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Dec 20, 2009 08:13 AM

Gift for foodie in-laws in Bay Area?

My foodie parents-in-law have requested a "consumable" X-mas gift this year, rather than more stuff. Can you suggest any place that could do a nice package of some special item -- I know they are cuckoo for truffle products, home-made sausage/salume, and anything extraordinary in the French or Italian vein. I'm not from the area and would love your ideas! I'm thinking of the $150-200 range. Thanks!

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  1. Berkshire pig bacon csa for monthly or quarterly deliveries $130 + shipping, includes a tshirt, from the folks at Zazu and Bovolo in Sonoma Wine Country. Great product. Black Pig Meat Co, you can order online.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      Thanks -- I know they are fans of Bovolo -- I'll look in to this!

      1. re: zedly

        Hmm. Unfortunately it looks like they charge $300 for the shipping...

        1. re: zedly

          Ouch! Are the inlaws close enough to pick it up in person? That's what I'm doing, once a quarter. A good excuse for a trip to wine country every three months.

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            I was just going to post a similar question but decided to read this first. You sort of answered my question but let me double check. If you do a bacon a month is it really ok to pick this up quarterly? My husband gets wine from Seghesio but I'm not sure he gets up quarterly. Some time he switches off with friends. Would love more info. Thanks. - Yah, that shipping fee is crazy for the Bay Area. They should find a more local drop off area!

            1. re: Allfrog68

              The quarterly info was on the website when I last looked at it last wk.

              1. re: Allfrog68

                Now that i've been doing this for a few months, I thought I'd post a follow-up.

                You get a membership card marked with months of the year that are checked off with each bacon pick-up. So you can do it once a month, quarterly, or pick up a full year's worth if you like.

                As it turns out, I've been picking up once a month and am a little behind. I've lagged because i've been hoping that the salumi will become available to the CSA as well. Currently it's made in-house, whereas the bacon is produced at an FDA-inspected facility, so the salumi can't be sold for retail at this point. However, I'm told they're trying to work out something.

                I've been loving the bacon. It browns very easily and evenly and has a very mild sweetness and good cured tang, salt level and smoke. Normally I would cook my bacon to complete brown and crispness, but with this I'm finding that I like to leave it a bit limp and not completely crisp. The firm fat tastes so delicious, I enjoy leaving some of it unbrowned to better enjoy the texture and sweet porcine flavor. I've saved every bit of the rendered bacon fat for cooking purposes.

                106 Matheson St, Healdsburg, CA 95448

      2. On Sunday 12/20 are you looking for someone not only to put this together and personally deliver it before Christmas?

        3 Replies
          1. re: zedly

            OK. I was at the Pasta Shop on 4th today They will do custom gifts and had you needed delivery, they could do that.

            For some reason the word 'local' stuck in my mind and while doing my own shopping, I kept an eye out for local items sold in the shop. I had no idea that PS had so few local items.

            Melanie's idea sounds fabulous, but should you not make it up that way there is some good stuff at Pasta Shop and if you are picking it up I would walk next door and add some excellent tea from Teance. If you think that interests you I can give some suggestions. Also another outstanding addition would be a box of Chocolates from Chocolatier Blue a half block up. This is the gift I am giving to anyone who cares about food this year. The owner once was the dessert chef at Charlie Trotter in Chicago. I bet your parents would love these.

            Another thought and unique is there is a new little French shop in Berkeley making sausages, pates, etc. I have never had a better sausage than their smoked breakfast sausage. They also have boudin noir and lots of other items.

            This is a one person operation and I am sure if you called him, he would put together a gift basket. The guy has style as well, so I'm also sure it would be beautiful. Don't be put off by this next bit. Most of the items are cryovacked and last two weeks or can be frozen if using later. However, your parents would have one swell New Year's Eve spread out of the house-smoked salmon, wild boar pate, etc.

            You might read some of the raves by Chowhounds on the threads attached to the restaurant record

            Also,the prices are as exceptional as the food for $200 bucks you could get quite the spread. Though I detest the wine shop across the street for personal reasons, you could always make a stop by there to add a bottle of wine.

            If the Pasta Shop is something you might consider, I'd be happy to makes some recs for the gift basket. The Bay Area basket they have is pretty lame. However they do have some good stuff and they sell truffles an lots of products with truffles

            1. re: rworange

              La Bedaine is a good recommendation. His crazy pricing would definitely make the money go farther than it would at the Pasta Shop. Although $200 might clean out the shop.

