Tag Archives: 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 and Hanukkah goodies at Whole Foods Market in Santa Cruz & Capitola

Christmas and Hanukkah are coming soon—in case you need some inspiration, I looked to Whole Foods Market for a few tips. Whole Foods Market locations in Capitola (1710 41st Ave.) and Santa Cruz (911 Soquel Ave.) always have lots of delicious, seasonal products, and the company generously gave me a gift card to enjoy a few items.

You can place orders in person or online; they must be made 48 hours before you want to pick them up. Depending on occasion, customers can place their holiday orders through Dec. 29; pick up dates are from Dec. 19-31.

Whole Foods Market has partnered with James Beard Award-winning chef, restaurateur and author Michael Solomonov for a pre-made Hanukkah meal for eight. Solomonov wrote “Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking.” Here are details on the meal:

  • Chicken Schnitzel with Apple Amba SauceMatzo-crusted chicken cutlers with hawaij—turmeric, cumin and black pepper—then fried crisp and served with a tangy Apple Amba Sauce
  • Green Beans with Mushrooms and Tehina (Vegetarian) – Tender green beans roasted with mushrooms and tossed in tehina sauce—tehina, apple cider vinegar, shallots and fenugreek—topped with beluga lentils and crispy garlic
  • Twice-Cooked Eggplant (Vegetarian) – First charred for deep flavors, eggplant is then mashed and simmered with onions, red bell pepper, paprika and coriander, and brightened by sherry vinegar and lemon juice
  • Leek and Potato Cakes – Shredded potato, matzo and onion pancakes, fried until crisp and tasty

There are three other chefs that Whole Foods Market has collaborated with this holiday season: Nicole Rucker, James Beard Award–winning cookbook author Stella Parks, and cookbook author Jenné Claiborne. Their special offerings include desserts like Honey Chess Pie (think buttery custard, warming spices flaky crust, whipped cream and candied ginger – this is from Rucker, a four-time blue-ribbon pie contest winner and author of “Dappled: Baking Recipes for Fruit Lovers). Have a different kind of sweet tooth? There’s Parks’ Caramel Spice Cake (includes buttermilk spice cake, layers of cranberry jam, cream cheese frosting, and caramel glaze—pastry chef Parks wrote “BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts). Chef/blogger Claiborne, author of “Sweet Potato Soul: 100 Easy Vegan Recipes,” has created a vegan Southern holiday meal for two which includes mushroom étouffée (delicious – I tried it!) and black-eyed pea fritters.

Traditional offerings include classic roast turkey dinner (turkey breast for four or whole turkey for four, eight or 12—includes sides like green beans with roasted shallots), and prime rib or spiral-sliced ham dinner for eight. A la carte sides include creamed spinach and kale (includes cream, Parmesan and garlic), corn pudding, and cider-roasted Brussels sprouts with pepitas.

Other Whole Foods Market order-ahead offerings perfect for the holidays:

  • Appetizers & Party Platters like Crostini Kits (varieties include Chevre & Tomato Crostini, Smoked Salmon Crostini, Roast Vegetable Crostini), Crab Cakes, or Antipasti Platter. Each of these platters serves 10.
  • Desserts like Mini Pastry Platter or Berry Chantilly Cake (each serves eight) or Pistachio Chocolate Torte (serves six)

 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.

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

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Halloween treats & baking tools

Welch’s Halloween Fruit Snacks are available through Nov. 1 nationwide
Photo credit: Welch’s

Halloween is fast approaching—here are a couple treats and tools for those looking for shopping and/or baking ideas.

 

  • Welch’s Halloween Fruit Snacks: Welch’s created a special fruit snack package just for Halloween: the fruit snacks are shaped like pumpkins, castles, witches, bats and ghosts. The individual pouches are .5 ounces, smaller than standard ones, so they’re a nice change for giving out to Trick-or-Treaters or just giving to your own kids at home (and I must admit, I have enjoyed them personally—these aren’t just tempting to children!). They are “mixed fruit flavor” and come in 28-pouch boxes. Looking for a store that carries them? Visit the Welch’s Fruit Snack online finder.

 

  • Hershey’s Halloween: this year, Halloween- or fall-themed products from Hershey’s include pumpkin spice kisses, cookies ‘n’ creme skulls, and Reese’s peanut butter pumpkins. Learn more at hersheys.com.

