Food, Food Artisans

Maddie Talks Stocking Stuffers

Great gift suggestions from the ZINGERMAN’S Deli

This year was filled with a lot of firsts. I rented my first apartment as a non-student. I got my first full-time job. My best friend, with whom I’ve lived in the same city since we were in 3rd grade, moved to Chicago. And I got my very first Christmas tree and stocking. I know that the last item on that list doesn’t come off quite as significant as the others at first glance, but as a Chanukah-celebrating kid growing up around lots of Christmas-celebrating friends, I always received a major dose of holiday jealousy around this time of year. Don’t get me wrong, I love Chanukah and all of the customs that come with it, but there is something about traditional Christmas culture – cutting down and decorating a tree, listening to carols, hanging stockings, and enjoying the company of close friends and family – that has always appealed to me. Now that I am dating someone with strong Christmas traditions, I have the privilege of finally partaking in the rituals I’ve admired for so long.

With Christmas just days away, I’m sure many of you, like me, are scrambling to find those perfect stocking stuffers for your loved ones. In the hopes of sparking some creative gift ideas, I’m sharing my picks for unique and absolutely delicious stocking stuffers from the Zingerman’s Deli retail section.

Les Mouettes D’Arvor Vintage Sardines ($14.99/tin)

SardinesI know sardines must seem like an odd way to kick of a list of holiday stocking stuffers, but trust me that these sardines are special.  Meaty French sardines are artfully arranged in a small tin, packed in olive oil, sealed, and left to age for anywhere from 1-3 years—therein lies the vintage aspect of these sardines. As these tiny fish grow older with time, they begin to tenderize, taking on a buttery and almost silky texture. While the ways to use such a decadent product are only limited to your imagination, I tend to opt for simple preparations that really let the fish shine. Place one or two filets atop a nice piece of crusty, buttered bread for a simple starter. Throw an entire tin-worth into a batch of your favorite pasta for an instant sauce.  Or, take a fork and eat them straight out of the jar. With tins ranging from 2010-2013, these sardines make the perfect gift for avid fish-lovers and adventurous (or want-to-be adventurous) foodies alike.

Edmond Fallot Mustards ($7.99/jar)

MustardIf there were one kitchen staple I couldn’t live without, mustard would rank high on the list. It’s a rarity that I don’t have at least one jar of the stuff in my refrigerator at any given time. My tried and true favorite mustards come from Edmond Fallot, a family run mustard business out of Burgundy, France. The Fallot family is famous for their well-balanced and perfectly spiced Dijon mustard, as well as a string of unique flavors. From whole-grain, to green peppercorn, horseradish, tarragon, and even honey balsamic, there is mustard for everybody on your holiday gift list. Now please don’t think that mustard must only be relegated to the commonplace sandwich condiment: the uses for these mustards are endless. Throw a teaspoon of your favorite mustard into vinaigrette for added thickness and depth of flavor. Spoon a bit onto your favorite fish or meat for an instant flavorful glaze. Or, simply place a jar on a cheese and meat platter and let the tasting begin.

Robert Lambert Hot Ginger Caramel Sauce ($17.99/jar)

CaramelDespite its innocent sounding name, this caramel sauce is not for the faint of heart. Former musician turned artisanal specialty food producer Robert Lambert churns out some of the most unique and meticulously crafted jams, sauces, and other jarred delights on the market today. The Hot Ginger Caramel Sauce is no exception. Lambert starts with a thick and buttery caramel base and then spikes it with white ginger and a blend of warm holiday spices. The result is a sweet, toasty, and spicy sauce, ideal drizzled over a scoop of ice cream, a piece of pound cake, or, if you’re like me, eaten straight out of the jar like peanut butter. A favorite among adults and kids alike.

Bee Raw Sweet Yellow Clover Honey ($19.99/jar)

HoneyI’ve had a love affair with this honey since it arrived on our shelves over two years ago. Bee Raw’s line of honeys is all single-varietal and raw, meaning there is no processing or blending, but just honey in its purest form. The sweet yellow clover honey was unlike anything I had ever tasted before. A far cry from the super thick and overly sweet plastic bear honey we’ve grown so accustomed to seeing in the grocery store, this honey is light yellow and milky in color, texturally similar to a dense caramel sauce or softened butter. Flavor wise, it is sweet, but not too sweet, with faint floral and cinnamon notes. My favorite ways to use this honey range from: stirring into tea, spreading onto a hot piece of toast, drizzling in yogurt, or pairing with fruit and cheese. Also, the sleek cylindrical shaped jars are perfect for fitting into any size stocking on your mantel.

Jasmine Silver Needle Tea ($26.99/bag)

TeaOne of the newer items on the list, Jasmine Silver Needle tea, has been winning over tea-lovers this holiday season. A combination of white tea leaves and real jasmine blossoms from Fuding, Fujan China, Jasmine Silver Needle is simultaneously sweet, floral, and aromatic without coming off too strong or perfumey (a common problem I’ve encountered with most jasmine teas on the market). This tea also has a long life per cup, maintaining its strength and delicacy through up to four steepings. The perfect sipping tea for cozy snow days and a real treat for new and experienced tea lovers.

Want to come up with your own Zingerman’s stocking stuffers? Eager to create that perfect custom gift box/basket? Come visit us over at the retail department at Zingerman’s Deli. We are happy to help.

Happy holidays and good eats to you all!