Tag Archives: holiday shopping

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.


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Foodie Holiday Gift Guide 2020: Local gifts, part 2

British-style “Scrumptious Fish & Chips” will be at the West Cliff Outdoor Market this weekend. Photo courtesy of Scrumptious Fish & Chips

Here is part two of my local foodie holiday gift guide, including several Santa Cruz County businesses (here is part 1). Happy shopping; let’s support small businesses & buy some gifts for friends and family at the same time.

Can’t decide what to buy but want to support downtown Santa Cruz businesses? Purchase some Downtown Dollars (they come in $10 increments—I’ve been using them as fun gifts for years!) online or in person at Bookshop Santa Cruz, the Downtown Information Kiosk (1130-K2 Pacific Ave.) or Pacific Cookie Company. Your gift recipient can spend the dollars at places including restaurants and grocery-and-other-retailers; see full list on the site. Visit downtownsantacruz.com/discover/downtown-dollars.

Speaking of Pacific Cookie Company this sweet vendor has options like Surf City Sweets Cookie Gift Tower ($19.95) with a dozen two-oz. cookies, The Santa Cruz Cookie Gift Tin ($31.95) with 36 one-oz. cookies, or Sleigh All Day Cookie Basket ($32.95) with 15 cookies on a birch sleigh. They even have a Quarantine Cookie Care Package ($21.95) that includes a dozen cookies plus toilet paper (!). They are offering a 15% discount if you shop online by Sunday, Nov. 29 at 11:59pm PST (enter code EARLY2020 at checkout). You can choose a future ship date if you prefer. UPDATE DEC. 2: I realize that promotion ended; I just heard of a new one that is valid until 12/6 – use HOLIDAY5 at checkout to save $5.

Toque Blanche recently started its Black Friday specials, which last through Monday 11/30. The downtown Santa Cruz kitchenware retailer is featuring discounts on items such as Le Creuset (stock pot, roaster, whistling kettle) and Wusthof knives. Don’t forget they also carry a selection of packaged food including Carmel Honey Company and Rancho Gordo. 1527 Pacific Ave., 831-426-1351, mytoque.com.

Small Business Saturday is this Saturday, Nov. 28. Some retailers are having specials. Kianti’s Pizza & Pasta is offering this bonus: For every $25 you spend on gift cards you get $5 off. Customers must purchase in person at the restaurant. 1100 Pacific Ave., 831-469-4400, kiantis.com

This weekend is the West Cliff Outdoor Market 2020: Friday & Saturday, Nov. 27-28, 10am-4pm.

The socially distanced holiday outdoor market features unique artisans, and food trucks will be there with items for purchase. The market will be held in two parking lots along West Cliff Drive, overlooking Steamers Lane. Social distancing guidelines will be enforced; all vendors and attendees are required to wear face masks. Artisans selling products include Davenport-based Ancient Hands Tile Art and Santa Cruz’s Be Heart Now. See event page for full list of vendors. Food trucks will include Scrumptious Fish & Chips (British-style fish and chips made by England natives who live locally) and Santa Cruz County’s Taquizas Gabriel. Admission is free.

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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.

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Christmas shopping: last minute restaurant gift card bonuses

Photo caption: Sushi Garden is offering discount gift cards this holiday season

Two weeks ago I posted this article with eight different “gift card bonus offers” from Santa Cruz and Capitola restaurants. Here are a few more for any of you doing very-last-minute shopping.

 

Capitola, Scotts Valley and Watsonville

Sushi Garden is offering 10% off if you purchase at least $50 worth of gift certificates. You have to buy them by Dec. 24, and they’re valid at all three locations: Capitola (820 Bay Ave.), Scotts Valley (5600 Scotts Valley Dr.) and Watsonville (1441 Main St.).Visit sushi-garden.com.

 

Capitola, Scotts Valley and Santa Cruz

Jamba Juice is offering a gift card deal this holiday season, through Christmas. If you buy $25 in gift cards, you get a $5 bonus card redeemable in January and February. For more information, visit jambajuice.com. Local stores include Capitola (3555 Clares St.), Santa Cruz (1550 Pacific Ave.), and Scotts Valley (214 Mt. Hermon Rd.).

