Form submitted successfully, thank you.

Error submitting form, please try again.

Last Minute Holiday Gift Ideas – Atlanta edition

We’re in the home stretch in the gift buying season, and I hope that you were able to check my cookbook post yesterday. I wanted to bring it local with a couple of gifts that could be purchased for the Atlanta food lover, hopefully away from the crowds that will descend on the malls this weekend. The majority of which I’ve been able to enjoy throughout the year. If you’re done with your holiday shopping, perhaps get something extra for yourself? I’m sure you’ve earned it.

NO. 246 129 East Ponce De Leon Avenue Decatur, GA 30030

I first met Taria Camerino at Shameeka Ayers’ Sugar Coma Festival event with pastry chefs from around the city showcased their wares. Later on, Taria opened up a small shop in Poncey Highland and her carefully sourced chocolates and other pastries were available at a few independent coffee houses around town. To get a glimpse of the old shop, check out this wonderful short produced by TBS.  Although I was disappointed to see Sugar Coated Radical close, I was excited to see her pop up when I first visited The Optimist and to learn that she’d be responsible for pastries throughout Ford Fry’s mini restaurant empire. At Sugar Coated Radical, her pastry creations beyond chocolates were reserved for Sundays, and now at No. 246 in Decatur they’re on display all weekend long. You can grab them to be boxed up to go, or enjoy them with a cocktail pairing. The housemade espresso liqueur made with local roasters Batdorf is especially delicious, and I look forward to heading back soon.

COBBIE’S SAUCE

I hated pork chops as a kid because people tend to overcook them in to dry, tasteless bricks. Once I started cooking them myself, with a trusty cast iron skillet, I’ve found that they’re incredibly tasty and a great source of protein. Cobbie’s Sauce is a local vinegar-based North Carolina barbecue sauce sold at specialty food shops around Atlanta that devotes part of its proceeds to The Shepherd Center, a non-profit hospital that in treatment, care, and rehabilitation of spinal cord injury and disease including multiple sclerosis. It’s ideal ideal for the aforementioned pork chops and anywhere else you’d like a vinegary sauce to accompany a meal.

BEAUTIFUL BRINY SEA SALT

I’ve passed by Beautiful Briny Sea Salt’s booth at the East Atlanta farmer’s market on several occasions but for some reason never actually made a purchase. It wasn’t until a few months ago when I was shopping at the Beehive that I decided to bring home a can of their mushroom salt. Their mushroom salt contains a mix of gourmet mushrooms ( porcini, crimini, shitake and silver oyster ) and sea salt. I chatted with the manager Brooke, a friend of mine who loves to use the salt with popcorn, and I’ve done the same at home, as well as adding it to meats and couscous. At the Field of Greens festival I met the owner & picked up a can of santa salt, and it’s my new favorite, and I use it on pretty much everything. Their salts can be ordered by e-mail, can occasionally be found in the Scoutmob shoppe, and online via the Cleveland Clinic.  I’ll also note that the Beehive has a wide array of locally made foodstuffs and their selection changes quite often. In fact, they also carry the next item on my list.

EMILY G’S JAMS

I first learned about Dunwoody-based Emily G’s when the jam was featured on the Cooking Channel show Foodcrafters. We’ve since struck up a friendship on Twitter and Emily even sent me a gift box of her jams for my birthday this summer. Their flavors are fun and  they take advantage of seasonal flavors and local produce when possible. I was surprised to learn that there were pears grown in Georgia that find their way into her bottles of Pear Honey. My favorite however is the bold blue flavor which contain plump blueberries and have a spicy kick to them, and I love to pair the roasted red pepper with cheeses. Who am I kidding, I pretty much like every flavor. The jams can be purchased online and seemingly every specialty food shop in town. If I had more room, I’d include Pine Street Market’s excellent bacon on this list as well. Feel free to take a trip to Avondale Estates and kill two birds with one stone.

HIGH ROAD CRAFT ICE CREAM & SORBET

Anyone who follows me on twitter should know that I’m a big fan of High Road Craft Ice Cream. They host a fun tasting at their factory every Saturday and their ice cream can be found at finer restaurants throughout Atlanta. My personal favorite is their Bourbon Burnt Sugar but I also have a soft spot for their red berries & prosecco. They even landed on the back cover of the Dean & Deluca catalog last year and set up shop at the Sweet Auburn Curb Market. Their pints can be found at Whole Foods Market throughout the southeast and Fresh Market stores nationwide.

GEORGIA OLIVE FARMS OLIVE OIL

I use olive oil frequently in my cooking, but when I want something a little special, for a vinaigrette on a salad or to drizzle over roasted vegetables, I reach for this bottle of olive oil made with olives from Lakeland, GA. The green color is lovely and it tastes snappy and bright.  Jim Auchmutey penned an excellent article on the farm for Atlanta Magazine, accompanied by beautiful images by Jamey Guy. I purchased my bottle from Tim “the cheese man” at Star Provisions and I’ve also found bottles at area Cook’s Warehouse locations.

BATDORF & BRONSON COFFEE ROASTERS  650 North Ave NE, Atlanta, GA. (404) 874-0370 / 419 West Ponce De Leon Avenue Decatur, GA 30030 (404) 687-1100

Although I always was a fan of their Decatur location, I was happy when Batdorf Coffee opened a new location at Ponce City Market in the city of Atlanta. Local coffee evangelist Jason Dominy is on a mission to get everyone around him excited about coffee and performs “coffee ambushes” at area businesses, including a visit to CNN headquarters this week. I admire his drive and I wonder if the man ever sleeps – he tweets, facebooks, tumblr’s more than anyone I know. Batdorf roasts coffee at its Westside locale and fresh beans for the taking can be found at both Dancing Goats locations and specialty food locations. If you’re unable to find it, send a tweet to @JasonDominy and I promise that he’ll help you out.

CACAO ATLANTA  312C N. Highland Avenue- Atlanta, GA 30307 / 2817 Peachtree Rd. – Atlanta, GA 30305 / 1046 N. Highland Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30306 866.960.9449

I’m a chocoholic and I had to include a local chocolatier on the list. They have a trio of retail locations in Atlanta and I had fun with my post on their Buckhead location last year. Now that we’re in winter, their hot chocolate would be a perfect gift for the chocolate connossieur in your life. They also have a collaboration coffee & cacao bar with the previous entry on this list, Batdorf & Bronson. They’re also packed during the holidays with beautifully wrapped gift items which can make your life a bit easier. I received one of their charcuterie-shaped salami di cioccolato and enjoyed it immensely.

AMERICAN SPIRIT WHISKEY 

This product is actually made in South Carolina but American Spirit Whiskey is helmed by two friends Jim Chasteen and Charlie Thompson here in Atlanta. They can be found all around town at various events including a recent Superstorm Sandy charity event at Sweetwater Brewery. At Taste of Atlanta’s kickoff party I kept coming back for more of Jeff Jackson’s terrific Southbound cocktail made with ASW’s white whiskey. The recipe was featured on Garden & Gun if you’d like to take a stab at it after grabbing your bottle.

This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, just a few of my favorites. I’m also a big fan of Phickles Pickles in Athens, Sweet Grass Dairy in Thomasville, Saucy Spirits in Gwinnett, and the list goes on and there are new food businesses sprouting up all the time.  If you have a favorite that I missed, please let me know about it. Happy Holidays!