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.
Boron from the Spanish table
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
Sweet and spicy caffeine
Café de Ola collections by Kalaka Coffee
Ouime liqueur from Pequot and Carwick
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.