15 gift ideas for food and drink lovers in the San Francisco Bay Area

Think unusual liqueurs, fiery spices, and trendy wine glasses, all from local businesses

Everyone loves to eat, so food and drink themed gifts are always an excellent idea. Fortunately, the Bay Area is full of options in this department, whether it’s silky milk jams from a bakery, huge chile oil from a pop-up or fancy glassware from a winery.

Many of these gifts are expendable (read: perfect for the friend in San Francisco’s smallest apartment), while some are willing to help with said consumption (think crunchy ceramic mugs). Others are wearable, like a T-shirt declaring to the world how much one loves bread.

Here are 15 local food and drink ideas for your loved ones, each chosen by someone at The Chronicle’s Food & Wine. And if you’re looking for even more inspiration, check out our picks for the best cookbooks of the year.

Instant party

Boron from the Spanish table

porrón has been around for a long time—perhaps since the 14th century—but this year the Spanish drinking bowl has become one of the most important accessories in Bay Area natural wine bars. On any given evening in hip spots like El Chato, Shuggie’s Trash Pie, and Snail Bar, you’re likely to see a server standing over an open-mouthed customer, tilting the bowl so that the wine trickles down from its sharp spout, flowing straight into the recipient’s mouth. It’s time to bring the party back home. Get your own porrón ($25 for a 1-liter volume) from Spanish Table, which has locations in San Francisco and Berkeley. While you’re there, purchase a bottle of Spanish white wine—the traditional choice is the low-alcohol, slightly sparkling Basque wine called Txakoli—and you’ll be given a full gift set.

Hello garlic

Ann Tom

This is an especially nice gift for the vegans and meat-free purists in your life. Created by Walnut Creek couple Katya Burberry and Steve Drapeau, Anne’s Toum is a robust (but not mouth-watering) Lebanese condiment made by emulsifying garlic with sunflower oil and lemon juice. The result is a sauce with the consistency of marshmallow fluff that’s the perfect foil for savory, savory flavors. While usually paired with roasted chicken, tom works great as a sauce for crunchy Brussels sprouts, breakfast sandwiches, or even directly with a bag of chips. Prices will range depending on where you go, but Williams Sonoma sells a set of two for $24.95 online with nationwide shipping.

Small fish pride

Anchovy bag from the Anchovy Bar

For the canned fish lover in your life, give them this adorable bag ($18) from Anchovy Bar, the seafood-focused spin-off from the owners of San Francisco’s acclaimed State Bird Provisions. It’s big enough to hold a laptop but can also be worn as a crossbody bag, perhaps filled with an eclectic array of canned food. Or go wild with the Anchovy Bar Kit ($75), which bundles a bag with the essentials to recreate restaurant anchovy bread at home: anchovies, homemade tomato vinegar, butter flavored with colatura, Italian fish sauce made with anchovies. Plus, a temporary tattoo of anchovies that was modeled after co-owner Nicole Krasinki’s ode to fish: her permanent tattoo.

Sweet and spicy caffeine

Café de Ola collections by Kalaka Coffee

Earlier this year, Calaca Coffee, a pop-up café formerly based in Crockett, pivoted to selling cold brew kits ($32). This spiced Mexican coffee usually comes hot—preferably in a clay cup—but Calaca fine-tunes the technique to slow cold brew extraction. Each set comes with two sachets of seasoned coffee, which makes a total of a gallon of coffee in total, and comes with a QR code that takes you to scan video instructions — so the gift recipient doesn’t really need to be a coffee brewing expert to appreciate it. It’s as easy as soaking and leaving the bags. The coffee tastes of cinnamon, the cold brew method removes the acid and a pinch of sugar awakens the spice.

Unusual liqueur

Ouime liqueur from Pequot and Carwick

Drinks made from refreshing Japanese stone fruit are having a moment in the Bay Area. Many of the producers here put their own spins on umeshu, the traditional Japanese liquor that many chefs make at home. Among the best local efforts is Berkeley’s Pekut & Carwick ($32.25), which makes Prunus Mume (the official Latin name for ume) by macerating the fruit, while still green and unripe, with sugar and neutral alcohol. The result is a nice balance of sweet and sour, with a sharp, acidic bite reminiscent of mouth-wrinkling candy. Gift it to a friend who loves trying cocktails at home; Have them try it first on its own on ice, or make it a simple slushy ball by adding soda water and a splash of citrus.

rice art

Food labels from the Cut Fruit Collective

This year, your holiday gift can help support the community work of the Bay Area’s Cut Fruit Collective, a nonprofit organization founded by a group of local artists in response to the pandemic’s huge financial and social impact on Oakland’s Chinatown. Accordingly, the goods of the organization are really attractive. There are two-size museum-quality colorful posters ($22-$28) illustrating the many rice noodles of various AAPI cultures, such as the Filipino lilot manuk and the Keralan kanji payar. For a subtle tip of the hat to Chinatown, check out outfits adorned with cute motifs of fruit labels extolling the virtues of icons like durian and persimmon ($37-50).

