Shop Local: 25 Gift Ideas for the Food Lover in Your Life
The perfect present is sweet or savory...and quickly consumed
What better place to shop for gifts than a local winter farmers' market? Many are in bright greenhouses filled with the products and produce of local farmers, growers and producers — and also bakers and candy makers. Eager new entrepreneurs with fledging companies sell their favorite cookie, gluten-free brownie or jarred condiment. Put a bow on it and you have the perfect hostess gift or bundle in a box for a well-received gift. Here are a few ideas.
- Aissa Sweets
Everything from a tasting box to larger assortments of Syrian sweets layered with hand-rolled filo dough, honey and Stephen Colbert’s favorite nut, pistachios. Their baklava is authentic and sublime. Find It: Laconia Farmers' Market, Bedford Farmers' Market, their Concord bakery café, a variety of retail outlets and online at aissasweets.com
- Sap House Meadery
Maple goodness and local wildflower honey in one bottle won the maker a bronze medal at the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition in 2011 and 2012. Perfect for sipping and not as sweet as it sounds. Serve chilled, iced or warm and mulled. Find It: Tilton Farmers' Market, Sap House Meadery on weekends, a variety of beer stores and specialty markets throughout the state saphousemeadery.com
- Parker House Coffee
Single-origin coffees from Costa Rica to Sumatra. Also available unroasted if you prefer to heat-treat your own. You have to love the jar — it’s the perfect way to store coffee and a stroke of genius by owner/roaster Mason Parker. Find It: Peterborough Farmers' Market, specialty stores across central NH, online at parkerhousecoffee.com
- Raw Honey
Honey may be the perfect gift. Just in case it gets tucked into the back of the shelf, it purportedly lasts for 1,000 years. Raw honey, direct from the hive, is a complete honey with pollen grains and enzymes, vitamins and amino acids. It’s a sweet taste that is actually good for you. Find It: Local beekeepers are at most winter farmers' markets.
- J.L. Sweets
Peppermint marshmallows are the perfect topper for a rich, hot chocolate drink for Santa. ($3 for a 4 oz. bag) Macaroons in packs of three are just the right size for a generous sample. ($3) Find It: Specialty food stores, online jlsweets.com (Free delivery to Hooksett, Manchester and Bedford with a $20 order.)
- Valicenti Organico
Fabulous jarred sauces includes this “alla Norma” ($10) with tomatoes and eggplant grown in their Hollis garden. Find It: Many specialty food stores, Concord Winter Farmers’ Market at Cole Gardens, Tilton Farmers’ Market, Seacoast Farmers’ Markets, at the 11 Monument Square facility in Hollis and at gimmiespaghetti.com
- Brookford Farm
Raw milk may be a strange gift, but Brookford offers a great variety of farmstead cheeses from smoked cheddar to bleu to Camembert. Find It: Concord Mobile Farm Store, Saturday a.m. and Thursday afternoons; Salem Winter Farmers’ Market and at the farm store in Canterbury. Online at brookfordfarm.com
- Cucina Aurora
Infused olive oils are the best gift for cooks. These are made from 100-percent olive oil and infused with enough flavor to kick-start the dish of your choice. Find it with peppercorn and sage, sun-dried tomato and basil and a few more. ($14.99) cucinaaurora.com.
- Triple G Pantry
Triple G “Blonde” apple rings taste like “Christmas in your mouth.“ ($8.50) Locally sourced or grown on the farm. They also make a sweet pickle processed from seed to pantry. This business, aka Valentine & Sons Seed Company, is preserving history through traditional plants and foods. Processed in a commercial kitchen in Keene. Find It: Milford Winter Farmers’ Market, vnsseed.com
- Maple Nut Kitchen
Healthy granola would be welcome in any Christmas basket. Courser Farm Kitchen was purchased by Vivian Cubilla-Lindblom who brought the business to Keene. She’s now doing business as Maple Nut Kitchen, using the same recipes and adding more flavors. Find It: Specialty food stores, online at maplenutkitchen.com
- White Mountains Canning
Relive the taste of summer with Strawberry Rhubarb Jam ($7.95). All-natural ingredients are a great way to say you care. Also find carrot cake jam, sparkling apple cranberry jelly and tomato jam. Find It: North Country specialty stores, online at whitemountainscanning.com
- J. Marie Gluten-free
Jennifer Marie LeClair makes up a variety of gluten-free products, including a Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix ($10) made with a unique combination of almond flour and coconut flour. It bakes up quickly into the tastiest cookie with a gluten-free label. You’ll never miss the flour. Find It: Salem Winter Farmers' Market, specialty stores in Windham and online at theepicuresjarllc.com
- Mill Fudge Factory
Smooth, melt-in-the-mouth handcrafted artisanal fudge can be the perfect answer to a sugar dilemma. Some combinations are laced with Scottish whisky or Cabin Fever Maple Whisky and, wait for the drum roll … Bailey’s Irish Cream ($19.99 for combo). If you are in Bristol, stop at the factory. It’s the perfect place for a light lunch, ice cream and/or fudge. themillfudgefactory.com
The holidays are the perfect time to indulge in flavored coffees. In Merrimack, Cindia Jackson offers a tremendous selection of flavors for the season, including Snowball with white chocolate, coconut creme, butterscotch and caramel topped with almonds, Vixen’s Velvet Cake with red velvet cake with a hint of cocoa or Egg Nog with little bits of cream, cinnamon and nutmeg. Best of all, you can give these K-cups to your environmentally conscious friends with no regrets. The single-serve cups are biodegradable. Available at Cindia Jackson, 416 Daniel Webster Hwy., Suite H, cindiajackson.com
Order beautifully packaged gourmet popcorn delivered to the door from Popcorn Passion in Bristol. They offer classic caramel flavors scented with fennel or drizzled with salted caramel with premium chocolate. Savory flavors include an additive Dill Pickle Artisan and Pizza Pie. Sweet versions tempt with a Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, $9.95 to $15.95 for a 1/2-gallon gift box. Online orders only. popcornpassion.com
Ma’s Italian Biscotti
Just like nona used to make. These have a nice buttery flavor and a soft center, and a few versions are studded with chocolate chips or walnuts and dried cranberries. Shop online at masitalianbiscotti.com or see them at the 16th Annual New England Holiday Craft Fair, Salem, Dec. 5 and 6. Biscotti Sampler, $10.
