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[MSP] Shopping for Chowish gifts in the Twin Cities

The Dairy Queen Dec 2, 2006 01:14 PM

'tis the season. What are your favorite places to shop for chowish gifts in the Twin Cities?

I had terrific luck at Midtown Global Market (on Lake Street in Mpls), including make-it-yourself bubble tea at United Noodle, tea and pistachios at Holy Land Deli's shop, jerk chicken sauce (I can't remember the name of the shop, I'm afraid), wild rice pancake mix and blueberry syrup at Birchberry. Also, it looked like Jakeeno's is selling gift baskets and, if you buy one, you get a $10.00 gift certificate.


I think you can get some good Midwestern products at Golden River & Fig on Grand Avenue in St. Paul:


I like the grocery attached to Caspian Bistro on University in Minneapolis for unique and chowish gifts.

What other chowish treasures have you found out there and where did you find them?


  1. katebauer Dec 2, 2006 01:21 PM

    One of the best presents I ever got, which was for my wedding shower, was a nice platter along with a selection of cheeses and wine from Surdyks. Of course it's time sensitive so you'll have to be giving the person the gift within a day or two but wow was that a great surprise.

    1. c
      Cassandra Dec 2, 2006 10:43 PM

      how about a loaf of bread from the Birchwood? Atom is an awesome baker. you can buy it sliced, or not.

      1. Chris Mitra Dec 3, 2006 06:30 AM

        Panettone, from Broders deli. I hear that they just got their shipment yesterday, and they're wrapped, pretty, and ready to go.


        1 Reply
        1. re: Chris Mitra
          The Dairy Queen Dec 12, 2006 07:30 AM

          Panettone is such a great idea for a gift. I don't know why it never occurs to me. And, like you said, they are already wrapped and pretty. Good suggestion!


        2. d
          dahlsk Dec 4, 2006 12:29 AM

          For great tea, I think TeaSource in St. Paul is really good and has knowledgable staff. They also have nice tea accessories...

          1. f
            faith Dec 4, 2006 02:05 AM

            get some serious wild rice at one of the co-ops for $7/lb or
            so and know it's $27 for the same thing in Zingerman's latest
            catalog. It's way beyond that paddy rice that most places use
            and call wild rice.

            1. s
              soupkitten Dec 4, 2006 06:03 PM

              i agree w faith-- also i use the co-ops as "the poor man's penzey's", filling cute bottles with their super-fresh & frequently organic spices for my friends, loose teas, enclosing bay leaves in cards & with foodie gifts etc. i also like golden river/fig-- in house gift wrapping is free & really nice. my fave kitchen store (for gifts) for the same reason is let's cook on east hennepin.
              bread & pastries from rustica!
              sweet potato pie from deep roots desserts
              & many local farmer's markets are doing holiday markets this year-- it is a great idea to sign up a fellow foodie for a local CSA for the holidays!

              1. MplsM ary Dec 4, 2006 06:43 PM

                Another co-op herb and spice shopper here. I have a couple friends in NYC to whom I send peppermint. The tea made from this peppermint is miles above any commercial peppermint tea. I also send baking spices to my cookie making friends out west. The cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg are fantastic and the vanilla beans are comparable to Penzy's but half the price. (I dithered over whether or not to share that tidbit as I may not be able to find vanilla beans if you folks scoop them all up - but I'll take the risk).

                I've been doing a truffle exchange with my brother-in-law the past couple Xmases. He'd send me Trader Joe's and I'd send Whole Foods truffles. Now we have a Trader Joe's and I feel not the wont for truffles as I used to. So, what fantastic chocolate can I send? Is it possible to purchase single flavor B.T. McElrath boxes? I dislike assortments and wholly adore the Chile-Limón truffles. I suppose I'll give them a call to find out. Meanwhile, anyone have a recommendation for local, single flavor chocolates?

                3 Replies
                1. re: MplsM ary
                  katebauer Dec 4, 2006 07:03 PM

                  We purchased single truffles from B.T. McElrath for our wedding, of course we ordered 140 single wrapped ones so it might be different! Give them a call, both Brian and Rick are extremely helpful.

                  1. re: katebauer
                    soupkitten Dec 5, 2006 04:26 PM

                    yes & B.T. McElrath also has sleeved one-flavor truffles (usually 4 or 5) available all over town-- his new magdalena truffles are awesome, & our favorite, the passionfruit. i think that the chile-limon is only available in the 2 assortments, could be wrong though.
                    locations selling the truffles are listed

                    b.t. mcelrath is far and away my fave, but if a bomb dropped on his factory, i suppose i would go to celeste in st. paul.

                  2. re: MplsM ary
                    steve_in_stpaul Dec 7, 2006 01:02 AM

                    Just Truffles in St. Paul lets you pick what's packed. Good stuff.

                  3. k
                    KTFoley Dec 4, 2006 07:00 PM

                    Oooh, tea! Any variety of Mrs. Kelly's Tea is pretty fantastic, and local. You can find her at farmer's markets and in the co-ops.