Hip drinking bowls

Glassware from Broc Cellars

These stunning, handcrafted decanters ($55) from Berkeley natural winery Broc Cellars make sipping skin-touching Pinot Grigio way more fun. Wine professionals are known to tirelessly debate the merits of a wine glass’s shape and size, but Broc has partnered with a local designer and glassblowing studio to create something that defies crowded stemware conventions. The result is stemless, sturdy, and low-key: a beautiful, friendly drinking vessel that doesn’t break easily. It keeps the focus on enjoying the wine and the moment—not delicately sniffing, swirling and eliciting the wine’s nuances. To complete the set, add in a Broc beaker ($150).

Not your average jam

Matcha Milk Jam from Craftsman & Wolves

Instead of giving the sweet-lover in your life another box of chocolates, check out the stable and quirky shelves of famed San Francisco bakery Craftsman & Wolves. The French-inspired pastry shop whips up Strauss’s organic milk, sugar, and matcha herbal tea for her Matcha Milk Jam ($12.50), perfect for spreading on a thick slice of toasted milk bread with a touch of sea salt. Or go for the Confiture Cafe au Lait ($12.50), which swaps green tea for espresso. Both are intensely creamy – more like a thick custard than a typical jam. For something less, the Curd Passion Olive Oil ($12.50) changes up the routine, too, using a golden passion fruit bulb in place of the lemon juice and local extra-virgin olive oil in place of the butter.

for the spice cabinet

Ethiopian spices from Brundo Spice Co.

Brundo Spice, the heirloom spice arm of Ethiopian restaurant Café Colucci, recently opened a storefront in Auckland. There, you can pick up a few jars of spice blends like barberry ($9) or mitita ($9), an infernal blend of ground Thai bird chiles, black cardamom, nigella sativa seeds, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger. Metita is a great gift for heat seekers, while berbere is a quieter alternative essential in many Ethiopian dishes like doro wat.

Country love wine

Napa Restaurant prints by John Donohue

These prints ($55-$95) are a great way to celebrate a memorable Wayne Country meal or visit—maybe an anniversary dinner at the French Laundry? — and are guaranteed to elicit the message “How thoughtful!” Response. Best known for his “All the Restaurants” series featuring hundreds of sketches of beloved New York City restaurants, illustrator John Donohue traveled to Napa Valley earlier this year to sketch more than 70 local restaurants. The collection includes icons—like Gott’s Roadside, Mustards Grill, and Model Bakery—and lesser-known local havens, like La Luna Market and dive bar Ana’s Cantina.

Handmade ceramic

Earthen cups

Drinking hot coffee or tea from a fine, home-made mug is one of life’s great pleasures. Head to Earthen in San Francisco, where ceramist Julia Lemke creates hand-cracked mugs ($42) that evoke the wandering roots of a tree or a constellation of stars in the sky. No two Cubans here are quite the same, and that’s part of their joy. While you’re at the Lower Haight store, you can purchase some masala chai tea to complete the recipient’s morning ritual.

Wearable egg tarts

Food staples from Papa’s House

The Asian snack shop and event space Baba’s House in Oakland is full of fun gift ideas, but the most adorable are these enamel pins. The selection varies, but you can count on seeing colorful representations of nostalgic treats like Chinese egg tarts, cookies, and Haw Flakes. Others combine food and adorable creatures to great effect, like a cat-topped Bubba drink with a second cat eating the Bubba inside a mug. Perfect for stocking stuffers or a low commitment I’m just thinking of gift, these pins won’t break the bank at $10 to $13 each.

Alcohol free fun

Non-alcoholic bitters from All the Bitter

For the curious, sober friend, these non-alcoholic drinks will set them up for the best Dry January ever. While there are plenty of spirits on the market, a pair of former French Laundry Sommeliers pointed out the need for an alcohol-free alternative to this cocktail’s main ingredient. Made with organic botanicals, All the Bitter has three styles of bitters, sold individually ($26.50) or as a set ($33 – $79.50).

carb merch

All my friends are baking shirt from Manresa Bread

If you know someone who spends most of their waking hours thinking about sourdough starters, rising times and warm bread, get them this T-Shirt ($22) from Manresa Bread. It’s a soft, comforting declaration of love for baking from one of the Bay Area’s premier carb experts, the famous spin-off bakery of Michelin-starred restaurant Manresa. (While you’re there, you can also treat yourself to a loaf made with freshly ground flour or one of Manresa Bread’s excellent pastries.) The shirt is available for purchase in person at Manresa Bread’s Los Gatos, Los Altos, Campbell, Palo Alto and Santa Cruz stores.

little zing

Masha sauce from ball dough

Bolita Masa Sauce ($15) has become a staple in many Bay Area homes over the past couple of years. It’s a quick way to add incredible heat, smoke, and rich depth to any dish. A little goes a long way with this chile oil, swimming with crunchy bits like pepitas and sesame seeds, but a few drops can really elevate any meal.

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