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Gifts for the Gastronome

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Know someone who watches The Food Network 24/7? Thinks a hot Saturday night is trying out a new chili recipe? Travels an hour for “the best” pizza? Foodie, gourmand, bon vivant—whatever you call them, you know what makes them tick. So what to get them for the holidays? Below are some of the best food-related gifts originating in the county.

There are no industrial mixes or synthetic vanillin in the products at Big Girl Baking Co (877-721-3644), an online baked-goods company headquartered in Bronxville. Just three sisters making sweet treats the old-fashioned way: with real ingredients—butter, flour, eggs, milk, and sugar. Gift baskets of assorted baked goods—beautifully wrapped and lined with seasonally matched tea towels—can be shipped anywhere in lower Westchester. Baskets can be customized and filled with biscotti (among seven flavors are triple chocolate and lemon-pine nut), petite brownies, chewy ginger snaps, sables du chocolat (choclate shortbread cookies), sweet and savory nut mix, Black Forest chunk cookies replete with Michigan cherries, and more.
Small basket: $50; medium: $75; large: $100

Pastry Chef Alex Grunert of Blue Hill at Stone Barns (630 Bedford Rd, Pocantico Hills 914-366-9600) has tweaked a family recipe for traditional Christmas stollen (he grew up and was trained in Vienna, Austria). Stollen is similar to fruitcake—but it’s good! Who can resist bread dipped in melted butter and covered with powdered sugar? The stollen can be ordered by calling 914-366-9606, x232, or it can be picked up at Blue Hill Café Wednesday to Sunday from 10:30 am to 4:30 pm (small loaf: $15; large loaf: $28).

Planters who? From a commercial kitchen in Ossining, Barbara Kobren (Briarcliff Manor), Deborah Mehne (Pound Ridge), and Susan Spiegel (Armonk) produce one of the most addictive nut-based snacks you’ll have. Bobbysue’s Nuts (bobbysuesnuts.com) are made using organic nuts (almonds, cashews, and pecans), egg whites, sugar, and spices. Varieties include “Nuts,” “It’s Raining Chocolate,” and “Some Like it Hot.”

A percentage of the profits from each jar sold goes to fund a new SPCA no-kill animal shelter in Briarcliff Manor, so you’ll feel extra good about giving this gift.

Order online ($9.99 for an 8-oz jar) or find at one of the following county stores:
Bedford Gourmet, Bedford – Black Cat Café, Irvington – Blue Hill Café at Stone Barns, Pocantico Hills – Briarcliff Seafood, Meats & Deli, Briarcliff Manor – Chappaqua Village Market, Chappaqua – Country Kitchen Armonk – Dragonfly Caffe, Pleasantville – Gail Patrick’s Café, Chappaqua – Garelick & Herbs, Greenwich, CT- Holbrook Cottage, Briarcliff – Iron Horse Grill, Pleasantville – Ladle of Love, Mount Kisco – Say Cheese & Thank You, Irvington – Table Local Market, Bedford Hills – The Chocolate Chalet, Briarcliff Manor – Village Prime Meats, Armonk

 

 

The fiery foodie in your life will appreciate a few jars of Carrillo’s Gourmet Fire-Roasted Salsa. The Rye-based father-and-son-run business produces salsa without sugar or artificial preservatives and uses seven different kinds of roasted chiles (most salsas have two or three; the result of more varieties is a more intense flavor). A 16-oz jar is $6 to $7, so for $35 or less, your fire-breathing friend can sample all five flavors: tomato guajillo, salsa verde refresco, mango peach lime, Aztec chipolte, and roasted haberno.

Order online or at find at one of the following county stores: Larchmont Marketplace, Larchmont – Michael’s Gourmet, Scarsdale – Mount Kisco Seafood, Mount Kisco – Near & Natural, Bedford – Rye Country Store, Rye – Standing Room Only, Scarsdale – Whole Foods Market, White Plains

What gift do you get a health junkie? The Skinny-Minnie type who doesn’t skip a workout and is obsessed with dietary purity? The answer is Dina’s Organic Chocolate, 100-percent certified organic chocolate bars and truffles from Mount Kisco-based nutrition consultant Dina Khader. Made with 74 percent dark fair-trade chocolate (no dairy), the 2-oz bars are $4 and a box of 16 truffles is $22. Flavors include green tea, almond, flax, and goji berry. Order at her site or pick up at these locations: Dina Khader’s Nutrition Center (39 Smith Ave, Mount Kisco 914-242-0124) and Mount Kisco Seafood (477 Lexington Ave, Mount Kisco 914-241-3113).

