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Oct 7, 2011 08:40 AM

Gift ideas for European Friends

I recently moved to central Europe and am coming back to Boston for Christmas. I know that there are a dozen or so European friends of mine that I need to bring gifts to when I return from vacation in early January. Some kind of local dessert or delicacy not widely available outside of Boston would be ideal. The problem is that everything I can come up with is either European in origin or won't keep well. Any ideas on things I could buy locally that would still be delicious 2 weeks later?

Taza chocolate bars, whoopie pies or something with peanut butter (though I fear no one will appreciate it) are the best idea I've come up with so far. I'm also worried that the whoopie pies would be stale before consumed. Perhaps others who have traveled abroad have ideas of things they've brought as gifts or things they missed while they were gone. All the things I miss most (BBQ seitan from Clover is top of my list) definitely won't survive a plane ride in a checked suitcase. It's certainly not necessary that it be something sweet.

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  1. how about bourbon whiskey? California or NY wine? I like the idea of some local chocolate, perhaps Burdick's?

    Cambridge, MA, Cambridge, MA

    1. Not sure what customs is like heading back into Europe, but some American-made cheese and charcuterie might be appreciated. Formaggio Kitchen could help you out there.

      Edit to add: Skimming through "cuisine of new england" over at about maple syrup?

      Formaggio Kitchen
      244 Huron Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

      1 Reply
      1. re: emannths

        The charcuterie might not make it past customs. I'd stick with the cheese. Kids on my son's school trip to Spain last year got caught out by salami-sniffing dogs when they tried to bring meat products back into the US; this likely works both ways.

      2. Maybe visit somewhere like Nashoba Valley Winery to pick up some local wines or liquors.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Boston_Otter

          I think Turtle Creek is a better bet. They make actual wine, from actual grapes.

          1. re: Isolda

            Er.... so does Nashoba, in many varieties, actually, as well as cognac, whiskey, apple brandy, grappa, and a selection of beers.

        2. When I brought gifts to my Euro friends this summer, I brought Taza chocolates and a whole bunch of dried New Mexican chilis and interesting salsas. While it's not all that hard to find many international ingredients in the bigger cities, somehow the Tex-Mex stuff is hard to find and is very popular. I hear that hot sauce is in high demand. Too bad you can't buy Inner Beauty off the shelf any more- that would be an awesome gift.

          1. Local root beer? I have an Austrian friend who was fascinated by the stuff.

            6 Replies
            1. re: LeoLioness

              Just bring them a whole bottle of syrup!

              I find that feelings of the unaccustomed are mixed when it comes to root beer. Some are fascinated, and others are repulsed by the flavor they deem to be too medicinal.

              1. re: emannths

                Speaking of syrup, I understand that maple syrup is unbelievably expensive in Europe -- that might be a good idea.

                1. re: Boston_Otter

                  I second this. When I visited my Swiss uber foodie friend in Zurich this spring - he requested Maple Syrup. He said that he can find almost everything else - but nothing beats the real thing.

                  1. re: mintchip

                    this is interesting. I almost brought maple syrup to the UK this year but when I got there and found it in my local supermarket I was glad that I didn't haul it over.

                  2. re: Boston_Otter

                    This is what I bring.... maple syrup, especially Grade B is now expected when I visit relatives in France.

                    1. re: Boston_Otter

                      Yes! Heck, it's even pricey here. My cheap brand (Maine Woods) just went to $18 a quart. My husband pours it on his cereal every morning, so I'm always looking for a less expensive supply. But I think that would make a really nice gift. And you definitely want Grade B.