A Tasty Little Holiday Gift Guide

Looking for delicious gifts to give for the holiday season? From a world of possibilities, here are a few items that have especially tickled my taste buds in the past year or so.

Having just returned from Vancouver Island, I’m hot on products from Venturi Schulze Vineyards. The grapes are grown on site without use of any pesticides or herbicides and the wines produced and bottled on the premises. Unfortunately, it’s virtually impossible for Venturi to ship wine to the United States (and when possible, it’s cost-prohibitive).

What I heartily recommend are the verjus and the balsamic vinegar, which Venturi can easily ship across the border. The verjus—pure, unfermented grape juice that is pressed from unripe or semi-ripe fruit—is delicious to use in salad dressings and sauces. And the same for the balsamic vinegar. Perfect splashed on strawberries and watermelon, it’s so good that you might just want to sip it slowly from the bottle.

Speaking of balsamic vinegar and British Columbia, I also endorse Nonna Pia’s gourmet balsamic reductions. I recently finished a Brussels sprouts dish with this Whistler product and imagine pouring the plain (“classic”) or flavored ones (strawberry and fig, rosemary, or lemon-ginger) over vanilla ice cream. Nonna Pia provides numerous recipe ideas, and you can also get crazy with some cocktail concoctions.

In search of something saucy? Local food truck (and now brick-and-mortar) rock star Marination Mobile just starting selling its popular Nunya sauce. The gochujang-spiked sauce gives Marination’s tacos a terrific kick, and now you can use it at home on your sandwiches, eggs, etc. (Try it on grilled cheese!) Even better, though, is “Peppers in a Pickle.” These pickled jalapenos also give a kick to sandwiches and eggs, but they’re so good that I’m throwing them into salads, meat dishes, and potentially my breakfast cereal.

Finally, I’m fond of Jaipur Avenue chai tea mixes. Developed by Fremont resident Jillu Zaveri, the chai is packaged in Mumbia and made with partially skimmed dry milk, sugar, black tea extract, and ground spices. Available in original masala, vanilla, saffron, ginger, and cardamom, the chai is easy to make and surprisingly creamy delicious, either hot or cold. A variety pack would make the perfect present for the holidays.