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Need a food-gift for a very rich co-worker.

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Hello Manhattan Chowhounds! Wouldn't you know I would pull the CEO's name out of the hat for secret santa? I want to find something edible for him (no alcohol) from a cute new york bakery/deli. He loves trendy places, but I am new to the city, so I was hoping to get some advice on where to go. The spending limit is $20. Please help!

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  1. If you are new to the area, it might be cute if you embrace the "local" and go with bagels and cream cheese? Bagels are cheap and gourmet/fancy cream cheese cant be that much. Put it together with a newspaper- WSJ, NYT and a pound of coffee?
    You could do macarons from one of the trendy places around the city, but I havent the faintest idea how much they run per pound. I also happen to think they arent very tasty.
    Voges Chocolates always has interesting "gift" type things this time of year.
    I'm trying to think of something that fits the $20 mark and will actually last a bit...

    3 Replies
    1. re: MRS

      Macarons are $2.50-$3 each, are very fragile, and don't last very long. Like Laduree's are $2.70 and you have to pay extra to get a nice box.

      Vosges is a chain and Chicago-based (and I don't find them to be that great for filled chocolates). If you want to stay local, try something like Kee's or Liddabit or Roni-Sue's instead.

      $20 will also get you two tubes of Dorie Greenspan's famous cookies at Beurre & Sel.

      See also:
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/858472

      1. re: MRS

        $20 will get you not more than 6-8 macaroons at Lauduree and not much anywhere else. There is another post about NYC food gifts which might help. You could do a bunch of black and white cookies from William Greenburg Desserts. Very NYC and delicious. I think the bagels, fancy cream cheese, and coffee is great for the spending limit, as is the Zabar's babka, paired with 2 Zabars mugs and pound of coffee.

        1. re: MRS

          Thanks for writing! I like bagels, but they seem more like something to share (he's single), and also I am new to the city, but he isn't, so the novelty isn't there. I would love bagels!

        2. Maybe ask his secretary what type of food he likes. A cake from Veniero's? Cupcakes from Two Little Red Hens? A little gift basket from Chelsea Market? Chocolate babka from Zabar's? A cute little fruit basket from Edible Arrangements?

          1 Reply
          1. re: jenday

            Secretary is based in London:(

          2. Go with exquisite, small, tasteful vs kitschy or 'local' flavor.

            http://dominiqueansel.com/products-pa...

            http://www.payard.com

            http://www.maison-kayser-usa.com/

            http://www.lamaisonduchocolat.com/en/

            EDIT: Though your price limit might not result in a meaningful gift at such places.

            1 Reply
            1. re: thegforceny

              Yeah, this is exactly what i was looking for! Thanks!

            2. How about hit up a cheese shop? You could easily get 2-3 pieces of lovely cheese- or 2 cheeses and some fancy crackers. Murray's on Bleeker or at Grand Central would be happy to help you find something delicious and in your budget.

              2 Replies
              1. re: caviar_and_chitlins

                Mmm, I hope that is what my secret santa gets me!

                1. re: caviar_and_chitlins

                  Exactly what I was thinking. Local, artisanal cheese.

                2. Go to Laduree, and get a half dozen macarons. Don't waste your money on a cute box since the standard one is quite lovely and is free. Another suggestion is to go Momofuku Milk Bar, and buy a nice assortment of their cookies.

                  1. Five Levain cookies? That being said, all that butter and sugar could be lethal.

                    Kee's chocolates? $20 won't go super far, but their quality is exquisite.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: rose water

                      I found Levain in most of my google searches and it's easily accessible from my place, so I am leaning towards it. Glad to hear that it gets a vote!

                      1. re: CassieAins

                        A mix of Momo Milk Bar and Levain cookies might be fun.

                      2. re: rose water

                        Levain was going to be my suggestion, too. They only have four cookie flavors, so you can buy one of each and double up on the chocolate chip walnut, which seems to be the most talked about (although I enjoy the other flavors just as much, if not more). They are also massive and filling so will be considerably more substantial and last longer than something like macarons. See if they can package them up for you as a gift.

