Stories

Holiday Gift Guide for the New England Foodie

December 17, 2014

New England Holiday Gift Guide

I’m bad at planning for the holidays. I usually wake up the week of Christmas to find I haven’t done of my shopping or meal planning. This year, I am getting ahead, or at least trying. The Christmas tree and stockings are all hung up in our apartment. There is fudge cooling in the refrigerator and I’m finishing up the final touches on Saturday’s menu.

It’s a dinner party. The kind with beautiful friends and delicious treats. Yesterday, I stopped by Kitchenwares on Newbury to pick up the latest copy of Edible Boston. It’s beautiful. I’m definitely pulling out the recipe from Chef Michael Scelfo, of Alden & Harlow, for Charred Broccoli with Butternut Hummus and Smoked Cashew Crumble.

On Sunday night, Kevin and I went for a walk in the city, that’s right, I survived the 30° weather and smiled – it only took a couple of jackets! The Boston Common is lit up with Christmas lights, which stretch down Newbury Street and the Commonwealth Avenue Mall. In Boston, the holiday season is picturesque, to say the least. We drank bubble tea in the park and took photographs of the lights. It’s nice to be outside, under the sky, as if every day were an adventure.

Adventure. I guess that’s the theme for next year. Here is my quick holiday gift guide for those with a wandering heart – for those who want to spend more time under the sky – for those who savor the moments that are less than planned.

Gift Guide Pt 1

Rooibos Roots & Roasted Mate | MEM Tea Imports

At times, I miss my café days. I used to wake up at 5 am and walk from Back Bay to the South End just to catch my opening barista shift. I saw a lot of the city that year and walked farther than I thought possible. After my 30 min. trudge through the snow, I would warm up with a cup of MEM’s rooibos roots or roasted mate. I’m a long time fan of Watertown-based MEM Tea Imports, which has been around since 199 sourcing, blending, and distributing the highest quality loose-leaf teas. The first of these is perfect if you love the small of sweet bergamot in the morning and the second is for those who enjoy a nutty finish to their tea.

Chocolate Mexicano Discs | Taza Chocolate

I was skeptical of Taza Chocolate when I first moved to New England. After relocating from California and experiencing what New Englanders called Mexican food – I wasn’t so sure how this whole Taza thing was going to work out. I have to say, what a pleasant surprise. Alex Whitmore’s time in Oaxaca is clearly the foundation for this stone ground + organic chocolate. In the spirit of purism – I have to recommend the cacao puro on days you want something simple + salted almond for those days when you have that sweet + salty craving.

Handmade Crock | Ogusky Ceramics

Latest find + I am totally in love. These colorful crocks are made by the passionate potter and fermenter, Jeremy Ogusky. You can easily find his resume online, where you will find a list of amazing local projects + collaborations, from creating cups for the delicious Voltage Coffee to creating fermenting crocks for Williams-Sonoma. Definitely on my list this year – and I got to meet him to talk fermenting kombucha and learn some tips on home sauerkraut and kimchi kitchen.

Glass Fridays | Diablo Glass School

This gem is a stone’s throw from our apartment. If you go down the giant hill and across the road, there is a brick building with some of the best art you will find in Boston. I have been dying to take a class at Diablo Glass School for sometime. When I was younger, I was all about beading and stained glass. Every time I go home there is a collection of old art projects + it’s about time I made something new. Glassblowing + a glass of wine, yes please!

Hazy Jane | Mystic Brewery

Ok, I’m trying to embrace winter everyone, but my taste buds sometimes are still stuck in June or July. This definitely happens with my beer preferences. A couple years ago I discovered Belgian beers and my life changed. You mean, beer doesn’t have to taste so bitter?! I’m all about the saisons, especially the summer saisons that are lightly hoppy and filled with floral notes. For the craft beer enthusiast, shatter expectations + go summer. This summer saison has a tart citrusy flavor mixed with mild American and Japanese hops.

Tweed Cap | Salmagundi

The winter in Massachusetts is hat season, I feel like I move between beanies and hats from December through April. The cold here is no joke, so keep your head warm. This traditional wool hat is everything I love about New England and more. The satin lining sits nicely against your head for a soft touch. Guys, you know you are going to get a 0 or 0A fade this season + the back of this hat is perfect for the freshly shaven.

Holiday Gift Guide Pt 2

Tote Bag | Magpie

I like little memories from the places that I’ve been. In a lot of my food styling I use silk from a gift my second mother gave to me after graduating, prayer beads from Thailand. We have crystals all around our apartment from an adventure up to Maine + I have sand from the beach in Lake Tahoe. I need the physical things to remember. I’m all about pairing memory + functionality, or at least I should be – and this give fits both purposes. This Somerville tote bag is perfect for carrying my veggies + remembering the time I spent cooking for an adorable couple in Davis Square.

Handcrafted + Personalized Cutting Boards | Boston Handyworks 

I have been crushing over these cutting boards for sometime now. Boston HandyWorks is totally awesome + I need to prioritize setting aside some money to get this for Kevin, so I can not-so-secretly enjoy it as well. The handcrafted cutting boards are part of Pine Street Inn’s social enterprise, which provides on-the-job training and transitional employment opportunities to individuals who have experienced homelessness and have been estranged from the workforce. A great cutting board + working to keep this program going sounds great to me!

Vegetable CSA | Allendale Farm

What is better than a CSA right in Chestnut Hill? You can easily buy into the vegetable CSA for the summer. This will be the gift that keeps giving, at least for a few months. Their locally grown produce will encourage you to eat seasonal fare + maybe even get together to try new recipes. The CSA helps to support locally grown food in and around the Boston area + provides people with fresh + high-quality fruits and vegetables throughout the summer.

Anfibious Boots | Sudo Shoes 

Because every foodie needs a good vegan boot for braving the winter farmer’s markets. These beautiful Italian boots are made with vibram soles and all vegan materials. You can easily get the boots in a high or low top, depending on your ferocity to kick through walls of snow. More importantly, vegan boots are a must for the winter. Waterproof and ready for the elements!

Linen Tablecloth | Winmill Fabrics

I’m going to take a leap here + say let’s fashion a linen tablecloth for somebody this holiday season. Last time I was here was in October when I was piecing together my homemade Gameboy Halloween outfit. The staff here is super helpful + one the right day, might talk to you about your work + stock options. Your friend will forever thank you for upgrading their dinner party with a linen handmade tablecloth.

Donation | The Food Project

I have been volunteering with the Food Project every year during harvest season, except – all truth told – I missed this year. The young people + adults that work across their urban and suburban farms are so knowledgeable and fun to spend time with. From the farm up in Beverly to the one right here in Dorchester, The Food Project works with youth around leadership development + the young ones teach me more about growing food than I ever thought imaginable.

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