Struggling on finding the perfect gift for the Southern (or not so Southern) Foodie (or not so foodie) person in your life? Here are a few (delicious) gifts that’ll make you at the top of their list of “Thank You notes to write.”
I know it’s the holiday season, which is a time of selfless giving, love, and charity. The thing is, I could more easily give you $100 out of my wallet (I mean if I ever had $100) than I could hand over the gift box of festive macaroons I picked up (for someone else) from Sucre in New Orleans (seriously, please take my money as a token of my affection and let me keep the $30 macaroons). The holidays always wreak havoc on my finances because I’m the worst about finding such an awesome gift for someone else that I also have to buy it for myself.
On the other hand, this kind of self-destructive behavior has made me pretty savvy about what some of the most glorious food gifts around the South are, and I can guarantee that you, too, will want to keep them for yourself.
Oh, Boy! Oh BBQ!
I have roughly seven different BBQ sauces in my pantry and refrigerator at any given time (I like to put it on Hawaiian pizza when it’s not BBQ season). I also like to make my own BBQ sauces; however, I’m powerless against a shiny, unopened BBQ sauce sampler set.
One of my favorites is the Jim ‘N Nick’s Gift Box, which includes two sauces (classic and chipotle), three dry rubs, and a pack of their famous cheddar biscuit mix. Holy. Moly. How do you wrap that and put it under your tree not for yourself? I mean, surely whomever you got it for would love a nice VISA gift card, right (don’t give them the receipt, which will reveal you got it on December 24).
Speaking of biscuits, Callie’s Biscuits from Taigan in North Charleston, South Carolina are $45.90 for 24 and are definitely a stocking stuffer that Santa will—whoops—accidentally slip into your stocking (along with all of the coal because you’re being super naughty!). Consequently, if $50 bucks for biscuits seems steep, Carrie Morey’s cookbook, Callie’s Biscuits and Southern Traditions: Heirloom Recipes from Our Family Kitchen is a gem (that you’ll want to keep) and is a gift that keeps on giving.
Now you’re cooking – give the gift of cookbooks
I have so many cookbooks that I may never read them all, but I cannot stop buying them. For my friends that feel the same way, I always like to find something that I know is right up their alley. Think about it: you know at least one grill master or seafood aficionado or vegetarian or international innovator whose life isn’t complete because they don’t have that oh-so-special cookbook in it.
As with Callie’s Biscuits by Morey, I’ll be the first to admit that I have a cookbook addiction and a definite problem not buying one for them and one for me when I give a cookbook as a gift.
A few that have come out recently that are absolutely fantastic include:
• Pure Pork Awesomeness by Atlanta-based Chef Kevin Gillespie. I stalk Gillespie’s career from afar (Facebook), so I was super disappointed when Gillespie had an event for his new cookbook in which he’d be signing copies. When I ordered a copy online, I politely asked in the comment box if Mr. Gillespie would sign my book and holy cow! He did! I was over the moon … even after I realized that I’d already gotten a copy of it one day during a frenzy at Barnes and Noble (oops?). So, I can’t say Mr. Gillespie’s talented hand will sign every order upon request, but I am saying that ordering a cooking book with the chef’s signature is one heck of a loving gift (that you should order two of because there’s no way you’re not getting one, too).
• The Broad Fork by Hugh Acheson, which came out mid-2015, is the perfect cookbook for all of your vegetarian friends or your friends who love to garden … or your friends who love to eat. You know what? Just get the book.
• Root to Leaf: A Southern Chef Cooks Through the Seasons by Steven Satterfield of Atlanta’s Miller Union is a fine fit for anyone who likes to feature seasonal vegetables in their cuisine (like me, for example).
Say cheese! … and meat. And preserves
Now that we have a toddler, we don’t entertain often, so my most recent charcuterie “platter” involved me sneaking to the fridge and rolling two slices of Boar’s Head salami around a thick slice of smoked gouda cheese. It’s very sophisticated. I root like a baby for it’s mother when I see the incredible spread of Southern cheeses, hard and smoked meats, and pickles and preserves available just an Internet click away.
The beautiful thing about these luxurious nibbles is that they can be purchased individually as gifts for loved ones, or they can be compiled into a gift basket. For example, Palmetto cheese with jalapenos, a jar of Wickles pickles, and a little aged Kentucky prosciutto say, “I love the eater in you.”
Kiss my grits! … And other Southern sundries
There are few things more Southern than grits. There’s nothing like a bowl of stone-ground grits for breakfast … or to go with your shrimp or as a tasty side dish or to pair with pork … As a Southerner, I love grits, and I go through grits. They’re so versatile! Thus, if you want to order a bag or two of Southern goodness for your loved one (and restock your own stores), there’s no better place than Anson Mills.
While grits may not be for everyone, it’s safe to say cheese straws are … locally produced beers, liquors, and wines are as well. Vinos from Virginia and craft beers from regional breweries—I’m partial to Abita Brewing Company, SweetWater Brewing Company, Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company, Grayton Beer Company and a few others—all make delightful gifts for the lush in your life.
Also, there’s no stocking stuffer Santa’s little helper would like to stumble upon more than a nice little bottle of Kentucky bourbon.
What I’m saying is there’s no way you can go wrong with a Southern food gift—unless you don’t give it, in which case, as I’ve explained, it’s just better to buy two. Then it will be Merry Christmas to you and your friends and family, too, right?
After you get a taste of the South, why not plan a trip and come stay down here (the food is even better when you’re here if you can believe it). Give yourself the ultimate gift—a much-needed break. Here‘s a good start.