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Foodie Gifts From Washington

  • m

I currently live in London but am spending a weekend in Washington in a few weeks time. I am eager to bring, and return with, foodie gifts for friends and loved ones. I usually bring back Iberico Ham from Spain, Saucisson & wine from France, Aged Vinegar from Italy. However, I am at a bit of a loss as to what a Brit might miss in the States and conversely what i would want to bring back from the States to England. More concerned with quality than cost and bearing in mind I have only carry on luggage size is important. Any suggestions as to what and where to get it?

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  1. Old Bay Seasoning is something native to this part of the country.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Elyssa

      Also wine for the VA wine region.

      Are you interested in only DC/VA/MD specific presents or are you looking for gifts from the US in general?

      1. re: Elyssa

        I guess the US in General though something East Coast is best.

    2. Not the easiest for bringing back, but maple syrup is a possibility (esp. a decorative bottle).

      1. Since you are here on a weekend you could visit the Dupont Circle Farmer's Market on Sunday morning to see if any of the vendors are selling apple butter or other preserves. I would assume sealed preserves would clear customs.

        Maybe a can of Senate Navy Bean Soup and Maryland Crab Soup. Most local supermarkets carry them.

        1. You're friends and loved ones are quite lucky! Assuming that you are looking to bring back products local to DC, I would suggest:
          Virginia Peanuts
          BBQ sauce and/or a good dry rub
          Local honey and jams from the farmers markets

          1. I am not so sure how UK customs (or US Homeland Security) will treat these suggestions but here goes.

            If Iberico ham was a winner.... try a quality Virginia country ham (not a Smithfield).

            Wine from Virginia is very good. A couple hour drive from Washington will be a fun rip and at the peak of fall foliage in the mountians and at the many wineries. Try Rappahannock, Permund, Barboursville, all within a an hour or two and only 3 the of many possible choices.

            Someone suggested Old Bay crab seasoning... a good choice, but look for JO Spice from Maryland if you can find it... locally owned. Old Bay I think is now owned by Germans and perhaps available in Europe..

            Also how about Scrapple? What's that? -- It's the whole pig! Rapa brand " original" is the best.. It's a Delaware-made treat... on the order of haggis but far tastier IMHO. get a brick and slice it off in 3/16" slices and fry them till chrisp on both sides. A local favorite for breakfast with eggs (and grits).

            Which brings up grits! (its our local -southern US- version of polenta). Quaker quick grits are available at any grocery store. Follow the directions on the box, but add more butter! Also great with cheddar and jalpapenos.

            This area is well known for its apples. You might try a farmer's market for mant local goodies. You can browse the local homemade items, but buy some apple butter. Great on scones or crumpets!

            My mother has had sucess with flying (in a checked bag) fresh frozen soft crabs (Maryland blue crabs) across the USA (6-8 hrs) so I think that the trans-atlantic sould be possible too. Pack them well with extra ice packs. I would however plan on sauteing them within a day (kept well refrigerated).

            Have a great trip!!

            1 Reply
            1. re: JRCann

              the Virginia Peanuts are a must. but the Virginia Wines are certainly coming on strong. Perhaps this will provide some help: http://www.virginia.org/site/features... look at Eastern Market as well as wonderful Dupont Circle.

            2. I agree with the suggestion to go to a farmers market. I think Blue Ridge Dairy smoked mozzarella would travel well.

              1. How about Utz Crab Chips? It's like bringing back Old Bay, but on a snack food.

                1 Reply
                1. re: 4X4

                  That is a really fun idea. My relatives in TX always request that I bring home a few bags over the holidays. And who doesn't like potato chips?!

                2. I was going to suggest Uncle Brutha's hot sauce, although I'm not sure where to buy it since I think their store closed by Eastern Market (I guess they have an online store?), but you probably wouldn't be able to carry on (I imagine all the bottles are more than 3oz)... and other people have I guess more sophisticated suggestions. It's delicious hot sauce and a local DC company.

                  Are you looking for DC area tastes specifically, or more general tastes of the U.S?

                  ETA: I suspect airport security wouldn't let you take even sealed preserves of more than 3oz, and of course not wine. Are you really hoping to carry on, or did I misunderstand your post?

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: mselectra

                    I really was planning to carry on but after the above posts and suggestions i am beginning to reconsider. Like the idea of the Vineyards as well - sounds like a fun filled foodie day out.

                    What are the chances i couls smuggle peanuts into the UK? I am intrigued by a Scrapple...

                    What would you want from the UK?

                    1. re: Mortz

                      when i recently went to london over the summer, i became quite addicted to innocent smoothies. they are not available in the us, and taste so much better than the smoothies we have here. the ingredients are more unique, thus resulting in a strange but wonderful flavor.

                      1. re: Mortz

                        I am not much for every day chocolate bars, but the euro ones sooo much better than ones you can get in the states.

                        1. re: Mortz

                          Cadbury's hazelnut chocolate bar. Yum.

                          1. re: Martha

                            Are you suggesting that Cadbury's hazelnut chocolate bar is unique to the US market? Otherwise, you should know that Cadbury's is an English corporation.

                            1. re: Indy 67

                              This subthread seems to be about what you would like from England, not the other way around, and about how good European chocolate bars are compared with the US. :)

                              1. re: mselectra

                                Thank you for explaining my response. I love the Cadbury bars from the UK and Ireland. You can sometimes get the Irish-made ones at Irish shops. Yum!

                      2. Scrapple would not make it across the pond. Peanuts should be easy as they are sealed either in a tin can, or bag.
                        Virginia wine country is a delightful way to spend the day (about a 60-90 or so minute drive)-and fall..omg..the folliage is spectacular.

                        1. Even thought Velatis caramels are headquartered in Richmond, VA, I associate them with old line Washington, DC. They've been sold here "forever." Lots of seasonal varieties plus traditional flavors.

                          Blue Crab Bay Company makes a wide variety of snacks, soups, condiments, spice mixes, and Bloody Mary mixes all based on the tastes of the Chesapeake region, in particular, peanuts and Old Bay seasoning. The packaging evokes our region and makes this a very appealing gift. Here's a link to their web site: