Local Food and Drink Gift Ideas
Give a gift that definitely won't be returned. Our Food Editor recommends everything from spices to spirits, all made right here in New Hampshire
We all have that special shelf in the closet or never-opened cabinet — where the well-meaning, but unwanted gifts linger in pre-Goodwill donation limbo. This year, skip the scented candle and give the gift of local artisan food and drink, from sweets and snacks to spirits and spices. No one will want to give these up, and they may not even last until the end of the evening.
For the Sweet Tooth
Mike Morin with his award-winning cookies. Photo by Melissa Boulanger
Mike Morin’s Famous Chocolate Infinity Cookies
There’s nothing like celebrities in the kitchen. Foodie and former WZID radio host Mike Morin pours a lot of love into his Chocolate Infinity cookies. They are rich, chewy and studded with nuts for the perfect mouthful. Don’t just take my word for it — he’s pictured here at the Deerfield Fair with his blue ribbon. Find them for $20 a dozen at Fulchino Vineyard in Hollis, a stop on the Symphony NH Holiday House Tour on December 2 and 3. You can also visit Chew Hampshire on Facebook to contact Morin. With enough encouragement, he might go big-time with these.
KingOfPOP at 60 Gourmet Pl., Exeter, offers an amazing range of flavored popcorn, from birthday cake to dill pickle and strawberry cheesecake. It comes by the gallon in a tin for easy giving or keeping. The birthday cake flavor starts at $24.99.
Pancake Gift Basket
Maybe the perfect oh-so-sweet New Hampshire gift is from Polly’s Pancake Parlor in Sugar Hill. The Polly’s Breakfast gift package includes your choice of their famous pancake mixes, choice of White Mountain Coffee, their own maple syrup and two signature mugs for one heck of a breakfast without the travel time. $43.99 to $48.99.
Cookies and Other Italian Goodies
The boxed cookies are just one of the many options at both the Portsmouth and Salem Tuscan Markets, which are brimming with gourmet gifts for foodie friends, some imported from Italy and others made right on the premises. Find their own pastas, fresh frozen or dried, and, of course, sweets. These boxed cookies are the perfect hostess gift.
The Maple Roasted Peanuts from Dover’s Little Acre Gourmet Foods are a tasty and healthy snack with a touch of sweetness from the maple and salty goodness from the chili, onion and celery salt. 5 ounces, $6. Visit littleacregourmet.com to order or find a list of locations.
Photo by Susan Laughlin
Candy Polar Bear
Kids (and adults) will love the adorable candy polar bears by RHD Candy that can be found at the Purple Tomato Farmers Market at 78 Main St., Lincoln.
Granite State Candy Shoppe, with locations in Concord and Manchester, offers nonpareils that are perfect for sneaking into the movie theater (although they do sell them at Concord’s Red River Theatres). The dark chocolate is delicious, but they’re also offered in milk and white chocolate with colored candy dots. 14 ounces, $12.98
What’s more classic for the holidays than peanut brittle? This buttery, crunchy brittle at Hutchinson’s in Londonderry is just like grandma used to make. 8 ounces, $7.99. Stop in at the 10 Tinker Ave. or you can shop or order online.
The Black Cat Rum Cake Company, based in Nashua, makes a rich, buttery classic recipe offered in three sizes: single-shot, standard loaf and the heavyweight, which is baked in a real wood box. It can be found at Cava de Vino and Bonhoeffer’s Café & Espresso, both in downtown Nashua, or you can place a special order online.
Photo by Susan Laughlin
Sour Cherry Spiced Wine Savory Spread
This spread from Wozz! Kitchen Creations of Bethlehem is perfect for pouring over a slab of goat cheese for a delightful cracker experience. It also complements duck, sausage or ham. This is just one of the many wonderful products offered by this award-winning company, $10.
