Need non-wine, local chowish gift ideas
I'm going to visit my family in Taipei this month. Would like to bring them some gifts that exemplify the epicurian culture here in the Bay Area. I can only bring one bottle of wine under exemption, so I need other ideas that really say SF bay area or CA. Also, I want it to be something they can't get in Asia or the UK (as they travel there quite a bit). Please keep in mind, it needs to be something that travels relatively well for the 14 hr flight. Also, I think it would be better to be non-liquid as I don't know what the current liquid restrictions are. Thanks!
We always took See's candy to our relatives in Hong Kong . . . but the last time was over a decade ago and everyone's here now. Also, they all schooled here so developed a taste for it. I know that it's available there now at very high prices, don't know about Taipei.
Wasn't there an old post about bringing pre-cooked bacon to Asia? My South Asian friend in Geneva craves the giant cannisters of nuts from Costco.
I have no idea how Westernized your family is, but a lot of stuff being mentioned would not thrill my mainland China inlaws. California pistachios are always welcome, especially close to the New Year. The dried fruit someone mentioned might be a good idea, and if they do like chocolates I would choose See's (especially the filled ones) over Ghirardelli.
re: Gary Soup
Not knowing Asian tastes except for a few friends and what I read on the board, that is why I think those pate de fruit would be great ... sort of a different type of dried fruit, so to speak, with intese fruit flavor and not overly sweet. I don't even like what amounts to fruit jellies but the Citizen Cake pates are amazing .. and there's some texture like rice desserts like sesame balls. And they would travel really well since they wouldn't have the risk of melting like chocolate
re: Gary Soup
Yeah, I should mention that they are VERY lactose intolerant. I know that they are not that into western baked goods and cheese. When they go to Europe they complain endlessly about the bread (I know, I know... to each their own). In terms of desserts, I think they do like sweet but do not like the richness or heaviness associated with cream or butter.
But sounds like Ferry Building is the key here. Thanks for the suggestions so far and keep 'em coming!
Hmm ... not sure of what appeals to them in terms of flavor ... do they like sweets? Would they appreciate coffee? I would pack things like jam in the luggage ... for one stop shopping, sort of, at the Ferry Plaza Farmers market
- Rancho Gordo beans
- June Taylor jams
- Blue Bottle Coffee
- I'd make sure if you buy from Fatted Calf that you have tried the product. I have had some great stuff there, but also some really disappointing stuff ... like recently their hot dog.
- various little bottles of Marshall's honey with an array of colors and flavors ... the pumpkin blossom honey is a must. If you only buy one honey, buy the pumpkin blossom. Tastes available.
- an assortment of Tierra Vegetables dried chiles
- Iocoppi dried beans
Maybe more liquid than you would like ... but you can pack it
- The apple farm - balsamic apple vinegar
- Sciabica Olive Oil. They have these cool little 2 oz (I think) samplers with about 7 different types of olive oil. There are two packs. One with plain oils and one with flavored olive oil. It is the only olive oil I ever liked.
Outside of Ferry Plaza
And yeah, I'd go with See's if they like sweets. I like XOX too.
If they like coffee ... Graffeo or Ritual
Citizen cake make pretty mendiants and the pate de fruit, especially the passion fruit, is amazing. Here's what a mendiant looks like
- Molinary does a nice artisan line of salamis. If this interests you I'll look up the one I liked alot.
Garlic. I bring it to New York, where it gets a good reception. I've brought the ropes, and also the Christopher ranch bottled version. Make sure it's securely closed and then wrap it in multiple plastic bags. I think goat cheese would make the trip. Dried fruits are a nice gift. Trader Joe's is OK, but I usually bring Lunardi's, which packages their own. I don't know if there are any Lunardi's up the peninsula, but I imagine you could get Casa de Fruta somewhere.
Yes, Ghirardelli can be found worldwide, but it's certainly not as accessable as it is in the Bay Area. I have friends in Asia and even NYC (!) who still ask me to bring the stuff over with me everytime I visit. It's distinctively San Franciscan and always a nice treat for those who live outside of the Bay Area. There's also Scharfenberger Chocolates based in Berkeley, and many people forget but See's Candies is not available nationwide (mostly on the West Coast) so that's not a bad choice, too. When I visit Asia sometimes I bring back prosciutto, pastrami and smoked salmon from Costco or Trader Joe's. It's so cold on the bottom of the airplane that there's no risk of spoilage.
the best of what SF has to offer, IMHO, is in the ferry building. i'd walk through and gather a few things from a variety of vendors to take. i've been able to get the following through customs in taipei:
- COWGIRL CREAMERY cheese assortment
- with bread from ACME
- dried pasta, charcuterie and beef jerky from GOLDEN GATE MEAT CO.
- mushrooms from FAR WEST FUNGI (i think only fresh fruit is not allowed)
- TSAR NICOLAI caviar (which i transport in small styrofoam containers)
- pastries and dried nectarines from FROG HOLLOW FARM
- other fun stuff from BOULETTE'S LARDER
- RECCHUIUTI chocolates
- a bottle of wine to wash it all down from FB WINE MERCHANT
i'd also go and make myself a little snack pack for the trip. the airplane food has been so horrid. beware of jealous passengers.
safe travels and buen provecho!
re: Robert Lauriston
agree. i only listed inside tenants as i do not know when the poster will fly and if i'm picking up bread & pastry, i'd go same day or day before. my post's focus was one-stop shop, ease, and quality. i did not list FATTED CALF as they are only at the market on saturday's. or has that changed? please update.