 

Santa Cruz

At Blaze Pizza (1901 Mission St.), if you buy a $25 gift card by Dec. 31, you get a free pizza reward to use at in 2019 (Jan. 1-Feb. 28). Restrictions: You must be a Blaze Rewards member (but it’s easy to sign up). For more information, visit blazepizza.com/locations/santa-cruz.

 

And finally, even though it’s not food-related, I have to mention Bookshop Santa Cruz because it’s such a wonderful, independent resource—and it’s been so for more than 50 years! Through the holiday season, you receive a free $10 BSC gift card when you purchase four $25 gift cards, or a free $5 gift card when you purchase five $10 gift cards. Speaking of food, your gift recipients (or you!) can buy a cookbook or a different type of food book (Ruth Reichl’s Comfort me With Apples…Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential, etc.). Visit bookshopsantacruz.com.

 

Best wishes for a great 2019!

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Last-minute Cuisinart gift ideas for chefs and foodies

Cuisinart released this Air Fryer Toaster Oven in 2017. Photo credit: Cuisinart

Have some last-minute holiday shopping left to do? If any of these gift recipients are amateur chefs or just plain foodies, Cuisinart has a few gift ideas. Retailers that carry some of these selections include Bed Bath & Beyond, Kohl’s, Williams Sonoma and Walmart.

 

First, the Air Fryer Toaster Oven, which was released in 2017. This product is a full-size toaster oven with a built-in air fryer. It bakes, broils, and toasts, AND it allows you to air fry inside the oven. Curious about air frying? This is from Cuisinart’s web site: “Air frying, which uses powerful ultra-hot air, is a healthier way to prepare delicious fried favorites, from wings to fritters to fries to shrimp.” The product’s interior is large enough to “…air fry up to three pounds, toast six slices of bread, or bake a four-pound chicken or 12-inch pizza.” Retail price is $199. See below for a three-ingredient “Airfried S’Mores” recipe. Also visit Cuisinart’s online recipes for more.

 

Cuisinart’s eight-cup food processor, originally released back in 2014, is stainless steel and retails at $99.95. The company kindly sent me a sample—I love the shape and size (different than my previous one, which I used religiously for years!). Also, I appreciate that the parts can go into the dishwasher. The last thing I want to do after spending a bunch of time cooking is then using more time washing dishes by hand!

 

I know that many people have two food processors, so that they can use a smaller one for things like pesto and light chopping needs. If you know someone who cooks a lot, that already has a large processor, I would consider this four-cup chopper/grinder. It’s only $39.95 and it apparently comes with a handy recipe book (I don’t have one personally, so I can’t vouch for the recipes).

 

If you’re looking for bakeware, I’ve found Cuisinart’s line to be highly dependable. Actually, I like using the mini heart pans to make savory dishes as well as sweet ones. I often make egg bakes in a glass baking dish or mini-muffin pans, and then save some of the batter for one of the mini hearts. It’s fun to surprise my 7-year-old daughter with a heart-shaped concoction. My latest was simple, with egg, chicken sausage, onion and a topping of shredded cheese, but it did the trick! I have also used my “easy-grip” non-stick 17-inch baking sheet with silicone grip handles ($23.95) for successful cookies and equally successful sheet pan dinners.

 

Airfried S’Mores Recipe (courtesy of Cuisinart)

Makes 8 servings

 

Ingredients:

16 graham cracker squares

8 squares milk chocolate (about 2 ounces)

8 standard marshmallows

 

  1. Put 8 graham cracker squares on the AirFryer basket. Place a chocolate square in the center of each cracker and top each with a marshmallow.
  2. Put the basket in the upper position. Set to AirFry at 350 degrees F. AirFry for 3 ½ to 4 minutes, or until the marshmallows are lightly toasted.
  3. Carefully remove from the AirFryer and transfer to a plate. Top each with the remaining crackers.

