Tag Archives: gifts

Foodie Holiday Gift Guide 2020: Local gifts, part 3

Santa Cruz-themed gift assortment from The Local Box Shop. Photo courtesy of The Local Box Shop

Here is part three of my local foodie holiday gift guide – hope you’ll join me in supporting small businesses. I am mostly highlighting food-related gifts, but also mentioning a few non-food items. If you have something you’d like to suggest for a future installment of this guide, please email tara@santacruzfoodie.com.

Also see:

Note: past installments include events that have already taken place, but they also mention local businesses you can still support!

This Sunday is the second installment of the Westside Marketplace: Dec. 6, 11am-4pm.

The collaboration between Food Trucks A Go Go and the Santa Cruz Mountains Makers Market is an outdoor market at the Old Wrigley Building Parking Lot, 2801 Mission Street. There is free admission and more than 35 Santa Cruz County-based vendors plus a range of food vendors. All vendors and attendees are required to wear face masks. Artisans selling products include Ashby Confections, Anuenue Juice California, Arose Teas, Bee Happy Today, and Freedom Touch Studios. See event page for full list of vendors. Food trucks will be Drunk Monkeys, Pana, Taquizas Gabriel, and Aunt LaLi’s ice cream. Beginning in February, there will be outdoor markets at this location the 1st Sunday of every month.

Bee Happy Today, one of Sunday’s vendors, also offers products through “goods4goodmarket,” an online marketplace that local resident Jill Potts recently launched to showcase “gifts that give back.” She features sustainable and socially impactful businesses like Maggie’s Organics, which is donating 10 percent of sales to The Center for Biological Diversity to help protect endangered species; and Bee Happy Today, which is donating a portion of proceeds to benefit Santa Cruz Bee Company. Visit goods4goodmarket.com.

The Local Box Shop offers hand-curated, locally sourced gift boxes including ones featuring items from women-owned Santa Cruz County food businesses like Ashby Confections and Friend in Cheeses Jam Co. Each also has soap from nonprofit Homeless Garden Project. Normally there are two sizes, small and large, but the small SC-themed box has sold out for the season. You can buy the large one here. The Local Box Shop also offer a variety of gift boxes sourced from artisans around the greater Bay Area. Company founder Molly Shane started the business earlier this year, partly to help support many “small businesses, artists and makers struggling to stay afloat in our Bay Area community.” She supports more than 25 small businesses, many of which are women-owned, black-owned, immigrant-owned, and POC-owned. thelocalboxshop.com

Speaking of Homeless Garden Project (HGP), their downtown boutique is open for your holiday shopping at 1338 Pacific Ave. As always, the shop has lots of appealing gifts handmade by trainees in HGP’s program. Food products include Lavender Shortbread Cookie Mix (organic ingredients, including lavender hand-picked from HGP’s farm), herb salts and other seasonings, strawberry lemonade pancake mix, and jam.  You can shop online too. Income from gift sales helps provide job training and transitional employment for people who are homeless, and volunteer and educational opportunities for community members who want to learn about and practice sustainable agriculture and social justice. HGP’s job training program delivers an annual average of 90% success for graduates securing stable housing and employment.

Another gift idea: if you want to give someone a Hanukkah gift or early Xmas present: Dec. 12 is HGP’s next virtual “Sustain in Place: A Series of At-Home Tastings” event. Cultivating Growth with Seedfolks will feature readings from Paul Fleishman’s award-winning book Seedfolks, a story of “personal transformation and growth at a community garden.” Readers will include local renowned author Jonathan Franzen, our current and incoming Santa Cruz Mayors (Justin Cummings and Donna Meyers, respectively), and Santa Cruz Shakespeare Artistic Director Mike Ryan. There are a range of ticket packages including one that includes a gift bag with HGP’s cookie mix and jam plus a loaf of La Posta bread. Visit website for more info & tickets.

