Southern Kitchen's food writers' favorite gifts for the food lover on your list
Do you have a food-obsessed friend or family member on your holiday list? An avid cook? Or just someone with excellent taste? Southern Kitchen put together a guide to unique and special food and cooking gifts all made here in the South.
From some of the best spices in the country to cane syrup that food writer Todd Price calls "liquid gold," these are truly some of our favorite things.
Meherwan Irani, chef and co-owner of Chai Pani in Asheville, North Carolina, would always bring his own spice blends when cooking with other chefs. And the chefs, he said, would "lose their minds."
Realizing a need for top-quality spices and blends, he launched Spicewalla, first selling to other chefs – more than 1,500 restaurants in the Southeast now use Spicewalla – and then also home cooks. Last year, Chai Pani won the James Beard Award for best restaurant in America. A three pack of Chai Pani blends, chai masala, pakora masala and chaat masala, brings the flavors of the award-winning restaurant to anyone's kitchen.
Order at www.spicewallabrand.com.
More:Asheville restaurants Chai Pani, Cúrate win 2022 James Beard Awards
French Broad Chocolates
People who have never been to Asheville might blanch at the name of this bean-to-bar chocolate company. But the French Broad is one of the world's oldest rivers, and it happens to run straight through the charming Southern city.
These chocolates, hand-crafted from fair-trade cacao, are even more compelling than their name. Chocolate lovers will adore the Quintessential Gift Box, which will set you back $100. But it's worth it for the inclusion of two sets of bonbons made with Asheville ingredients, sipping chocolate and 10 (yes really) whole chocolate bars.
Order for holiday delivery (shipping is free for gifts over $30) at www.frenchbroadchocolates.com.
Goo Goo Clusters
The Southern sweet with a silly name is a high-quality treat no matter the month. The Nashville-based company created two special flavors for Christmas: White Christmas with vanilla nougat, dark chocolate peppermint ganache and crushed cookies inside and white chocolate outside, and Night Before Christmas with the same fillings coated in dark chocolate. And the original Goo Goo Cluster, with peanuts, caramel, chocolate and marshmallow nougat, would always be welcome in a stocking or under the tree. Regular orders need to made by Dec. 19 for Christmas delivery. Rush shipping is available.
Order at googoo.com.
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Anson Mills grains
Southern chefs swear by the organic grains from South Carolina's Anson Mills, like its grits, cornmeal and Carolina Gold rice. Founder Glenn Roberts brought back many heritage grains of the South along with other products like Japanese buckwheat and Italian farro. Anson Mills ships amounts as small as 12 ounces for home cooks. Orders are milled and shipped once a week on Tuesdays. Note: The minimum order is four 12-once packages.
Order at ansonmills.com.
Poirier's Cane Syrup
Charles Poirier does things the old-fashioned way in Youngsville, Louisiana, located in the heart of Cajun Country. He grows his own sugar cane. Then he boils the pressed harvest into an amber syrup that is rich, complex and one of a kind. Poirier's Cane Syrup is a one-man operation. This year, the syrup went on sale in mid-October. Poirier figures it will be sold out by mid-December, so order a few bottles while you can. Note: Limit three bottles per order.
Order at www.realcanesyrup.com.
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Middleton Made Knives
"I have two rules: sex sells and performance sells," said South Carolina knifemaker Quintin Middleton. The knives he makes by hand, ranging from $100 pairing knives to $500 chef's knives, have plenty of sexy curves and colors. Middleton worked with chefs to make sure the knives, available in both stainless steel and carbon steel, work as well as they look. "He has a great eye for craftsmanship and details," said Jacqueline Blanchard, who stocks Middleton knives at her Coutelier shops in New Orleans and Nashville.
Order at middletonmadeknives.bigcartel.com.
Strawberry Rose Drinking Vinegar from Stone Hollow Farmstead
You know a non-alcoholic product has to be good to earn a coveted spot on Garden and Gun's Made in the South Awards. Stone Hollow Farmstead's Strawberry Rose Drinking Vinegar was a 2022 runner-up in the drinks category. But what is it? It's a lovely pink shrub made with rose petals and the farm's own strawberries, and it's floral, tart and perfect in cocktails with or without alcohol. Stone Hollow also has a variety of other gifts for the food lover, including heirloom popcorn and bloody mary gift boxes.
Order at stonehollowfarmstead.com.
Biscuit Head biscuit mix
Garden & Gun's Made in the South Awards also nodded to an Asheville restaurant beloved for big, bad breakfasts: Biscuit Head. The restaurant is well-known for its giant cat head biscuits, which are said to be as big as a feline's cranium. People line up around the block for those biscuits, but now owners Jason and Carolyn Roy have made it possible to bring that flavor home. They once sold their biscuit mix in ribbon-wrapped mason jars. Now they're all grown up, with fancy packaging and all. All you need to add is buttermilk. A heads up: Orders ship through USPS Priority, and may be delayed due to increased demand.