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LA/SoCal airplane friendly gifts to shlep across the country

I searched this board for 'plane' and 'airplane' and came up empty, so if this particular topic has been discussed, forgive me and please link.

As much as I would love to bring my foodie friends on the East coast local goodies like Graber Olives and Paso Robles olive oil, I can't take those on a plane and we don't check luggage.

All I can think of right now is See's candy. Perishables like cheese are a no go since they won't survive until I meet with friends.

I can hunt around the Hollywood area and downtown (does Mercado La Paloma have cooking toys?) tomorrow, and I never need an excuse to go to Surfas, although I'm in the South Bay area.. I'm open for gadgets as well as food items that will travel well (crackers.....um, too fragile). Chili mixes?

I would raid Trader Joe's but they have them there, curses, TJs is always my fallback LOL.

Thanks, 'hounds.

Mercado La Paloma
3655 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90007

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  1. See's candy is my fallback when I need something very portable to bring, as well. The only thing is that it's not that good.

    If you have room in your bag, consider bringing some California pistachios or avocados. Yes, they can get that on the East coast anyway, but maybe it's not as good? Since you are located in Southbay, consider picking up some cherimoyas at the Torrance farmers market. It's a delicious fruit that is not grown in many places (I've only seen it in SoCal and Peru). I definitely saw them at the Torrance farmer's market recently but I don't think they are in peak season yet. A downside is that they are heavy and you do have to be a bit careful with them.

    I'm curious what others suggest, I've had the same issue before, with no great solutions.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Nicole

      A quandary indeed. I used to bring folks jars or bags of unique to LA spices like Zataar or sumac - but you can now get those is most large cities. Same for smoked paprika - heck, it's now at costco!

      My fav hostess gift (that I pack but you could easily carry on) is a citrus juicer, the ones that look like a giant round garlic press in pretty enameled colors. Sure, you can get them at Sur la Table, but I get mine at Super King or sometimes even Jon's for $3 - 4 versus $12 and up. The stunning deal angle makes it Los Angeles enough for me, and if you give it with a great recipe that uses citrus juice, all the better.

      And they are now national, but not everywhere - Penzey's Spices. You can get adorable little 2 oz. jars of assorted spices (amazing quality) but my favorite there is their cocoa. It makes such a difference when you bake with it, I could not believe it. Then if your hosts like it, they can order more by mail.

      Too bad you can't carry on bottles of California Pinot Noir, that's a pretty darn perfect gift!

    2. Philippes French Dip hot mustard.


      Philippe the Original
      1001 N Alameda St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

      1 Reply
      1. re: wienermobile

        Mustard is considered a liquid that can't be carried on the plane. A nice thought for those checking bags, though.

      2. I just returned to the east coast from an LA trip and I brought home giant meyer lemons and spices from Spicestation (locations in Silver Lake and Santa Monica). I particularly liked the Chinese 5 Spice and their black pepper spice blend (epices aux poivre). I also picked up some amazing dried fruits at the Monrovia farmers market (maybe they have them at the Santa Monica market too?). The peaches, nectarines, pears and apples were tasty and inexpensive. I also got my husband some delicious chocolate Mexicano with Guajillo Chili by Taza at Cacao Mexicatessen on Colorado (although I'm sure you can find it elsewhere). I also got my kids goats milk lollipops there too. Everything packed easily. I even brought home some spices from Spicestation for friends (the fennel pollen is amazing on roast chicken).

        I hope that helps. Safe travels!

        p.s. I had some of those Graber olives and they were AMAZING! I'd definitely bring a can of those!

        830 S Atlantic Blvd, Monterey Park, CA 91754

        3 Replies
        1. re: lynnlato

          I forgot to mention Tapatio Hot Sauce - I just had it for the first time during my trip and I loved it.

          1. re: lynnlato

            Not so good for carryon luggage...but for checked luggage I bring Cholua since people seem to like the wooden cap. And the hot sauce is good too.

            1. re: mlgb

              Yes, if she is checking it's good. I'm from PA but live in NC and I'm pretty sure we can get Cholua in both places. But I never saw Tapatio until I was in LA last week... plus it's native to SoCal.

        2. This may apply less to the east coast (vs overseas), but other things that work for me are the chili con limon seasoning (the stuff you sprinkle on fruit veg), fresh masa or tortillas, fruit from the backyard orchard (so yes to the Meyer Lemons), and certain types of fresh chilis that they don't get (typically it's the serranos but could do a mixture).

          3 Replies
          1. re: mlgb

            I thought we could not bring fruit out of LA? Or is it just that we can't bring anything IN?