                        Some stuff from Milk Bar as kathryn suggested is also a good idea (although probably a little less safe than Levain)--a variety of cookies, or a box of 12 bday cake truffles + a couple cookies. I love the cake truffles, but just a heads-up I think they need to be refrigerated if they're not being eaten relatively soon.

                        1. re: crsin

                          I think this is what I'm doing. Will be there tomorrow morning. Thanks everyone!

                          1. re: crsin

                            If the Levain cookies are anywhere NEARLY as good as the "copycat" ones I made recently, they'll be a huge hit. AMAZING!!!!

                            1. re: crsin

                              I love Levain cookies, but I've only eaten them while they're still warm (delicious!); do they taste as good when they're cold?

                              1. re: ellenost

                                I've never had one warm so I'm not sure what I'm missing, but they're pretty awesome at room temp--crispy on the outside, still soft in the center. I've always preferred room temp to warm cookies anyway (weird? it's a texture thing), but I think Levain's are objectively great regardless.

                          2. ok. my bad on the macarons...but i said i had no idea b/c I dont like them. I was in the Vosges Chocolate downtown and thought it was lovely...i dont find any of the "local" chocolates mentioned to be that tasty or special, but that's just me.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: MRS

                              Jumping in to say, yay! I don't like them either! I mean, they're these tiny, sort of crunchy, sort of chewy, just sweet things.

                              I don't get it. And so expensive for such a tiny little treat!

                              Return to your regularly scheduled programming. :-)

                            2. I saw this in the NY Times section
                              http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/20...

                              They had some great ideas: fancy coffee, micro distilled booze, and fancy pickles. Something might work!

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: adventuresinbaking

                                Oooh, very nice, thank you.

                                1. re: adventuresinbaking

                                  Great link...you should share this with the rest of Chowhound may be on General Topics.

                                2. Why go to a shop like Maison keyser or la Maison du chocolat or Laduree? All these are French imports and I'd bet that the chocolates,etc come here from Paris. Instead try LiLac chocolates in the West Village. they make the most exquisite chocolates right here inNYC. Not only are they utterly delicious they are also super fresh and beautifully packaged. and for $20 you can get something substantial - not just a handful of macarons.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: pammi

                                    While Lilac is cute, you can find that sort of chocolate confections in a lot of places in the US (turtles, chocolate covered pretzels, etc). I don't find the chocolate they use to be very high quality either. It's fine for what it is but it not "gourmet" at all.

                                  2. Is he too rich 'n snooty to enjoy a batch of home made chocolate chip cookies? Shows a much more personal touch than just going out and spending money just to spend it.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: zippypinhead

                                      No, I think he'd be ok with it, but my NYC kitchen just doesn't seem...safe. Haven't cooked since I moved 2 months ago:(

                                    2. If he loves "trendy", have you checked out Papabubble for something memorable but also just fun that will last and doesn't need to be eaten right away?

                                      http://www.papabubble.com/

                                      http://www.yelp.com/biz/papabubble-ne...

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: barberinibee

                                        $ 20 doesn't get you very much there. Supercool at Papabubble but oh so expensive . How about The Sweet Life on Hester Street? Lots of nice stuff ..

                                        1. re: pammi

                                          I agree, but isn't the CEO just expecting a trifle?One "test tube" of chili-mango infused hard candies with little Santas and christmas trees on them would work for me.

                                        2. re: barberinibee

                                          UM, this is awesome. I was going to do Levain, but now...

                                          EDIT: why don't these places open earlier?? I have to be at work by 9am tomorrow with the gift. So disappointed!

                                        3. A nice artisanal Ketchup bottle. Something most folks don't think of but I recently tried a couple different ones from Eataly and Beechers cheese shop. Great break from the ordinary!

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: UES Mayor

                                            I find it hilarious that Eataly sells ketchup. (Or sad.)

                                            1. re: barberinibee

                                              Why hillarious? They carry several fine lines of condiment-not bodega stuff!!

                                              1. re: UES Mayor

                                                ok. sad.

                                                1. re: barberinibee

                                                  go and get some of the good ketchup from Eataly (or whereever) it ain't heinz in a fancier bottle that is for sure... not sad at all.

