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Gifts from California for New York friends?

I wanted to surprise my friend with gifts unique to California, but I haven't been able to think of much. I'm in San Francsico, but being born and raised here, I'm not sure what is completely unique to California or the area. Any suggestions?

So far, I was thinking either chocolates from Ghirardelli or See's or Jelly Bellies. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

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    1. re: c oliver

      Thanks so much! I've been searching for about an hour.

      1. re: denisedang

        I KNEW I remembered this and googled and still couldn't find. Finally I thought I remembered that OP was traveling to Japan and that was the key word :)

    2. I can get See’s and Ghirardelli in NY, not sure about Jelly Bellies though. A bottle of wine, olive oil, Cowgirl Creamery cheese or meyer lemons would all make my day. Here are gift discussions from the SF board.

      13 Replies
      1. re: EM23

        Thanks for the tips! I didn't know See's could be found on the East Coast. Glad I posted just to check.

        1. re: EM23

          You can find Jelly Bellies in quite a number of places in NYC as well. Heavenly Delights, Dylan's Candy Bar, Economy Candy, The Sugar Shop, The Sweet Life, Candiworks, It'Sugar, etc. Heck even all the Whole food locations has them. You can also find meyer lemons, and even great artisanal cheese, though they are a bit harder to find. (Bobolink has a stall at both the Union Sq green market on Fri, as well as the green market at Lincoln Sq on Thursdays. Valley Shepard Creamery from Long Valley NJ has a shop in Park Slope selling its award winning cheeses.) I think it is wonderful that you wish to bring a bit of SF to your NYC friends/hosts. Certainly, if I had a visitor coming from the SF area, I'd love it if they brought me a nice baguette of sourdough bread, some good artisan cheese and bottle of nice Cali wine. It would make for a nice snack while we get you settled in and unpacked, and while we have a wonderful catching up chat.

          1. re: PuniceaRana

            I like this idea so I'm going to grab some wine instead, but I'm worried cheese won't hold up well in a 5 hour flight.

            1. re: denisedang

              Most hard and semi-hard will do fine in checked baggage as it's very cool in the belly of the plane.

              1. re: denisedang

                California wine is not exactly rare in NYC and aren't you worried about the bottle breaking in your luggage? You can't carry it on board.

                1. re: Just Visiting

                  Not too worried about it breaking in my suitcase. I've traveled with bottles before and have never had a problem. I wouldn't think there would be that many "rare" things that SF has that NYC might not, at least not anything that's non-perishable. I might bring olive oil instead since I found out they love to cook.

                  1. re: denisedang

                    Recommendation: WHITE wine. My in-laws brought us a botte of a South African liqueur that is hard to find in the U.S. They were super-careful about wrapping it. It broke anyway and everything in the suitcase was soaked. Fortunately, it was a nearly clear liquid and washing did the trick. That wouldn't be the case with red wine.

                    1. re: Just Visiting

                      Very wise idea! I usually have the bottles individually placed in ziplock bags, placed as close to the enter of the suitcase as possible. The only issue I've ever had was with a champagne that I brought back from Europe. Not a good idea to open that too soon after the trip....

                2. re: denisedang

                  It is hard to imagine in this era of globalization (we ship apples to New Zealand; New Zealand ships apples to us) that there is anything that can't be purchased in NYC.

                  It seems to me that your admirable concern about bringing a wonderful, thoughtful gift is looking down the wrong end of the telescope. Instead of focusing on what you can find in California but not NYC, why not focus on your friends' interests, preferences, etc. Suppose item X is unique to California but your friends don't care for item X? But suppose they enjoy See's chocolates? So what if you can get See's in NYC. They'll still enjoy it, and after all, it is the thought that counts.

                  1. re: Just Visiting

                    Very true. Unfortunately, I've only met them a couple of times in life so I don't know too much about what they like. I figured olive oil and wine would be safe bets.

              2. re: EM23

                California avocados! The Florida ones aren't as good. Hard to transport, though. Meyer lemons, too, if they're in season, California artisanal olive oil, those would be my dream gifts.

                Although many years ago I went to visit a friend in Alaska- I asked her what I could bring, she said avocados! So I packed some up and took them, but when we went to the f=grocery store, the avocados were not only much bigger, they were cheaper than what I'd paid in AZ. Oh well.

