This week’s cover story is chock full of great holiday gift ideas. Here’s a second helping of treats for the local food lovers on your list.
For the chocaholic: You can’t go wrong with a tin (or three) of gourmet hot cocoa — it’s the gift that keeps giving all winter long. HMK, Hallmark’s new gift shop at 4710 Broadway St. on the Country Club Plaza, serves warm snickerdoodle cookies at the door and sells Kansas City-made chocolates from Christopher Elbow and Andre’s alongside cookie dough mixes from 3 Women and an Oven in Overland Park.
I’d pair a tin of Christopher Elbow’s Peppermint Drinking Chocolate ($16) with Andre’s classic hot chocolate ($18) and include them in a chocolate-themed gift basket.
The colors of these sweet little sandwiches are super-saturated, and the flavors are deliciously bold and always surprising (eggnog, matcha green tea, saffron-apricot). The macarons cost $1.90 apiece or $5.85 for an adorable bag of three tied with striped red twine.
Scents include Unfiltered Wheat Beer With Sandalwood and Lemon, 80-Acre Hoppy Wheat Beer With Tea Tree Citrus and Dark Truth Stout With Coffee, Almond and Honey. I’m partial to the Dark Truth Stout, which has a warm almond scent that’s perfect for the holiday season.
The soaps cost $5.95 each at Boulevard Dry Goods, the brewery’s holiday gift store at 4740 Pennsylvania Ave. on the Country Club Plaza.
For the baker: There’s nothing worse than whipping up batter for chocolate chip cookies — and then realizing you’re out of vanilla. That won’t happen to your pastry-obsessed friends this season if you give them a bottle of handmade vanilla extract, which costs $8 at Essential Goods, 825 Massachusetts St. in Lawrence.
Lawrence baker Alison Berger makes her extract with Most Wanted vodka from Atchison, Kan., and real vanilla bean pods. After a month of aging, the extract is ready to lend its warm, floral flavor to cookies, cakes — even your morning oatmeal.
For the cheese connoisseur: If you have a lot of foodie friends, you can get away with doing most of your shopping at the Better Cheddar, 604 W. 48th St. The Plaza cheese shop sells every variety you can imagine, plus gourmet chocolate, crackers, wine and hard-to-find bottled sodas.
When I went, helpful staffer Nicholas Andriani pointed me to Green Dirt Farm, a line of sheep’s milk cheeses produced on a small farm (see Page 21 of our Gift Guide for more info) in Weston. The signature is Bossa, an aged washed rind cheese, but Andriani’s favorite is the fresh sheep’s milk cheese, which he says tastes great with a drizzle of honey or fresh figs. The versatile cheese also lends tang and creaminess to salad or pizza.
Most Green Dirt cheeses cost about $34 per pound at the Better Cheddar, so a 4-ounce container would cost about $8.50.
For the aspiring beekeeper: Kick-start a friend’s new hobby by presenting him or her with a corked glass bottle of raw honey harvested in Peculiar, Mo., and infused in-house at the Local Pig, 2618 Guinotte Ave. in the East Bottoms.
The butcher shop is known for its all-natural meats, but its honey, which comes in flavors such as coffee and chile, smoke, and Ras al Hanout (a North African spice blend) also makes a sweet gift. The honey costs $8-$10 per bottle.
For the do-gooder: Little Freshie and the Local Pig also sell salsa, ketchup and barbecue sauce produced by BoysGrow, a local youth empowerment program that teaches inner-city teenage boys farming and entrepreneurship.
The barbecue sauce, BGQ Sauce, costs $6.75 per bottle at Little Freshie and is made with tomatoes, jalapeños and basil grown by boys in the program on a local farm. It’d be an excellent addition to a gift box of KC barbecue sauce.
For the frugal: If you have a friend or co-worker who saves money by bringing a sack lunch to work, do him or her a favor and pick up a jar of gourmet sandwich spread from French Market, 6947 Tomahawk Road in Prairie Village.
The new shop from the owner of Cafe Provence stocks chef-made infused olive oil, soups, croissants and vinaigrette. I’m partial to the basil pesto aioli ($10.30) and the horseradish mustard ($12.30). The former adds fresh flavor and creaminess to roasted chicken or veggie sandwiches. The latter does wonders for classic roast beef.
For the hostess (or host): A bottle of wine is a sweet gesture. Made-from-scratch goodies from Bloom Baking Co., 15 E. Third St. in the City Market, would be even sweeter.
The bakery’s best-seller is the comforting bread pudding ($7.95). I can’t get enough of the melt-in-your-mouth toffee ($12.95 for a half pound) and the cranberry-almond scones ($3.75 each) that changed my mind about scones completely.
Bloom’s scones are soft and moist, not bone-dry, and sprinkled with sugar crystals. If I got them as a gift, I wouldn’t hand them out at my party — I’d hide them until morning and devour them with a hot cup of coffee. Because some gifts are just too good to share.