This year, I spent Black Friday stuffing pellets of food into the whiskered, wet maws of water buffalo, and still, I feel that my day was less absurdly spent than those of Black Friday shoppers. Not only did they risk their lives and limbs in stores, malls, and parking lots, but just think about those hard-won gifts. They’re often made abroad, with questionable labor practices, and then sold by US titans like Walmart (whose treatment of your neighbors, their workers, is notorious).
Do yourself and your karma a favor. Spend your holiday dollars locally in your neighbors’ stores and restaurants. You’ll be getting great, unique gifts—plus, you’ll be voting with $$$ on the referendum of soulless, fatcat greed. Here are some excellent, local foodie gift ideas:
If you usually give a bottle of wine…
You have tons of excellent local options. Drop by Captain Lawrence Brewing Company for a Westchester-made growler of American craft beer. A growler makes a great gift and its happy recipient will be in elite company. These beers can be found at many of New York City’s best restaurants. But if you really prefer wine, hit Wine Geeks Armonk for a pick of excellent North Fork and Finger Lakes wines.
If you usually give a bottle of fine spirits…
You can invest in a pricey, pudgy bottle from Tuthilltown Spirits, locally distilled in Gardiner, New York. Tuthilltown’s range is impressive, and includes corn whiskey distilled from 100-percent New York grain, single-malt whiskey, and bourbon. Also, surf on by Tuthilltown’s online shop, where you’ll find T-shirts, dropper bottles (used to “open up” the flavor profile of whiskey), and more.
Then there are the Comb products, distilled right in Port Chester. I mentioned these last week, but they’re due another shout out. Pelham residents Ed and Laura Tiedge are distilling a variety of spirits from mead made from Florida honey. You can find their vodka, gin, brandy, and white spirit at many top-tier restaurants and local liquor stores, including Stew Leonard’s, Fairway Wines & Spirits, and more.
If you usually give something from Williams-Sonoma…
Hit Consider the Cook in Bedford. You’ll skip rage-inducing traffic jams and tower parking garages to find many of the same products.
If you usually send a basket from Dean & DeLuca…
Call Dobbs & Bishop Fine Cheese to arrange for a gift basket of their incredible cheeses and salumis. Don’t miss the Creminelli sausages, made in the USA in the Italian tradition.
If you like the ease of gift cards….
Well, you’re in luck. Two of Westchester’s fine dining restaurants, Crabtree’s Kittle House and Bedford Post Inn, offer gifts cards for the foodies on your list. Also, for beer geeks, check out the cards at Birdsall House. You can gift the gift of access to its 20 craft beers on tap.
As reported in Grub Street, Chef Greg Baxtrom has yielded his position as chef de cuisine at Blue Hill at Stone Barns to one of the chefs from Blue Hill New York, Michael Gallina. Of course, Chef Dan Barber is still the executive chef, co-owner, and general poster boy of the enterprise, so it remains iffy that diners will be moved by Baxtrom’s absence.
In a release sent by The Flying Pig’s publicist, Geoff Thompson of Thompson and Bender, the restaurant is slated to serve its last meal on December 31, 2011. Here’s the statement: “Kisco Foods LLC said today that after 11 years it will be closing The Flying Pig, the well-known restaurant it owns and operates in Mount Kisco. The final meals will be served on December 31.
The Flying Pig opened in 2000 in the historic Mount Kisco Metro North train station and was an instant success. Specializing in organic and locally sourced foods, it is regarded as the pioneer restaurant in the Hudson Valley in offering farm-to-table, organic, sustainable foods.
After its first five years, the restaurant outgrew the tight quarters at the train station, which offered only 15 tables. In 2006 it relocated to 251 Lexington Avenue as The Flying Pig on Lexington with seating for 100.
Cabbage Hill Farm, located nearby, has provided many of the meats and other organic foods used at The Flying Pig as well as other regional restaurants. The farm is not affected by the closing.
The decision to close the restaurant results from a combination of factors, including the pressures resulting from the prolonged recession. Arrangements have been made with The Flying Pig staff for a comfortable transition upon closing.”
The restaurant’s chef, Leslie Sutter, who has been with The Flying Pig from its earliest days, will be operating at a new location in the near future, thereby affording her many loyal customers the opportunity to continue to benefit from her fine cooking. She will also continue without interruption the popular coffee and lunch service cart that the restaurant had been providing at the Mount Kisco Medical Group office in Mount Kisco.”
You’ve heard about this infamous event. You may have heard that this year’s performances are sold out. Well, here’s your chance to check it out. From the announcement: “Usually at this time in past years reservations for our Christmas Cabaret and Holiday Dinner are just starting to come in. This year we have been wowed and overwhelmed with how early these dates have booked up! In order to accommodate as many guests as possible, we have opened up some space for the Sunday December 11th shows at 1pm and 7pm. There is limited space available, so please call to reserve before the shows are completely sold out. As the waiting lists for the other dates are quite long, please know that Sunday December 11th shows are the only available dates for booking.” Call (914) 965-1111 for info and availability.
O, how I love grilled Halloumi cheese—so salty, so greasy, so bouncy and oddly squeaky when I chew. Check out this latest version for Mamaroneck’s new Nemea, all glistening and striped with grill marks, resting on its bed of sprightly arugula. It’s pretty, isn’t it? And, get this—Nemea isn’t too bad, either. Not only can you check out some swelling warrior thighs on ancient vases, but there’s no worn linoleum in sight. It’s all pressed tin, sculptural hanging cylinder lamps, exposed brick, and style. Check out this New York Times review