                1. re: EWSflash

                  But aren't Hass avocados available just about everywhere?

                2. re: EM23

                  I can get See's, Ghirardelli, and Jelly Bellies in Texas ... but maybe not the whole line? Agree that cheese sounds great ...

                  1. re: PotatoHouse

                    I second the Medjool dates. They are wonderful stuffed with some goat cheese. Local olive oil - great choice. Local boutique wine always welcome. New York has many wonderful artisan cheeses, so unless it's something special and unique, I'd pass. Forget the chocolate; it's widely distributed everywhere. The best lemons I've ever had were some not so pretty ones freshly picked from someone's backyard.

                      1. re: Scoutmaster

                        scoutmaster: if you like veined cheese, try stuffing the medjool dates with some creamed veined cheese (just whip it up with a little water to make it a little sotter) and then topping them with a sprinkling of chopped, roasted, marcona almonds.

                      2. As pointed out Jelly Bellies are everywhere (Walgreen's included). I'm a big fan of Bella Viva's dried fruits (at the Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market). They have varieties you can't find elsewhere in teh country and the quality is top-notch.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: ferret

                          Thanks! I think I'm going to switch and do a bottle of CA wine, some good olive oil, and some dried fruit.

                        2. As someone who grew up in cali and now lives in nyc i would suggest to pick up a few things from the farmers market in the ferry building- a local olive oil, unique loaf of bread, granola, etc. previous cheese and wine sounds great too!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Ttrockwood

                            I like this idea. I went this weekend and pick up some olive oil and wine. I really want to do cheese, but worried about storage and pressure changes, etc. (not to mention worrying about all my clothes smelling like cheese...haha)

                          2. Since you're in SF, take some real sourdough and, if you can manage it, as many Dungeness crabs as possible (pack w/ dry ice in a sturdy styrofoam chest).

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: ricepad

                              haha I thought they had better crabs on the East Coast!

                              1. re: denisedang

                                Not in my opinion. Blue crabs and stone crabs are good, but nothing compares to Dungies!

                                1. re: ricepad

                                  Oh boy, do we disagree on this.
                                  If l knew l were dying tomorrow, l would eat blue claws today.

                            2. I got some great tips that chocolates can pretty much be found anywhere. Best items are CA wine, good olive oil, dried fruits/bread/pretty much anything from the Ferry Building, medjool dates, and Meyer lemons. Cheese is also great!

                              Thank you everyone for the help!!

                              1. If I had a gift-giving friend from California, I would give them hints that I discovered Peets Coffee a year or so ago. (The company started in Berkeley, CA).
                                However, the Peets range of coffees sold in the East is limited, as compared to their home base retail stores out West. Their on-line sales arrangement seems pricey to me. 2 flavors that aren't available here (I am very curious to try) are Peets Blend 101 and Limited Edition Sumatra Blue Batak. The "Limited" part seems to be that it is only sold 3 months a year, so you would not want to send year-old left overs. Not sure when that blend is fresh.
                                Peets may have other regional favorites that all not available nation-wide. For that matter, you may have a different brand altogether that would represent "California" to some good friends in New York.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: Florida Hound

                                  A little side note re Peets. They were acquired about a year ago by a German company...for a BILLION $$$$$$$$$$$$ !!!

                                  1. re: c oliver

                                    So I will have to lay hints with my German gift-giving friends to send me hard-to-find Peets blends...

                                  2. re: Florida Hound

                                    Wow. I didn't Peets wasn't a big thing on the East Coast. Growing up here, Peets is almost as common as Starbucks!

                                    1. re: denisedang

                                      The Peets website lists all their retail stores. The only stores in the East are in Massachusetts and there's 5 of them. None in New York, so if your friends are coffee lovers, they might enjoy trying something new. [I am not sure I mentioned this- I buy Peets at Publix supermarket in FL- only a very limited # of flavors available. Glad we can get as many as they will carry, tho.]

                                      1. re: Florida Hound

                                        Hills Brothers Blue Mountain Blend is by far the best coffee I've ever purchased in a grocery store. The Publix in south Florida are the only ones that carry it, as far as I know.