 

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Santa Cruz holiday shopping: Gift card bonus offers for restaurants

Pono Hawaiian Grill is offering discount gift cards this holiday season

If you’re in Santa Cruz or Capitola and have some gift or stocking stuffer shopping to do, you’ll be happy to know that several restaurants are offering “gift certificate bonus deals” for the 2018 holiday season. Here are a few options – if you hear of any more, let me know at tara@santacruzfoodie.com so I can share with everyone, thanks!

Santa Cruz

Pono Hawaiian Grill (120 Union St.) – If you buy a $25 gift card, it costs $20. If you buy a $100 card, you get a $20 bonus certificate. The offer is valid until Dec. 31. For more information, call 831-426-7666 or visit ponohawaiiangrill.com.

 

Hula’s Island Grill: ((221 Cathcart St.): Purchase a $50 gift certificate and get a $10 card free to keep for yourself. Purchase $100 and get a $20 certificate free. Offer available until December 23. For more information, call 831-426-4852 or visit hulastiki.com.

 

Mission Hill Creamery (1101B Pacific Ave., 831-216-6421) is offering gift cards at a 20 percent discount. Purchase cards such as a $10 card for $8 or a $50 card for $40. The promotion is valid through Dec. 24. Visit missionhillcreamery.com.

 

Woodstock’s Pizza  – Now through Christmas, for every $50 in gift cards you purchase, you get 5 free “Woody Bucks.” The Santa Cruz location is 710 Front St. Call 831-427-4444 or visit woodstockscruz.com.

 

Denny’s: customers who buy a $25 Denny’s gift card will receive $50 in coupons for future visits. The offer is valid through Dec. 25. The Santa Cruz location is 1515 Ocean St. Call 831-426-4628 or visit dennys.com.

 

Capitola

Paradise Beach Grille (215 Esplanade): Buy a $100 gift certificate for $80. Offer valid through Christmas. Call 831-476-4900 or visit paradisebeachgrille.com

 

Chili’s  – If you buy $50 in gift cards, you receive a $10 bonus card to keep for yourself. The Capitola branch is at 1855 41st Ave. For more information, call 831-462-1813 or visit chilis.com.

 

IHOP – If you buy a $25 gift card, you receive a $5 bonus coupon. The Capitola branch is at 1549 41st Ave. For more information, call 831-475-0540 or visit ihop.com.

 

Happy holiday shopping & Bon Appetit!

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A Cuisinart Christmas: Gift ideas for chefs, bakers, coffee lovers and more

Cuisinart released this automatic cold brew coffee maker in March 2017—a great gift for coffee lovers
Photo credit: Cuisinart

If you have last-minute holiday shopping left to do and you have chefs or bakers on your list—or even just people that appreciate good coffee or an excellent toaster!—here are a few gift ideas from Cuisinart. The items cover a range of budgets, too. Some of the products are brand-new, while others are tried and true. Retailers that carry some of these selections include Target, Kohl’s and Bed Bath & Beyond.

Cuisinart has a new automatic cold brew coffee maker that was released in March, which makes cold brew coffee in far less time than manual coffeemakers. Using “unique spin technology,” Cuisinart promises coffee in as little as 25 minutes in a choice of three flavor strengths. Coffee can be refrigerated in the seven-cup glass carafe for up to two weeks. Retail price is $99.95. The recipe section of Cuisinart’s site includes one for “Creamy Cold Brew Coconut Coffee.”

Another new item—also just released in March—is a Cuisinart “PrepExpress” spiralizer. It’s actually described as a 3-in-1 slicer, shredder AND spiralizer, and can make eating healthier much easier. Uses include wide ribbons or crinkle-cut spirals of fresh zucchini and apples, thin or wide butternut squash or beet ‘spaghetti,’ cucumber slices for salads, and thick or thin shreds of veggies for snacks or fajita fillings. Retail price is $69.95.

