Foodie Finds

The 2016 Food Lover’s Gift Guide

From bonbon stocking stuffers to modern French cooking bibles, here are 10 great gifts from Portland’s wide world of food and drink.

By Benjamin Tepler December 12, 2016

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1. Coquine Cookies

You might remember our 2015 Cookie of the Year from its description:

“How do you blow the oven door off a Toll House cookie? Katy Millard figured it out after seven years of recipe tweaking and $4,000 worth of chocolate tastings to meet her stringent standards (organic, non-GMO, and fair trade): 

  1. Brown the butter, so toffee flavor just rampages through each bite.
  2. Smoke almonds, roll them in caramel, and plant them in a field of sweet-bitter chocolate blobs.
  3. Serve every cookie crisp, chewy, and melty. 

I already regret telling you they exist.” —Food critic Karen Brooks

They’re available to ship by the dozen, online. $26 per dozen

2. Umi Organic Ramen

These springy, nutty noodles bounced onto the scene this year in a big way. Made from organic wheat and barley from the Willamette Valley and kansui mineral salts, they’ve got a stellar bite and too many health-related virtues to mention. Look out for a line of ramen kits coming in 2017, and find cooking inspiration on Umi’s recipe page. Available city-wide, Whole Foods to New Seasons. $4.99

3. Farmers Market Gift Box

It’s hard to relay the wonders of the PSU Farmers Market to out-of-towners without actually being there. Stop by the PSU Farmers Market shipping station this Saturday, December 17, to ship your own hand-picked box of farm-fresh goodies. Or you can nab a pre-made box—our favorite includes Unbound Pickles, Hot Mama Salsa chile oil, and Freddy Guys Chocolate-Covered Hazelnuts. $88 (includes shipping)

P.S. The shipping station is on the northeast side of the market by Smith Hall, just a few stalls down from manager's booth.

4. Taste & Technique

Our favorite cookbook of the year was undoubtedly Naomi Pomeroy’s maiden opus, Taste & Technique: Recipes to Elevate Your Home Cooking (Ten Speed Press, 2016). But this tome from one of Portland’s highest-profile chefs—a James Beard Award winner, media darling, and queen of Beast—is not a restaurant cookbook. Instead, you’ll find 380 pages of gorgeous, rustic food pornography; genuinely delicious recipes, from baked Camembert with Armagnac prunes and mushrooms to smoky tomato velouté with Parmesan straws; and quick dips into classic technique, like whisking egg whites for a soufflé and clarifying stock for consommé. $40 at Powell’s 

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5. The Elements of Pizza

Want to make pie as good as Ken’s Artisan Pizza’s Ken Forkish? This year, he handed down the secrets to his consummate Neapolitan dough. The Elements of Pizza is Forkish’s humble backpedal into the soul and science of pie making, starting with its birthplace in Naples and ending in the cradle of American pizza craft, New York City. Forkish has approached the iconic Italian staple in much the same way he approached bread in 2012's Flour Water Salt Yeast: you are unlikely to find a more scrupulous examination of the art and history of pizza in the modern cookbook canon. $30 at Powell’s

6. Old Blue Honey

Move over Bee Local: Old Blue is all the rage with Portland chefs right now. Brunch favorites Milk Glass Mrkt and Sweedeedee both use it on their menus, and for good reason. This stuff, mostly harvested from the Coast Range, is totally untouched and regularly includes “pollen, small wax particles, and the occasional bee bit.” Look out for special crop pollinations like blueberry, raspberry, and clary sage. $8-14 online and at Milk Glass Mrkt.

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7. Alma Tea Caramels

Portland artisans collide with this Alma Chocolate x Smith Tea collaboration. The tea-infused cream and honey caramels come in three flavors: Lord Bergamot, Masala Chai, and Smoked Assam. 6 pieces for $13.50 at Alma Chocolate

8. E.Z. Orchard’s Poire Cider

Our recent taste test of Oregon ciders introduced us to the wonders of E.Z. Orchards, a Willamette Valley-based operation capable of converting the staunchest beer-loving opposition. Their pear variety goes well with pretty much anything cold-weather-related. From our tasting notes: “The blend of Forelle, Comice, and Bosc pears hits you hard. After the aromatic right hook, you settle into a medium body and moderate balance of tartness, acidity, and sweetness. This Chardonnay-impersonating cider was a unanimous favorite at the office.” $7.99 at select New Seasons and Barbur Foods 

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9. Starvation Alley Cranberry Sauce

The all-organic cranberry miracle workers at Washington’s Starvation Alley have a new line of sauces to banish Ocean Spray to the depths of your pantry. There’s a classic sweet-tart number, an orange, lemon, and cinnamon citrus variety, and a special spiced option, closer to a chutney, with curry, ginger, and cayenne that’s great on sandwiches, rice bowls, and toast. $7.99 at New Seasons and QFC

10. Tanglewood Hot Buttered Yam

The outside-the-box coffee thinkers and mocktail masters at Either/Or have bottled 32 ounces of liquid holiday spirit. Their retail side, Tanglewood, is known for outstanding chai, but this month they unveiled their Hot Buttered Yam, a blend of caramelized maple and bourbon with a black tea base. It goes swimmingly with steamed milk and a sprinkling of chocolate-cinnamon salt flakes (included). $20 online

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