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Dec 18, 2009 09:20 PM

New York food gifts (Coffee, Cheese, Wine, Olives)


I'm putting together a small NYC food gift basket for someone, and I was just hoping to get a little feedback:

Coffee: I was thinking Stumptown (because of the incredibly cool-looking containers), but I can't seem to get out of work early enough, or into work late enough, to stop during their store hours. I mean, no Saturday hours? Can I purchase their coffee anywhere else? If not, are there any other suggestions? Quality is obviously priority #1, but a nice container would be great.

Cheese: This should be easy. I think I'm going to Saxelby's for this one. I did Murray's last year and would like to switch it up. Any suggestions for a hard, but not overly-sharp cheese? Something along the lines of Grana Padano.

Olives: Similarly to the coffee request, there are plenty of great places where I can buy and package it myself in a mason jar, but do any places sell big, fresh olives in ready-to-gift containers?

Wine: I'm clueless when it comes to wine, but I just wanted to add one more element to the basket. I suppose I'll just go to Astor and ask helplessly, unless (long-shot) someone can recommend a good, earthy, red in the $20-40 range.

Thanks very much

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  1. Where are you sending the gift to?

    Stumptown isn't a unique to NY product at all. They're open on Saturdays though, so you should be able to go to their store but Porto Rican Coffee Importer would be a much more NY option.Gimme! Coffee is another option in nicer packaging, and they are original to NY State. Whole Foods, and Dean and Deluca both carry selections from local roasters as well.

    For Olives, you can try Garden of Eden, Fairway, or Murray's. The first two will sell them to you in a clear plastic container.

    Wines, you should look into Long Island vineyard wines. You can find them at most any wine store, but there are a few which specialize in local wines. You can also swing by the Union Sqr. Farmer Market and buy a bottle there, as well as a local cheese or two, some local honey, and more.

    2 Replies
    1. re: sugartoof

      Neither Stumptown nor Porto Rico are uniquely New York, but Stumptown's beans are much higher quality than PR. The mere fact that PR leaves their beans out in barrels and not sealed is reason never to buy beans there. Talk about a no-no for storing beans.

      1. re: billyeats

        Porto Rico Importing has been in New York since 1907.

        Stumptown is associated with the Pacific Northwest, and while they roast locally as of a couple years ago, they don't really belong in a New York themed artisanal gift box.

        I've never heard anyone complain about bad beans from Porto Rico, so they must be doing quick turnover, but it is something to consider.

    2. one more thought for the olives. if you want to make it a real "New York" item, head to the Pickle Guys or Guss, and get a selection of pickles, olives, and other briny goodies.

      as for LI wine, Jamesport makes a good, earthy pinot noir.

      1. Second Porto Rico for coffee (they have nice gift baskets):

        Agree with rec re: pickles from LES. Along those lines how about a salami for your boy in the army? . . .Katz' meats, truly NYC.

        Sounds like a gift basket, NOT a NYC one. To me NYC is bagels, bialies (Kossar's is closed Saturdays) and Greek food (Astoria). These are hard to find elsewhere. Cheese (especially if you are close to Vermont and the artisinal cheese makers) and wine you can get anywhere. Why olives?

        3 Replies
        1. re: financialdistrictresident

          I made the best NYC-themed gift basket at Zabars last year. It cost half of what their prepared baskets cost. Go to each dept and get black and white cookies, coffee, tea, bialies, chocolates, jellies, cheese, spreads, honey, coffee mug, salami, etc. It was a HUGE hit. They had a Zabars tote bag for a few dollars and I stuffed that instead of a basket. It was a P.I.T.A. shopping in Zabars but the best people watching of the year. (I witnessed 2 major nasty arguments.) It took me awhile but I took my time and stayed calm carefully looking over the whole place while New Yorkers pushed me, elbowed me and cut in front of me. I worked for that one but the payoff was well worth it. Have fun with it.

          1. re: zjc

            Another alternative to the Zabars bag, would be a Strand Bookbag. They're no more than $5 last I checked, and can be used as filler, or the gift bag itself.

          2. re: financialdistrictresident

            Thanks for the suggestions.. Yeah, I didn't mean "classic New York food", but your inference was reasonable. I kind of meant a general food gift basket that had a few of New York's best versions of products that the recipient likes.

            I went with Stumptown, because I prefer their coffee to Porto Rico's, and it's roasted freshly in the area. The cool (albeit expensive) glass jar that the anniversary blend came with was a nice touch. Then I went to Saxelby for a few small pieces of cheese, because, as I said above, I wanted to switch it up from last year (Murray's). The rest is, umm, still in progress. I've been busy.

          3. This doesn't directly answer your questions, but have you thought of hitting up the Union Square farmers market (M/W/F/Sat)? There, you can pick up food gift basket items from local vendors--plum or apple butter, jam, pretzels, NY wines, jars of pickled vegetables, honey, maple syrup or maple sugar candies...more NY and tri-state area than NYC, but the farmers market itself is very NYC, I suppose.

            Also unsolicited, but you could pick up hot chocolate mix from Jacques Torres in DUMBO.

            This gift basket idea is great. It's making me hungry!

            1 Reply
            1. re: cook dont run

              Jacques Torres is a great suggestion. Thanks