Gifts With Taste 

Part 1

Friday, Nov. 24 marks the beginning of a special season: Christmas shopping madness season. Although the day after Thanksgiving is traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year, many of us are happy to sit at home, munching on leftover fried turkey, reheating duck noodle stuffing or finishing off the bottle of port that didn’t quite make it through the fourteen-dessert spread.

Relaxing in the warm glow of leftovers is sometimes easier than starting the thought process which is buying friends and families gifts. For some of us, the gift-buying process can be a grueling and tortuous task, one that lasts well into the new year. Starting early is essential. Thankfully, there is a way to combine the day-after-Thanksgiving leftover gorging with the rest of the country’s day-after-Thanksgiving shopping frenzy: ordering delectable gifts by telephone or online.

Holiday food in the mail is one of the most appreciated presents. Gifts of a culinary nature are coveted and consumed regardless of their substance. Something about getting a 6-pound box of fully cooked and grill-ready bratwursts puts a gleam in the eye and a growl in the stomach. A box of exquisitely authentic brats is available for under $20 from Bavaria Sausage Kitchen of Madison, Wisc., 1-800-733-6695.

Fresh mushrooms are a unique idea: chanterelles, morels and even white Italian truffles (at an unsurprising $200/oz.) can be packaged fresh and shipped to the recipient of choice in a matter of days from Earthly Delights of Detroit, Mich., 1-800-367-4709.

Gil’s Gourmet of Carmel Valley, Calif., specializes in integrating wines with food and offers a number of strange eats: Merlot chocolate apricots, Riesling marinated garlic, Chardonnay artichoke salsa and Fire of the Sea sardines made with smoked habañero peppers. Gil’s Gourmet items are available online at: www.gilsgourmet.com.

To surprise someone with something truly different, send them pierogis from Michigan. The fully cooked pierogis—Polish-style dumplings stuffed with spinach, potato, cheese, sauerkraut, mushrooms or blueberries—can be steamed, boiled, sauteed or deep fried to make a full meal or dessert. Mareva’s, at 1-800-MAREVAS, can send succulent pierogis to anyone in the world.

For dessert, Italian ice cream truffles are two gifts in one. A dozen truffles and the dry ice they are shipped in are equally fun. Truffles, ice cream cakes and Italian ices are available for gifting at: Ital Gelati of Montreal, 1-888-322-0116.

Cheesecake City of Berkeley can supply a favorite recipient with a 4-pound cheesecake in a number of flavors including cappuccino, pecan truffle, pumpkin with a ginger snap crust, or white chocolate pistachio. The large cheesecake will feed sixteen and can be shipped anywhere before Christmas. Call 1-800-CHEESECAKE for prices and availability.

For the spicy-minded, a hot peanut-butter-and-jelly combo is a strangely delicious gift. For under $15 the lucky gifted receives a jar of Austin Slow Burn Habañero Jelly and a jar of CaJohn’s Fire Dust’d Peanut Butter. Available from Pepperworld Hot Shop at: www.pepperworld.com.

So don’t leave the house—fill up on leftovers while you shop at home. “A La Carte” will be featuring great culinary gifts over the next few weeks, so feel free to put off shopping and continue with the enjoyment of holiday eating instead.

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