I have a stainless steel four-slice Cuisinart toaster at home that I highly recommend. I never imagined how much I’d appreciate having the ability to toast three or four bread slices or frozen waffles at once instead of just two. It sure makes the mornings easier when my husband and I are trying to have a quick breakfast and get ourselves to work and our daughter to school on time! Plus, this toaster has customizable settings for each two-slice section (including food type, like waffle/bread/bagel/English muffin, and a shade scale ranging from 1-7). You can do toast on a darker setting on one side, and a waffle to a medium golden brown on the other.

If you’re looking for baking gifts, Cuisinart has several fun products including a non-stick, dishwasher-safe “Mini Bakeware” line with selections ranging from $5.95-$10.95. I like the mini heart pans (set of 4, $9.95), and Pinterest has a lot of recipes using this type of pan. There are also traditional baking pans like an “easy-grip” non-stick 17-inch baking sheet ($23.95) with silicone grip handles or a non-stick 24-cup mini muffin pan ($15.95).

If you want to browse all of the company’s recipes for inspiration around the holidays or any time of year, here’s the site.

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Last minute foodie holiday gifts in Santa Cruz

Cookies from Pacific Cookie Co. Photo credit: PCC web site

Cookies from Pacific Cookie Co.
Photo credit: PCC web site

Haven’t finished your holiday shopping and have some foodies on your list? Want to shop local? There are lots of choices in the Santa Cruz area including some discounts; here are some highlights including a gift fair tomorrow that has plenty of options–whether you want to buy something food/drink-related or something else that’s made locally.

First, the gift fair:

2nd Annual Holiday Artisan Food & Gift Market — Saturday 12/17 at Food Lounge

I went to this fabulous event last year and bought gift items for several friends/family members, not to mention a few things for myself! The market will feature locally made packaged foods including jams, olive oil and hot sauce that are currently available in the Food Lounge Pantry, which opened in September. The holiday market will also offer beautiful jewelry, textiles, glass art, print art and kitchen antiques. Additionally, a few small-batch food producers will offer tamales, empanadas, meat pies and other items that would work well for holiday entertaining or for a delicious dinner with your family. Plus they will sell ready to eat food that customers can enjoy while shopping like empanadas (from La Sofrita Puerto Rican pop-up), tamales (Yoli’s Adobo) and savory pies (Artisan Hand Pies).

“We offer this market as close to the holidays as possible so that all of our vendors’ food-based products are fresh for gift-giving and entertaining,” said Andrea Conklin Mollenauer, one of the three partners in the Food Lounge, an incubator kitchen and event venue that will celebrate its second birthday in January. “We are excited to offer market space to 25 local vendors who don’t have their own brick-and- mortar places to sell products.”

Vendors with food gifts will include Friend in Cheeses Jam Co., Notso Hot Sauce, My Mom’s Mole, Ashby Confections, and Farmer Freed Salts. Non-food vendors will include True Blue Indigo (textiles), Love Light Vintage Candles, Verdant California (body products) and  Fereshteh Fatemi (artisan jewelry and greeting cards – disclaimer, this is the author’s mother).

In addition to the holiday market, the Food Lounge Pantry is open Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to

7 p.m. as a hub for local artisan food products – a perfect stop for holiday shopping, including next week when you realize which folks you forgot to buy for!

Location: Food Lounge, 1001 Center St. Santa Cruz

Date/Time: Sat Dec. 17, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Next, some gift card discount highlights:

Until Christmas, Hula’s Santa Cruz (221 Cathcart St.) is offering a special: Purchase a $50 gift certificate for someone else and get a free $10 certificate for yourself; purchase $100 and get a free $20 gift card to treat yourself.

Mission Hill Creamery (1101 Pacific Ave.) has these discounts until Christmas: Buy a $25 gift card for $20 OR buy four $10 gift cards and receive the fifth free OR re-Charge your existing gift card with at least $20 and get 20% off your gift card purchase.

Through Dec. 24, Johnny’s Harborside (493 Lake) is offering a bonus: Purchase a $50 gift certificate for someone else and get $10 free; spend $100 and get $20 free, etc.