Mission Hill Creamery is holding its annual gift card sale. Through Dec. 24, the artisan ice cream shop is offering 20% off gift card purchases if you spend at least $25. Go to the shop’s gift card site to order. During checkout, you need to click “add a coupon code” and enter the code “20%OFF” to receive the discount. If you don’t want to order online, you can also order by phone and they can also ship the cards. 1101B Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz, 831-508-0774, missionhillcreamery.com

Johnny’s Harborside is also running a gift card promotion. Buy a gift card for $50 or more and receive 20% back on a separate card. For example, buy a $50 card as a gift and get a free $10 card for yourself, spend $100, get a $20 card, etc. Call ahead for curbside pickup during business hours. 493 Lake Ave, Santa Cruz, 831-479-3430, johnnysharborside.com.


Follow me on:

Twitter @santacruzfoodie

Instagram @tarafatemiwalker

Facebook @santacruzfoodieexaminer

Santa Cruz Foodie Holiday Gift Guide 2020: Local gifts, part 1

Baker’s Bacon offers holiday gift options including this subscription box.
Photo courtesy of Baker’s Bacon.

It is holiday shopping season: with lots of local businesses struggling during the pandemic, I wanted to spread the word about as many as I can, especially for food-related gifts for foodies in your life. Let’s all shop local this year!

I’m going to publish a few articles as the weeks go on. I will be publishing about Santa Cruz County and nearby, including a few Monterey County businesses.

Rocky Road from Mamma Camps Creative Confections earned first place awards at the 2019 Santa Cruz and Santa Clara County Fairs. You can order this treat plus other confections like chocolate-covered cherry mice and family-sized chocolate peanut butter cups—all handmade by Jen Campagnolo—at her Etsy store @mammacamps or via her FB group (author’s note: when this was first published Jen was going to be at this weekend’s Holiday Sip & Shop Market at the Chaminademore details below – but she is now unable to attend). The treats were first made by Jen’s grandmother; recipes were passed from her to Jen’s aunt and then to Jen, who has made slight adjustments to a few ingredients. Jen is a Live Oak local. I haven’t met Jen in person, but we are both elementary school parent volunteers and participated in the same Zoom call recently. One of the other attendees ordered some Rocky Road and gushed about how great it was last holiday season—that’s how I first learned that Jen is a talented candy-maker. Follow her on IG @mammacampschocolates.

Holiday Sip & Shop Market at the Chaminade: Saturday, Nov. 28, 1-5 p.m.

This open-air holiday market features local artisans with both food-related (like honey from Santa Cruz Bee Company) and non-food-related gifts (candles, jewelry, prints, and more, including skin care from Spa at Chaminade). Admission is complimentary for browsing and shopping, and there will be wine, cookies and small bites available for purchase. There are also two 90-minute fee-based classes if you’d like to learn to make a holiday wreath or centerpiece for yourself or to give as a gift. Tickets are limited in order to enforce social distancing; advance purchase is required through event site. Cost is $50 per class or both for $85 and $10 from each ticket benefits Second Harvest Food Bank. Chaminade Resort & Spa, One Chaminade Lane, Santa Cruz, (831) 475-5600.

Also this weekend is the 7th Annual Santa Cruz Mountains Holiday Makers Market: Friday & Saturday, Nov. 27-28, 10am-4pm.

This year organizers are spreading the market out over two days to accommodate for social distancing. Masks are required for entry and a limited number of shoppers will be allowed in the building at one time. Admission is free. There are different artists and craftspeople featured each day, and it’s at Felton Community Hall (6191 Highway 9). Vendors will include Ashby Confections, Bee Happy Today, Big Paw Olive Oil, California Jam Queen, and Coastside Homegoods. Visit scmmakersmarket.com/scm-holiday-makers-market for full list (including who is there on each day) and more details.

Finally, if you have any bacon lovers you’re shopping for, here is some great news. Baker’s Bacon is a scrumptious, artisan product made by Monterey County chef Tony Baker. I have been a Tony Baker fan for a long time, having dined at Monterey’s Montrio Bistro back when he was executive chef. The England native launched his bacon company in 2011, and for many years he only sold to high-end restaurant chefs across the county. Now, he is selling bacon to consumers through his website bakersbacon.com and through his retail shop in Marina. There are subscription options and gift boxes perfect for the holidays.