                                  3. Oranges, lemons and avocados. good ones from a tree or the farmers market. maybe too early for meyers lemons but those are good gifts too. i've lived in CA for 23 yrs but was raised in NY before that. I just moved to Colorado and you should see the sad oranges from Whole Foods. sad and tasteless. that's what i always experience in NY too when back to visit. bad oranges. there is a See's in NY so i don't think that may be too original. NY pretty much does everything well that SF has except citrus.

                                    you could also trick them and bring them some bread from Boudin ;)

                                    12 Replies
                                    1. re: trolley

                                      It's weird to see lemons and avocados as suggested items, but it seems popular. Never realized how lucky I am to grow up here!

                                      1. re: denisedang

                                        as the joni mitchell sang, "you don't know what you've got till it's gone..." to be fair NY can do almost anything as good as CA that you can transport on the plane. I think there is great food especially in SF that rival prices and quality with NY but can you bring it on the plane? probably not. I used to bring napa/sonoma wines when you could carry on liquid on the plane. The prices are much better in CA but now I don't trust packing them in the check in. I used to bring meyer lemons for winter break from a tree and everyone was all over it.

                                        1. re: trolley

                                          I've packed countless breakable bottles in checked bags with NO problem. Underwear is a great packing material :)

                                        2. re: denisedang

                                          Unless you're bringing something personal, like fruit from your own tree, schlepping lemons to New York from California makes as much sense in 2013 as bringing pineapple back from Hawaii - it's just not a rarity anymore (unless you have access to varieties that aren't routinely shipped).

                                          1. re: ferret

                                            Agreed. I've seen Meyer lemons at Costco in NYC.

                                            1. re: c oliver

                                              yes, of course you can citrus anywhere but not necessarily good ones. that was my point. my farmers market in pasadena had the best oranges. when friends from the east coast ate them it was like they had an epiphany and not to mention the cost. I also gave away some home grown avocados from my friends tree and people were in awe. you can't really get some See's and get the same kind of response. as I said, NY can do pretty much everything that SF and LA can do and often times better.

                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                I have found them at Costco only during the winter months in NY. If you brought me 3 or 4 Meyer lemons now, I could make one of my favorite desserts now, instead of having to wait until February.

                                                1. re: EM23

                                                  I believe the season is from December for a few months. At least the supplier that I use for Meyer lemon oo doesn't make it til then.

                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                    i've seen them early as october and late as may in my farmers markets in LA.

                                                    1. re: trolley

                                                      Guess that's why it's called "agriculture" :)

                                              2. re: ferret

                                                We live in Florida, and when we travel up to see relatives a few states to the north, we get requests, "Bring a bag of oranges!" Which struck me as odd, too, since oranges seem like such a commonplace grocery item. But sometimes Florida road-stand oranges are just a little bit special. Sometimes, depending on the relationship, maybe the gift just includes a lot of "Its the thought that counts."

                                                1. re: ferret

                                                  I dunno, I would love it if someone brought me California grapes (thompson seedless) during season to me in Colorado. They are ridiculously delicious and the ones I can get here aren't nearly as good.

                                            2. A can or two of Graber Olives. Nothing else like them.

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: Tripeler

                                                Not heard of before. Will check them out. Thanks.

                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                  If you are going through Sacramento, Corti Bros. carries them.

                                                  1. re: Tripeler

                                                    Corti Bros. is one of those places I keep meaning to check out Thanks, T.

                                                2. re: Tripeler

                                                  Jon's used to sell Graber Olives in the cans, but does anyone know if they still sell them?

                                                  Who else sells Graber Olives besides the home source in Ontario, CA?

                                                3. Baby artichokes. Whenever my mom visits from LA, I beg for dates, fancy raisins, and pluots.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: tcamp

                                                    Pluots are in season now and they are delicious. I'll grab some before I leave if I have time.


                                                    1. re: denisedang

                                                      If you get yourself to any respected farmer's market (especially Ferry Bldg./SF or Novato on Tuesdays), I'd get as many about-to-be ripe peaches and exotic thin-skinned, impossible-to-find plums (Late Duarte...yum!) as you can haul in carry-on luggage. Ask the vendor/farmer for expertise on selecting fruits which will ripen well in a couple of days, and definitely sample where allowed.

                                                      Protect them individually in large plastic (Starbuck's or Peet's-like) coffee cups or salad containers, with soft paper wrapping and covers. Do not shake.

                                                  2. edibles from the local collective?