Category Archives: Holiday Gift Ideas

Slow Food SF’s Favorite Local Food Gifts for Everyone on your List

For the Techie: Locally Made Kitchen Gadget

Anova Precision Cooker or Nomiku:
Anova’s Bluetooth-enabled model is going for $149 on Amazon, while the Bluetooth and WI-FI-equipped model are $199 on the company’s site. Nomiku’s new wifi-enabled model is priced at $249 on their site, but they are currently offering $50 off of that model. The Classic model is priced at $199 (no discount), and without Bluetooth or WI-FI, is not able to be controlled by through an app on your phone. (Also note: at the time of writing, the Wi-fi Nomiku is on pre-order and the product page currently states, “Due to high demand, there is no current ship date for new orders.”)

Need more ideas? Check out Food Tech Connect‘s Guide

For the friend with empty cupboards: Gift Basket 2.0

Bored with the typical gift basket options? This one’s for you! I have been recently gifted a surprise box of groceries from Good Eggs, and everything was so beautiful that I thought of giving my busiest friends a gift certificate to Good Eggs. Then, I thought – if anyone knows local food, it’s these folks, who work with the best of the best food producers in the Bay. Luckily for us, they were willing to share the items in their holiday Gift Box, and as a holiday bonus, Good Eggs is offering Slow Food SF members 15% off your first order with code HOLIDAY15. Order the whole bundle, or pick and choose your favorites!

THE BEST OF GOOD EGGS GIFT BOX – The best of the Bay, snug in a single box. We’re obsessed with these giftable goods from our friends and food-makers, and here’s why:

Arbequina Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Seka Hills)
The Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation is passionate about sustainable farming and preservation, and we’re proud to source from them. They only cultivate crops naturally suited to Capay Valley soil, like the Arbequina olives pressed to make this tart, peppery extra virgin olive oil that we always keep on hand.
Fleur de Sel Chocolate Box (Recchiuti Confections)
Our Dogpatch neighbor, Recchiuti, is a confection powerhouse. We love anything with their signature Burnt Caramel, but especially can’t get enough of these smoky, salty-sweet candies (and neither can the New York Times).
Gluten-Free Spiced Nuts (Nana Joes Granola)
For Michelle at Nana Joes Granola, good food is about wholesome and sustainably-sourced ingredients prepared with care. We love these nuts for their satisfying crunch, subtle spice, and ability to keep holiday hunger at bay.
Quince Jam (INNA Jam)
Dafna and the team at INNA use pure, local fruit in their jams and we taste the difference every morning on our toast! With a honey-like aroma and beautiful vermilion color, this quince jam is the perfect addition to any breakfast or charcuterie board.
Organic Mandarins (Side Hill Citrus)
Grown in Lincoln, CA, organic Satsumas from Side Hill Citrus are the juiciest, most delicious mandarins we’ve tasted (thanks to the unique climate of the Sierra foothills). Better yet? They’re also the easiest to peel.

Good Eggs also shared gift picks from local writer and cookbook author Julia Turshen (check out her new book, Small Victories, which would also make a great gift itself!). All these products are available on the Good Eggs website, and are eligible for the same 15% discount!

Maia Organic “Organic Jarred Chickpeas”
I use these to make any of the items on my list of “7 Things To Do with a Can of Chickpeas.”
Guittard Chocolate Company “Cocoa Rouge Cocoa Powder”
A must-have for chocolate cake, especially Happy Wife, Happy Life Cake.
INNA “Flavor King Pluot Jam”
I love INNA jams and would use any of them (especially this pluot one!) to make a fun version of my Raspberry Jam Buns.
Happy Girl Kitchen “Crushed Dry Farm Tomatoes”
These would be great in any tomato sauce, like the one that hugs my Turkey + Ricotta Meatballs.
Other Brother Co. “Fresh 2016 New Olive Oil”
If anyone is wondering what to get me for the holidays this year…!

For the Carnivore – Black Pig Meat Co Bacon 
This one is kind of a cheat since it’s technically from Sonoma, but that’s local enough, right?! I hope so because this bacon is incredible. From chefs Duskie Estes and John Stewart from Zazu Kitchen + Farm, it is made from pigs sustainably raised on family farms that respect the land and the animals in their care. The pigs are a heritage breed, raised without antibiotics and hormones, and are allowed to roam free.

