It can be a challenge buying gifts for the gourmands in your life, apart from gift certificates to their favorite restaurant or specialty grocery store. (And now that we think about it, who wouldn’t love a Balducci’s gift card, or one of the gourmet market’s specialty gift baskets?) Last month, Metro Weekly spent back-to-back weekends hitting local food shows — the veteran, mammoth MetroCooking DC at the Washington Convention Center and the new hipster haven Emporiyum at Union Market. We found the following nine items at one or the other venue and think they’d make for some great stocking stuffers — if not for a loved one, then for yourself.
Goulibeur Shortbread — This was the find of the MetroCookingDC show, and one of the best things we’ve eaten all year. The rich, buttery, all-natural shortbread isn’t local, exactly — it’s imported from France by the Baltimore-based Breton Gourmet — so it’s not exactly sustainable. But this is clearly a special occasion food anyway. The signature Goulibeur is the large galette Broye’ du Poitou ($10), which is meant to be broken and shared in a group. A better stocking stuffer, though, might be the new illustrated tin documenting the history of Goulibeur and containing 18 round shortbread cookies ($15).
The Capital Candy Jar Gift Box — Whether shopping for a loved one or your office Secret Santa, you can’t go wrong with an assortment of candies from Dave Burton‘s Capital Candy Jar. The trays come in two sizes and also in standard and premium options, depending on whether you like chocolate-covered Oreos, marshmallows and divinity or would prefer premium candy bark. The latter comes in peppermint, almond toffee and cranberry orange pistachio bark ($14 for medium, $26 for large).
Bee Raw Honey — Brooklyn-based former chef Zeke Freeman works with artisanal beekeepers and farmers to source his Bee Raw Honey and then packages his flavored wares (Maine Blueberry, Washington Buckwheat, Florida Orange Blossom) in beautiful clear, retro-inspired glass jars. He then sorts them in groups or pairs them with fine teas in collections ranging from $28 to $98.
Capital Teas Sampler Boxes — The Annapolis-based Capital Teas offers many sampler boxes of its teas, most priced at $39.95 — including a Holiday Tea Sampler featuring two-ounce tins of O Christmas Tea, Figgy Pudding and Gingerbread Rooibos.
Bittermilk Old Fashioned Set — Crafted and bottled by hand by a husband and wife team in Charleston, S.C., Bittermilk is an upscale line of mixers for the true cocktail connoisseur. This Bittermilk-stamped gift box features No. 1 Bourbon Barrel Aged Old Fashioned, No. 4 New Orleans Style Old Fashioned Rouge and No. 5 Oaxacan Old Fashioned ($45).
‘Chups Fruit Ketchup Sample Pack — Ketchup — it’s not just a tomato product these days. Matt Wallace and Kori Hill Wallace started ‘Chups to produce a line of tasty, tangy ketchups made from other fruits — cherry, blueberry, plum, mango and peach. You can sample the resulting all-natural condiments, made in D.C.’s new food incubator Union Kitchen, in a special holiday pack of 1.25 oz jars for only $12.
Dress It Up Dressing Gift Crate — It can be a challenge to find a good, preservative-free vinaigrette at the store, and some of us just don’t have the knack for getting the right oil and the right vinegar to mix. The Maryland-based Sophia Maroon sure does, and this crate includes all four of her Dress It Up concoctions, made with apple cider, champagne, chocolate and red wine ($39.99).
Route 11 Mini-Combo Tin — Anybody who loves chips knows that Virginia’s Route 11 makes the best and crunchiest around, with some of the boldest flavors. And while chips might not be top of mind when thinking of Christmas, surely no one would complain about a gift ($28) featuring all nine varieties the company makes — including lightly salted, dill pickle and Mama Zuma’s Revenge — packaged in two-ounce sampler bags.
L’Academie de Cuisine Gift Certificate — You don’t have to enroll in one of the best cooking schools in North America to learn how to cook better. L’Academie de Cuisine in Bethesda offers classes in everything from grilling to pasta-making to wine pairings, a majority in the range of $85 to $95 each — but you can buy a gift certificate in any amount.
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