Here are my picks for this year’s food gifts from artisanal companies within the United States. Yes, I have tried them and personally give them my approval of deliciousness. This list will be expanding as the days are nearing to Christmas, so you might see some repeats if you visit this list quite often.
Enjoy and hope you have a great holiday with friends and family!
(For the list of who is featured, please follow the jump.)
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Information of the featured items on this post:
Award-winning flavored semihard cheeses from Utah. Highly recommend the Barely Buzzed cheese (rubbed in French lavender and Turkish coffee) for something unusual on your cheese plate.
These are made from a small artisanal, farmstead creamery that produces aged raw-milk goat cheese in Upstate New York. Slightly sharp, creamy but with a complex of taste and texture that you can only find with a fine aged goat milk cheese. Each are about $20/lb.
Bloomy, soft-ripened cheeses from Fort Collins, Colarado. Buttery, mild cheeses cannot go wrong for any cheese lover.
Nettle Meadow Farm
Kunkik: This triple-cream cheese from New York’s Nettle Meadow Farm is made from 75 percent goat’s milk and 25 percent cow’s milk, and it is the most unique triple cream that’s made locally in Warrensburg, NY. It’s tangy (from the goat’s milk) and buttery. I would pair it with Champagne or other dry sparkling wines.
Fromage blanc Both of their fromage blancs (the regular and lavender) are sweet, mild and very lightly flavored cheeses. It’s spreadable like cream cheese but a lot better. The lavender flavor makes you think of an open field of flowers and grass when you taste them from the gentle nuances of the goats’ diet.
Three Sisters A semi-aged three milk cheese made from goat, cow and sheep milk that is creamy, delicate and delicious. I love all of their cheeses.
Three Sisters Cheese
Coming from Lindsey, California, this producer makes two great cheeses for the moment: Serena (Intense nutty flavor with smooth tight texture that’s great with pastas and soups) and Serenita (Buttery, sweet and savory with subtle herbal flavors).
Uplands Cheese Company: Pleasant Ridge Extra Aged
This is a rich and hearty Alpine-style raw cow’s milk cheese with a beautiful coffee-brown rind. Pleasant Ridge is only made for serveral weeks of the year when the cows are out on pasture, and it’s a great expression of the grassy valleys of southern Wisconsin in the summer. Amazing artisanal cheese.
Available in the NYC area at Murray’s Cheese at $28.99/lb.
This nondescript, almost generic-looking Italian deli (if you visit their storefront in Chelsea) are one of the few handful of artisan salumi makers in America, and even rarer, they are in New York City. They make divine salumi and hams that would make any charcuterie snob happy.
378 8th Avenue (Corner of 29th Street)
New York, NY 10001 (map)
I love this independently owned pickled vegetable company makes the most amazingly crisp and boldly flavored pickled vegetables I’ve tasted this year. If anything you must order their seasonal pickles.
Baked Goods and Confections
Bauer’s Candy: Modjeskas
Meaning, it’s an assortment of original caramel and chocolate caramel covered marshmallows. Chewy, not-too-sweet caramel meets fluffy fresh marshmallow. Pretty nostalgic flavors going when I ate them.
This is a regional specialty candy originated from Kentucky named after an actress, Helena Modjeska in the 19th century.
Dough Raise Me
These cookies are something that remind you of what your mother or grandmother would make but a lot more decadent and with better ingredients.
Elsylee Galettes Artesanals
Flown in from Miami, Florida, makes these beautiful, dainty handmade cookies plays on nostalgic childhood flavors yet it’s globally influenced (like names of Sevilla – one of their best selling cookie – a melt-in-your-mouth Jordan Almond Snowballs Dusted, Paris – an almond shortbread cookie with hazelnut chocolate truffle middle, topped with semisweet chocolate and chopped roasted almonds, etc.).
Galaxy Desserts: Jean-Yves Charon Collection
These goods come in dry ice as they have to be in a frozen state. The sublime mousse cakes are rich and creamy without being too heavy nor sweet.