Unlike most bacon you find on the market which is wet cured, injected with liquid smoke in a process that takes less than a day, Black Pig’s bacon is dry cured with brown sugar for up to 21 days and then finished with applewood smoking for about 12 hours. The focus is on quality, not quantity, and it shows in the end product that is perfectly balanced in salt, sweet, and smoke; and you can taste the quality of the pork. Bacon fans will be impressed!

For the Chocoholic – Parliament Chocolate
I LOVE chocolate. The only thing that makes it taste better is to know you are supporting good, sustainable values as you gift it and eat it – err, give it to your loved ones. The company website explains it better than I can, so I won’t try to paraphrase:
“We at Parliament know how beautiful, flavorful, sweet and delicious great chocolate can be. Yet, the process of making great chocolate has to start in one place, and that is with the farmers. We strive to treat our producers and small co-op farmers with the utmost respect and gratitude for the product they provide us. We also make sure these producers are using good environmental practices throughout the entire process. To achieve this we go directly to the farmers and their families and pay them above market value for their hard work and commitment to environmental stewardship. By creating these direct relationships we can also be sure the farmers are striving to provide the most up to date processes in growing, fermentation, and drying. The moral of the story; Good social, agricultural, and economic values = Amazing Chocolate!” Agreed!

For the Coffee Lover – Equator Coffee 
Their website explains why this is a company worthy of your favorite coffee mug, and those of your loved ones: “We support projects around the world that improve the quality of life and food security in coffee-growing regions. In 2011, Equator was the first coffee roaster in the U.S. to become a certified B Corp., solidifying its role as a company that is part of a global movement redefining impact and success in business, while valuing everyone in the supply chain.” I challenge you to show me a bag of coffee beans with more goodwill behind it!

For The Friend Who Appreciates The Finer Things – two ideas for this one!
1. Caviar you can feel good about from Tsar Nicoulai Caviar. Their white sturgeon caviar is carefully produced and selected without the use of antibiotics, growth hormones, GMOs or synthetic preservatives. From $40/0.5oz.

2. Drew Hash Knives – Designed by a chef, for chefs, in San Francisco, these handcrafted stunners are perfect for the cook or chef with an appreciation for the fine and beautiful. As creator Drew Hash notes, “If a problem from the construction of one of my knives arises (which has never happened), I’ll fix it or replace it for free.” Pretty sharp. // Drew Hash Knives, $200 – $450 (photo via Drew Hash Knives)

For The World Traveler – Habanero Turmeric Kimchi
For the friend who has been there, tried that, this kimchi will delight and impress. Loaded with fresh garlic, ginger, dried habanero peppers, and turmeric, this is a jar of exotic flavors and local ingredients.

For the Mixologist – Fernet Francisco
Made here in San Francisco with 12 semi-secret, locally-sourced ingredients, including rhubarb, bay leaf, cinnamon and orange peel, this Fernet has noticeably lower viscosity and sugar content compared to the standard Fernet-Branca. The label riffs on a Barbary Coast icon and all the ingredients are non-GMO, making this the most San Francisco-appropriate Fernet out there. $39.99.

For the One with all the DIY Projects – Microbrew Kit
Located in the lower Haight, brewery and restaurant Black Sands is offering three varieties of its at-home beer brewing kit for the holidays: French Saison, smash nelson IPA, and chocolate stout. Depending which kit you choose, you’ll get the exact recipe for the brews, which are regularly on Black Sands’ tap rotation. Each kit equals about 12 glass bottles worth of beer – all the bragging rights and $70; purchase at Black Sands.

For the Food Insider – Avital Unger’s Food Tours
Avital Unger’s Food Tours are designed for San Franciscans, not tourists! Give one to the friend who is always up on the latest food news, and help them to rediscover the city through insider secrets and samples from the most popular dining neighborhoods. Did you know that Alice Waters modeled Chez Panisse’s pizza oven after the one at Tommaso’s in North Beach? Each tour is built around a four-stop progressive dining experience, so no one goes home hungry. Purchase a gift certificate before December 25th, and you’ll get free cocktails, beer, and/or wine with your tour if it’s booked and redeemed in January or February. $84/person; purchase here.

