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Great food gift to take to San Francisco from LA?

I need to get a couple of small host/hostess gifts to take to friends in San Francisco. Since it'll be near Valentine's day I am considering chocolates; they need to travel in checked luggage, though. Who has the best chocolates in LA, or other gift which might surpass in quality or at least equal what is available in SF?

Or a food gadget for one who cooks a lot from Marcella Hazan's books--something from Surfa's? I haven't even been there yet. Any ideas? Thanks.

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  1. nicely wrapped chocolates from boule or jin patisserie.

    i hear sprinkles also sells cake mix.

    1. Chocolates from Boule and Jin are nice, but they ones as good or better in SF. For old-time chocolate decadence (probably at a much lower price), how about english toffee from Littlejohn's in Farmer's Market? It's really amazingly good.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Chowpatty

        I like the English toffee idea. That really is exceptionally good and worth bringing to SF.

        1. re: Pei

          omg i just had a whole box of that english toffee that someone gave me. not fancy but definitely scarfable.

        2. re: Chowpatty

          checked baggage is going to be hard with chocolates, unless op can pack it in something that's not crushable at all. When I fly with chocolate I always put it in carryon but even then I've had some mishaps. Also, the choco treats at boule and jin have unusual flavors and a surprising number of my friends and family have not appreciated them, even the "gourmet" types.

          if it has to go in checked baggage, I would probably get a small gadget instead.

          1. re: Chowpatty

            Which Farmer's Market? Does the one in S. Pasadena have it? Thanks.

            1. re: Babette

              Original Farmer's Market at 3rd and Fairfax in LA.

              1. re: jacinthe

                it's a little stand inside the farmers market, which is the older section of the extended mall.

          2. Are you looking for something that you can buy in LA and that's not available in SF? I am afraid since they opened that I-5 there isn't much that's not available in both cities. Maybe some fresh local fruit (oranges?), but they don't do well in checked bags. Neither do burritos from a taco truck. SF has many high end chocolates stores too, so that wouldn't be unique to LA.

            1. That's a tough one. It's hard for me to think of non-Asian treats that are better in LA or hard to find in SF. If your friend cooks/likes Asian items, I might be able to think of more ideas.

              I think a look around Surfas is your best bet, but for me their most unique items are perishable and won't travel well.

              1. Pastrami from Langers.

                1. How about something from MUNCHIES? It's a kosher candy shop, but they've really good chocolate covered fruit-type candies.


                  1. My childhood friend who grew up in the Valley and now lives in Frisco craves Tommy's Burgers every time he comes down to visit his mom.

                    ...in fact he craves it a little too much, he goes every day that he's here...

                    18 Replies
                        1. re: wilafur

                          There is a civic fine for call SF "Frisco". I think it's $25, payable to the first San Franciscan you encounter.

                            1. re: choctastic

                              And that will be a 50 dollar fine for a Los Angeleno (is that a word?) to take Mr. Caen's name in vain!!!

                              1. re: chipman

                                Now I know why the Asian and Mexican food scene is mediocre in Frisco. All the newer immigrants are afraid these San Fran weirdos will fine them for no reason.

                                1. re: choctastic

                                  Oh Yea!! Our Asian Food can take your Asian food anyday of the weeK!! Oh, and that will be another 25 dollars please.

                            2. re: PeterL

                              Good luck in even finding a San Franciscan. Herb Caen was from Sacramento. I'm from New York myself, and after living in San Francisco for 45 years I just bought my first T-shirt commemorating the City. It just says "FRISCO" in big letters.

                              1. re: Gary Soup

                                Wow - you mean to say that you can wear that T-shirt in "The City" and get away with it nowadays? My old girlfriend - one of I guess a few actual natives from there would sneer, curse, and even occasionally punch me for uttering that "vulger" word.

                                I guess one can say the same about LA. I'm a native but a seemingly endangered species as well. I think the Westside is majority transplants - but that's cool - most of us have our roots from somewhere else...

                                1. re: bulavinaka

                                  Before Herb Caen rode into town with an attitude, "Frisco" was an honorable moniker, albeit with blue-collar connations. It was "Frisko" to Bertolt Brecht, and "Frisco" to Jean Renoir.

                                  Coming to a T-shirt near you:


                                  1. re: Gary Soup

                                    I'm keeping a tally of your fines. You will be sent a bill shortly.

                                    1. re: chipman

                                      With all the fines you collect, you can buy a lot of Dodger Dogs for Babette to send up.


                                      1. re: MichaelS

                                        Now I could make a comment on the overpaid dogs on the field, but the dodger dog is pretty damn good for stadium food.

                                        1. re: chipman

                                          I was referring to the Stadium Dogs. I try to avoid the ovverpaid dogs with all the "growth hormones". Wait, that's not LA....


                          1. Hot Mustard from Phillippe's, pickles and pastrami from Langer's, frozen tamales from Mama's Hot Tamales, fresh tortillas from one of those great tortilla places in East LA, chocolates from Jin Patisserie, cheese from BH Cheese Shop, tres leches cake from Adelita's... there are probably more options that I am forgetting.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: glutton

                              Nix on the cheese from BH Cheese Shop. The cheeses I've seen both here and SF are overpriced here. So unless you know the cheese scene in both cities well enough to focus in solely on the ones that BH gets and SF doesn't (I'm sure there are some, but how are you going to figure it out?) it's not worth it.

