Give Local Tastes this Holiday Season

Posted: December 8th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Marketplace | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

It is, as we all know, the time of year when gift-giving is on most people’s minds. Last year I did a bit of soap-box preaching about shopping locally, and that’s still my mantra.

What we need to realize is that here on the North Shore, “local” doesn’t just mean your backyard, but the surrounding towns as well. The whole North Shore is our neighborhood, so let’s forget sports rivalries and townie stereotypes and support each other.

If you were going to drive to Boston or the Burlington or North Shore malls to buy gifts, why not use that mileage to hit Rockport, Gloucester, Newburyport, Salem, or Marblehead? All have terrific downtown areas with great shops and markets. And there are many ways to support the local food community this holiday season.

The most obvious is to give friends and family gift certificates to favorite restaurants, and several places this year are offering incentives for you to do so. One of Salem’s newest eateries, Adriatic Restaurant and Bar, is offering a free $20 gift certificate with the purchase of a $100 gift certificate. Cape Ann Brewing Company has a two-way offer: from now until Christmas, every gift certificate you buy will be worth 20% more than you pay for it. On top of that, every gift certificate purchased for more than $40 and used from now until they move in to their new location will have additional $5 value.

If you’re not sure what to give someone, keep in mind that most towns sell Chamber of Commerce gift certificates that are honored at many restaurants and shops. You support town businesses, and the recipient chooses where to spend it.

If gift certificates aren’t your ideal, how about locally made food and beverages? Get out to your local bakery for tasty treats, or try cookies from Lark Fine Foods and Plum Island Cookie or Whoopies from Chococoa found at many local markets. The North Shore has an embarrassment of riches where chocolate is concerned. Stowaway Sweets, Harbor Sweets, Prides Crossing Confections, Turtle Alley, and Ye Olde Pepper Companie all offer gorgeous sweets at both their own locations and through area markets. And how about craft beer created right here on the North Shore? Pick up some Ipswich Ale, Cape Ann, Cody, and Clown Shoes for the brew fan on your list.

Someone you know an oenophile? How about a gift card to your favorite wine shop? Or pique their interest with a bottle of honey wine from Isaak’s of Salem, which just hit the shelves this month. Or perhaps a gift that keeps giving: a membership to Wine ConneXtion’s Wine Society, which includes one bottle of wine a month for a year with an information card, as well as special discounts and event invites.

Many restaurants schedule wine dinners in January and February, keep an eye out for upcoming events at your favorite and treat your sweetie to a memorable meal as a gift. If there’s a burgeoning cook in your midst, Matt O’Neill has a great class coming up at the Blue Ox on January 18, and Salem’s Mamma Licia has two sessions of Authentic Italian Cooking coming up.

Beans and mugs from Jaho or Atomic Café, those awesome hoodies from The Lobster Shanty, house-made jam from the Wenham Tea House, breakfast from Sugar Mag’s delivered to someone’s door…the list is endless. What are some of the great local food-related gifts you like to give? Feel free to chime in with comments.

Shop local, eat well, and, above all, have a terrific holiday season!