 

Photo by Sarah Jane Silverton

Beginning December 7, Flourish Baking Company (160 Summerfield St, Scarsdale 914-725-1026) will offer a trio of gift-box samplers. Packed in folded natural-wood trays and wrapped in clear cellophane bags, the three varieties include:
• Tasting of Tea Cakes for $25. An assortment of tea cakes—fruitcake studded with brandy-soaked fruits (apricots, dates, cranberries, raisins, papaya, and figs); Callebaut double chocolate tea cake, prepared with spelt flour, agave nectar, and chocolate chips; moist gingerbread cake spiced with fresh grated ginger and black pepper.
• Bread Basket for $20. Sampler of loaves, sized for mini sandwiches, including walnut-raisin, black-olive-rosemary, and a crisp-crust semolina.
• Seasonal Cookies (8) for $18. Organic whole-cane sugar cookies decorated with natural plant-based dyes and sprinkles in a medley of seasonal designs (dreidels, snowflakes, gingerbread people, and hearts). Gift boxes can be shipped for an additional fee.

The gift shops at the Historic Hudson Valley sites (Kykuit, Lyndhurst, Phillipsburg Manor, Sunnyside, Union Church, Van Cortlandt Manor) offer a plethora of a food gifts with a local and/or historic flavor.
• Historic Hudson Valley label organic jams ($7.95, 11.5 oz). Flavors are razzle-dazzle berry, tart cherry, and blueberry. Also HHV label organic clover honey ($7.95, 12 oz).
• Authentic Dutch speculaas. These thin and crunchy cookies stamped with images/figures ($5.95, 14 oz) are traditionally baked to be eaten on St Nicholas’ Eve in the Netherlands (Dec 5) and Belgium (Dec 6).
• Milk chocolate candy bars ($5.75, 3.5 oz) packaged exclusively for Historic Hudson Valley.
• Individually wrapped sugar cookies in the shape of a Christmas stocking and decorated with red icing, green and white polka dots, and a sprig of holly ($3.50 each).
• All-natural pumpkin pancake mix packaged in an old-fashioned muslin bag ($6.95, 16 oz).
Go to hudsonvalley.org for more information.

 

 

 

 

 

Zachys Wine and Liquor (16 E Parkway, Scarsdale 914-723-1033) sells many premium vodkas, but only one with a programmable LED display. Medea, made from whole-grain wheat, and artisan water, the subtle, smooth vodka from Schiedam, Holland, comes with a blue or pink display that holds up to six messages (255 characters each). It’ll save you a trip to the card store! It retails for $40 for a 25-oz bottle.

 

 

 

Okay, so maybe Newcastle Brown Ale doesn’t originate in the county—the maker is Scottish & Newcastle in England. But S&N is part of Heineken, whose corporate headquarters is in White Plains. Besides, I doubt your favorite beerhound would quibble over a six-pack ($8-$10) of this perfect winter holiday brew. It’s flavorful warm caramel smoothness and English hops mean it’s not to be drunk cold (about 40Ëš F), like most American beers, but at a cool 50Ëš F—perfect for a snowy New York night.
Harrison Beverage, Harrison
Mohegan Beer & Soda, Mohegan Lake
Whole Foods Market, White Plains

 To paraphrase an oft-repeated line from our local newscast, Rainbeau Ridge Farm (49 David’s Way, Bedford Hills 914-234-2197) is as local as local food gets—and nowadays that’s as good as it gets. Now the slow-food lover in your life can enjoy the sustainable farm’s many pleasures in a 272-page book that’s part memoir and part cookbook. From her love of goats to the marvels of cheese-making, farmer Lisa Schwartz also includes farming how-tos and lessons on gardening with children. Go to rainbeauridge.com to order the book ($34.95, hardcover).

 

Sweet! The new candy shop Sweet Teez (157 Larchmont Ave, Larchmont 914-630-1744) is a candy junkie’s dreamland, with custom gift tins that can be filled with a choice of close to 100 types of loose candy, chocolates from 20 venders (try the chocolate-covered bananas or guava from Pacari Ecuadorian Chocolate), four flavors of chocolate-covered pretzels, and eight types of chocolate-covered popcorn (most gift tins range from $30 to $120).

 

 

 

 

 

No county foodie holiday gift guide would be complete without a mention of Katonah-based Suzanne’s Sweets (914-301-5307), Westchester Magazine’s 2006 Best of Westchester winner for best rugalach. These decadent hand-rolled cookies are made from all-natural ingredients—but, more important, they taste damned good! Among the flavors: raspberry, strawberry, apricot, chocolate, and cinnamon-raisin. A 1 lb signature pack: $15.95; 1 lb tin: $22.95; 2 lb tin: $39.95; 2 lb basket: $49.95; 3 lb basket: $69.95; 4 lb basket: $89.95.

 

For the breakfast glutton on your gift list, gourmet-to-go food store William Nicholas & Co (19 Edgemont Rd, Katonah 914-232-1949) is offering a breakfast gift tray ($60) that includes Stonewall Kitchen Farmhouse pancake & waffle mix, Maine maple syrup, Maine wild blueberry jam, breakfast blend coffee, two William Nicholas muffins, and Kentucky butter pound cake. Gift-wrapping is complimentary, though, considering the smells of the goodies inside, don’t expect the tray to remain wrapped for too long!
 

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