Our 2014 Holiday Gift Guide

It’s that time of year. We’ve rounded up a few hyper-local alternatives for everyone on your list — or, of course, yourself.

We’ve got something for every food lover you know. Photos in the slideshow feature our gift choices in order from from left to right. Get even more inspiration over on Edible Manhattan, Edible Long Island and Edible East End with their gift guides.

Cecil & Merl
347.405.9981
Deborah Williamson and Bryan Calvert, the owners of farm to table restaurant James in Prospect Heights, love engaging and connecting with people by feeding them. So when their rich, rustic loaf-style cheesecake — a light and creamy ricotta-based confection — proved wildly popular, they launched Cecil & Merl to carry that feeling of community beyond the boundaries of Brooklyn. Named for Deborah’s grandfather and Bryan’s great-uncle, the line’s flavors vary by season: current offerings include zesty lemon, subtly sweet mango, warm, spicy pumpkin and dulce de leche liberally sprinkled with black sea salt.

If your giftee’s tastes skew towards spirits rather than sweets, consider master bartender Justin Lane Briggs’s small-batch apricot or cherry bitters, which pair perfectly with both cocktails and sodas. Briggs, who learned about classic pre-Prohibition aromatics from PDT’s John Deragon, uses only natural, carefully sourced ingredients and macerates each component separately, creating vibrant blends with strong, lovely fruit notes.

Even the person who has it all needs a sturdy, schleppable tote to haul everything. Cecil & Merl’s heavy canvas carryall is designed for those who love going to the farmer’s market, picking out a bounty of beautiful produce, and bringing it all home to turn into delicious fare to share with family and friends. — Ali Zagat

Apricot or Cherry Bitters: $26
Assorted cheesecakes: $55–$80
Tote: $65

Eating Tools
800.742.9948
Catherine de Medici is said to have taught the French how to eat with a fork. Over 400 years later, chefs, metal smiths and craftspeople are still creating specialized culinary tools to enhance their enjoyment of food and cooking. Eating Tools was founded by Abe Shaw, stemming from his passion for handmade cutlery. With an eye for the extraordinary, and over 15 years of experience working with artists in the custom knife making world, Shaw collects functional, beautiful utensils — many of them handmade and one-of-a-kind — to help fellow food-lovers find the right tool for the job. Eating Tools features innovative implements such as custom knife-maker Steven Kelly’s TiSushi Sticks, the hybrid cooking/serving/eating utensil Chongs, crafted from medical-grade titanium, the eco-friendly bamboo Picnic Rollup set and the strong, flexible Draper spatula, available with a flat or angled head. — Ali Zagat

Chongs: $63
Picnic Rollup: $39
TiSushi sticks: $135
Draper spatula: $46

Sweet Deliverance NYC
A passionate supporter of her local CSA program, Kelly Geary built her organic meal delivery service on the belief that a home-cooked meal is an oasis from our daily routine. Kelly worked at Blue Hill at Stone Barns under chef Dan Barber and Little Giant on the Lower East Side before founding Sweet Deliverance NYC to nurture a mutually beneficial relationship between producer and consumer and provide a delicious, satisfying menu of wholesome food for hungry yet time-strapped diners. Members purchase not just meals, but the organic ingredients themselves; Kelly selects meats and produce directly from local farms, then prepares and delivers a variety of seasonal dishes each week. Everything arrives beautifully packaged in glass mason jars and compostable containers, for an experience that’s part CSA, part farm-to-your-table restaurant.

A few years after launching Sweet Deliverance NYC, Kelly co-wrote a cookbook of jams, chutneys, pickles, relishes and other preserves called Tart and Sweet: 101 Canning and Preserving Recipes for the Modern Kitchen. The sweet, savory, traditional and unique recipes were developed to celebrate the use of seasonal, responsibly sourced ingredients, and highlight the freshest organic fruits and vegetables from local farms. If preserving and canning isn’t exactly your jam, Kelly also sells a line of small-batch chutneys, sauces and spreads. You won’t find these flavors in any other jar: Meyer lemon orange blossom honey marmalade, rhubarb vanilla bean jam, quince cardamom butter, blood orange Campari jelly, and the two-time Good Food Award-winning ground cherry Jam are only a few of the original, inventive combinations.

