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Jul 13, 2008 09:23 PM

Gifts From California for Friends in New York

We will be visiting some close friends in Forest Hills and Albany in a little over a week. New York seems to have most things that are great to eat or drink, but there has to be some local stuff here in California (LA) that would be unique and transportable to our friends back East. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance...

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  1. Sour Dough and something from prop 215? :D

    1 Reply
    1. re: dnm3k

      Sourdough is pretty much a San Francisco thing. OP is from LA.

    2. I don't know what you mean by transportable. King Kelly Marmalade is great stuff and not available on the east coast afaik. Same with Martinelli's apple juice. I know they come in glass, but they are small and could be packed if wrapped properly. Think along the lines of local products like that.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Happy Wanderer

        I buy Martinelli's apple juice at Whole foods in the boston area

        1. re: emilief

          Pick up some chapulines while you're there.

        2. re: Happy Wanderer

          Sorry - by "transportable," I mean goods that travel relatively well. Strawberries are hopping crazy good right now in SoCal, but those don't fall in the "transportable" category to me. They're really ripe, last maybe two days, and are as delicate as a diva's ego.

          The stone fruits are front and center right now as well. Peaches and nectarines are more transportable, but we will have to make a very special effort in packing them - if we decide on these, we will probably fedex them to avoid any TSA hassles.

          1. re: bulavinaka

            i still say go for the moonpillows mochi truffles from the brentwood farmers' market. they're easy to transport because they come in a little gift box.

            i've been craving them ever since i suggested it!!

            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

              Your moonpillows keep haunting me... I think it was you who posted about these on the LA board a while back - they've been in the back of my mind ever since and I truly appreciate the exposure to what looks like a sinfully good treat. Both of us were crazy busy during the week - I wonder if they're available during the weekend...

              1. re: bulavinaka

                yes! actually, according to the moonpillows website, the only place you can get them now is at the brentwood farmers' market on sunday. but i did notice that they've started to offer shipping as well...

        3. I've picked up moles from Guelatzaga and brought it back to NY for myself and to give as gifts. Best moles I've found so far -- much better than the ones in the supermarkets and better than what you'd find in restaurants in NYC as well. I think there are three locations in LA. I would bag it several times so the oil doesn't leak out.

          Just came back from the Bay area this morning with some local, organic stone fruits that I purchased in Napa. Don't know how LA fares with stone fruits but these ones are far better than anything you'd find in the best fruit shops in NYC, including the famous exorbitantly priced one one on Ave. J, Brooklyn. Honestly, I wish I brought some more home. They are so flavorful and succulent. I think it's peak season right now. I would take care so that they don't break (as one plum did for me).

          Just wanted to mention that I think you can find Martinelli's apple juices in NYC.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Miss Needle

            Yeah, I tend to snicker when other parts of the country talk about their green markets/farmers' markets. Although different parts of the country may do better on some crops/commodities, overall, just don't come close to a top California farmers' market. Can't beat the combination of the climate and the demand/competition for top quality produce. And yeah, we're at peak season right now, with the early fruits still lingering and the later fruits coming in. Thanks for reminding me to head down to the Ferry Building for the Tuesday noon market.

            On topic, I just took a box of See's to Pennsylvania at the request of my California ex-pat friend.

            We gonna get a report from you, Miss Needle?

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              Ruth, you're definitely correct about the California markets being so much better. In NYC, our big farmer's market is the Union Square Greenmarket. Sometimes the stuff is good. But other times it's really not all that. But I see so many people get enamored with not so great produce just either because it's the best we can do or they get caught up in the hype of being at a farmer's market.

              Of course, you guys are getting a report. It's pretty long but I'm working on it on a Word file. I'll be posting it either tonight or tomorrow.

              1. re: Miss Needle

                To be fair, during my recent tour of the LES, a former California chef who has now lived and work in NYC for many years made a big point about how much better the produce situation is now than when she came to NY. If it's so much better than it used to be I think it's understandable that people are "enamoured" of the produce they can get now.

                Looking forward to the report (smart to do it as a Word file first)!

            1. re: laliz

              i and everyone i know from California loves See's, but for some reason, unless you grew up with them, or have been eating them for a long time, people seem to have less of an appreciation or affinity for them. that said, if you do go for See's, definitely don't forget the bordeaux or buttercreams.

              1. re: Emme

                we had See's in the midwest and I always thought it was kinda down-market (alongside Whitman's) although I must admit the pieces from the Market and Sansome SF location were pretty good.

                1. re: hill food

                  Seems unlikely that what you remember in the Midwest is See's -- they only have two stores west of Colorado, both in Illinois, and they don't sell through other retailers, although I've read that they now have seasonal kiosks in some department stores. Maybe you're conflating them with EthelM, which is a similar style but nowhere near as good.

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      I think See's strength is in their dark chocolate. It has a nice balance of sweet with a little bitter on the back palate. Their Nuts & Chews in the dark chocolate kicks booty, especially anything with almonds, caramel or toffee. Even their chocolate bars made of dark chocolate are great...

                      Ironically, some of the friends who we are visiting are averse to dark chocolate. They associate milk chocolate with chocolate, saying dark is too bitter. The strange thing is they are accustomed to some of the most bitter food in the world - bitter melon. They are Chinese, and we've found this to be the case with many other Chinese friends and relatives on my wife's side of the family...

                      1. re: bulavinaka

                        I don't know about the Chinese, but I know a lot of Koreans LOVE the See's milk chocolate nuts and chews. Koreans don't seem to be a big fan of the dark as well.

                        1. re: bulavinaka

                          This sounds like an interesting example of how palates are trained. It could be that the bitter flavors need to be combined with certain other flavors in order to be "right." Or maybe bitterness combined with sweetness doesn't suit.

                          1. re: jlafler

                            Yeah - it confounds me. And your reasoning is mine as well.

              2. What about California olive oil? There are some really good ones. An other option would dates.

                5 Replies
                1. re: breadzone

                  How about freshly pressed walnut oil from CA?

                  1. re: bulavinaka

                    Walnut oil is pretty specialized, what would they use it in, I beleive it would be one of those things the reciever will say thanks for and put it on a back shelf,saving of for a special reason, that will never surface in imho.

                    1. re: normalheightsfoodie

                      My wife picked up some walnut oil from the Santa Monica farmers market the other day. She sampled some at the stand, and was really wowed by it. She's so impressed that she's bringing some along with some dry salad fixings and plans on picking up some (hopefully good) greens to make her friends salads over there. We'll keep our fingers crossed that it doesn't end up as a dust collector in their pantry...

                      1. re: bulavinaka

                        one of my favorite uses for walnut oil:

                        whisk up a vinaigrette using the oil, minced shallot, S&P, and acid [sherry vinegar, OJ or lemon juice].

                        serve over salad of greens [arugula, endive, radicchio], roasted beets, haricots vert, and cheese [goat, manchego, blue or feta].

                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          Jotting this down... sounds delish - thanks!