Gift Guide: Comfort food for your loved ones this year
Not everyone has time to shop around—not to mention most people have no desire to shop in stores at all right now—and look for the newest items on the market that could appeal to the loved ones and colleagues on their gift-giving lists. (Or for themselves, because let’s be honest, we look at holiday gift guides and deals for ourselves just as much as for others.)
Self-care takes on many forms and definitions, and among them is certainly the idea of “comfort food.” Here is a list of suggestions for culinary treats that can be shipped near and far to the loved ones in your life.
Bella Cucina: Pizza is really having a moment right now as delivery sales have surged over the course of the pandemic. If you’re looking to upgrade your pizza night, Bella Cucina’s pizza party kit is an easy but delicious option. The kit includes both the flour and yeast as well as a jar of savory tomato sauce. You just need to add your own cheese and olive oil. The dough produces a wonderful crust—as soft or crispy as you choose to roll it out with a rolling pin—and it tastes like something you’d order at a restaurant. Can serve two to four…or even just one. No shame. SRP: $45.
Edible Arrangements: Edible has expanded its portfolio of fruit-forward bouquets for the 2020 holiday season, shipping nationwide—through local vendors—with free same-day or next-day shipping. Among the new holiday-themed arrangements are Santa’s Bakeshop Box of handcrafted cheesecakes and brownies; the Merry Christmas Platter (includes sweet strawberries dipped in semisweet or white chocolate, semisweet-dipped pineapple stars and apple wedges, and a signature Edible apple doughnut); and the Merry Christmas FruitFlowers, a bouquet of freshly cut flowers paired with Edible’s deluxe Christmas Dipped Fruit Box of fresh fruits dipped in chocolate. SRP: $60 for the Merry Christmas Platter.
FarmSteady: Those aspiring bakers who started baking bread in the earliest days of the shutdown might be looking to up their game with a challenge by the end of the year. To that end, this Everything Bagel & Cream Cheese Kit includes all you need to make one dozen everything bagels as well as homemade cultured cream cheese, straight out of the box. It’s a complex process, but it’s also a productive way to kill a lot of time with the promise of fresh bagels at the end. SRP: $30.
La Maison du Chocolat: Hopefully whoever came up with the line “Life is like a box of chocolates” had plenty of chocolates stockpiled in time for surviving 2020. And these trying times call for the good stuff. Based in Paris, La Maison du Chocolat is a French chain of chocolate boutiques with stores around the world and also ships free in the U.S. for deliveries over $95. Among the chocolatier’s holiday offerings is this 110-piece Holiday Cracker Coffret, a selection of ganaches and pralines in dark and milk chocolate that you can share…or not. While it is advised to serve them at room temperature, the chocolates can be stored in the fridge or freezer to space out indulgences. The confectioner also suggests to cut a chocolate piece in half and let it melt in the mouth to allow time for the flavors to develop. When tasting several chocolates, it is best to start with a plain chocolate, then move on to flavored varieties: first those with fruits, then spices, then alcohol. SRP: $225.
Oath Pizza: Pizza delivery experienced a major comeback during the pandemic as more diners eat at home but still want food delivered. Few foods travel better than pizza, but the local slice shop isn’t the only option—especially for those looking for more refined pies. Oath Pizza delivers fully made, personal pizzas for vegetarians and meat lovers alike, with vegan and gluten-free options readily available. The Classic Cheese Pizza kit includes a two- or four-pack of cheese pizzas (with an optional swap for vegan cheese) and a pack of chocolate chunk cookies. All pizzas are delivered frozen, ready for the oven or the grill, and cook in less than 15 minutes. SRP: $44.
Packed With Purpose: Packed With Purpose assembles curated gift boxes in which each item is handpicked, with portions of the proceeds giving back by supporting small businesses and diverse social causes. The Nut-Free and Vegan Delights box, for example, includes a fragrant and flavorful plum spread infused with delicate rose water from Trade Street Jam Co., a woman- and Black-owned artisanal jam maker in North Carolina; nutrient dense seed-based energy bars with semisweet chocolate and tart cherries from Ommie Snacks, a Latina-owned family business in Minneapolis supporting hunger- and homelessness-relief efforts; and a mix of dried tropical fruits from Mavuno Harvest, which supports sub-Saharan Africa small farmer cooperatives and fair supply chains. SRP: $72.
Runamok Maple: This Vermont-based maple producer distributes its pure, infused, smoked, and barrel-aged maple syrups nationwide. This year the brand is offering special gift boxes, volume discounts, custom inserts, and drop shipping. Runamok Maple specially designed this program to make employee and client gifting as flexible as possible. Packaged in beautiful glass bottles, the maple syrups also look stunning on their own on the countertop or kitchen table. Flavor infusions include coffee, cinnamon and vanilla, ginger root, holiday spices, bourbon, and smoked pecan-wood. Of course, the syrups are ideal for warm breakfasts in fall and winter on pancakes and waffles, but they also work well as infusions and mixers in coffee and cocktails. SRP: $65 for a gift box set of three 250-milliliter bottles.
SaltWorks: Brand new for 2020, SaltWorks has curated a selection of its signature salt fusions housed in a limited-edition recipe box along with a handful of correlating recipes. Salt selections include Black Truffle Sea Salt, Wild Porcini Mushroom, Vintage Merlot, Espresso Brava, Lime Fresca, and Spanish Rosemary. SaltWorks uses its proprietary process to bind natural ingredients to each sea salt crystal to create a new generation of flavorful, all-natural infused salts. With so many flavor combination possibilities, it’s an ideal gift for the experienced home cook and the person who just learned to cook while in quarantine. SRP: $50.
Spicewalla: With so many more people cooking at home and gaining confidence in the kitchen this year, everyone is going to be stocking up their spice cabinets at this time too. Spicewalla’s colorful tin cans are fun additions to the kitchen, not to mention reusable. The Unconventional Holiday Collection of 10 spices inspires cooks to think beyond the basic turkey or ham dinner with a bevy of global flavors in one box, including Chai Masala, Herbs de Provence, Cajun seasoning, Berbere, and a mustard and tarragon rub. SRP: $50.
Sugarwish: Do you remember candygrams from grade school? Then these are the candygrams of the 21st century for smartphone owners. A Sugarwish can be sent via email or almost any app (i.e. text, Slack, Snapchat, etc.) and allows the recipient to choose his or her own savory and sweet treats—from popcorn to candy to cookies—for receiving. Once treats are selected, they are packed in a bright-blue gift box and shipped to the recipient’s door. SRP: Starts at $20.
Sakara Life: Comfort food is all relative, and sometimes heavier dishes don’t actually inspire cravings or warm feelings in all eaters. For people who prefer a cleaner diet (or maybe want a jump-start on the inevitable New Year’s food trends sooner), Sakara offers a full plant-based menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner—with plenty of treats and snacks throughout the day. Programs can last two, three, or five days with the option for one-time purchase or weekly subscriptions. Everything is delivered to your door and ready to eat, no cooking required. SRP: Starts at $70 for the five-day program with a weekly subscription.
Wisconsin Cheese: The Wisconsin Artisan Award Winners Cheese Board features three hand-selected, high-quality cheeses with sweet, earthy, and smoky palates, respectively: the Prairie Sunset by Roth (nutty undertones and hints of butterscotch), the Pleasant Ridge Reserve (notes of caramel and nuts, with a hint of tart fruitiness), and the paprika-rubbed Apple Smoked Cheddar. And all three cheeses are ready to serve out of the box on the included wooden bamboo cutting board. SRP: $52.