EDITORS NOTE: Join the Groundwork Party at Stemple Creek Ranch, sponsored by CUESA, Slow Food SF, and The Perennial!

Your efforts will be rewarded with a great meal prepared by Chris Kiyuna and Anthony Myint of The Perennial, along with drinks and stimulating conversation. 

After we plant the trees, we’ll take a walking tour with fourth-generation Stemple Creek rancher Loren Poncia, and learn how animals are a crucial part of regenerative agriculture: improving the soil, drawing down greenhouse gasses, and making the pasture more resilient to drought. Then we’ll enjoy food, drinks, and conversation in Stemple Creek’s barn. The Perennial is bringing their beloved Kernza bread (made from a perennial grain whose deep roots also fight climate change), as part of a delicious lunch featuring Stemple Creek’s meat, produce from some of our favorite farms, and tasty adult beverages! 

Tickets include round-trip transportation from The Perennial in San Francisco in a comfortable bus and a delicious lunch featuring Stemple Creek Ranch beef and seasonal produce. Your ticket price also includes the cost of the willow or redwood saplings and compost – an investment in the ranch and in our climate future. The event will take place rain or shine!

Please note: Tickets are nonrefundable but are transferable to another guest for this tour.

A note about price: CUESA is committed to providing accessible food system education to all. If you are interested in a scholarship for one of our farm tours, please email Carrie Sullivan ( for a scholarship application.

Gift Giving and Climate Changing

“A Grudging Accord.” That is what the New York Times called the tenuous, non-binding agreement produced out of the United Nations conference on climate change. The final document consisted of only 12 paragraphs. For those of us concerned with the climate or simply living on this planet, the news is incredibly disheartening. But is it unexpected? President Obama cannot commit legally to anything without Senate approval. Furthermore, the meeting went on without once trying to understand why all previous goals had not been met. The biggest issue on the table was greenhouse gas emissions but the issues outside the meeting printed across posters were much more diverse, speaking to agricultural reform, social justice, reforming or abolishing organizations like the World Bank, biodiversity, and more. The president acknowledged that there is more work to do. Perhaps we need to help our representatives figure out what that work can look like.
I thought about all this last night while visiting my farmer friend Steve to listen to some accordion music. In the Minnesota winter, there isn’t much for him to do on the farm so he uses his space to host talks and performances for the community. Steve spoke to the crowd about the incredible year we have had, the incredibly frustrating year the country has had. But we should not forget in the midst of these long conversations on health care and climate change the thinking behind the Nobel Prize Committee decision to give President Obama the Nobel Peace Prize. It was given specifically for his commitment to reducing nuclear arms and responding to climate change. But I think it was more broadly given to the American people for their renewed commitment to global participation and to themselves. Throughout the election process, Americans learned to listen to each other’s stories. The people we thought we knew. The problems we thought we understood. All of this was rethought. We have to remember what it feels like to treasure our responsibility to each other and we have to find a way to connect that to action.
And though the end-of-year-holidays bring a time for reflection, it more often than not becomes bogged down in presents and events and a life that feels unsustainable, emotionally and environmentally. So when my eco-conscious friend calls to ask if I’ve read any good defenses of gift giving because she wants to give something to her boyfriend who is armed with all the rational arguments against such an act, I have to admit I haven’t. But I firmly believe that beneath all the wrapping paper, our gifts speak to two vital human tendencies. First, a gift serves as a reminder, a brilliant celebration, of the fact that our relationships are not rational. Our love is not quantifiable. Our commitment to understanding another person is explained only by a wordless contemplation of the broad night sky. And second, a gift acts as a material manifestation of a promise. Much like the exchange of wedding rings, a gift acts as an undeniable marker of our mutual bonds to each other. I believe that it reminds us of the work we have yet to do, the long road ahead that President Obama is only beginning to tread. We must walk it together.
So as the year and debates wind down, we note that familiar feeling that something is left unfulfilled, that the gifts we truly wanted to give our loved ones, peace, health, and community, are difficult to find. But we go ahead and exchange gifts anyway as if to say, “do not give up.” And so we won’t.

