'Tis the season for gift-giving! (And, let’s be honest, gift-getting, too!) I’m not a huge fan of “stuff,” but spoiler alert: I do love a good meal and a fun adventure. Check out some of these local gift suggestions that are certain to delight even the pickiest of eaters this holiday season. (And some of these items make great hostess gifts, too!)
ANY ITEM IN DUVAL MERCANTILE
The latest pop-up shop is the brainchild of the owners of vintage clothing emporium Wolf and Cub. And the shelves of this Downtown storefront are replete with terrific products from amazing local companies. Check out some of the area’s culinary favorites, such as the innovative DIY drink kits from CAMP Craft Cocktail, the many varieties of marvelous local, raw honey from Bee Friends Farm and exotic spice mixes from Saturiwa Trading Company. And up-and-coming Springfield pastry pros, 1748 Bakehouse, offer some truly yummy treats. This one-stop shop is just bursting with locally sourced goodies!
MEMBERSHIP TO SLOW FOOD FIRST COAST
This is an ideal gift for the farm-to-table activists you know! Slow Food First Coast, the local branch of an international organization, focuses on putting the folks who grow and prepare our food and drink in the spotlight. In this area, Slow Food First Coast holds events and workshops with local farmers and artisans sharing their processes and helping us make good choices. These experienced pros have encyclopedic knowledge on how food and beverages are made. And when SFFC bestows its highly coveted Snail of Approval upon a Northeast Florida restaurateur, producer, purveyor or artisan for their contribution to the ‘quality, authenticity and sustainability’ of food and drink on the First Coast, be assured it’s well-earned and eat guilt-free.
FROZEN TREAT FROM HYPPO OR MAYDAY ICE CREAM
The Hyppo Pops, born in St. Augustine, have a new sibling! Mayday Handcrafted Ice Cream, with St. Augustine and San Marco stores, offers divine flavors both complex and layered. Plunge a spoon into a cooling scoop of Mint Chocolate Mash or nibble on tongue-tingling Datil Dark. Give a gift card or pick up a ready-to-go pint! (Share, share.)
BLEU CHOCOLÀT CAFÉ
Handcrafted chocolate tells the recipient you adore them. Brand-new Bleu Chocolàt Café in Springfield has the goods to help you shout it from the rooftops. The café specializes in handcrafted bonbons and truffles and there’s a chocolate-and-coffee bar, too. Experienced pastry chef and chocolatier Erika Cline came back to Jax from Tortola and teamed with cake expert Linda Evans and baker Tanisha Guy to turn the former Three Layers shop into a confectionary wonderland. The Caribbean influence is sprinkled throughout the frankly gorgeous goodies and the décor. These are gifts to give to your sweet-toothed pals as well as those humbuggers—to sweeten them up! (Don’t forget to treat yourself—grab a cake, doughnuts, brownies or banana pudding!)
LOCALLY ROASTED COFFEES & SPIRITS
The gift of ambrosial libations is always in style! For the coffee-lovers in your sphere, check out what’s on offer from Bold Bean, Vagabond and Spring Park Coffee. If your giftee is all about the leaves, you can’t miss with the cleverly named teas at Tea Nation (find them online or every Saturday at Riverside Arts Market). If you’re entertaining thoughts of a more spiritual nature, to take your mug o’ joe up a festive notch or simply acknowledge that it’s always five o’clock somewhere, visit the dedicated folks creating some fine spirits right here in Northeast Florida at Manifest Distilling, Carve Craft Vodka and St. Augustine Distillery.
GIFT CARDS OR CERTIFICATES
Scoff ye not, last-minute shoppers! The small plastic rectangles inside an enticing little envelope fit just right in the toe of a well-hung stocking and they’re sooo convenient! I know, gift cards are often considered a cop-out, but I disagree. A gift card is a good open-ended gesture for someone you don’t know well. Or, for someone you do know well, it’s a chance to fête them with a night out at any number of Northeast Florida’s fine dining establishments! Plus, with some great deals from places like Town Hall, Moxie, Orsay, The Pointe Restaurant, Black Sheep 5 Points, Hawkers Asian Street Fare and Prohibition Kitchen, you might be able to get a little gift card bonus for yourself! (I won’t tell if you don’t!)