I'm supposed to accompany the SO to Oklahoma for his sister's wedding. Can anyone think of good food-and-sundry gifts that are locally-produced (or, at the very least, more difficult to find in OKC)?
I actually have to come up with two separate presents-- a host gift for the SO's parents (they maintain a ranch with various livestock for...umm...fun) and a wedding present for the newlyweds. My budget is about $100 (max $150, otherwise I might as well start buying Johm Pomp vases, you know?) for the two parties. Keep in mind that I have to take it on a plane and would probably prefer to have close at hand so as to keep it from getting wrecked...
I like grouping things together based on a particular element (I don't like the world "theme," but I suppose it'd be apt)-- for instance, I visited a friend's family a few years ago and took as a host gift a basket with natural honeycomb candles, a jar of French lavender honey, another of Ialian acacia honey, and a box of French honey soaps (with bees embossed on the front). The entire family was very much into gourmet foods (the parents ran an upscale food distribution company that supplied some of the best restaurants in the city and were amazing cooks, the younger brother went to culinary school, etc.), so I wanted to avoid stuff that was too food-related, lest I make a "mistake" and get them things that they had/sold/didn't like in comparison to something else.
A group of us took a tour of Penzeys this past year in Torrance. They sell herbs, spices, and their own blends of seasonings. They do have stores around the country (and mail order,) but there isn't one in OKLA. I love everything I bought there, so much fresher then the grocery store. They do sell gift boxes, (I noticed they have a "wedding gift," or you could go and pick out things (and stock up for yourself at the same time.)
You can get great frozen tamales at mama's hot tamales in Macarthur Park. Screw Lean Cuisine and all those pre-cooked things at TJ's -- just heat up one of those tamales and you'll be loving life.
Also, if you go to Mama's Hot Tamales, why not swing over to Langers and buy some things to go? I buy their pickles for my dad every year, for example.
On a similar note...
The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills has a good selection of food items (both domestic "california" & import). Behind the counter, there is a delicious California olive oil from Olea Farms which they pour into a beautiful glass bottle. Jar of Domenico's Pomodori Secchi-
marinated by Dominick (nice guy who works there) They also have a good selection of Cowgirl Creamery cheeses from Point Reyes(perishable, but they can dry ice it).
Then with your selections, they wrap it up in a nice basket. May be too bulky for handcarry on plane, but you probably can check-in box.
See's candies is a nice choice. Also, boule and edelweiss for chocolates.
I really like E Waldo Ward in Sierra Madre for gifts. They box everything themselves, lots of interesting marmalades, jams preserves incl a seville orange from bitter oranges they grow themselves, varieties of olives etc. i like to go down and pick out my own pack - but they have a website if the San Gabriel Valley is too far to go
E. WALDO WARD & SON (RETAIL
) 273 E HIGHLAND AVE
I think the specialty salts are a great idea. They have several varieties at Whole Foods now. And being a honey conisseur love the honey gift idea. I feel the need to add though that before I was married I never bought people presents off their registry because I wanted to be creative. After my wedding I started only buying people things they registered for. I think I was gifted five pitchers, three picnic baskets, and three waterfalls of all things. I just think it's a good idea to spend your money on something you know they really want. Just a suggestion...they may be the salt-lovin' couple, and you would know that.
If you do open up your options to shipping them to yourself, I would recommend some ingredients for making local ethnic dishes. Like pastes for making moles and curry (thai, indian, etc.) or even some prepared foods that can be frozen and travel well (i.e. tamales, and various bao). The theme writes itself.
What about something with an olive theme....eerrrrr, I mean element. Local olives, like Graber's and some gourmet, flavored olive oils. You can expand from there with tepanade and perhaphs some local dried fruit.
P.S. You might consider shipping since this will all be a challenge with the current air travel restrictions.
I have just put up my wedding registries, and keep thinking of that line that Donna Reed has in "It's a Wonderful Life," when they're house-warming the Italian couple:
"Bread - that this house may never know hunger. Salt - that life may always have flavor. Wine - that joy and prosperity may reign forever."
I just sent my friend a trio of high end salts (grey and pink, etc. from Dean and Deluca). Something you would never buy for yourself, but are very excited to get. She flipped over them.
Maybe salt would be a good idea in OK, where steak is so good it doesn't need much more.
Sure can't take wine on a plane anymore, though. And wine.com can't ship there, either. But you can ship olive oil...
But a breadmaker, now that's a great down home present. I love using mine in the fall. You set up all the ingredients before you go to bed and wake up to the smell of fresh baked bread. ahhhhh. And they even sell those at Home Depot (yes, I'm registered there).
Definitely check out Surfas in Culver City. Maybe not so much for the sundries, but for jars of specialty, hard to find items. We just did the same for my MIL and had a great time picking from Surfas's diverse selection. We went with items like Fig Balsamic, Vanilla Curd, English tea, an amazing little sausage, Tapenade, etc. They also have a great selection of cooking pots and pans, specialty bake ware, knives, etc. Don't worry about getting them something they won't like - unless they have an allergy, most food lovin' people are thrilled to get great new items to try out for a special dinner. It truly is the thought that counts.