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LA specific foodie items and where to find them

I'm looking for food gifts that are made locally (in LA or CA) for some people who live in North Carolina. Basically I'm looking for something they can't find where they live. Any ideas and where to buy them? Eastside preferred. Thanks!

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  1. Point Reyes Blue Cheese is amazing - I believe you can find that any many other fabulous food gifts at the Cheesestore of Silverlake.

    1. Lulabelle Toffee. The BEST toffee I've ever tasted. Made in LA. It makes your mouth water while you're eating it.


      1. Tamales from Sandra & Lolitas in ELA. They freeze well and they will love them

        1. See's Candy. I know you can order it online and there are a few stores back east, but it's something native to LA and it wouldn't be something they'd buy for themselves. If there are kids or teens they go nuts for the lollipops. I know because I sent a 2-lb box back east once as a thank you and it was a big hit.

          Also, there's California wine--pick your favorite. A jar of that horseradish mustard from Phillipe's downtown. Lawry's seasoned salt maybe? A few avocados or meyer lemons packed in your suitcase will be a treat also.

          4 Replies
          1. re: tarabell

            isn't See's native to San Francisco?

            1. re: Diana

              Nope, founded here in Los Angeles in 1921. First store was on Western Ave. They didn't expand to the bay area until the 1930's.

              There's a factory on La Cienega just south of Jefferson. It's got a shop up front - the parking lot smells sooo good! It's also where they filmed that famous I Love Lucy chocolate episode. Their other factory (but they call them something else) is up in South San Francisco.

              1. re: ks in la

                A bit off topic but my credit union has a small branch back in the factory and the tellers are usually good for a handful of yummy samples!

                1. re: sel

                  Okay - I want to switch banks!

          2. I noticed that there's only one Trader Joe's at North Carolina, so assuming your relatives don't live near Cary, NC, Trader Joe's cookies, spiced nuts, etc are quite different and I would consider it 'local' enough.

            Otherwise I will second the tamales idea, especially the sweet corn one. Used to get mine from Corn Maiden when they were at Irvine Farmer's Market. For a while they had the sweet corn tamale with chilis at TJs also.


            I also suggest scouring Costco for locally produced items. At the Maui location we found coffee, mac nuts, and portuguese sausages to take home.

            1. As part of your gift, you could send them some Graber olives. They sell them at Gelson's, Bristo Farms, etc.


              You could also send them some dessert wine from Galleano Winery, one of the oldest operating wineries in So. Cal. Check their webpage for retailers. Their regular wines aren't that great, but the dessert wines are decent and have a long history of being produced in the Inland Empire.


              Of course, there are tons of great wines made in California.

              There are a lot of good California cheeses, such as Point Reyes (suggested above) or Humbolt Fog, and those made/distributed by Cowgirl Creamery. Check the webpage for retailers (I'm sure they carry some of them at Gelson's and likely also at the Cheese Store of Silverlake).


              You could also check out the Hollywood or Santa Monica farmer's markets, where many locally produced goods that would travel well, such as nuts, fruits and honey, are available.

              1. I just got my VA based cousin and her family a gift basket from Boudin Bakery. She was craving sourdough, cheeses and salami (she grew up out here) but isn't too foodie about it, so it fit the bill. I alawys find it so odd that she really can't find any good sourdough out there. I forget how regional it is.

                1. I bring my mom Knott's Berry Farm jelly or marmalade and See's candies.

                  1. You could try Mercado La Paloma this year which is slightly south of downtown. It's an interesting little effort to promote local artisans and latin cuisine and culture. http://www.mercadolapaloma.com/restau...

                    I'm not sure if this is what you're looking for but it's worth a visit. Keeping in mind that we live in what was once a spanish territory it seems appropriate. Or you can send them gift certificates to McDonalds which was created in San Bernardino, not far from Los Angeles ;)

                    1. If only you could ship them a Langer's sandwich!

                      I would get them some really good local grown avocados from a farmer's market.

                      Also, get some chocolates from Comparte's or Boule's.

                      For cheese, I would send them Humbolt Fog..it isn't from LA..but it is a great california cheese. Match it with a loaf from La Brea Bakery. Both can be gotten at most Gelson's

                      Local beers are a good idea, such a LA's own Angel City brewery's line up, as well as the wonderful Hollywood Blonde. You could also send them some Firestone. There are other local microbreweries in So Cal, such as Lighthouse and Telegraph from Santa Barbara. Look in Bevmo..they may be there.

                      Find some local olives from Los Olivos or Santa Ynez, or even the Santa Barbara Olive co.

                      IF they were into health food, I'd reccomend Follow Your HEart's veagnnaise (mayo substitute for Vegan incline folks)

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Diana

                        Actually, Langer's does an excellent job of shipping their pastrami and bread: http://www.langersdeli.com/togo/index.... And if you're carrying the food yourself, they'll vacuum-pack the hand-cut pastrami for you. It's very nice.