                    1. n
                      Nathan_1118 Dec 5, 2006 04:15 PM

                      My favorite gift to get is always interactive classes at Cooks of Crocus Hill or Kitchen Window, although those are difficult to send to people out of town. That being said, you can't go wrong with B.T. McElrath, and possibly pair it with a Rams Head Red from Northern Vineyards. Their Pinot Noir was also quite decent.

                      1. s
                        steve_in_stpaul Dec 7, 2006 01:08 AM

                        If you can use refrigerated gifts, Beirut in South St. Paul has a refrigerated case with goodies like excellent smoked baba ghanoush, various interesting pickles, and more.

                        University Avenue in St. Paul (and, FTM, the southern end of Eat Street/Nicollet in Minneapolis) has a bunch of Asian grocery stores near each other; it's fun to wander around and find unique flavored drinks, baked goods, or candies and "what's-it" type cooking gadgets.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: steve_in_stpaul
                          Sven Dec 8, 2006 07:46 PM

                          If you are referring to Beirut Restaurant, (formerly Port of Beirut) it is actually in West St. Paul on Robert St. between Thompson and Emerson right next door to Pawn America.

                        2. The Dairy Queen Dec 8, 2006 03:02 PM

                          These are all fabulous suggestions! Leave it to the 'hounds to get creative about gift-giving. I'm linking the "where to get honey" thread in here because there is such fabulous info in that thread, too.


                          Also, I'll add, Lunds or Byerly's for wild rice and Pearson's salted nut rolls to send to out-of-towners.


                          1. c
                            ChefD Dec 8, 2006 04:17 PM

                            If you want tasty chocolates with a Midwest touch you can order Chocolate covered potato chips from Widman's Candy http://www.carolwidmanscandyco.com/

                            1. The Dairy Queen Dec 11, 2006 12:47 PM

                              Chokecherry jam at the grocery at Caspian Bistro per TeamKitty
                              and chokecherry jelly and syrup in the Mall of America shops Love From Minnesota and the Minnesot-ah stores per djohnson22 in this thread: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/349763


                              1 Reply
                              1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                djohnson22 Dec 12, 2006 02:29 PM

                                And, I forgot to mention, for those who shudder at the thought of MOA, Love From Minnesota has shops at other malls in the area as well - Ridgedale for sure. There used to be one at Southdale, but not certain if it is still there as it has been quite a while since I have been over there. I would imagine there would be one at Rosedale, but it has been even longer since I have been there.

                              2. The Dairy Queen Dec 12, 2006 07:19 AM

                                Oh, Buon Giorno in Lilydale, is full of goodies that would make great gifts, including white (or black) white truffle oil; nice cheeses; my favorite Lazzaroni amaretti cookies--the paper-wrapped kind in the red tin (though, now they are sealing them in plastic, then wrapping them in paper which warps the experience a little); whole wheat (!) gnocci (I bought it, but haven't tried it); house-made sauces (both canned and fresh in the fridge case); pastas, sausages, Panettone.

                                On my most recent trip, though, I didn't buy any gifts at all; rather, I just restocked my own kitchen with some basics. I also bought some pizzas out of the freezer case (which were very good for frozen pizzas--really nice crust, and not greasy). I didn't partake (this time) of the fabulous desserts or anything in the deli case, but it all certainly looked appealing--don't you admire my incredible restraint?


                                1. The Dairy Queen Dec 20, 2006 05:58 PM

                                  Oh, and how can I forget: a tin of Chicago mix popcorn and other old-fashioned candies from Candyland on Wabasha in downtown St. Paul.



                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                    cooknKate Dec 21, 2006 10:10 PM

                                    I just LOVE Candyland! Old time candy store, a great smell and everything delicious! Can't go wrong!

                                  2. k
                                    KTFoley Jan 7, 2007 09:02 PM

                                    I went to Golden Fig yesterday, just to see what it was like.

                                    How lovely! They carry Ames Farm Honey in little jars which really lend themselves to side-by-side taste tests -- what a find for those of us who cannot commit to a single large jar. Teeny teeny tiny jars labeled with the variety, hive & location, plus a nice chat with the proprietress about how the AFH owner gives the retailers no choice in the selection, but rather ships the varieties that he's willing to offer.

                                    When I regained consciousness, the credit card slip said $31.

                                    Considering the prosciutto, grass-fed beef, pickles, cheese, Rustica breads, vinegars, soup mixes, crackers, spice jars, handmade marshmallows, shortbread, jams, salsas, B.T. McElrath truffles and eight-dollar popcorn(?!?), I got off easy.

                                    1. pitu Jan 7, 2007 09:09 PM

                                      As an out of towner who was in MN for the holidays, let me point out the delicious cheese you folks have access to! I had some AGED CHEDDAR that was OUT OF THIS WORLD. I don't know where it came from exactly - an aunt gave it to us because it was too sharp for her family - but it was a small local producer/distributor, and I bet there's more than one.

                                      Send your aged cheddars to NYC!

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