Look Local for Great Holiday Gift Ideas

Posted: December 10th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Marketplace | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

During a recent Senatorial debate, one of the questions asked each candidate was what they had changed about their own home lives in the face of the difficult economy. Attorney General Martha Coakley answered “We eat out less often and cook at home more,” and restaurateurs across the area will confirm that she’s not the only one. Back in April, the Zagat 2009/10 Boston Restaurant Survey showed that 25% reported eating out less often, and since then, we’ve seen even higher numbers nationwide.

This has left many of our local favorites, be they clam shacks, markets, or trattorias, struggling to stay afloat, so this season we urge you to think about giving the gift of good food. It’s a win-win proposition; the people you care about get a chance dine out or savor treats they wouldn’t normally buy themselves, and you help boost the local economy.

350_project_150x133If you haven’t seen the 3/50 project, it’s worth a look. The movement is all about saving our small, local, independent businesses, and it’s how we here at the Dish feel about neighborhood fish markets, wine shops, delis, and bistros. If you would miss a shop or restaurant if it disappeared, why not do your holiday shopping there? Here are some great gift ideas to please the palates of everyone on your list:

Give gift certificates to your favorite eateries—not just “occasion” restaurants, but your favorite pub or bistro, too. It’s easy to tailor the gift for the recipient: that little Italian place for your parents, Thai for your sister, vegetarian for your co-worker.

Many diners and corner cafés don’t have gift cards, so make your gift a date and take someone out to breakfast! (This works better than trying to wrap bacon.)

Give gift cards to the places you wish someone would give you a card for, like a wine and specialty cheese shop, coffee house, or bakery. Instead of giving out Starbucks gift cards, why not Jaho, Java Sun, or Atomic Café?

If a gift card seems too impersonal, pick up your favorite food items. And don’t get all angsty about having to make a complicated gift basket. Many markets do make baskets or have pre-made ones available, but your gift recipient is going to love you for the gorgeous sticky buns from A&J King, lobsters from Paul Crowell, or fabulous cheese selections from Grand Trunk Imports whether or not they are prettily wrapped.

Gift giving doesn’t get much simpler than candy, but put down that supermarket chocolate and pick up a box from Turtle Alley, Stowaway Sweets, Ye Old Pepper Company, The Cocoa Belt or Harbor Sweets. Locally made will mean fresher sweets for your sweetie.

Get creative! If your recipient is a fan of adult beverages, a tour of Cape Ann Brewing Company or Ryan and Wood Distilleries would be great fun. If they like to cook, a class with local chefs like Mary Reilly of Newburyport’s Savory Kitchen or Salem’s Mamma Licia would be perfect.

For a list of local resources from farms to wineries and culinary tourism ideas, check out MDAR’s Mass Grown Web site; it’s full of great information.

At North Shore Dish, we’re all about discovering the terrific eats in our own backyard and hope we’ve inspired you to do the same. May your holiday season be full of fun, family, friends, and of course fabulous food.

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