            That said, if bringing fruit out is an option - meyer lemons rock. And some meyer lemons with a microplane rasper? Magic.

            1. re: happybaker

              It was no problem for me bringing my lemons in my carry-on out of LAX.

              1. re: happybaker

                You can't bring produce into California. You can bring it out.

            2. there's the nun pumpkin bread, it travels well if you put it in a box
              I usually bring fresh citrus from my backyard (Meyer lemons too, and tangerines).

              1. Oh thanks guys this is a help!

                Meyer lemons will be on my list (now I have to find them!). Cherimoyas are probably too delicate and wouldn't make it out of my house, we'd eat them. How about Helen Grace chocolate instead of See's, is that a notch up? This is a foodie crowd who is very familiar with Penzey's, but the chili lemon blend is a step in the direction I'm looking for. I can swing by the Spice Station tomorrow after I drop off my kid - will they be OK with me asking 'what you do you have that will blow Penzey's out of the water?' LOL.

                lynnlato, I know, those Grabers are something else.

                I thought about the pumpkin bread but I can't store it that long. As it is, I'm concerned about the lemons.

                I'm going to cross post on the Philadelphia forum, so like-minded Angelenos, feel free to peek to see what they are missing. I think they have enough Italian supplies there (so no Tipo flour), but lets see what they want from the Left Coast.

                1. RE: the backyard fruit..It's highly unlikely that a Medfly is going to survive a Pennsylvania winter.

                  1. Oh I just remembered a great product for those of you who are checking luggage

                    Canned tomatoes: 6-in-1 brand ground tomatoes, right here from central California. These are so sweet you can eat them out of the can. Pizza forum people love this brand! You can find them at Italian grocers or order them dirt cheap online at escalon.net.

                    1. I have actually taken my brother In n Out Double Doubles, tamales, and burritos on a plane in a cooler. No problems with security.

                      I also witnessed a guy on a plane transporting live lobsters from NY to LA and he actually carried them on.

                      But in any case, maybe try some cookies and sweet treats from Joan's on 3rd. Or some macrons from Paulette.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: A5 KOBE

                        I was totally thinking about Paulette macarons....not only tasty and cute but a box would travel well.

                        1. re: running pig

                          "For best degustation, our macarons should be consumed within 3 days." - Paulette's

                          Dang. So close. I might not be meeting w/friends until later in my visit, hence I was searching out non-perishables. But I like what they offer for myself or as a hostess gift!

                      2. Oroblanco grapefruit are at their peak right now. As a grapefruit fanatic, I can tell you these are the BEST.

                        Another great CA item are dates and they are also in season right now.

                        Farmer's markets are the place to shop for these.

                        1. You might consider bringing them traditional Japanese confections from Sakuraya:


                          Unless your friends live in NYC they will probably not find anything like it locally.

                          16134 S Western Ave, Gardena, CA 90247

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Peripatetic

                            Piggybacking on Peripatetic's rec, the OP can also hit up the Mitsuwa in Torrance. They have adjacent counters that offer traditional mochi and manju, Minamoto Kichoan for high end mochi/manju confections (they're also in NYC though) - we enjoyed a really good Baumkuchen from there recently, and another counter that offers premium cookies and cakes from Japan that is smartly packaged as well. Gift giving and traveling go hand in hand in Japan - these goods are meant for the traveler.

                          2. As an ex-LA resident, I really appreciate when people bring me See's Candy so I like your original thought. My mother always brings me good rye bread or bagels or Jewish style cookies from a top Jewish bakery.

                            I guess it depends on what is available where you are going.

                            1. This might sound a little bit odd, but have you considered getting Zankou's garlic sauce? I moved away from LA five years ago and this is one thing that I miss terribly and have not been able to find anywhere else. On each trip back to LA, I make a point to stop at Zankou's and leave with at least 4 sauces. They're 50c each, I think? But if you buy a meal there and ask nicely, they usually give you a few free. They are tiny and easy to pack. Have had no problems going through airport security. They'll last a few weeks in the fridge (though I think Zankou just keeps it below the counter.) With some fresh pita bread and some roasted chicken, your friends will be in heaven.

                              Agree with See's Candies. My Florida friends always ask for the nuts & chews and peanut brittle.

                              See's Candies
                              1301 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA

                              1. I LOVE See's candy and would always appreciate being brought a box of that. My other California pick-up is Trader Joe's slab "california style" dried apricots - all I can find here is Sun Maid, and they're just awful shriveled corpses of apricots compared to the bright chewy moist TJ's product. Sorry I'm not much help!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Chile Pepper

                                  Oh, but a very good idea would be Medjool dates picked up at a farmers market.