Food Shopping: Delicious Holiday Gifts
One size fits all. But that’s just one of many good reasons to give edibles as gifts. Food gets shared, which is always festive. And the fact that it is ephemeral is a nothing but a plus—who among us has room for another tchotchke? Besides, a gift of food supports all the wonderful farmers, bakers, chocolatiers, and chefs who contribute so mightily to the quality of life around here.
The Red Barn Restaurant no sooner closed for the season, than it promptly reopened as a weekends-only take-out shop specializing in Bert Goldfinger’s prepared entrees plus lots of locally-made goodies in jars, such as the Tortured Orchard Spreads made in North Egremont by the mother-daughter team Sandra and Amanda Walley—perfect for assembling into your own gift basket. Or you can make a friend smile with one of Mrs. Goldfinger’s (better known as Christine Jones) old-fashioned 4-layer coconut cakes, $24; or her smaller, square coconut Lady Cake, $14.
The Red Barn
47 Old Post Road (Route 9H)
Ghent, NY; 518.828.6677
Sometimes one exotic item is enough—a tin of caviar leaps to mind. Alternately, clockwise from upper left, chestnut honey in a clay crock from Spain, $25; Unio Moscatel, a sweet Spanish vinegar, $12.50; a twelve-year-old, syrupy, rich balsamic vinegar from Modena, $48; Panforte, a traditional Italian pastry from Sienna in two sizes, $16 & $28.
434 Warren Street
Hudson, NY; 518.828.6923
All Local, All Organic
This home-delivery service has a range of baskets. The one shown here contains 1 bag of a locallly-roasted Berkshire Blend coffee, 1 Berkshire Bark Chocolate, 2 Harney Juices, 1 organic orange, 1 organic pear, 2 organic apples, 1 tray of locally-made Cookiehead cookies, 1 locally-made Klara’s Gourmet Cookies, 1 bag of locally-made Biscotti Babies, 1 pint of local maple syrup, 1 bag of local [ancake mix, all nicely arranged in a wicker basket, with a gift tag attached; $59.99. Local delivery available.
813 Dalton Division Road (Burgner’s Farm)
Dalton, MA; 413.442.0888
Buttermilk Pancakes in a Bowl
This assemblage consists a 1-lb. bag of Southfield Store’s own buttermilk pancake mix, a bottle of local maple syrup, a wooden spoon and two cotton dishtowels, all artfully spilling out of a Mason & Cash batter bowl; $49.50.
163 Main Street, Southfield MA; 413.229.5050
Customerized Gift Baskets
Annie & Chris Whalen, who, as Bella Flora, are Guido’s in-house florists, do great gift baskets, ranging from The Student @ $75, a care package with a snackish bias, to a big one suitable for a family of epicures @ $125. They even have highly customized gluten-free and vegan options. Best of all, phone orders are encouraged, and local delivery is available.
Guido’s Fresh Marketplace
Great Barrington, MA
413.442.9912; ext. 148
Local Bread from Somewhere Else
Bread Alone, Daniel Leader’s bakeries in Boiceville, Woodstock, and Rhinebeck, NY, feature the whole-grain and sourdough breads he learned to make in the bakeries of Paris more than twenty years ago, secrets he shared in his first book, Bread Alone. Now, with his latest, Local Breads: Sourdough and Whole-Grain Recipes from Europe’s Best Artisan Bakers, $35, Leader shares the latest intelligence on how to bake such new-wave wonders as a sourdough baguette made with spelt, flaxseed, and soy, a recipe he picked up at an organic bakery in Alsace, and how to duplicate the award-winning Italian country loaves he learned to make in Genzano, outside of Rome. Once strictly local, these breads and others just as cutting edge now can be made by anyone, anywhere, thanks to Leader’s painstakingly detailed instructions.
322 Stockbridge Road
Great Barrington, MA 413.528.1521
A Boxed Set of Olive Oils
Among the many gift boxes and baskets available at Bizalion’s, the one we covet most is this selection of olive oils—2 each from France, Spain and Italy—chosen by them from their exciting range of bottle-your-own oils so we can compare and contrast them at home; $59.95
Bizalion’s Fine Food
684 South Main Street
Great Barrington; 413.644.9988
Handmade Chocolate Truffles
Nobody ever regretted receiving a box of these chocolate truffles. Even if the recipient was hoping for something else—a Maserati, say, or an engagement ring—instant consolation is at hand. Owner Joshua Needleman, who grew up in the spa town of Lebanon Springs, NY, understands that chocolate is no mere food or flavor, it is an aphrodisiac, an antidepressant, a stimulant, a mood enhancer, and, always, especially in the form of truffles, a gift. A 20-piece custom assortment of chocolate truffles, $35. Phone and internet orders are welcomed; shipping can be arranged.
55 Pittsfield Road
Lenox, MA; 413.637.9820
Berkshire Mountain’s Holiday Bread is a close approximation of a Kerststol, the traditional Dutch Christmas bread. Trained primarily in the Netherlands, baker Richard Bourdon recreated this confection from memory and sells it only during the holidays at his company headquarters in Housatonic, as well as at Guido’s and McEnroe’s. Studded with golden raisins, candied ginger, and apricots, the center has a pocket stuffed with almond filling. According to Bourdon, the Dutch heat a slice, then scoop the filling out of the pocket with a knife and smear it on the bread.
Berkshire Mountain Bakery
367 Park Street (Route 183),
Housatonic, MA: 413.274.3412
Light and Luxurious
Macaroons, those meringue confections that are crispy on the outside, chewy within, are usually flavored with coconut, chocolate or almond extract. At Harney & Son tea shop in Millerton, 3rd generation master tea blender Emeric Harney is flavoring these delicacies with tea. He keeps experimenting. Last weekend, he offered three flavors—lavender, rose & jasmine—to enjoy with tea in Harney’s café or to purchase to go, beautifully packaged in gift boxes, @ $12 per dozen.
Harney’s Tea Room
Main Street, The Railroad Plaza
Millerton, NY; 518.789.2121
Old Fashioned Christmas Cookies
The cookie-meister here offers several gift options, including this 8-inch Party Bowl containing 4 1/2 dozen cookies—ginger molasses, crispy chocolate chip pecan, oatmeal raisin, butter pecan, crunchy oatmeal cranberry, or peanut butter; $29. Other, smaller bowls start for as little as $7.
Sweet William’s Bakery
Salisbury, CT; 860.435.8889
The Hudson Valley Express
Gigi Market’s gift baskets can be customized to contain any number of local and imported products, but two items are constants: Gigi’s private-label Sicilian olive oil—a time-tested favorite that has been winning friends by sitting on the tables at Gigi’s Trattoria in Rhinebeck for the past eight years, $18 per litre—and owner Laura Pensiero’s popular new cookbook, Hudson Valley Mediterranean.
227 Pitcher Lane
Red Hook, NY; 845.758.1999