The holiday season is upon us, and it’s never too early to begin the daunting search for the perfect gift. Thankfully, Eater Seattle’s local gift guide is here to help you shop for the food enthusiasts in your life. From a unique, herbaceous shiso liqueur to a kids’ book about making bread, from a custom tea blend to a versatile Puerto Rican sazon spice blend, here are 2018’s best presents for food obsessives. They’re all from Washington, many are from Seattle, and they should all be available for shipping to most of the country.
If you still need more ideas after ordering everything from this list, check out last year’s Eater Seattle holiday gift guide or peruse other 2018 Eater gift guides, from the national collection to city-specific resources from San Francisco to New York City.
This Girl Meets Dirt sample pack of five signature flavors, like zippy shiro plum with mint, showcases fantastic fruit from Orcas Island. Despite the lack of pectin, these “spoon preserves” have great, rich texture and concentrated fruit flavors, thanks to traditional French techniques like a long soak.
Marnin Saylor peddles a cult of adorability with its line of half baked-good, half cute-critter stuffed toys. Minis, like Rainbow Sprinkle Donut Cat and Cinnamon Bun, are sweet nibbles of fleece with hand stitched faces that can be easily cuddled in the palms of two hands.
How To Taste
It’s fair to judge this book by its cover: Tony Ong’s striking design augments author Becky Selengut’s charm and clarity chapter by bite-sized chapter to walk readers through the way tastes, like salt, sweet, and acid, harmonize. Once you’ve learned to taste properly, Selengut argues, then you can cook better, determining when somethings’s missing and recovering from mistakes.
Custom-Flavor La Croix Art
With these wooden La Croix can replicas, painted by Seattle pop artist Genevieve St. Charles Monet, aka Goldsuit, fans of the ultimate seltzer status symbol can customize its flavors. Delight, mystify, or enrage your friends with phrases like “Pineapple on Pizza,” “Pay Your Stages,” “Food Rhymes With Good,” and “I Can’t Believe You Left My Favorite Restaurant Off the Eater 38.”
Moroccan Spices and Spreads
Top Seattle restaurants like Mamnoon and the Walrus and the Carpenter get Moroccan and Levantine flavors from Villa Jerada’s beautiful blends, like heady ras el hanout. Chermoula spread could happily replace sun-dried tomato pesto, while harissa paste adds a fiery kick to anything it touches.
This herbaceous liqueur is made in Kent by Sidetrack Distilling, whose owners grow most of their ingredients on-site. This 375ml bottle features green shiso, an herb in the mint family commonly found in Japanese cooking. Tonic opens up the sweetened spirit’s citrusy, grassy aromas, while Japanese whisky and ginger beer play up its basil-like savoriness.
Microwaveable Indian Food
Seattle’s Buttermilk company has a compromise between ordering Indian takeout and making complex curries at home, with powdered versions of classic dishes springing to life at the addition of a bit of water and mere minutes of heat in the microwave. Coconut chutney, khichdi, upma, and chana masala are standouts in an expanding lineup.
Sea Wolf Mug
Lepus Studios Ceramicist Tesha Karpoff’s work is known to anyone who’s breakfasted on croissants and Brandywine Coffee at Fremont’s Sea Wolf Bakers. Her pottery, like this chic porcelain mug striped with a pale yellow called “fawn,” provides a modern aesthetic to a traditional craft. When you finish your last sip, peek inside to catch the tiny stamp of Sea Wolf’s mascot.
Cider Trio Club
Liberty Ciderworks is one of America’s best makers of traditional cider, turning local fruit into liquid gold. And because this Spokane gem has such limited distribution, the Core Club is the best way to access limited edition products — three per month in 750ml bottles — like the gin-barrel aged Chaleur or the still, wine-like Porter’s Perfection.
This waxed canvas bag features French seams and leather handles with brass rivets, offering a secure and attractive way to heft a bag of goods back from the farmer’s market. And over time, this rugged accessory will only get more appealing, as the exterior softens and fades uniquely with use.
Sazon Spice and Koji Powders
At Addo restaurant and incubator in Ballard, chef Eric Rivera harnesses Japanese koji to turn white rice, pinto beans, or Eastern Washington wheat berries into 4-ounce containers of umami-rich flavor-enhancement. For the Puerto Rican specialties at his Lechoncito pop-ups, like slow-cooked pork, Rivera leans on the earthy sazon spice blend, whose mix of ingredients like cumin, salt, and coriander are also impressively versatile.
This engaging picture book about the science and joy of making bread is named for Washington State University’s influential Bread Lab and co-written by its managing director, Kim Binczewski, and agricultural scientist Bethany Econopouly. Illustrated lovingly by Hayelin Choi, this book should inspire folks of all ages to explore the world of sourdough baking.
Bespoke Tea Blend
Wallingford’s welcoming tea shop, Friday Afternoon, blends teas and tisanes based on traditional herbalism but also pop-culture references. Via an in-person or email appointment, owner and expert blender Friday Elliott will even help you devise your own custom mix, whether you need a relaxing sleep aid or an invigorating potion to roll your way through a Dungeons and Dragons campaign.
Washington Apple Blossom Card
This Good Sheila card, a watercolor print by Seattle artist Lauren Tilden, is a beautiful and subtle nod to one of Washington’s top types of produce — the apple — and also a reminder that spring will return, despite the dreary months of Washington winter ahead. Plus, Good Sheila’s “5% for good” program means the purchase supports nonprofits like World Wildlife Fund and P.A.W.S.
Cinnamon Rolls! Not Gender Roles
The illustrations on these sturdy tote bags and baby onesies from Cafe Flora are as sweet as the stalwart Seattle vegetarian restaurant’s cinnamon rolls. And the message, “Cinnamon Rolls! Not Gender Roles,” is every bit as appetizing: Down with restrictive gender binaries, up with pink unicorns and pastries. Each purchase supports the Trans Justice Fund.
Bubbly Champagne Gift Wrap
This wrapping paper, from Seattle illustrator Erisha Rubingh’s A Thing Created brand, really sparkles. The sleek, semi-matte 20” x 29” sheets, available in sets of five or ten, make holiday packaging much more whimsical. Just be careful about hiding non-bubbly gifts in such evocative paper, unless you’re pairing the gift-giving with a refill of the recipient’s Champagne flute.
Pétillant Naturel Rosé 2016
The Orcas Project is a house brand from Orcas Island wine shop Doe Bay Wine Company, whose owners collaborate with different Northwest winemakers for each release. This gorgeous 100-percent-grenache sparkling rosé, carbonated naturally in the bottle, was made with Oregon’s Soloro Vineyard and bursts with bright strawberry notes, racy acidity, and a moreish finish.
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