          1. I'd recommend specific locally-made food items, that you can assemble and make into a gift basket yourself. To wit:

            If they are Gin drinkers, I recommend Anchor Junipero Gin: it's made locally at Anchor Steam Brewery in San Francisco. You can get it from BevMo for $32. When I give this gin as a gift, recipients invariable mention that it has become their favorite. Include some limes and tonic water for instant Gin + tonic gratification.

            For chocolate, there are lots of options for local treats. I recommend Tcho, a company based in San Francisco at Pier 17. They have 4-flavor packs, which including four different single-origin chocolate bars. Each one has a unique flavor profile (nutty, fruity, citrus, chocolatey).

            Another unusual / local / outstanding wine option is port wine from St. Francis Winery in Sonoma. It has a taste that is very different than a traditional port; even people who dislike port love it. It's also not easy to find in stores, but is available from their online web site.

            The benefit of these previous items is that if your in-laws really like one of them, they can visit and/or take a tour of the place.

            Also great for gift baskets:

            Amaretti cookies from La Biscotteria bakery in Redwood city. They are actually chewy, flattened almond tortes. People are generally amazed how good a cookie can taste. They have a high moisture content, so they should be eaten within a week of buying them before they dry out. La Biscotteria can also make a gift basket; their biscotti is also good.

            If they are coffee drinkers, a bag of the Tesora blend of coffee from Philz is a good bet; it's a really savory blend (it has notes of bacon grease). If they like it, they can buy more of it at the Philz locations in San Francisco.

            3 Replies
            1. re: ssfire

              Some good suggestions. The only comment I'd have is that at the Yelp Christmas party Tcho gave out samples of the four flavor profiles. Seriously ... I was one of the few people not liquored up so I knew what I was tasting ... Tcho left me unimpressed. I'd place them at the bottom of any local chocolate I've tried. I know all the stuff they do, but flavor-wise they just didn't do a thing for me.

              While XOX and Chocolatier Blue are at the top of my own personal taste favorites, at the Pasta Shop today I had Jade Chocolate dry roasted edamame coated in deep bittersweet chocolate. I liked them. Here's the report with more about Jade.

              Don't know if the OP has the time to put together a personal basket.

              1. re: rworange

                This is amazing! Thank you so much for all the great ideas!

                I think La Bedaine sounds great -- I was already considering it after reading the reviews on Chowhound. It's also great that it's new because there is a possibility that my parents-in-law don't know the place, so hopefully it will be a nice discovery for them. (That would be the true gift, I think!)

                Of course, now I think I need to make a trip to Chocolatier Blue to try 'em myself and then pick up some of that gin to bring home with me...

                1. re: zedly

                  If for some reason La Bedaine won't make a basket for you, it is easy enough to buy one and place everything in there. You could call them and reserve stuff. I forgot that they are now doing bagged cookies for $3 a bag ... sables, financiers, madelines and some sort of hazelnut type, I think. Haven't tried them yet. The financiers look different from anything I've seen to date, more deep eggy yellow, almost orange. Hmmm ... I wonder if he'll ever branch out to macarons.

            2. Where do they live?

              Whenever I go back to family on the East Coast, I bring loads of local organic foods including:
              Morganic Hill Honey - Mountain View Farmers Market
              Borba Farms jams - Mt. View Farmers Market. Many others at the Market too.
              Hangar One Vodka - you can now get it there but I introduced them to it
              Olive Oils from Napa (also balsamic vinegar from the same winery/olive oil place, name?)
              Strauss Milk - Yes, I lugged 2 gallons back!
              The last time I was there, straight from the airport they took me to an "organic" restaurant in NY. My family have known the owners and staff for years. I pulled out the milk and honey to give them a taste as a little thank you. They thought I was crazy. After tasting it, they literally flipped. One chef said, "I thought we used all these great ingredients. I now think our organic stuff is cr*p!" Another said before tasting the 2% milk, "You know we can get milk down the street at 7-11." Afterwards he said, "What the h*ll have I been drinking my whole life!"

              I just had some Harley Farms Goat Cheese. It's amazing and they ship too.

              Sometimes the simple stuff is the best.

              2 Replies
              1. re: 12172003

                Did anyone else ask where the OP is from? It seems if you pick things from where OP is living, it's a little more unique and possibly easier...and if they like it they might visit (not sure if that's good or bad). Other then that the bacon, wine or salumi of the month club sounds pretty good, or some Oregon truffles.