by guest blogger Martine Bertin-Peterson,
Note: We are working on an update of this post for 2016. In the meantime, call these establishments to see what their foodie gift availability is for the year.
It’s that festive time of year and whether we are celebrating the 12 days of Christmas or the eight days of Hanukkah, we are all looking for that special gift.
In Bucks County and nearby, we have so many gifted local artisans, farmers and purveyors who provide tasteful—and tasty—offerings to delight the special people on our list. So skip the mall and the pre-packaged gifts and consider these great local treats for the foodie in your life.
I have yet to meet a cheese I didn’t like. I love runny cheese, stinky cheese, hard cheese, blue cheese, French cheese, American cheese (not the yellow processed stuff), all cheese! A collection of cheese, an attractive cheese tool set and a beautiful wooden cheese board make a great gift for the cheese lover. The cheese can be enjoyed during the holidays and the accessories will be a reminder of your thoughtfulness all year-long. Here are a couple of great Bucks County dairies.
Flint Hill Farm’s pasteurized Jersey milk cheddar is made on the premises in Coopersburg, PA. Choose from cracked black pepper, chili pepper, habanero, jalapeno, basil, basil/garlic, fresh garlic, sun-dried tomato/basil, herbes de Provence, aged cheddar ( 60 – 90 days) or butter cheddar. They also sell raw milk and offer cheese making classes. See their website for more information and read our post, Feeding the spirit…and the goats.
Ely’s Farm in Upper Makefield is best known for its fresh, butchered meats, bacon and sausage. But don’t forget the cheese! Dwight Ely makes award-winning artisanal European style cheeses made from raw cow’s milk and aged over 60 days. Try their Washington Crossing, Makefield, and Ely Farm Cheese varieties. Your guests will keep asking, “Where did you get this? It’s amazing!”
A tisket, a tasket
Visiting friends or family for the holiday? Bring a fresh, local gift basket from Manoff Market Gardens. The baskets are filled with fresh apples, apple butter, cookies, jams, cheese and other local goodies. The basket will relieve your hosts of the “what will we serve for snacks” dilemma and endear you to them forever. Several sizes are available. See their website for more information.
Don’t forget your honey
The Bucks County area is home to a number of beekeepers and apiaries. The fourth generation Willaur family of Bucks County Honey hand selects and jars local raw honey. A fine trio might include jars of Blueberry Blossom, Wildflower and Sweet Clover.
Joe Ridgeway, dubbed “Bucks County’s Bee Whisperer,” sources honey from his Buckingham hives as well as from other Delaware Valley hives. The lightly floral Buckingham Valley Honey is available at many area farm markets and specialty stores.
Spread the cheer
Offbeat Gourmet is a relative newcomer to the area food scene but they have already a solid and loyal following for their tasty and creative products. The Chalfont-based company offers all-natural, small-batch savory and sweet spreads, sauces, rubs and seasonings.
For this holiday season, Offbeat Gourmet has created a hyper-seasonal Meyer Lemon and White Dragon Fruit sauce as well as a Candied Jalapeno and Red Chile Pepper sauce featuring green and red candied peppers in a tall tulip jar. These make delectable and unexpected stocking stuffers and hostess gifts. Want a really special gift? Create a custom slate board gift set with cheese pairing sauces such as Kiwi Marmalade and Sparkling Cranberry Rose Petal Compote. Visit Offbeat Gourmet’s website to find stores and/or order online.
Books for cooks
I love my Kindle and my iPad but when it comes to cookbooks they must be hardcover. The stained and splattered pages speak to my efforts to add new recipes to my repertoire as often as I can.
Grab a glass of wine, settle in next to the fire with a pile of new cookbooks. Consider Zahav from Philadelphia restaurateur and Chef Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook. The Middle Eastern recipes range from the easy (the restaurant’s famous hummus) to the more challenging (pomegranate glazed lamb shoulder) and from comfort food to restaurant-worthy dishes.
Do you have a “reader-eater” on your gift list? The Thousand Dollar Dinner by Yardley author Becky Libourel Diamond is the tale of a 19th century “cook-off” between New York and Philadelphia, the two culinary capitals of the US. In 1851, two rival groups of food lovers challenged each other to a culinary duel. The first meal was at Delmonico’s in New York. But Philadelphia’s James Parkinson won hands down with an exquisite 17 course meal (midway through the twelve-hour meal, the New Yorkers declared Philadelphia the winner of their competition). Diamond describes each course in exquisite detail, while providing the historical context for the menu items.
Oil and vinegar go together
No kitchen is complete without a selection of quality olive oils and vinegars. At The Tubby Olive you can find traditional oils, flavored oils, specialty oils, balsamic vinegars and wine vinegars. How about pairing a Rosemary olive oil with Sicilian Lemon or Serrano Honey vinegars or pairing Fig vinegar with Basil, Blood Orange, Garlic, Tuscan Herb or Persian Lime olive oils? The pairings are almost endless. Fortunately, the friendly staff at the Tubby Olive will let you taste the pairings so you can decide on your favorite combinations. The Tubby Olive has locations in Doylestown, Newtown and Reading Terminal Market.
There is nothing like curling up on the couch and watching movies on a cold winter weekend. For a novel foodie holiday gift, why not wrap up 5 food-themed DVDs for a weekend of delicious movies? Five of my favorite foodie flicks are Chef (2014), Like Water for Chocolate (1993), Ratatouille (2007), Big Night (1996) and Chocolat (2000). Packaging the movies with a box of small batch chocolates from Pierre’s Chocolates in New Hope or chocolate peppermint biscotti from artisan bakers Bucks County Biscotti will make the weekend even sweeter. Bucks County Biscotti also has some beautiful—and yummy—gift boxes here.
Horticulturist and gardener Kristina Faroud and her husband create the area’s most classic, elegant and stunning wreaths. Lovingly made to order with natural greens, berries, thistles and a handmade bow if you wish, one of these custom wreaths will grace an entryway well into the New Year. Wreaths may be made in a variety of sizes from 16“ to 60” and may shipped across the country. Local orders accepted until December 20, for shipped orders the deadline is December 15. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or 267.893.9606.
Martine Bertin-Peterson is the owner of Goût et Voyage, a cooking and gourmet travel company based in Doylestown, specializing in small group hands-on cooking classes and escorted food and wine experiences to Provence. The company focuses on the food, wine and culture of the Mediterranean. Visit their website for more information about current cooking classes and upcoming trips.