 

  • Chicago Metallic’s Ghost/Pumpkin Silicone Mold ($19.99 on Amazon.com) enables you to bake or mold 12 small desserts or individual servings. You can use fun Halloween shapes and it’s great for mini cakes, brownies, marshmallows, gelatin, ice cubes, and more. Recipes included.

 

 

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Valentine’s Day gifts & activities from Santa Cruz chocolatiers, Gilroy Premium Outlets

Mutari Craft Chocolate House on Pacific Ave.
Photo credit: Mutari Facebook page

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching—here are some shopping ideas if you’re a chocolate lover in Santa Cruz or you’re considering a trip to Gilroy Premium Outlets.

 

Santa Cruz Chocolatiers

Santa Cruz County residents are very lucky; we have a variety of talented local chocolatiers. Some highlights, in alphabetical order:

 

Ashby Confections, 16 Victor Square, Scotts Valley

 

Donnelly Fine Chocolates, 1509 Mission St., Santa Cruz

 

Mackenzies Chocolate, 1492 Soquel Ave. Santa Cruz

 

Mutari Chocolate (specializes in single origin craft drinking chocolate, it’s featuring housemade bon bons for Valentine’s shopping) – two locations: 1108 Pacific Ave., next door to Assembly, and 504A Front St. In honor of Valentine’s Day, the Front St. location — usually open weekends only — is going to be open Wednesday 2/14 from noon to 9 p.m.

Gilroy Outlets

 

If you haven’t made restaurant reservations yet, there aren’t many left—how about staying home with your significant other or gathering a group of friends for some Valentine’s Day fun? Host a stay at home date or girls’ night with goods from Le Creuset or Kitchen Collection for accessories and tools to whip up a festive dinner party. Both have shops at the Gilroy Outlets.

 

Want to buy a sweet Valentine’s gift, either for yourself or someone else (whether it be a romantic partner, a co-worker, family member or friend)? You can find raspberry hearts, “conversation beans,” sour “smoochi” lips, Valentine’s Day gift boxes and more at the Jelly Belly store.

 

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Dads & Grads gifts: Gilroy Premium Outlets, Santa Cruz restaurants & cookies

Selections from Le Creuset at Gilroy Premium Outlets. Photo credit: Le Creuset

Waited ‘til the last minute to buy the dad or grad in your life a gift for this weekend? If they like to cook or are a candy fan, see below for a few gift ideas at Gilroy Premium Outlets. Remember that the outlets feature nearly 150 stores, incorporating a range of tastes. For the dad not particularly interested in food, Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th has a great selection of clothing and ties, plus designer sunglasses and wallets. And Bose is a good option for the dad that loves music or television.

Outlet hours are 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday.

 

Also, if you are shopping for a Santa Cruz foodie or are interested in purchasing a gift with a Santa Cruz theme, see end of article for more ideas.

Gilroy Outlets Food and Cooking Gift Ideas

    • Gift possibilities include grilling skillets, tongs, basting brushes and panini sets for Dad
    • Personalized gift boxes for dads and grads
    • Unique flavors including draft beer
    • Kitchen gadgets, cutlery, small appliances, BBQ accessories

 

Gilroy Outlets restaurants or cafes to purchase gift cards

  • Erik’s Deli Café
  • Starbucks

 

For refreshments while shopping, in addition to the aforementioned Starbucks and Erik’s Deli (the Sandwiches with Character at the latter are always popular), three options are:

  • All Natural Carts  (fresh fruit parfaits you can eat on the go)
  • Auntie Anne’s Pretzels
  • Gilroy Market Place (specialty coffees, pizza, garlic fries, sandwiches and more)

 

Santa Cruz Gifts/Gift Cards

Lots of folks appreciate restaurant gift cards; one idea is a card from The Glass Jar, which owns Assembly, The Picnic Basket and The Penny Ice Creamery. Purchase a card at any of these three, and your recipient can choose which venue to redeem it at. Same with Soif and La Posta, you can purchase gift cards at either restaurant, and they are good at both.

 

Last but not least, Pacific Cookie Company has options if you want to mail a gift. These include what they refer to as “dad-inspired cookie gifts” like Executive Sweet Pack (15 cookies, currently on sale for $23.50 from $26.50). Graduation-themed gifts include Congratulations Cookie Gift Tower (a dozen cookies, $21.95).

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