Eating and Cooking Animals

The show starts in typical Julia fashion-a complicated contraption of funnels and glass jars are piled on top of each other and out comes the sauce. If playing a sort of kitchen jenga wasn’t daring enough for you, Julia informs the audience that today we’re making tripe! I should let you know here that I’m a vegetarian and actually eating the lining of a cow’s stomach (that’s what tripe is in case you were wondering) isn’t enticing to me. But Julia Child is.

The other night, I switched from a few old French Chef episodes (Julia’s original television show) to an incredibly over the top late 80s detective/surfer film. And for all the blood and guts of the action film, it has nothing on Julia. How do you make the sauce for the tripe the perfect consistency? Cow’s foot. And so Julia has a cow’s foot to wave around and next to that? Pig’s feet. She knows American cooks at the time wouldn’t have access to any of these things necessarily and so she walks you through every possible option, waving around the more gruesome parts of several animals; you could use pig rinds, pig or cow feet, or, perhaps the most fearsome, a veal “knuckle,” which is a sawed down veal’s knee. And even though I’m never going to eat these things, I learn so much watching her.

Just as Julia was talking to an American crowd of homemakers dedicated to the canned good, today she speaks to an equally distant audience who can’t simply go to their friendly butcher and ask for some veal knuckle for their tripe. Even though Julia never became involved in anything like Slow Food, she understood that the sausage you stuffed yourself just somehow tasted better. She kept repeating, “you know what’s in it.” It isn’t just that you can list the ingredients, it’s that you truly know what’s in it. You are comfortable handling all parts of the animal and you know why each works as it does.

But many of us don’t have the familiarity. And to point this out to modern audiences, Jonathan Safran Foer gives us his Eating Animals, an honest and detailed investigation into all things factory farm. And while all of this led him to become a vegetarian, I don’t think it necessarily has to. It should lead you to be suspicious of the term “free-range” or “cage-free.” It should lead you to doubt any promises of “cruelty-free” once you’ve seen the inner-workings of how the industry is regulated (here’s a hint-it’s essentially not). This book is a difficult read and it doesn’t disguise its tone. So, read it, consider it, and then go find those few rare examples of farmers (as Foer points out, no one involved in the factory farming process can truly be called a farmer), and then find a recipe from Julia.

So here are my holiday suggestions: Julia Child’s French Chef DVDs and Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals. And might I also recommend finding a turkey who doesn’t just promise free-range but one that lived its full life, developed social hierarchies, and wasn’t crippled by its own manipulated genetics. Because, as Julia taught us, it just tastes better when you know where it’s coming from.

Getting the Holidays Cooking

Committee member Steve Rich suggests cookbooks for the holiday season, for yourself or for a loved one.

There is no shortage of cookbooks and other tomes on the subject of food available in stores for the holidays. And with so many notable chefs and writers living in The Bay Area, there is a lengthy list of worthy choices authored by local residents. My apologies in advance to the numerous others worthy of mention here, but here is a short list of my favorites – the ones I personally refer to most frequently.

To me, great cookbooks are considerably more than a collection of recipes. The best ones teach about ingredients, techniques, flavor combinations and so much more. We’re not limited to learning a particular dish but instead are offered the opportunity to improve our culinary skills. In addition, the books most frequently laying open on my counter feature recipes which have been well tested for the home kitchen. The most crucial component is that the recipes work – not just in a professional kitchen, but in yours and mine.

Two (among many) local cookbooks that consistently succeed on all levels described above are “A16 Food+Wine” by Nate Appleman and Shelley Lindgren and “The Zuni Café Cookbook” by Judy Rogers.

There are few books about cooking more comprehensive and informative than Madeleine Kamman’s “The New Making of a Cook”.

The release of Michael Pollan’s “The Omivore’s Dilemna” catapulted the author to the forefront of the local/sustainable/seasonal food movement – and for good reason; he has a thorough knowledge of his subject matter and is a gifted communicator. Highly recommended.

Finally, there is no food-related book that I refer to more often or with more
unabashed joy than Patricia Unterman’s “San Francisco Food Lover’s Guide”. Not the Pocket Guide – the big 4th Edition, featuring lengthy and extremely knowledgeable entries on many of the best restaurants, cafes, bars, markets, bakeries and other sources for incredible food throughout the area. Sadly, the full sized edition is currently out of print and extremely difficult to find. But isn’t that what great gift giving is all about – finding that elusive yet spectacularly perfect present for someone special? Happy hunting.