We’re not quite sure where she finds the time, but every year Kelly puts out a hand-drawn, hand-stitched letterpress holiday cookbooklet stuffed full of her favorite recipes, tips, restaurant recommendations and more. This year, she’s also teamed up with Red Hook-based Fifo Cycle to create a limited run of handy, handmade knife rolls for professional and home chefs on the go. With hanging loops and pockets for your phone and business/credit cards, the compact, durable waxed canvas and leather carriers can be attached to your bike or slung over your shoulder when you’re speeding back and forth between the greenmarket and the kitchen. — Ali Zagat

Cycle Knife Roll: $280
Cookbook: $17
Jams and Butters: $10 each

Vulto Creamery
When we say Jos Vulto is an underground cheese sensation, we’re not just being colorful. Although he now splits his time between Brooklyn and his creamery in the Catskills, Vulto first learned the art of cheesemaking while living in Crown Heights, aging curds beneath his house or in a converted cellar below his metalworking shop in Williamsburg. Belying any urban origins, each creamy, crumbly or funky washed-rind wheel looks and tastes like it could have been made in an ancient farmhouse in Vulto’s native Holland. The earthy and almost fudgy-textured Miranda’s rind is washed in a locally produced absinthe called Meadow of Love, which imparts subtle herbaceous notes. Walton Umber, a sweet, nutty tomme, is semi-firm and pleasantly tangy. The pungent, runnier Ouleout, named for a creek near the creamery, is aggressive and briny. — Ali Zagat

Miranda: $18 ea
Ouleout: $26/lb.
Walton Umber: $26/lb.

Also available at Bedford Cheese Shop and Larder

Sweet by Jana
Can having cookies for breakfast be good for you? Inspired by the digestive biscuits eaten first thing in the morning in France, Jana Keith-Jennings developed her own health-conscious sandwich cookies to make this dream a wholesome reality. We first encountered her handmade treats at the Brooklyn Eats trade show on Flushing Ave. in Bed-Stuy. Jana’s love of experimenting with pure, minimally processed ingredients has paid off in the form of baked goods that appeal to anyone, not only those with dietary restrictions; while the line is organic, vegan, gluten free, cooked at low temperatures, and free of refined sugars and oils, reflecting Jana’s background in alternative health and nutrition, each nutrient-rich macaroon, cookie and bar has been elevated and reimagined to be as flavorful and crave-inducing as a fine pastry. Try the cookies that started it all, which are available in several tempting combinations of biscuit and filling, or sample the rich, creamy mallowmars in classic or mint. Less familiar but equally delicious: the cacao-covered maple pecan buckwheat squares, which are appealingly nutty with a toothsome crunch. — Ali Zagat

Sandwich cookies: $5–$10
Mallowmars: $3
Buckwheat squares: $10

Also available from Good Eggs and R&D Foods

Stewart & Claire
New York winters are serious, and like anywhere else in the northeast, they seem too long. As trivial as it might sound, quality lip balms are one of the ways that I cope with the bitter cold, so I was very happy to recently discover locally made sticks by the wife and husband team of Kristin Donnelly and Phil Cooper. Their Brooklyn-based business Stewart & Claire (a combination of their middle names) makes lip balms from scratch with organic oils, butters and beeswax. Donnelly, a former editor at Food & Wine, concocts her scents with essential oils and botanical-infused oils to evoke seasonal and “grown up” cocktail essences. Their most recent limited edition collection that’s available for the holidays is a set of three balms inspired by craft cocktail den Death & Co. With nonspecific names like like “citrusy,” “smoky” and “boozy,” they’re simple pleasures that can soften the blow of a city winter. — Ariel Lauren Wilson 

Limited edition Death & Co. collection: $24
Single lip bam: $6

Also available at Marlow Goods, Catbird, Grass Roots Juicery

Photo credits: Doug Young, Scott Gordon Bleicher, Stewart & Claire

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