Pittsburgh Foodie Gift Guide 2013
15 ways you can keep it local this holiday season.
Holla, foodies! Here’s where I’m getting (and coveting) my presents this holiday season. It’s hard to come up with an exhaustive list, but this is definitely a good place to start. We are so lucky to have such unparalleled local options. As I keep on harping, there are many great reasons to keep it local:
1. You support entrepreneurs — every item on this list is lovingly handcrafted by the most talented artisans, from caramel-filled cookies to small-batch brews. You can feel the love.
2. Statistics have shown that for every $100 you spend at a regional spot, $43-$68 stays in the community, while as little as $15 stays in the community when you buy from a business that’s not locally owned.
So this Black Friday and beyond, support some local goodness!
Eats and Treats
Gaby et Jules Macarons
On my maiden trip to Paris, I giddily made a beeline for two stores: Agnes B. and Laduree. Fashion and macarons first. French macarons (not to be confused with macaroons!) are not easy to come by stateside. Though things got easier for New Yorkers in 2011 when Laduree opened its first North American store, our options were limited in Pittsburgh. That is until Paris 66 brought us these little bites of heaven. They were such a big hit that they deserved a spin-off — Gaby et Jules. Chef David Piquard worked at the famed Parisian bakery and brings these confections and more to his Squirrel Hill patisserie.
The Gaby et Jules 2013 Noel Collection includes a box of 12 macarons for $25.
[5837 Forbes Ave., Squirrel Hill, gabyetjules.com]
According to Wikipedia, a stroopwafel is two thin layers of baked dough with a caramel-like syrup filling in the middle. If this did not make you drool, I’m not sure you can read. If you’re still with me, Wikipedia adds, “The traditional way to eat the stroopwafel is to place it atop of a drinking vessel slightly smaller in diameter than the waffle, and filled with a hot steaming beverage. The rising steam warms the waffle, slightly softens the inside and makes the waffle soft on one side while still crispy on the other.” We are lucky that chef Andrea Danielson makes these by hand via special order.
$12 for a dozen stroopwafels. Contact Andrea on Facebook to place a holiday order.
Angry Man Salsa
There are salsas — and then there is Angry Man Salsa. If you don’t believe me, you MUST read about the legend of the Angry Man. I first tasted Angry Man Salsa at Smorgasburgh, and that’s when I knew the legend is true. The Angry Man ain’t kiddin’ around with salsa. On Black Friday, he is releasing 300 jars — that’s right, only 300 jars. You must snag a few because your foodie friends will love you for it. Don’t forget to grab some for yourself, too.
$20 per jar. Go to angrymansalsa.com to place an order.
Olive & Marlowe Olive Oil
Did you know that up to 73 percent of the extra-virgin olive oil brands sold in this country are probably fake? That is, they fail the extra-virgin test. There are some surprising brands on the list, too. But we are lucky in Pittsburgh because we have Olive & Marlowe. This purveyor offers almost 20 kinds of EVOO — from pure varietals such as Ascolano to amazing flavored oils such as black truffle and chocolate. You read that right. Olive & Marlowe sells special holiday gift packs available at its three locations.
Gift boxes start at $25. oliveandmarlowe.com and locations in East Liberty, the South Hills and Pittsburgh Public Market in the Strip.
Pittsburgh Fudge Co.
Speaking of chocolate, let’s talk about Pittsburgh Fudge Co. I’m talking about some good old-fashioned, down-home fudge. There’s something comforting about that. Buy some as gifts and keep a box for yourself. You never know when you might have to retreat to the kitchen for a moment of solitude. Like when Uncle Charlie turns into a one-man karaoke machine.
Gift baskets start at $25. pittsburghfudge.com to place an order.
Wigle Landlocked “Rum”
That is not a misplaced “quote.” Wigle’s Landlocked is technically not a rum because it is not made from sugarcane or molasses. Instead, it is made from local buckwheat honey. It’s a western Pennsylvania take on rum with a wonderfully aromatic flavor. This is a perfect gift for the spirits collector or cocktail enthusiast in your life.
$38 for a bottle. [2401 Smallman St., Strip District; wiglewhiskey.com]
Pittsburgh Winery zinfandel
Yes, this wine was in my 2012 Gift Guide. What can I say? It’s one of the few zins I can commit to. And I’m so happy that it’s made right here. Pittsburgh Winery has an amazing selection of wines with such a depth, complexity and range of notes that you will surely find one for every preference.