This award-winning bakery has the tastiest cookies for online sales through nhmade.com or just stop in at their Bedford location for a wider variety. Really. These are great cookies and an even better hostess gift. Gift Tower, $49.95 triolosbakery.com
Green Acres Farm offers the classic New Hampshire gift in a log cabin-shaped glass bottle. Nothing says Granite State like Grade A maple syrup, perfect for that Christmas Day brunch. Order online at nhmade.com. 250ml, $16.99
Wozz! Kitchen Creations
From the mind of a well-traveled chef who settled in Bethlehem comes a line of specialty foods that includes finishing vinegars (Cranberry Saffron), spreads (Triple Ale Onion) and dressings (Ginger Soy infusion). All perfect to add that something extra to your next dish. Visit wozzkitchencreations for retail locations.
Not just maple syrup, this is maple syrup infused with flavors ranging from blueberry crème brûlée to black licorice to hot chilies for their de Caliente. Maples are tapped in the spring on their Claremont farm, but the infusing takes place in a commercial kitchen. Find at Claremont Spice & Dry Goods, Cava de Vino in Nashua or online at Jackeez.com, $14.99
Great North Aleworks/Glorious Possibilities
Canned beer from Manchester’s Great North Aleworks could be the perfect stocking stuffer for you-know-you.Their Cranberry Wit may be the hit of the season. Visit at the brewery/tasting room at 1050 Holt Ave. Unit #14 for samples and sales. greatnorthaleworks.com. Find the adorable bird bottle opener, $6, at Glorious Possibilities in Nashua. gloriouspossibilities.com (See our Beer Guide for more great local breweries and specialty beer stores.)
Wine jelly may be the perfect way to toast the New Year. Laurel Hill is made from local fruit or local wine. Jelly maker Sue Stretch makes her award-winning jams and jellies in her Bedford home. The wine in her Raspberry Rhapsody ( 8-oz., $8) is a sweet raspberry from Copper Beech Winery in Hooksett, copperbeechwinery.com. Products are available online.
Single-origin chocolate bars are tops for aficionados and, if you can get past the adorable penguins, why not give a taste of the Old World with Christmas Stollen from L.A. Burdick in Walpole. It’s a traditional German recipe with dried fruits and hints of cardamom and vanilla. And just like traditional fruit cake, it lasts for months, but it’s not as cloying. Order online, $22
These chocolate bars are handcrafted in Wolfeboro from superb ingredients and distributed fairly well across the state. Their satisfying bars come in a myriad of configurations and each is given a name that references the state or regions near Lake Winnipesaukee. The Monadnock is a blend of dark milk chocolate with cardamon and pistachios, while the Pumpkin Point is dark chocolate with pumpkin seeds. Also available online is a selection of toffee, turtles, caramels and olive oil truffles. Visit winnipesaukeechocolates.com for retail locations and online sales. Bars, $6.50
In addition to local wineries and breweries, NH is home to a growing number of distilleries. Try veteran- and family-owned Smoky Quartz Distillery in Seabrook, Flag Hill Winery & Distillery in Lee, Djinn Spirits Craft Distillery in Nashua, Sea Hagg Distillery in North Hampton, Tamworth Distilling & Mercantile in Tamworth, Fabrizia Spirits in Salem or Tall Ship Distillery in Dover.
More locally sourced NH made gifts
There is a long list of interesting purveyors’ products at farmers' markets made with locally sourced ingredients and home-style love. Many of their items can also be found at area specialty stores, Whole Foods, food co-ops, special food events and fairs or online through their own websites. Here is the start of the list. Happy hunting!
NH’s Finest Marketplace
Rte. 102, Hudson/Litchfield line
Hannah Grimes Marketplace
42 Main St., Keene
December 5 and 6: New England Holiday Craft Spectacular
Food, crafts and music
Rockingham Park Grandstand, Salem
December 12: Atkinson Holiday Food and Craft Fair
4 Main St., Atkinson
9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Other online sources:
neighbormade.com, nhmade.com and nhgiftbaskets.com
- Seacoast Winter Farmers’ Markets open November 21, seacoasteatlocal.org
- Concord Winter Farmers’ Market at Cole Gardens opens November 7, concordwintermarket.com
- Tilton Farmers’ Market is looking for a new home. Keep tabs on where to find the market in the future at tiltonfarmersmarket.com
- Milford Farmers’ Market, first and third Saturday at the Town Hall starting November 7, milfordnhfarmersmarket.com
- Find other winter farmers’ markets listed at www.nhmagazine.com/NH-Winter-Farmers-Markets