Local food gift giving ideas to kick off the holiday season

Buying gifts for some of the people in our lives can pose quite the challenge.

From the parents who have everything they need to the friend who is the Merriam-Webster definition of finicky, to the neighbor who is on a mission to de-clutter to the friends who have made it clear they are in search of experiences only — finding the right present to bestow on certain folks can be a lot tougher than others.

When you run into these gift giving head scratchers, food can often open the door to a happy solution to your quandary.

Gift cards are an option, but they are so impersonal. You want a gift that clearly shows you spent a little bit of time, effort and thought on something special.

With that in mind, here are some foodie gift packages you can put together that will make you look like a holiday hero.

FOR THE CARB DEVOTEE

Who doesn’t love a great Italian meal? Tasty carbs done right are like eating a big old hug. Start with some handmade pastas from Grist (http://eatgrist.com). This wonderful shop located on Fifth Street has everything you need to make a basket of gifts to wow friends and family that includes sauces, bread, imported products from Italy and desserts. If you’re short on time, it’s a one-stop shop. If you have more time you can grab some of Mamma DiSalvo’s authentic Italian sauce. Top it off with some of Annie’s private cheese selections ($25) from St. Anne’s Cheese Company (stannescheeseco.com) and you have yourself a meal full of rich conversation starters to gift.

Credit: Grist

Credit: Grist

FOR THE MEAT LOVER

Dots Market in Bellbrook and Kettering (www.dotsmarket.com) has incredible meat bundles for sale when you are looking to buy in bulk. The market has hard to find specialty cuts and is priced right. It’s a favorite to shop at when I’m in the mood for some high-quality affordable meat. Meat bundles start at $55 for eight pork chops, one pork loin end roast, two pounds of pork loin country style ribs, three and a half pounds of pork spare ribs, two pounds of pork sausage, two pounds of pork loin roast and two pork shoulder steaks.

The next tier is beef, pork and chicken for $120 and is every bit as generous. Bundles go up to $219 for the mother load of meat. Grab a gift certificate and let them know what it’s for seeing as meat wrapped up under the tree will almost certainly ruin Christmas. Or put the meat in the freezer with a game of clues for the recipient to find them. When you head to Dots consider going to Kettering to stop by the Bull Pen Diner for a meal. It’s a time warp to 1964 when it opened. Breakfast is served all day and it’s a great treat if you haven’t been.

FOR THE COFFEE FANATIC

Head to some specialty coffee shops to buy some signature blend roasts for the caffiene fanatics in your life. Reza’s Downtown (www.rezasroast.com), EPIC Coffee Shoppe in Kettering (www.epiccoffeeshoppe.com) Tastefully Roasted in Oakwood (www.tastefullyroasted.com), Boston Stoker (various locations, https://bostonstoker.com), Winans Chocolates + Coffees (various locations, http://winanschocolatesandcoffees.com), Press Coffee Bar (www.pressdayton.com) and Ghostlight Coffee (www.ghostlightcoffee.com) are just a few of the spots you can grab a bag of beans to include in your roasty toasty gift. I’m anti-gift card, but this coffee gifting package is worth considering bundling with a card to Central Perc European Café (http://centralperc.restaurantwebexpert.com) or Gem City Catfe (www.gemcitycatfe.com/).

FOR THE COCKTAIL CONNOISSEUR

There are plenty of Ohio-made wines with more than 150 licensed wineries in the state. There are also many Ohio breweries making great beers — too many to list — that you could purchase a gift from. But for the cocktail connoisseur, it’s spirits or bust. Giving a bottle of Belle of Dayton Vodka, Gin or Detrick Rye Whisky or Dayton Barrel Works bourbon, gin and vodka or a bottle of the classic Buckeye Vodka or some combination thereof is sure to be a hit. We may not have a local tequila, so if that’s of interest, Elsa’s Bad Juan is your best bet locally.

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Credit: Tom Gilliam

FOR THE SUGAR FIEND

When I think of sugar, two words come immediately to mind — killer brownies (www.killerbrownie.com), but there’s so much more to be enjoyed across the region. I absolutely adore the desserts at spots like Austin Landing’s ele Cake Co (www.elecakeco.com) and downtown’s Salt Block Biscuit Company (www.facebook.com/SaltBlockBiscuitCo). Bonus — you can grab lunch or dinner when you go and pick up gifts and each spot has other items to tack on. Salt Block for example has a variety of teas as well as tea pots, kettles, handmade pottery and more.

FOR THE FEVER FERVOR

If your giftee can’t get enough heat on their plate, a variety pack of Mutt’s Sauce (www.muttssauce.com) may be in order. Made in Dayton, it is a female veteran-owned business that offers flavors including sweet and spicy, ghost pepper and gluten-free original. There’s also JuicyMelt Supreme Hot Sauce (https://juicymelt.com), specializing in small batch hand-crafted hot sauce.

FOR A PROVEN HIT

Dorothy Lane Market’s best selling gift has got to be a winner, and the good news is it’s ready-made to gift. The store’s Ohio Artisan Box (www.dorothylane.com/item/OhioArtisanBox) is their best seller. Here’s the description: “OH-IO! Send friends and family a curated selection of artisanal Ohio favorites: Ohio-Shaped Cheddar Cheese, Maverick Chocolate Co. Dark Milk Chocolate, North Country Charcuterie Salami, Buckeyes, DLM Jumbo Premium Mixed Nuts, Boston Stoker Highlander Grogg, and Original Killer Brownie® Bars. Enjoy this representation of the best Ohio has to offer. This is our best selling Ohio Gift. Salami flavor may vary, but all varieties are incredible.”

FOR A TEMPTING TABLE

Eating at an empty table can be sad. Help dress your loved ones table up with a flower subscription to Consider the Lilies (www.cthelilies.com) run by Wendy Lavy out of New Carlisle. The small business offers tailored subscriptions beyond the typical monthly model including peony and summer subscriptions. Flowers can be delivered with an increased cost or picked up at the 2nd Street Market, Now and Zen DIY studio or the flower farm in New Carlisle. Flower subscriptions with delivery service run $90-360 while subscriptions for pick-up are $60-260. They feature my favorite ranunculus flowers during the summer that are positively beguiling. It’s a great gift that will complement any dish on the table and goes to support a woman owned local business.

Dayton Eats looks at the regional food stories and restaurant news that make mouths water. Share info about your menu updates, special dinners and events, new chefs, interesting new dishes and culinary adventures. Do you know of exciting outdoor spaces, new exciting format changes, specials, happy hours, restaurant updates or any other tasty news you think is worth a closer look at? E-mail Alexis Larsen at alexis.e.larsen@hotmail.com with the information and we will work to include it in future coverage.

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