The sangria jelly from Meredith’s Our Local Table puts the taste of a warm summer evening on your morning toast. In addition to jams and jellies, the folks at Our Local Table make salsas, spicy peri peri sauce and onion relishes too. $6.99
The tasty pretzels from Portsmouth’s Port City Pretzels come with a choice of three coatings: cinnamon sugar, ranch dill and feisty hot, offering a taste for everyone on your list. They are widely distributed and available online, $7 for 16 ounces, $4 for an 8-ounce package.
Hickory Deep Smoked Salt
Salt is a common seasoning, but there’s more to this seemingly humble culinary companion. The Salt Cellar at 7 Commercial Alley in Portsmouth offers a vast array of sea salts, infused salts and gift sets perfect for everything from popcorn to dessert. To start, the hickory-smoked salt ($6.99) is perfect for finishing pork, chicken, eggs and fish.
Orange Chili Relish
The orange chili relish from Mola Foods of Nashua is an easy way to add the flavors of authentic ancient Cameroonian tribal recipes that have survived by being passed from mother to daughter. The orange chili relish is perfect with chicken. $6.95
Gift a monthly subscription of fresh spices for your foodie friend’s pantry. Who doesn’t need to update their spices and herbs and get fresh ideas with new recipes each month? Spiced Up of Auburn’s 12-month subscription is $204.
’Tis also the season to raise a glass. A bottle of locally distilled spirits spreads the cheer and supports our local economy.
For the gin enthusiast, it doesn't get much better than Tamworth Distilling & Mercantile’s Tamworth Garden series. Of the five varieties, perhaps one of the most unique is the Wild Hops version, made with a blend of Citra, Amarillo, Centennial and Columbus hops, along with a New Hampshire heirloom vine they cultivated locally. Ideal for both sipping straight or in a gin and tonic.
For a versatile, everyday gin, you might also want to pick up the White Mountain gin while you're there. For one thing, it makes an amazing negroni (recipe below and find more of Tamworth's recommended recipes here). Can't decide what to get? Stop by the beautiful tasting room to sample spirits before you buy. It's located at 15 Cleveland Hill Rd., Tamworth.
White Mountain Negroni
1 oz Tamworth Garden White Mountain Gin
1 oz Blanc Vermouth
1 oz Campari
Stir, strain into a rocks glass over ice. Express an orange peel over the glass and garnish.
Krupnik, a spiced honey liqueur, was invented by Lithuanian monks in the 1500s. Happily, you can find it in modern times at Djinn Spirits in Nashua. It carries the fragrant flavor of local honey balanced with the spice of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, fresh ginger and vanilla. Perfect on ice cream or for a hot toddy by the fire.
Border Collie Toddy
2 ounces Krupnik
1 ounce ginger liqueur
2 ounces boiling water
Garnish with a lemon slice
Mix in a toddy cup.
The General John Stark vodka from Flag Hill Distillery & Winery in Lee is made with New Hampshire apples and is triple distilled. Combine it with their cranberry liqueur for a local cosmopolitan.
Flag Hill Cosmo
2 ounces General John Stark vodka
1/2 ounce Cointreau or triple sec
1/2 ounce Flag Hill cranberry liquor
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
Shake and strain into a cocktail glass.
If a Manhattan is more your style, Flag Hill’s straight rye whiskey will do the trick. Made with locally grown rye, it smells like butterscotch and has notes of honey, all with a sweet, drying finish. Relax with a splash after dinner.
Dessert Wines and Spirits
Like your dessert served in a glass? These local wines and spirits are perfect for serving after dinner.
Rhapsody in Blue
In the ice wine tradition, this sweet white wine from Jewell Towne Vineyards in South Hampton can be the perfect last sip of the evening. It is made from Vidal grapes, a hardy hybrid, which is also used for Canada ice wines.
Limoncello is a lemon Italian liqueur, often served chilled as an after-dinner drink. You can find it locally at Fabrizia Spirits in Salem. They have classic lemon, blood orange, a cream style and the newer Italian margarita.