                              1. re: Pei

                                How about some burrata? Yes, you can find it here (SF) but maybe not as easily? This particular SF hound LOVES the idea of Langer's...When you visitin' (hint, hint)?

                                1. re: chaddict

                                  i agree with pei. the cheeses at bhcs are way pricey and cheeseboard has them for less. i've gotten burrata pretty easily in sf.

                                  also traveling with cheese is a problem even for carryon. for one thing you smell (seriously) and you have to be careful not to smush them. also you have to be careful to keep them cool. pain in the butt. i've tried this a couple of times from france and vancouver and imho it's not worth it.

                            2. you might be able to find something cool at the farmers market near the grove

                              1. Haven't been to "The City" since the 80s so I don't know what they don't have that is unique to LA, but Mitsuwa in Torrance has a counter - Minamoto Kitchoan - that offers great premium mochi, manju, and yokan. they can box it up for you. A seperate counter - don't remember the name - sells Japanese versions of European cookies and other confections (like Gaufres) in packaging that is suitable for traveling - many of these items are in metal boxes. These premium products are relatively hard to find even in LA, as these mochi counters are - I believe - only at their Torrance and Costa Mesa stores. These are not the mochi-type confections that are sold at the mom-and-pop shops in J-Town or Gardena, or even Marukai either, although you might find some of the cookie-type confections there, as well as at Fugetsudo in J-Town.

                                Candied Yuzu stuffed with white bean paste, Yokan with cherry blossoms, whole chestnuts wrapped in koshian azuki paste that is encased in pastry shell, and Rainier cherries in jelly - maybe kanten - that is infused with cherry essence. These are off the top of my head of probably a couple dozen different types of Japanese confections they had there last Sunday. I don't know if San Francisco has any large Japanese markets or specialty stores like this, but it might be worth a whirl.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: bulavinaka

                                  omg this is a really good idea as san fran is lacking in this dept and it's a really pretty gift. however, OP would definitely have to take this on carryon.

                                  1. re: choctastic

                                    As long as OP has the room to carry it on - it won't take up much space - it should be easy. The manju/mochi/yokan are placed in a box, then wrapped. One can request the boxes not to be wrapped - instead, they will give you a very nice bag that can easily pass as a gift bag. The cookie-type confections usually come prepackaged in a gift box made of tin, cardboard, or wood. These might be a problem as they are usually sealed.

                                2. Items that I haven't seen up in the Bay Area but are excellent down here are Nicaraguan (sp?) tamales or Guatemalan tamales.

                                  Forget about cheese; the cheese selection up there is far superior to anything down here.


                                  1. If you can bring it in a carry on bag, the red velvet cake at Doughboys on 3rd Street is the bomb!!! and it stores well...

                                    1. Maybe no longer considered special, but for nostalgia's sake please bring me a macaroon from Canter's.

                                      1. Cant thikn of anything that you can get in LA that you cant get in SF - case in point The Cowgirl Creamry, or any place in the Ferry Building - shame.....How about some english exotic from the GB store in SM . Like, um Marmite?

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: sophieej

                                          There are two British foods stores that I can think of in SF proper--You Say Tomato on Nob Hill, and one down in Potrero Hill that doesn't come to mind...British Imports?

                                          1. re: sophieej

                                            You can buy Marmite in most every grocery store. .

                                            1. re: SanseiDesigns

                                              I love the stuff - and Vegemite - but I would think folks up in the bay area categorize it as a haz mat substance...

                                          2. Check this out. The products look great.

                                            1. How about Aunt Polly's Pickles?
                                              You can find them at Joan's on Third and I think Surfas as well. They are usually in the cold case though so you might need to transport them cold.

                                              1. Anything from The Monastery of the Angels, Pumpkin Bread and Hand-Made Candies:


                                                1. I live in SF, with family in LA, and what I miss and bring for friends sometimes are cheese rolls or guava rolls from Portos in Glendale, or a guava cheesecake from a bakery in Silverlake... I can't remember the name. It's on a corner right on Sunset. Problem is you'd have to see your friends right away so they get it pretty fresh!

                                                  1. I vote for the guava pastries from Portos or something Japanese, like umi soba those pink plum noodles or a splurge item like a really really good bottle of olive oil or basamic vinegar that would be a splurge for them. Everything other food item they have in quantity and incredible quality. there is cool foods and fantastic breads in some of the corner markets there

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: mkleeh

                                                      Oh, excellent idea -- there are no Cuban bakeries in San Francisco. I'd take the guava and the coconut strudels, or the candied coconut balls. Heck, I'd even take the little chicken or picadillo pies. There's nothing at all like them in the Bay Area.

                                                    2. Zanzabelle on Rowena has great old school candies and great chocolate bars w/ packaging designed by cool graffic designers - owner does great candy baskets - other great small hostess gifts.

                                                      1. your are right! Zanzabelle on Rowena is actually the best Idea. Because there is nothing like it in SF my husband sent a bunch of Zanzabelle's baskets to his SF clients at Christmas. All of whom are total foodies and all responded with delight

                                                        1. OMG -- the deli bakery idea is the best. There are NO good delis in the Bay Area (and please don't start with Saul's or that one near the Presidio -- they are mediocre at best) and therefore no good Jewish bakery items. I'd say take raisin pumpernickel from Beverlywood or strudel from Canter's or Diamond Bakery -- hell, anything from those two bakeries. Oooh -- half sour pickles! Halvah! God -- our delis may not be as good as those on the East coast, but they're surely better than the pallid ones in SF.