The croissants are frozen and unbaked. You do have to do a little bit of work by separating the croissants and defrost on a parchment paper-lined (or what I prefer, Silpat) baking sheet, covered with a piece of parchment on top. The croissants would rise and expand to the size you’re familiar with, leaving it puffy and airy that you’d can imagine how great this would be for breakfast (or anytime of your planned consumption). You’d bake it in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes and voilà! Perfectly baked croissants that its buttery shell that is still crackly-crisp, the ends slightly burnt. And when pulled apart, a whisper of steam comes out. You’d just want to dab it in room temperature salted butter or strawberry jam, have your cup of coffee and have your few precious minutes of bliss.
Jeni’s Ice Cream
These pints of all natural, from cow to cone (as they put it) ice cream are from the Foggy Mountain Holiday Collection. They’re rich, flavorful and decadent that a small scoop can go a long way for this ice cream lover (as in me). My personal favorite of the was the Oakvale Young Gouda with Vodka-Plumped Cranberries, as seen on the Flickr slideshow below.
If you’re looking for them within the NYC area, you can find them in Dean & Deluca (in SoHo or Upper East Side locations).
You might be aware I am a crazed fanatic for French macarons. I’ve actually encountered a bakery (in Beverly Hills, California) that makes a comparable macaron to my beloved Pierre Herme. These macarons have the distinct wispy, thin crackly shell when you bite with a soft, moist chewy interior. The plus is, they aren’t skimpy with the intensely flavored filling.
Truffle Truffle: S’mores & Beer and pretzel brittle
Truffle Truffle’s homemade s’mores are dainty two-bite sweets that could satisfy the inner child. Fresh, crisp graham cracker (maybe a touch too thick) meets a pillow-y marshmallow, enrobed in dark chocolate. Their beer and pretzel brittle are crisp and intriguingly flavored. The initial salt hit from the pretzel then the minute hop flavor of the beer changing over to the sweetness of the brittle and thin chocolate coating.
Tumbador’s Winter 2010 collection is a great assortment for any chocoholic. Creative flavors, well made bonbons, this box of chocolate would be loved by anyone who appreciates great chocolate.
Assortment of five different types of cookies: Cigare, Billet au chocolat au lait, Billet aux amandes chocolat, Bateau de macadamia and Pleine lune (shortbread cookies with a milk chocolate base). These cookies are delicately buttery and sweet. It can be served (and eaten) any time of the day, in my book.
These are Japanese biscuits (or cookies, if you prefer calling them). In the US, they sell it through high-end department stores like Bergdorf Goodman (there’s a location on 5th Avenue & 57th St) and Neiman Marcus.
The company hires a certain artist every year to exclusively design their tins (this year is by Clyv, featured artist in Galerie Paris in France), so it’s a collectible as well as a delicious gift.
Coffee beans & Teas
Cresent Moon Coffee
When you order their beans (from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), they come directly from their roaster like I have encountered. Great beans that would make your morning a lot better (as a coffee junkie like I am).
illy coffee blend is obtained by selecting Arabica beans from multiple sources. These particular beans are considered to have a richer taste and lower caffeine content than Robusta beans.
What makes illy different than other coffee companies is a pressurization technique used by the company to preserve its coffee. In this process, air is extracted from the cans and replaced with inert gases at a higher-than-atmospheric pressure level that would leave you with fresh coffee beans (or grounds, depending upon what you order). The espresso yields to a bold, toasty, chocolate-y coffee with a berry/acidic finish.
Paupaiz Fine Coffees
They are environmentally friendly coffee roasters yet pushing for the premium coffee market in the Napa Valley region. They import their beans from abroad but roast and blend their coffees masterfully to make a great cup of joe.
Republic of Teas
This company makes organic and exotic teas from around the world. Of the four teas I’ve tried, the Raw Green Bush Mango Chili Tea stuck on my mind. It’s sweet (so you don’t need the extra sugar or honey) and perfumed of mango with a little kick of heat from the chili.