                        Other good local stuff to send/bring is Little Flower sea-salt caramels; exotic chocolates from Picholine or Boule; frozen tamales (my fave is still Juanito's in East L.A.); or possibly charcuterie from Salumi, Fra'Mani or La Espanola, all of which is available at Surfas. King Kelly jams are more characteristic of the area than Knotts (you can find them at any Ralph's; the beach plum is delicious). Breads from Bread Bar or La Brea Bakery are unlike anything you'd find in the southeast (except where the par-baked LaBrea breads are sold.) Citrus from the Hollywood Farmers Market would be admired, especially Meyer lemons when they come in.

                        1. re: condiment

                          Hi Condiment! Great tip about Langer's. I have already seen Meyer lemons at the Pasadena FM.

                      2. Are you shipping or taking it there yourself? If you're carrying it there, don't forget the TSA rules about carrying on liquids/gels/sprays apply to food too. Personally, I like the See's candy idea. Sure, you can buy it online, but you have to know about it first. Also, don't forget Peet's coffee!

                        1. "Lawry's seasoned salt maybe"

                          I have to laugh about this one, Lawry's is all over the place. Plus "seasoned salt" is a popular soul food seasoning.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: RaleighRocker

                            My friend's wife is from Hawaii and he told me once when one of her relatives came over and brought up the subject of Spam. He jokingly told the person they couldn't get it here. The next time that person came he brought a case of Spam for them. My friend felt bad he mislead them as a joke, but it was funny. I know the original poster was asking about California food items, but when I went to the U.K. I took some See's Victoria Toffee which is much different from the Brit toffee, but I also took some of those Hawaiin chocolate covered macadamia nuts you can find in some of those Japanese markets with a large Hawaiian clientele like Marukai. My friend over there let his mother try out his box and she ate the whole thing (and she's not big either). Must have been fairly unique to them.

                          2. I'll second the recommend for See's Candy. While I can get it on-line now that I live in Texas this is the one item I always bring back after a visit in CA. They have great chocolates, but they also do a wonderful peanut brittle and almond roca.

                            There's also the Knott's Berry Farm Syrups. Hubby likes the bosenberry., but I can get them in the stores here in Texas.

                            1. If you want to have some fun (friends with a sense of humour that drink wine) - how about adding a really good bottle of Pinot Noir (and a bottle of Merlot) from the Los Olivos/Santa Barbara area with a copy of the DVD "Sideways"? California wine and Hollywood - how much more local can you get? ;-)

                              1. If you're going, I'd say go to Smart and Final and pick up the salsa. For more exotic, go to any of the armenian markets and pick up southern california made lokoum (turkish delight) or some of the persian sweets you can buyat the markets on Westwood between Wilshire and Santa Monica.


                                my fave local gift is a selection of the jams, preserves, etc at E Waldo Ward in Sierra madre. They have a website, but it's fun (for me at least) to go to the store and pick up a selection. The seville orange marmalade is made from some of the oldest seville (i.e. bitter orange) orange trees in Southern California. They have tangelo,santa rosa plum, etc. Everything is great and they have a little booklet which is sweet.

                                Also, get a box of the candies made by the nuns at the convent in hollywood, Monastery of the Angels, one block n of Franklin, one block w of Gower. I like the mints and the 'mallows/caramel - smooth not chewy. No mail order, no online, just go there.


                                you can also go to any of the La Adelita shops around town and buy masa and tortillas. Or go to Quality Seafood and buy live sea urchins to express mail over to the folks.

                                For coffee - La Gavina brand is roasted in LA by cuban emigres. There are high end good places like the Coffee Roaster in Sherman Oaks - but most large cities have good coffee importers and that really isn't local.

                                Also, a fun thing if you go to a BIG smart and final, they sell "cup-o-gold" candy that is made by some local company called Adams something... it's an industrial candy BUT it is local and hard to find.
                                It's Adams Brooks and here's a website with more info but smart and final definitely carries it in the bigger stores


                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Jerome

                                  Speaking of jams, the Huntington Library makes orange marmalade from the orange trees in their groves.

                                  1. re: Jerome

                                    The Monastery of the Angels is at 1977 Carmen in Los Angeles They have fabulous baked goods and candy that are better than Grandma's. Honest. Also a full gift shop and holiday boutique. I'm not Catholic but our family has been friends with the monastery since the 60s. Wonderful group of cloistered nuns. They gave me the pumpkin bread recipe and it is fabulous. Their loaves are really nice and big, like a loaf of Wonder Bread (blech). Freezes well too so buy some for now and some for later.

                                  2. The nuns at the Monastery of the Angels (on Gower, just a block north of Franklin) make fine pumpkin bread and peanut brittle. It's God-tastic!

                                    1. The girlfriend's family in Queens, NYC, went wild for See's candy, they said there is no comparable East Coast chain. They also enjoyed wines from Santa Barbara County and Paso Robles.

                                      My aunt in Honolulu can't get enough of Trader Joe's chocolate-covered blueberries. Trader Joe's candy make a good substitution for Harry & David items.

                                      I second the recommendation for farmers markets nuts/honey/jams.

                                      Of course the best choice would have been a Tommy's chiliburger or Pink's chilidog but those don't travel well1

                                      1. Here's a J. Gold response on local treats:


                                        And there's this Bev. Hills place that makes their own chocolate and only sells it there:


                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: bo_burger

                                          also edelweiss chocolates in beverly hills. They just opened a westside (further westside) branch, but stick with the b.h. branch.
                                          on canon.