                                          2. I see all these responses but does he even like sweets? Is he limiting his carb intake? Is he allergic to anything?

                                            Personally for the price limit I would like some nice tea leaves myself.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: DarthEater

                                              Yeah. I think he's in to junk food. But I will probably get some of his favorite tea too (he's British).

                                            2. Does it have to be food? I always like $20 in lottery tickets for these things!

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: jbsiegel

                                                Lottery tix aren't needed for a very rich person.

                                                1. re: ellenost

                                                  Yep...but they're fun for everybody (scratch off). I've done them in a little gift bag with old-time-classic-candy, and they've been well-received.

                                                  1. re: jbsiegel

                                                    At my company's last year's party, our CEO bought lottery tickets for the employees as prizes for our trivia game.

                                                  2. re: ellenost

                                                    Agreed. If he won, I'd be sad for myself.

                                                2. TKO cookies from Bouchon Bakery.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: fm1963

                                                    i love TKOs, but they're not very stable. i find that they deteriorate quickly.

                                                  2. It's not food, but food-related: a mother-of-pearl caviar spoon. (Seems fitting for a 'very rich co-worker'....) Petrossian sells them for $15 & $22.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: boredough

                                                      I think the caviar spoon is dangerous if he is a caviar kind of guy. With a tight $20 budget, I'd be inclined to make something homemade and put it in a pretty container with a bow. In my personal experience trying to get original gifts for people who have everything (and can afford to buy whatever they want for themselves), homemade goods impress, particularly if the recipient appreciates good food, but isn't a chef/baker him/herself. Matcha or cheese shortbread biscuits or homemade truffles in a pretty little tin could go over well, as could a yummy cranberry sauce in a nice jar, sweet and spiced pecans, or gianduja. If you aren't into cooking and baking, you could find out if the boss has a sweet tooth and fashion a goody bag of retro and hard-to-find candy. Is your boss into sushi? How about a personal set of chopsticks in their own carrying case? I saw neat little sets in Asia and Asian stores that collapse and fit into a pocket or purse-sized case. Last suggestion is a nice mug and some quality Mexican hot chocolate mix.

                                                    2. How about a bottle of good Olive oil, or aged Balsamic Vinegar? Or high-end cocoa with artisan marshmallows? I would avoid something perishable, for sure...

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: amsuka

                                                        I second the olive oil gift. I don't know why the no alcohol choice , since everyone can use a bottle of wine. Or if he smokes cigars 2 good $10 cigars.

                                                        1. re: foodwhisperer

                                                          I like wine, but have to disagree. He's teetotal. Sacrilege.

                                                      2. Does he have a sense of humor? Giant lollipops from Dylan's?

                                                        There's a place on Spring St. that does mini cupcakes. They're just a dollar each, you mix and match and it comes out looking really cute in the box. They're really tiny and a bite's worth. I think it's Cupcakes by Melissa.

                                                        The sourdough boule loaf from Balthazar, the one with the signature B, would be a nice attractive gift, simple and within your budget. A small boule with jam or marmalade.

                                                        You're limited to $20, doesn't mean you have to spend $20 and I wouldn't put too much emphasis on the title of the recipient. He can basically get anything on his own if he really wants it and I'm sure he's not expecting the world from a $20 gift. He would probably appreciate it more if you went out of your way and actually made something for him, put it in a cool box or something since he might not get handmade food gifts. Or you can try to recreate your own version of a restaurant dessert he might like.

                                                        Otherwise, get him one of those remote control flying helicopters. lol

                                                        Or something from one of the winter markets?

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: mushroomaffairs

                                                          I like the sense of humor thing. Giant gummy bear, or Hershey bar? How about a giant Hershey bar, big box of graham crackers, marshmallows...giant smores! (Hey...it's a theme!)

                                                          1. re: jbsiegel

                                                            @ the M&M store in Times Sq you can get huge pie sized Reeses Peanut Butter Cups. Unique!!

                                                            1. re: Motosport

                                                              not sure how huge is huge, but target was selling two packs of the half pound (?) cups for $9.99. Kinda ridiculous, but i almost bought them for the novelty.

