I’ll be the first to admit that buying gifts this year was the last thing on my mind. Sure, the holiday season kind of snuck up on us, but don’t worry — there’s still time to spread holiday cheer to the folks closest to you, especially for those foodies in your life. From beanies to baskets to bottles of wine, there’s a gift for every foodie (and maybe yourself) on this list! And the cool part about this list is that all of these gifts are unique to Greater Boston, and I don’t need to tell you how hard hit our local restaurants have been during the pandemic.
And one piece of advice: give yourself some grace this season. It’s OK if the presents arrive a little late. It’s been a weird year and folks will still be thrilled that you were thoughtful enough to think of them during this tumultuous year.
Diner Plates and Meal Kits
One thing I miss about going out to eat are the occasions when I’d head to a good Jewish deli. I constantly crave a good bagel or pastrami Reuben sandwich. Mamaleh’s Deli in Cambridge is here to fill those needs. Not only can you order someone a deli sandwich kit with all the fixings, but you can buy one of their diner plates to make it a true experience. The person you’re gifting this to will love having their fridge stocked with delicious items perfect for a good, meaty, cheesy, pickle-y sandwich. Trust me on this. Mamelah’s also offers the ultimate bunch kit for those missing their lox and cream cheese.
Beanies and Wine
The coolest natural wine bar at Somerville’s Bow Market now has merch. Their beanies are perfect for the low temperatures we are now experiencing. There’s the black Rebel Rebel version and the super bright, super green one donning the phrase “Stay Queer Stay Rebel,” so basically you can buy one to match every outfit. Grab a bottle of wine to add to the gift bag (or for yourself) and you have a cozy pairing anyone will be happy to receive.
Aprons and Cookbooks
Every baker needs an apron. That goes for all the home cupcake makers and beyond. Local bakery chain Flour has an apron with adjustable straps and extra pockets for those who need somewhere to stash their phone or recipe notebook while whipping up treats in the kitchen. They're good for holding your cooking snacks, a spatula, a bag of sea salt to sprinkle atop chocolate chip toffee cookies — whatever you need! Flour co-owner Joanne Chang also wrote a handful of excellent cookbooks that always serve as great gifts as well, so give your favorite baker the tools they need to whip up something comforting and delicious.
Pebre and Chimichurri
Listen, I’ll be the first one in line at any place that sells empanadas. I don’t care what the filling inside is. I’m sure I’m not the only one. Buenas is the empanada company that sells these tasty treats, ready to eat or frozen for consumption later. The cool part is the company sells its Pebre and Chimichurri sauces for all of our dipping needs. What a great gift for those who always need a bomb sauce to drench their food in.
The Wine Club
Yes, this year has been hard. Yes, we all could use some wine. Your friends will be appreciative when you gift them a wine club membership. The Urban Grape’s monthly club is split into three tiers: The Urban Sampler for those who are newer to wine and want to explore, The Urban Connoisseur for wine lovers looking to expand their palette and The Urban Cellar, which includes selections that are handpicked by owner TJ Douglas for wine lovers who want the finest wines the world has to offer. This is a great gift for a housemate or partner that you live with because there’s a chance you’ll also reap the benefits.
Class Kits and House-made Sauces
Mei Mei is one of my favorite spots in Boston for dumplings, but the pandemic has forced their dine-in kitchen to close to customers. But while we might not be able to enjoy the food at the restaurant, you can always order some of their cuisine for home consumption — their delicious house-made sauces would make perfect stocking stuffers. The pepper jelly, signature soy aioli, spicy chili oil and cran-pepper & sour sauce are all available to order. If you’re a cook who wants to learn some cool kitchen skills, they offer class kits including dumpling making, a hand-pulled noodle masterclass and a knife and wok skills class.
Gourmet Gift Baskets
With locations in Cambridge, Boston and New York, this fine foods grocery store is making it easy for gift-givers this year by gathering all the items for you in the form of gift baskets. Formaggio is every home chef’s dream for quality ingredients you may have a hard time finding anywhere else. Buy your person a cheese lover’s basket with an assortment of hand-picked cheese and nuts, a pasta lover’s basket with noodles from Italy and Switzerland and everything to make a delicious sauce or a snack basket made for sharing.