Baker’s Bacon is offered in two styles, British-style Uncured Back Bacon and Dry-Cured Double-Smoked Bacon. It’s made in small batches at a California smokehouse with sustainably raised heritage breed pork (the pigs are from family-owned Iowa farms). I had the pleasure of receiving complimentary samples, and I can say with confidence this is high-quality, delicious bacon.

Gift boxes, with three bacon packages, are $42 plus shipping (anywhere in the country). Subscription boxes, with eight bacon packages, are $95 including shipping (for these, states are limited). If you decide to shop at the Marina retail location (445 Reservation Rd. Suite G, 831-250-0606, weekdays only), note that they also carry products like Santa Cruz County’s Rogue Pyes (frozen) and packaged dinner kits like “everything you need to make pasta Alfredo with bacon.”

Please email tara@santacruzfoodie.com if you have information to share, or corrections, for future articles.

Follow me on:

Twitter @santacruzfoodie

Instagram @tarafatemiwalker

Facebook @santacruzfoodieexaminer

Valentine’s Day gifts for the coffee & breakfast lover

Double Breakfast Sandwich Maker — one of many gift possibilities from Hamilton Beach for Valentine’s Day or any occasion
Photo courtesy of Hamilton Beach

If you’re looking for a special Valentine’s Day gift for someone who takes their home coffee and breakfast making seriously, I got to sample some Hamilton Beach products recently and can tell you about a few. Hamilton Beach products are generally available online at hamiltonbeach.com, Amazon.com and at select retailers.

First, the FlexBrew Coffee Maker, which is a combination of Single Serve and Full Coffee Pot. If you want a full or half pot of coffee, use the traditional glass carafe. If you want a single cup, use the other side of the machine with either K-cups/pods or ground coffee, depending what size cup you’re looking for. It’s very convenient to have all these options; my family has used all three in the few days since we first got the machine. It retails at $89.99 and can be found at the aforementioned places plus Walmart.

Next, the Double Breakfast Sandwich Maker, which allows you to make quick-yet-delicious customizable breakfast to enjoy at home or on the go. You choose your bread and add ingredients like eggs, cheese, precooked meat, avocado, vegetables, etc. If you need sandwich inspiration, there are enticing recipes on the company’s site like Avocado, Egg White & Swiss Cheese Breakfast Sandwich (see below for one more). You can cook two breakfast sandwiches in five minutes or less, and then cleanup is easy because the removable parts are dishwasher-safe. In addition to Hamilton Beach’s site and Amazon, this one’s available at Target. Cost is $39.99.

Last but not least, the Belgian Style Flip Waffle Maker — which as of early February was out of stock on the HB site, but is often available at Walmart or Amazon ($39.99). You can change the browning setting depending how light or dark you like your waffles, and because of the “Flip” style, it’s easier to make thick, fluffy waffles like you find at restaurants. There are easily accessible recipes for traditional buttermilk waffles and unusual spin-offs like Tater Tot waffles (yes, ingredients like 40 thawed tater tots play a part in this concoction!).

No matter what you choose to buy your Valentine—or yourself—for the occasion, I hope it’s a happy one for all you foodies and home chefs out there.

Recipe: Cheddar, Apple, Bacon and Egg Croissant Sandwich

Courtesy of Hamilton Beach / From The Hamilton Beach Test Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 mini croissant, halved
  • 2 tablespoons shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 to 2 thin slices Granny Smith apple
  • 1 slice precooked bacon, cut in half
  • 1 large egg, lightly scrambled

Directions

  1. Preheat Breakfast Sandwich Maker until green PREHEAT light comes on. Lift cover, top ring and cooking plate.
  2. Place bottom half of croissant, cut-side up in bottom ring of Breakfast Sandwich Maker. Top with cheese, apple slices and bacon.
  3. Lower cooking plate and top ring. Add egg to cooking plate.
  4. Top with remaining croissant half, cut-side down.
  5. Close cover. Cook 4 to 5 minutes.
  6. Slide out cooking plate by rotating handle clockwise. Lift cover and rings; carefully remove sandwich with plastic spatula.