                                                              1. re: tex.s.toast

                                                                They make great gifts.

                                                        2. Kalustayan's for some ethnic pastries like Baklava or a bag of excellent pistachios.
                                                          Eataly for a nice bottle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
                                                          In his shoes I would find those gifts memorable.

                                                          1. Many of the comments are great, but I'd recommend you get a non perishable or less perishable item than fresh bagels (crap by the next day) or macaroons (few days at best) ... if it is afternoon the bagels are wasted... etc... and too many sweeets around anyway.

                                                            Get artisanal chocolates or olive oil or balsamic vinegar (that can be EXPENSIVE) or ketchup for that matter... much less likely to be wasted and you won't need to hussle for it that morning.

                                                            1. skip the food, get him a Metro Card for the experience of a life time. I'm sure he has never been on a subway

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: foodwhisperer

                                                                So you are assuming he was born rich? Not a self made man or was never a hungry college student?

                                                                I love the big s'more idea! That could be done with a great presentation.

                                                                1. re: foodwhisperer

                                                                  HA!

                                                                  1. re: CassieAins

                                                                    it's all a matter of taste, but I would be repelled by giant Reese's Peanut Butter Cups or a huge s'more. If it didn't go straight to the trash, it would be given to -- no, it would go straight to the trash. Sometimes self-made men acquire sophistication as well as money along the way.

                                                                    Non-perishable would be key for me over the holidays. During that time, it is hard to refuse people's offers to try their home-made sweets (maybe especially if you are the boss), and there are several big holiday meals to be eaten. I wouldn't want to be presented with a gift that I knew had to be eaten before it spoiled in a few days. But I might appreciate a treat I could stash away for MLK day.

                                                                2. Well, granted that this response is too late, I will half jokingly suggest that a pastrami sandwich & can of Dr. Brown Cherry (or Cel-Ray if you think he's adventurous) from Katz' Deli would do the trick.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Steve R

                                                                    Ooh, what's Cel-Ray? He's not adventurous, but I am...

                                                                    1. re: CassieAins

                                                                      Celery soda. Much better than it sounds!

                                                                  2. Truffle oil

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: foodyum

                                                                      He probably has some, don't you think? My guess is that any rich person who wants that has it. And if he doesn't, it's because he prefers actual truffles.

                                                                    2. Please tell us what you end up buying for your secret santa gift and the how the story ends! Great thread!

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: pagesinthesun

                                                                        Thanks! I ended up getting him Levain cookies and P.G. Tips. It was nerve-wracking, since of course he opened his first, and we all had to watch. He smiled and seemed happy! Saw him munching on one of the cookies at the table, which made me happy. Still wish I'd read the Papabubble comment sooner. Oh well. He didn't get us a company Christmas gift (I'm new, but they say they usually get something), so I don't feel too bad. Thanks so much to all of you! You saved my life and gave me confidence! Can't wait to check out some of the other suggestions I got.

                                                                        1. re: CassieAins

                                                                          Glad you had success at this task. Thanks for letting us know.

                                                                      2. half a pound of tongue from barney greengrass

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: AubWah

                                                                          Def not a wise gift to give one's CEO... promotion would not be far behind (not)....
                                                                          Probably would be received and spoken of as a the weirdest gift of the season....

                                                                          1. re: AubWah

                                                                            Yikes.

                                                                          2. I think a box of candy is a simple and good gift. Lilac has good chocolate assortments. Or if you don't want to make yourself crazy, just by a box of Perugina Baci hazelnut Chocolates,,,, they are so good. My sister sends me a box every Holiday season.

                                                                            1. How about these Christmas "crackers" that are filled with tea. You'd prob. also have some $$ left over to get a mug to go along with them ....http://www.davidstea.com/holiday-crac...

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: Lesliepbg

                                                                                CUTE!

                                                                              2. OK...you're keeping us in the dark! What did you end up going with? :-)

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: jbsiegel

                                                                                  I answered up-thread! Thanks for your help/interest! This community is awesome.

                                                                                  1. re: CassieAins

                                                                                    Like