I simply cannot imagine living in a place with a more amazing selection of delicious, locally hand crafted foods, drinks and other delicacies. These local foodstuffs make the perfect gifts for anyone on your list…they’re what everyone on my lists are receiving! Not only can you be sure that they’ll devour your gift, but you can feel good that you supported our local, small business people and saved yourself a ton of stress by leisurely shopping right here in town.
Hooker’s House Bourbon
Giving the gift of wine in Wine Country can be downright stressful. Just in time for holiday gift giving and my Christmas Milk Punch, the fun folks over at Sonoma’s HelloCello have launched Hooker’s House Bourbon! The spirit was born in Kentucky, where it was first aged in French oak barrels for more than four years, and then transported to Sonoma, where in true Wine Country style, it was aged again in Pinot Noir barrels. The result is a unique, utterly smooth Bourbon, with hints of coffee, caramel and vanilla. Named after legendary Sonoma resident General Joseph Hooker, the bold and spicy character of the Bourbon matches the General’s notoriously outrageous and overindulgent lifestyle. I simply adore finding a little piece of the South here in Sonoma and am so excited to use Hooker’s House Bourbon this year when whipping up my traditional Christmas Milk Punch; a creamy cocktail of happiness, prepared with a potent combination of milk, sugar, a tiny splash of cream, and a not so tiny splash of Bourbon. Be sure to visit the Sun Eats section of this issue for the recipe. Find Hooker’s House Bourbon locally at Sonoma Market. prohibition-spirits.com.
the girl and the fig’s Fig Cake
All of the girl and the fig’s products are locally produced and lovingly crafted, but none more so than the beautifully packaged and absolutely delicious fig cake. It is a dense, sweet, nutty condiment consisting of mass quantities of dried, black mission figs, almonds and pistachios. Simply sliced and arranged beautifully on a platter with cheeses or as an accompaniment to roasted pork, this little log is truly addictive and would make a special gift for any foodie on your list. Visit thegirlandthefig.com or visit the girl and the fig’s Plaza location for ordering information.
Wine Country Chocolates
Who wouldn’t absolutely love a little black box, beautifully tied with a golden ribbon and filled with gorgeous chocolates? Add the fact that each piece is handmade, locally, utilizing artisan chocolate and flavored with the finest ingredients, including local wine and you’ve got yourself a winning gift idea for anyone on your list. The Plaza’s Wine Country Chocolates specializes in the most decadent, intensely flavored truffles. Each flavor is to-die-for, particularly the Zinfandel and the Port Wine, but my favorite is the Champagne, naturally. 414 First Street East, Sonoma Plaza.
The Strudel Guy
I just so happen to think the best gifts are the edible or drinkable sort; the ones you get to open immediately and quite possibly even share with those that gifted you. During the holidays I believe that gifts that make your life more enjoyable and less hurried are even better. Well, thank you to new Sonoma resident and master strudel maker, Alan Dennis, a.k.a. the Strudel Guy. Forget about the traditional apple strudel, he lovingly prepares Tahitian vanilla bean, a Sonoma pear and walnut, and even an eggnog! His savory strudels are the absolute ideal festive breakfast or simple Christmas lunch. Each strudel is seventeen inches long, made by hand and lovely when eaten immediately or even when frozen. Find Alan’s strudel daily at Sonoma’s Best beginning this Saturday, December 17, during the market’s “Strudelmania” event. Between 8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. enjoy complimentary samples and shop for whole strudels perfect for gifting or holiday entertaining.
Sonoma Valley Nut Company
The Sonoma Valley Nut Company, created by the Sun’s very own Jody Purdom, slow roasts a beautiful combination of excellent nuts with spices and fresh herbs. The result is slightly salty, a bit sweet, a tiny bit spicy and very herby – a secret recipe that screams the holidays. Perfection with a glass of champagne or decadent with a boozy eggnog. A golden bow adds festivity to the little package and is an affordable and jolly offering for teachers, the mailman, a hostess or me! Find these addictive nuts locally at Sonoma’s Best, 1190 East Napa Street, Sonoma.
Sonoma Artisan Duck Products
As I am sure you all know by now, I absolutely adore duck! For many years while running our market in North Carolina we frequently ordered the incredible duck related products farmed lovingly here in Sonoma. During these hectic holidays giving the luxury of time saved is always treasured. My go-to, favorite present is an easy hors d’oeuvre or simple dinner, packaged uniquely, that someone would be insane to re-gift. Give an elegant hors d’oeuvre by simply grabbing a smoked, Sonoma duck breast, a jar of locally made chutney – I love the girl and the fig’s Apple Mostarda – a baguette, and presto! Gorgeous, delicious, hors d’oeuvres perfection. Present this gift on a wooden cutting board, wrapped in a tea towel for extra elegance. Duck confit is a perfectly cooked duck leg that keeps forever in the refrigerator and, when paired with many common ingredients, makes a lovely elegant meal. Memorable when gifted with a small bag of French lentils and a bottle of just-pressed local olive oil. Find Sonoma Artisan duck products locally at Sonoma Market.
Sonoma County Olive Oil
“New Oil” is easily one of the most exciting parts of the annual olive harvest. It has a deep green color, is a bit cloudy and has a super peppery, pleasantly bitter burst of fresh olive taste. This fresh oil is bottled immediately after the olives are pressed, unlike typical olive oil, which is allowed to settle so fruit particles, and other sediment is separated. Sadly, Olio Nuovo is a fleeting treat. Beginning this week, most of our local producers offer an Olio Nuovo on an extremely limited basis. A beautiful gift, it’s meant to be simply and generously drizzled and enjoyed for it’s outrageously fresh flavor. Sonoma County olive oils are amongst the best in the world, and when gifting for family or friends out of town it’s a spectacular example of just what makes living here in Sonoma so special. Visit Sonoma’s Best or the Epicurean Connection to find a lovely selection of locally produced olive oils.