Serves: 1

Test Kitchen Tip: For a lightly browned croissant top, cook the egg in the top ring without the croissant for 3 to 4 minutes or until egg is just about done. Lift the cover, add the croissant and continue cooking until top is lightly toasted and egg is cooked.

Follow me on:

Twitter @santacruzfoodie

Instagram @tarafatemiwalker

Facebook @santacruzfoodieexaminer

 

 

 

Mother’s Day gift ideas from Tea Forté

Chakra Collection, with vanilla Veda chai and more–one of many gift possibilities from Tea Forté. Photo courtesy of Tea Forté

If you’re looking for a special Mother’s Day gift for a woman who is a tea lover, I got to sample some Tea Forté products recently and can tell you they are both beautiful AND delicious! Plus, there are a range of prices depending how simple or extravagant your needs are.

 

If you’re unfamiliar with the company, they are the exclusive tea purveyor to the James Beard Foundation and they supply many hotels, restaurants and resorts in 35 countries. I first tried Tea Forté at a hotel in Las Vegas about 10 years ago, and was hooked.

 

Back to the tea and gifts. There’s the new Ceremonial Matcha Bowl Set and Matcha Single Steeps, which both came out in February 2018. Matcha, a finely ground Japanese-style green tea, is renowned for its health benefits. “Steeped green tea contains only the antioxidants that can be extracted in water, while with matcha, the whole leaf is consumed,” said a Tea Forté spokesperson. “Our high-grade matcha is shaded in the weeks prior to harvest, increasing chlorophyll and encouraging the deep emerald hue.”

 

The bowl set includes a handcrafted bowl and bamboo whisk, plus a measuring ladle, and is priced at $65. The steeps are prepackaged and measured for single servings. The five teas are gluten-free and vegan, and there is Pure Matcha plus four flavored varieties: Chocolate Matcha, Coconut Matcha, Ginger Matcha and Chai Matcha. A sampler package with 15 single servings costs $35.

 

Tea Forté also released a Chakra Collection in 2018. “Tea Forté’s first collection of all-chai teas, our Chakra Collection was designed with the ritual tea drinker in mind,” said CEO Michael Gebrael. “Chai has the unique effect of being simultaneously energizing and grounding, which makes it an ideal tea for focused wellness practices such as yoga, barre, and Pilates.”

 

Chakra Blends include:

  • Maté Mantra Chai
  • Vanilla Veda Chai
  • Ginger Guru Chai
  • Rooibos Raja Chai
  • Turmeric Tantra Chai

They come in attractive presentation boxes that hold Tea Forté’s signature pyramid infusers (10 for $22 or 20 for $34), or a single steep box (15 for $20). Chakra chai teas are also available in loose tea canisters for $18; the recyclable canisters make between 35-50 servings.

To accompany any tea you choose, how about a combination steeping cup/infuser? Tea Forté makes a really nice one—it’s a lidded, double-walled ceramic cup with a stainless steel infuser for loose tea ($20).

Last but not least, there is the Dolce Vita Collection of organic dessert teas: Berry Basket, Raspberry Coconut, Pear Cobbler, Belgian Mint and Mango Mélange. The assortment features black, white and herbal teas. Prices range from $16-30.

These are by no means the only products available, visit the site for the full selection—be prepared for a lot of fun choices, like loose leaf trios (three interlocking tins; each steeps approximately 10 cups) or tea chests. If you can’t decide, there are gift cards.

Tea Forté products are available online at teaforte.com and at select retailers.

Follow me on:

Twitter @santacruzfoodie

Instagram @tarafatemiwalker

Facebook @santacruzfoodieexaminer