The holidays are hectic for one reason: shopping. Just getting a handle on gifts for close family members is hard enough, but then add in all the friends, hosts, teachers and coaches we want to spoil with a little holiday cheer, and soon the stress of finding the right gift is keeping us up at night.
The trick is to limit your search to the culinary world, because everybody eats. Also, when it comes to food, it doesn’t really matter too much if you miss the mark a bit. If you just so happen to give say, crackers to someone going Paleo, they can just set it out for guests next time they have people over. Re-gifting without the guilt.
To help you cross people off your shopping list in a jiffy, we’ve come up with a curated list of Portland-made, food- and drink-centric gifts ranging in price from “You’re really special to me” to “Thanks for the invite.”
1. Mixing glass from Bull in China, $65
Every cocktail lover needs a proper mixing glass, and this simple, chic, infinitely practical version is what all the city’s best mixologists are reaching for. Designed by the two bartenders who started Bull in China cocktail wares company, each wavy-glass beauty is hand-made by a Portland artisan.
2. Wild Roots infused vodkas, $28
Before you scoff and say “infused vodka? That’s so ’90s” let me assure you that this is no artificially flavored plonk. This Portland-made vodka is triple distilled and each bottle is infused with over a pound of fruit. The Marionberry and Raspberry flavors are gorgeously deep-hued and way too easy to drink, but the Apple Cinnamon feels more wintry and holiday appropriate. Each is so flavorful, it makes mixing cocktails a snap (we love adding this to hot mulled cider). You can try them all for yourself in the company’s tasting room: 135 NE 6th Ave.
3. Organic matcha tea from Mizuba Tea Co., $25
Thanks to creamy sweetened lattes, matcha has gone mainstream. But whatever your entry-point, once you start drinking matcha it’s hard to stop. The powdered green tea gives you the best kind of caffeine buzz (no jitters, just focused alertness), plus it has a host of cancer-fighting health benefits. The only problem? It’s a bit pricey. So treat the tea-lover on your list with a generous tin of this Portland-based company’s organic matcha, sourced from a single small farm in Uji, Japan.
4. Drinking chocolate sampler from Treehouse Chocolate Co., $14
Portland has no shortage of chocolate producers, and Treehouse is the latest to come on the scene. We love the bold packaging, we love the assortment of flavors, and even better, we love that the cacao is fairly sourced directly from the farmers. Owner Aaron Koch gets his beans from the Oro Verde farmer-owned cooperative in Northern Peru. Since the farmers get a fair price for their beans, they have economic incentive to protect the jungles that, in turn, protect their cacao plants. It’s a way to ensure sustainability with every rich cup.
5. Bee Local Honey, $15
Really good honey is so complex and flavorful, it can inspire a full-scale menu change, and this is especially true of small-batch Bee Local honey. Get a jar and soon you’re looking for more ways to get it on your plate, from oatmeal in the morning to cornbread at dinner. And the local purveyor’s smoked honeys are a revelation. You can get Bee Local honeys at the retail shop it shares with Jacobsen Salt, or at most gourmet markets around town.
6. Alma Chocolate’s Campfire S’mores, $10
Get your hands on these decadent treats while you can. Created as part of the National Parks Celebration, they’re a limited edition find that appeals to any and all palates. The crunchy graham cracker is topped with a fluffy vanilla bean marshmallow and covered in smoky caramel and rich chocolate. Head to one of the two Alma Chocolate shops to find it. If they’re out, you literally can’t go wrong with anything else there.
7. Fuller Foods Cheesy Puffs, $5
Some people have a sweet tooth while others have a “salt tooth.” For them, pick up a bag or two of these fun cheesy poofs, which come in four varieties of usual yet mouth-watering flavors. Made in Portland from all natural ingredients, including corn grits sourced from Bob’s Red Mill, they satisfy locavores, cheese-lovers, spice-heads, and, really, anyone with a mouth. You can find them at New Seasons Market.
8. Jacobsen Salt’s Vanilla Bean finishing salt, $13
Bakers like me, who love to sprinkle a little salt on their sweets, will love this vanilla-bean infused salt, made from salt harvested on the Oregon Coast. It’s fabulous on chocolate chip cookies, brownies, or even hot fudge sundaes. But at 13 bucks for 1.5-ounces, it’s an extravagance — and that’s what makes it so perfect as a host gift. Buy one for a friend and maybe they’ll return the favor. Find it at Jacobsen Salt’s tasting room or at New Seasons.
9. Olympia Provisions salamis, $10
Heading to a holiday party? Often the best thing you can bring your host is a little something they can share with the rest of the guests. But when everyone shows up with wine, it’s very likely your bottle will get lost in the shuffle. Salami, however, particularly salami as luscious as Olympia Provisions, will definitely get noticed — and be much appreciated. Luckily, you can find a wide range of OP salamis at most stores around town, including New Seasons and Whole Foods, so you can grab whatever you need on your way to the festivities.
10. The very best guidebook to Portland’s best restaurants, $14.95
Yes, Jen Stevenson, author of “100 Best Places to Stuff Your Faces,” is a friend of mine. But before she was a friend, she was a source — an extremely reliable source of the best places to eat around town. I was so impressed by her knowledge, palate and wit, I ended up hiring her to write for me while I was at MIX Magazine. Wendi, meanwhile, got her book when she first moved to Portland and couldn’t put it down. With its tightly curated list of places to eat, written in a fun, engaging style, this book is the book to give to any food loving friend who’s always asking for restaurant recommendations. You can order it direct or pick it up at New Seasons, Powell’s, and a host of boutiques around town.
11. Letterpress kitchen art from Jigsaw Graphics, $20
Local graphic designer Suzanne Hallerman has an entire Etsy shop filled with covetable food-themed letter-press goods, from recipe cards and stationary to journals and jar labels. Any avid cook in your life would be thrilled to receive any of the above, but the 8-inch by 10-inch wall art packs the biggest punch, just add a frame.
12. Set of six linen napkins by Non-Perishable Goods, $45
Linen is luxurious yet durable, but it’s also pricey, so I rarely buy it for myself. Luckily I have some really generous friends who have gifted me the linens I covet. Trust me when I say you will be forever in good stead with your friends if you give them these lovely Portland-made napkins. The dark slate color goes with any decor, won’t get stained, and they come in a variety of trim colors around the edge. Pick up a set from Red Sail boutique on NE Alberta.
13. Ceramic growler from the Portland Growler Company, $69
With growler stations in almost every supermarket (and often gas station) in Portland, beer lovers have no shortage of places to fill up. And now they can do it in style with these 64-ounce ceramic growlers, which are designed and made here in town. Go for the cool, white option, or visit the company’s website to browse through the other colors and illustrated designs. You can even have it monogrammed. They’re available at Red Sail on NE Alberta, or through the company’s website.