In normal times, gifts of food might seem a little uninspired, but these days not having to go to the store is a gift. On top of that, I’m sure we can all agree that whatever joy we’ve felt in the kitchen has worn a little thin. If you want to do some armchair food shopping for you or a friend, here are 4 of the sites—2 savory and 2 sweet that have my Amex on file. Act quickly if you need holiday shipping.
- Rockerbox Spice: I chanced upon Rae and Rockerbox Spice many years ago at a local food festival when she was just doing garlic “dust.’ She’s expanded her line to include garlic in many forms, along with various spices and blends. As the pandemic rolls along and somedays I can’t be bothered to mince a shallot or clove of garlic, I just reach for her garlic or shallot flakes. Bonus on the garlic flakes, they don’t burn and turn bitter like fresh. And her everything bagel spice leaves Trader Joe’s in the dust (bin).
- Omsom: The newest business on the list and a delicious way to make dinner different, easy, and tasty. They started out with 3 Asian “starters”—sauce packets that you use to make Thai larb, Filipino sisig, and Vietnamese lemongrass BBQ. All of them are simple to make and taste great (although the larb might be my favorite). Recently they’ve added 3 more to the roster, a Korean bulgogi, Chinese mala salad and a Japanese yuzo misoyaki. I haven’t tried the new ones yet, but stay tuned.
- Cara-Sel: I have an old friend who is famous for saying that a piece of uneaten pastry was making him nervous. However, I feel the same way when I get close to the end of a jar of Cara-Sel, Kristin Nelson’s amazing salted caramel sauce. Who knew that butter, sugar, cream, sea salt and vanilla could taste so good? It’s become my secret ingredient in my granola, apple cake and a few other things.
- Dandelion Chocolate: When a little self-care is called for Dandelion chocolate is my go-to. Based in San Francisco, I have my friend Lisa to thank for this. All their chocolate is top-notch—think single origin bars, but my favorites are their toffees. There’s a chocolate one with cocoa nibs and one with black and white sesame seeds—both yummy! My next splurge with them might be their chocolate chips—engineered by a Tesla designer because “the 80-year-old teardrop shape is ill-suited to its function”.
Dandelion is owned by 2 men, but with the other 3, not only will you be buying great gifts of food, you’re also supporting small, women owned businesses. Another advantage, great customer service. When I messed up on two recent orders, a couple of quick emails took care of my screw-ups. Try doing that with a big box store. Enjoy!