Other gift ideas

Last but not least, other foodie gift options include certificates from local restaurants. The Glass Jar announced they’re offering a card that’s good at any of their three restaurants—that’s Assembly, The Picnic Basket AND The Penny Ice Creamery. If you know people who are fans of Soif and/or La Posta, you can also purchase gift cards that are good at both. And Crow’s Nest gift cards are redeemable at the restaurant or its neighboring Crow’s Nest Beach Market.

Want to send a sweet Santa Cruz-themed food gift to someone? Pacific Cookie Company has lots of options. These include Top Tier Cookies & Chocolate Box ($49.95), with 36 two-ounce cookies and 32 white and milk chocolate flower medallions made by local chocolatier Mackenzies Chocolate; Sweet Elegance Cookie Gift Box ($37.95) with 24 two-oz. cookies, Season’s Eatings Christmas Tin ($26.95) with 36 one-oz. cookies, and Classic Cookies and Milk ($24.95) with a dozen two-ounce cookies and two 8-oz cartons of organic milk (it’s shelf-stable low-fat Horizon milk which doesn’t require refrigeration). Also, Los Gatos-based Manresa Bread now ships its scrumptious artisan bread anywhere in the continental U.S.; see my November article and/or the Manresa site for details.

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Christmas 2016 at Whole Foods Market on the Central Coast

Assorted cheese from Whole Foods Market Credit: Whole Foods Market

Assorted cheese from Whole Foods Market
Credit: Whole Foods Market

Whether you need to shop for a holiday feast or check some folks off your gift list, Whole Foods Market locations in Capitola, Santa Cruz and Monterey have lots to choose from—including the always-dependable gift card idea (ones for the market itself or for other retailers).

Customers need to place orders for holiday dinners two days ahead of their desired pick up date. Food is available for pickup Dec. 18-24, and then again on Dec. 26 (WFM is closed on Christmas Day). Order in person or online.

For gifts, WFM has several selections where part of your purchase goes to a worthy cause. For example, they partnered with PBS Kids to carry the company’s toys and help raise money. I’ve seen some of the Aurora Plush Animals in the store (pandas, penguins, foxes and more) and they definitely look cuddle-able! Some of the animals are endangered species. There are also some colorful and fun PBS Kids toys made with a composite featuring rubber wood from mature trees that no longer produce latex. All net proceeds benefit PBS Kids’ mission of “building knowledge, critical thinking, imagination and curiosity to empower children for success.”

Other “gifts with a cause” include ones where part of proceeds goes to Whole Planet Foundation to help alleviate poverty worldwide. These include Alaffia trios (coconut oil triple-milled bar soap or whipped body butter); one percent benefits WPF. Or if you buy west elm kitchen products made from upcycled denim—such as potholders—a dollar from each purchase goes to WPF. In addition, they have gift cards for sale where one percent benefits the Whole Kids Foundation (which aims to support schools and inspire families to improve children’s nutrition and wellness). These include Chipotle and Best Buy physical gift cards, and Starbucks digital cards.

There are room sprays and handmade soy wax candles from Thistle Farms; scents include lavender & lemon (Gratitude) and Geranium & Citrus (Hope). Thistle Farms is a community, sanctuary and social enterprise led by women survivors of trafficking, addiction and prostitution. It provides housing, recovery support and education. Each spray or candle purchase directly benefits the women who made it.

WFM wine experts have compiled a list of “10 favorite wines for the holiday season.” Available online, each wine has several suggested food pairings plus a recipe for an additional food pairing. Two examples: Andover Estate Pinot Noir goes well with items like Sartori Herbs des Provence BellaVitano cheese or roasted winter vegetables, or with the dish “Easy Porchetta Pork Tenderloin” (recipe included). Autoritas Sauvignon Blanc pairs well with Vermont Creamery Coupole cheese, poached white-fleshed fish, or “Bay Scallop Linguine with White Wine and Parsley” (recipe included).