[2815 Penn Ave., Strip District; pittsburghwinery.com]
East End Brewing Co.’s craft beer
In case you haven’t heard, craft beer is it. Currently, there are more than 2,500 craft breweries in the United States — the most since Prohibition. That’s enough reason to celebrate. Unlike wine, beer does not get better with age, so buy local and be happy. East End Brewing has been at it for almost a decade and has a great roster of year-round, seasonal and one-off beers (Illustration Ale!)
[147 Julius St., Larimer; eastendbrewing.com]
Red Star Kombucha
We all have an Uncle Charlie, just like we all have a “health nut” and a “hipster” in our crew. You know what I mean. I self-deprecate. Kombucha is the best present. If you’ve never had kombucha, Red Star should be your maiden voyage because you need to do it right. In fact, it’s so amazing that it’s actually available ON TAP at some of our favorite bars. Stick a ribbon on that four-pack and make someone happy and healthy. Bonus: The ginger flavor is a good digestif for the inevitable holiday overindulgence.
Check inglobwetrust.com for distributors.
I love where my office is located partly because: (1) it offers free Zeke’s coffee every day and (2) Zeke’s Coffee is next door. This local small-batch roaster is a fixture at many of the season’s farmers markets and festivals. You can also catch the Zeke’s crew this winter at their Penn Avenue store in East Liberty. You’ll definitely make the coffee lover in your life (or yourself) happy with a gift basket of Zeke’s fresh-roasted beans. While you’re in the store, grab one of the exceptional homemade pastries. You can thank me later.
[6012 Penn Ave., East Liberty; zekescoffeepgh.com]
Fresh from the Farm Juices
Some of you who are reading this have already started the seasonal binge with Halloween candy. For those who have been holding out, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s Eve will all slowly eat at our resolve until we cave. Enter Fresh from the Farm Juices. Made from fresh fruits and vegetables, cold-pressed and unpasteurized, these juices are the stuff of life. Get a pack to give to everyone for the morning after, or get one of the Cleanest Cleanse juice packages to start 2014 off right.
[1330 Bingham St., South Side; freshfarmjuices.com]
Christopher Bandy handcrafts almost anything you can imagine from reclaimed wood, including children’s toys, book shelves and beautiful custom dining room tables. My favorite foodie item from Bandy Woodworks is the “Party of Four” portable wine rack, a handy little thing for carrying that bottle of wine and four glasses. Bandy’s finely crafted cutting and serving boards are sure to elicit oohs and ahhs.
“Party of Four” wine rack and cutting/serving boards start at $15. bandywoodworks.com, 695 Susquehanna St., or at the year-round Farmers’ Market Co-Op of East Liberty every Saturday.
Kyle Houser Ceramics
There are ceramics and then there are ceramics for gangstas. For the latter, you will want to get some of Kyle Houser’s kick-ass work. It’s surely not your grandma’s china. For example, the Surly pour-over set is perfect for the coffee purist (and, as an aside, someone please get me the badass motorcycle mug). I want to stock up on all his pieces. For those in the city, it’s definitely worth the trip to Beaver County, but you can also order Houser’s pieces at his online Etsy store.
Garbella Handmade Goods and Gear
Amy Garbark makes whimsical screen-printed aprons and tea towels with non-cheesy Pittsburgh-themed designs. I love the “P is for pierogi” print; the “Dear Pittsburgh, I love you” print just tugs at my heartstrings.
Aprons cost $28, and kitchen towels are $14. [garbelladesign.com]
City Dining Cards
YES! The 2014 edition is here! Give your foodie friends a 52-restaurant tour of Pittsburgh with the new edition of City Dining Cards. For $20, you get $10 discounts to 50 locally owned Pittsburgh restaurants, including some of my personal favorites: Root 174, Fukuda, Verde, Casa Rasta, Allegheny Wine Mixer, E2, Eden, Franktuary and many more! PLUS free coffee from Espresso a Mano. Best of all? Five percent of all profits go to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.
P.S. Don’t forget:
Donate to nonprofits doing good with food
Need I say more? You may not give it as a gift, but it’s definitely the gift that keeps on giving. My favorites are the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and Grow Pittsburgh.