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.
I don't know what ethnic groups there are in OKC, but given L.A.'s melting pot status, I'd be really tempted to pick some foreign foods locally sold and perhaps even locally made.
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.
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).
Since you're taking the gifts as carry-on packages, I'm assuming you don't plan on gifting anything liquid-y.
Perhaps you can create one with a "dried" theme, as in dried regional fruits, dried/curied meats/seafood, fancy nuts and trail mixes.
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.