There are lots of other enticing articles on the WFM blog, including ones with recipes like “holiday cakes worth celebrating” (includes mini chocolate ricotta cakes and cinnamon-almond olive oil cake) and “holiday appetizers” (how about sweet potato bacon bites, spinach bites with honey mustard, or pigs in a blanket with cranberry-mustard dipping sauce? Ok now I’m hungry!).

For holiday appetizers, if you’re a cheese fan, WFM just announced a big “12 Days of Cheese” sale. From Dec. 13-24, a different artisan cheese is on sale for FIFTY PERCENT OFF each day! Some highlights with notes from the market’s cheese experts:

Vermont Creamery, Bonne Bouche (Dec. 15)

  • This mild ash-ripened goat cheese with earthy notes and a subtle hazelnut flavor is a visually stunning addition to any cheese board.

Uplands Cheese Company, Pheasant Ridge Reserve (Dec. 17)

  • The only three-time winner of the American Cheese Society Best of Show, this cheese has a sweet, broth-like flavor with notes of butterscotch and fruit.

Cypress Grove Chevre, Truffle Tremor (Dec. 19)

  • A silky, creamy soft-ripened goat cheese packed with truffles. Deep floral, herb and mushroom flavors. An American original!

Rapin, Le Maréchal (Dec. 20)

  • This creamy, raw-milk Alpine cheese is infused with flavor from herbs added by hand during the ripening process.

Papillon, Roquefort (Dec. 21)

  • This classic cave-aged sheep’s milk blue cheese shows rich spiciness, complex layers of flavor and a smooth texture.

Vermont Creamery, St. Albans (Dec. 23)

  • An American take on a traditional French cheese, sourced from milk from one farm. Delicate and smooth with rich creamy flavors and nutty notes.  Non-GMO Project verified.

As I mentioned in my Thanksgiving article, WFM’s 2016 holiday food shopping guide  features selections such as traditional turkey dinner for eight ($99.99). This comes with a fully cooked 10-lb. oven-roasted Diestel turkey, four pounds each of herb stuffing and mashed potatoes, a quart of turkey gravy, a pint of cranberry relish, 16 dinner rolls, and a nine-inch traditional pumpkin pie. You can also order turkeys (cooked or uncooked) and ready-to-eat sides a la carte.

Local Store Details

Whole Foods Market Santa Cruz is located at 911 Soquel Ave. Call (831) 426-9901 for more information.

Whole Foods Market Capitola is located at 1710 41st Ave. Call (831) 464-2900 for more information.

Whole Foods Market Monterey is at 800 Del Monte Center, (831) 333-1600.

 

For more Whole Foods Market locations, see the store locator.

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Twitter @santacruzfoodie

Instagram @tarafatemiwalker

Facebook @santacruzfoodieexaminer

 

Santa Claus visits breakfast buffet at Chaminade Resort & Spa in Santa Cruz

Santa Claus and a breakfast guest at last year’s “Breakfast with Santa” at Chaminade

Santa Claus and a breakfast guest at last year’s “Breakfast with Santa” at Chaminade

During the next two weekends, Chaminade Resort & Spa in Santa Cruz is a great place to visit with your family for “Breakfast with Santa.” These events are Saturday, Dec. 5 and Saturday, Dec. 12 from 9 to 11 a.m.

At the Breakfast with Santa events, Chaminade will serve an extensive buffet with made to order waffles and omelets and more plus champagne or mimosas for adults. There will also be take-home teddy bears for the kids, unlimited pictures with Santa (with your own camera), and letter writing to Santa (Chaminade sends a personalized letter back to kids). The cost is $36.95 adults, $17.95 kids 6-12, and $11.95 kids under 5. Make reservations at the Chaminade web site.

Chaminade also has a holiday shopping event coming up. On Tuesday, Dec. 15 from 6 to 8 p.m., they’re hosting a pop-up Makers Market at the on-site spa. There will be lots of locally handcrafted products and artwork to choose from, plus spa products. Attendees can purchase beverages such as wine to enjoy while they’re shopping.

Follow me on Twitter @santacruzfoodie.

Location: One Chaminade Lane, Santa Cruz, 831-475-5600