, including Raspberry Habanero, Bacon Buttercrunch, Peanut Butter Ganache, Eggnog, and Pumpkin Caramel Ganache. She also has hand-painted chocolate bars in Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel, Milk Chocolate Salted Caramel, and Spicy Mayan—each $6.
Place orders for The Chocolate Lush via email (Ashley@thechocolatelush.com), website, or Facebook page. If you’re ordering for Christmas, she offers free delivery dates throughout December. Order cut off is Dec. 15 for delivery by Dec. 22.
Dickinson Farm Store: Organic farmer and veteran Stepheni Norton owns and operates Dickenson Farm in National City, a small farm specializing in heirloom fruits, vegetables, and herbs grown on the grounds of the historic Wallace D. Dickinson House. Whether you’re interested in gifting an experience or something tangible, Norton has what a farm lover will love. Give a Farm to Pantry Class ($30) or a Farm Tour Ticket ($5)—or go big with a big jute tote filled with in season gifts, like farm coffee (roasted by Common Good Coffee); jellies, jams, and butters (people go wild for her pumpkin butter), popcorn cobs, a handmade farm vegie paperweight, seed packs, and smudge stick. Each bag is filled uniquely with at least seven gifts and costs $100.
You can purchase gifts online or pick up at the farm. The address is 1430 E. 24th St., National City, CA 91950. (Email first to find out when pick up is available: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Isabel Oliver: Now, this is an indulgence. Buy your loved one who adores food (I hate the word “foodie”) a still-life painting by local artist Isabel Oliver. From pomegranates to tangerines, wine to mangoes, Oliver’s vision and talent turns the simple edible into a sublime work of art. She says “Painting is a way of preservation” and does them as an homage to farmers and a way to connect and get closer to our food.
Oliver sells her paintings via her website, Art by Isabel Oliver
Epicurean San Diego: If your loved one has enough “stuff” and an experience is now their thing, have an experience via Epicurean San Diego. Stephanie and Dan Parker have been operating the company since 2015 and offer culinary tours of local farms, coffee roasters, butcher shops, distilleries, urban wineries, and more—all over San Diego County. A North County Coastal tour, for instance, starts in Encinitas at Lofty Coffee Co., before moving on to Oceanside’s Cyclops Farms, then lunch at Wrench and Rodent Seabasstropub, ending with sipping a mead flight at Golden Coast Mead. Can’t quite not buy a “thing?” No worries. You can also pick up holiday gift baskets from Epicurean San Diego—all locavore products. There’s a $30 and a $75 size, and you’ll get items like Café Virtuoso Coffee, salami from The Meat Men, a jar of Pacific Beach Peanut Butter, a jar of Baby Clydesdale small batch sriracha, and more.