Christmas gift ideas for Santa Cruz foodies during holiday season 2012

South Indian Lemon Rice prepared at Indian Cuisine 101 at Let’s Cook! cooking school

It’s four days ‘til Christmas, time to keep shopping…below are a couple gift possibilities. And if you’ve missed some of my other ideas in the last several days, here are a few links:

Know someone who likes to cook? Try a Let’s Cook! gift certificate for a fun gift. The cooking school has lots of great classes, and they’re for cooks of all levels. Most classes cost $65, so that’s what the standard gift certificate costs – if your gift recipient chooses a higher or lower-priced class, details can be worked out when they call the school to register. Order online.

A pound of coffee or a tin of tea, or a coffee/tea-related gift, is often a good bet for friends or family. I recently tried a few holiday offerings from Peet’s and enjoyed them greatly. The 2012 Holiday blend coffee ($16.95/lb.) is robust and flavorful. Each year, Peet’s uses “the best of the best” crops from that particular year. This year’s blend highlights coffee from Kenya. Special holiday teas include Holiday Breakfast Blend ($11.95/tea tin, $9.95 tea bags), a strong black tea that features Darjeeling and other varieties, and Good Hope Spice Blend ($6.95/tea bags) Peet’s first new herbal blend in more than 12 years (and only available during the holidays). I find Good Hope to be sweet in a balanced way; it includes South African honeybush, orange peel, and allspice. Other choices in Santa Cruz and nearby include Verve, Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Co., and Starbucks.

Kelly’s French Bakery in Westside Santa Cruz has a few selections that are good for either gifts or for adding to your holiday meal. These include Buche de Noel ($22), strawberry rhubarb pie ($21), Stollen ($16), gingerbread or chocolate loaves ($8), and cookies (sable, gingerbread, prices vary). To guarantee availability, call (831) 423-9059 by Dec. 22 at 2 p.m. to place an order. Or you can walk in and hope for the best – just be sure to visit before 2 p.m. on Dec. 24, that’s when Kelly’s closes on Christmas Eve (and it’s closed Christmas Day).

Lastly, Fresh Prep Kitchens is having a holiday gift certificate sale: Buy two, get one free. They are available in $35, $50 or $100 denominations through the web site, or call (831) 435-9260. The venue provides fresh, easy-to-prepare meals and you can pick them up in Capitola, or have them delivered (for no additional fee) to your door.