Salt doesn't have to be from the sea. Seneca Salt Co. Rosemary-Infused Culinary Flake Salt originates deep beneath Seneca Lake.
Not only should the Christmas stockings be hung by the chimney with care. The stockings should be STUFFED with care, packed with treats and surprises – mostly edible and all locally made and sourced -- that make the recipient smile.
There should be a sweet treat or two or three, like artisan cookies and chocolate. Perhaps some spice, like a zippy dipping/pasta sauce or spice rub. You could include a gift card for a local restaurant – or a whole box of dining discount cards for local restaurants. If your Kris or Kristine Kringle likes to cook, a new “toy” for the kitchen is always welcome.
Without further ado, I give you the first annual Eat First Central New York food Holiday Gift Guide. There’s something for every taste. Guaranteed!
Better Brittle? That’s an understatement. Anyone who has ever tasted Christiana Semabia’s West African-style crunchy, highly addictive brittle, made with evaporated can juice, ground peanuts and sea salt, thinks it’s the best brittle they’ve ever had.
Demand for Syracuse-made Better Brittle got a big boost in January, when Saveur magazine spotlighted it in its annual Saveur 100 list of restaurants, recipes and food products to seek out. See what all the buzz is about. Pick up a pouch of Better Brittle at the CNY Regional Market (Saturdays, year-round) and at local retailers, like Bluetree on Westcott Street, Cafe Kubal and others. A package costs about $5.
Lune Chocolat is the closest thing Central New York has to a Parisian chocolatier. Owners Mike and Emily Woloszyn love being together and love chocolate. They take fresh, seasonal, local, often organic – and sometimes unusual – filling and ganache ingredients and work their magic with chocolate.
At the recent Buy Local Bash sponsored by Syracuse First, the Woloszyns offered chocolates encasing a bright orange and just as brightly flavored orange filling. Their Bangkok Square has a filling of lemongrass, ginger and serrano pepper ganache. The fresh mint used in the mint fondant center in their Minty Mints is locally grown. And the pretzel bits on Lune’s Guinness and Pretzels milk chocolate bonbons are from Terrell’s, a hometown brand.
Their confections are a treat for the eyes as well as the taste buds. A five-piece box of chocolates is a gift to savor (and starts at about $10).
Lune Chocolat is at 315 W. Fayette St. (Suite 5) Manlius. The shop is open Tuesday to Saturday.
Fat Friar Cookies
It was love at first bite at the Buy Local Bash: Artisan shortbread cookies filled with lemon curd and jam. Cut-out shortbreads done up to look like miniature friars – robe and all – dipped in dark chocolate. Speculaas – European-style spice cookies – baked in special molds. Italian cookies, and more.
Cookie Monster would have a FEAST at The Franciscan Church of the Assumption, 812 N. Salina St., Syracuse, home to Fat Friar Bakery. Funds raised benefit the Soup Kitchen and Food Pantry at Assumption.
The Fat Friar team, headed by Friar Nicholas, bakes for Christmas, Easter and other holidays, plus weddings, showers, private parties – you name it. Call the cookie hotline at 315-729-6525 to discuss options and prices and place orders.
Lockwood Lavender Farm Fudge Sauce
Lavender is a member of the mint family, and, used with a light hand, has a place in many things culinary – not just soaps and sachets. That includes a rich, thick, dark fudge sauce made by Lockwood Lavender Farm, Skaneateles. Try it, you’ll like it!
Also look for Lockwood’s honey, both fragrant and sweet, produced by “the Lavender Hill mob’’ in the lavender fields on West Lake Road, Skaneateles.
The Lockwood Lavender Market is closed for the season, reopening in spring 2013. Look for Lockwood Lavender products at local businesses, like the Sherwood Inn, Rhubarb Kitchen Shop and Creekside Books and Coffee in Skaneateles.
Pastabilities Daily Spicy Hot Tomato Oil
The packaging looks different, but fear not, the product inside is still the same: San Marzano tomatoes, oil, lots of garlic, a hint of honey. Use it as a dipping oil for bread, a sauce for pasta, a flavor boost for salad dressings and Bloody Marys.
The new packaging gives Pasta’s Daily Spicy Hot Tomato Oil a much longer shelf life – the container in our fridge expires in May 2013 – and allows it to be shipped anywhere. A 15.8 ounce container costs about $7.
Greenview Kitchen Pasta Sauces
In our ideal world, we would have room for a vegetable garden, grow bushels of tomatoes and make and can our own sauce each year. Until then, we’re glad to have several excellent local sauces on our store shelves – including Greenview Kitchen.
Greenview, made in Central New York by Giovanni Food Company, offers four sauces: Marinara, roasted garlic, roasted red pepper and spicy eggplant. At the Buy Local Bash, reps served slabs of thick Italian bread to soak up the sauce – smart! The roasted garlic sauce was rich and full of slow-cooked and garlic flavor.
Pick up a jar or two (about $5 each) for the lover of Italian food on your gift list at Nichols in Liverpool. You can also order online.
Seneca Salt Culinary Flake Salt
Seneca Salt Natural Culinary Flake Salt can be used in cooking and baking and as a finishing salt. The salt begins in the salt veins beneath Seneca Lake. The flakes vary in size, shape and structure and adhere well to foods – like the savory Parmesan Sables shown here.
Seneca Salt is a sister product of the Java-Gourmet coffee and spice rubs made by Keuka Lake Coffee Roasters in Penn Yan. Their company store (open Friday-Sunday; plus Mondays in December) is at 2792 State Route 54A, between Penn Yan and Branchport.
Smith Housewares and Restaurant Supply
Need a couple cookie cutters? There’s a whole wall of them. Interested in cast iron cookware? Check out their selection of Lodge ware. Perhaps your loved one could use a kitchen timer or meat thermometer, an apron or new oven mitts, a select piece of cutlery or a whole set. It’s all there.
Come to think of it, Smith’s has everything but the kitchen sink. Or maybe that’s in there, too, and I just missed it the last time I was there. If in doubt, give a Smith’s gift certificate. You can’t go wrong with that.
Smith Housewares is at 500 Erie Blvd. East, Syracuse, and 170 Court St., Watertown. Visit the website for hours, directions and online shopping.
City Dining Cards
The only card game we’re interested in is rifling through our deck of City Dining Cards Syracuse – and deciding where and when we’re going to use them.
The sleek, blue and white pack of cards contains 50 $10 discount cards (plus two wildcards offering freebies) to redeem at locally owned restaurants in CNY. All you have to do: Spend $30 or more at a featured restaurant. Redeem your City Dining Card with payment. Receive $10 off the food portion of your bill.
For a complete list of participating restaurants, click here.
For $20, can you say great gift for the foodies and locavores on your gift list?
To locate a retailer in your area, click here.