Give Cold Brew Coffee. Wake someone up Christmas morning with Rockport coffee. Twin Lights Coffee, LLC launched this summer as a stand at the Rockport Farmers Market, manned by the husband and wife coffee drinking team Amy Sharfstein Rich and Steven Rich. Devotion has trailed them and their cold-brewed coffee, called “Ice Velvet,” ever since. Fans say: “It’s the best coffee you will ever taste, smooth and addicting.” Order online at email@example.com or from the Ice Velvet Facebook page. A growler (such a punchy house gift!) is $30 with refills at $25. Or you can order your Ice Velvet in its signature stainless steel “Waves” liter bottle for $50. Combine Ice Velvet with some Cake Ann pastries for a home run Rockport-created Christmas gift.
Give local tea. Just Herbals is a local company that creates beautiful herbal teas and an elderflower syrup, all produced with locally grown or wild harvested plants, even Alprilla Farm ginger. These are teas to energize Cape Anners, keep us free of free radicals, allow us to sleep better, digest better, reduce our inflammation, give us healthy skin and hair, even uplift our spirits. Billed as healthful, Just Herbals Elderberry Syrup is also delicious splashed into sparkling water or prosecco. Just Herbals is a delicious way to infuse good health into anyone’s day. Just Herbals Teas and Elderberry Syrup are available right now at PRESENT, the Community pop-up holiday shop at 120 Main St., Gloucester. Teas are $8-$9.
Give a great apron. Real cooks need real aprons. Alexandra’s Bread sells bread worthy of a Parisienne mademoiselle, but it also sells Cordon Bleu-worthy aprons. There is a line of frilly aprons for the cook with a sense of style, and there is a line for those like me who crave a sturdy cover, a solid apron that finishes the day blasted in flour, and launders freshly over and over again. I personally like the denim powerhouse of an apron. I also like the “pinafore” type, 100% cotton apron with a cod print. The French-blue canvas apron sporting sailboats would be great in a seaside kitchen. And then there are children’s oilcloth aprons, perfect for your small cookie decorator. While you are there, pick up a Green Devil, the spicy, green-olive filled loaf, an alum of this column in years past. Aprons are $25-$28. Alexandra’s Bread 265 Main St., Gloucester.
Give Cake Ann. Inga McCarthy debuted her pastry wizardry this summer at the Rockport Farmers’ Market. After just one market and maybe two tweets, the word was out; get to the the Rockport Farmers’ Market by 9:00 for the Kouign Amann (pronounced queen aman) – sugary puff pastry fireworks disguised as a plump fist of brown dough with an unspellable name. Cake Ann’s Kouign Amann had without warning almost unseated Nisu as Rockport’s favorite treat from an oven. McCarthy then began purchasing flats of berries and fruits from her farmers’ market neighbors, and there was no stopping her. She would return the following week with fluffy cakes and muffins starring those local fruits, often topped with a jaunty pile of whipped cream frosting, each wrapped in her signature parchment. Cake Ann quiche, made with Rockport’s Seaview Farms eggs, bacon, and kale, express yet another holy farmers’ market partnership. Cake Ann will soon have a convenient home of its own in the Gloucester Common, the small mall just beside The Common Crow, but for the holidays Cake Ann is taking orders by phone or email. #617-930-4218 firstname.lastname@example.org. They will deliver to your home or you can pick up your treats at Seaview Farms. Orders must be placed by December 22nd. Give a local Buche de Noel!
Give Mayflour: Jocelyn Pierce’s modern pastries are marked by elegant simplicity and her devotion to local and organic ingredients, (both of which she uses whenever possible, which is probably 90% of the time) and butter. Pierce loves butter. She dedicates serious time sourcing local ingredients, and is particularly proud of the Ipswich farmer who supplies her with the hundreds of dozens of organically grown eggs she needs each year. “Eggs are so important,” Pierce says. She creates cakes and cupcakes that blush with naturally tinted buttercreams, or stately stand with old fashioned cream cheese frostings, or shine with classic ganache. No frosting pom-poms here, seasonal local flowers tumble naturally over Mayflour cake layers. Mayflour has no retail door through which to walk (only the bright commercial kitchen in the Whistlestop Mall, tucked ironically behind Dunkin’ Donuts in Rockport.) but her cakes and pastries can be ordered through her website. And now you can send (or pick up) Mayflour quality and style in the form of this fetching wooden gift box: small boxes ($46) include three sweets, and a dried seasonal nosegay. Large ($64) boxes include four sweets, a nosegay, and a honey or jam. http://mayflourconfections.com/http://mayflourconfections.com/
photo by Esther Mathieu
Give Sicily or Portugal. The Cave is such a cache of good food gifts, you simply need to walk in, spin yourself around, and point; certainly there will be something delicious and interesting to give at the tip of your finger. But, should you want your gift to journey off the island, you can begin with the localness of The Cave, but travel from there to Sicily or Portugual. I particularly like these compositions in geography: Organic Marchesi di San Giuliano Sicilian Red Grapefruit Marmalade, Omnivore’s Salt, and a package of honestly Sicilian oregano. The marmalade comes from the 800 year old Sicilian estate of San Guiliano, whose products are made from fruit grown on the estate, and produced there in small batches. Omnivore’s Salt is a natural sea salt blend with fennel and hot peppers, a secret ratio from the producer’s Sicilian nonna. Featured in GQ Magazine and on the website Food52, Omnivore’s Salt has become a darling for foodies everywhere. Sicilian oregano is definitely for the nonna in your life.
Or give Portugal: Put Doce de Fico – a luscious Azorean fig spread, Koroneiki Portuguese extra-virgin olive oil, and a bottle of Quinta de la Rosa wine together in a basket: each of these alone would be a brilliant food gift; the sum of their parts add up to a September day on the River Douro.
Give Responsible Fish. Give someone a share from Cape Ann Fresh Catch. Few people understand anymore what kind of fish to buy. There is plenty of fish in the fish case at the grocery store, but the newspaper is telling you that the federal government (NOAA) claims there are no fish left in the sea. There are those codes of red, yellow and blue, but who can keep them straight? Cape Ann Fresh Catch is all you will ever need. Based on the model of community supported agriculture, Cape Ann Fresh Catch guarantees sustainable fish caught responsibly in local waters. Because CAFC fish is so fresh (caught within 24 hours of pick up), and because it is always a sustainable fish caught with responsible methods, a CAFC share guarantees you the most delicious, healthy protein (cleaned and filleted, or whole fish options) and you never need to wonder if it’s safe or if it’s correct. The share system has become much more flexible. Can’t pick up that week, or need to pick up at another drop-off location? – just email them. CAFC is also beginning to add more local products to their share system; they are now offering fish stock and prepared meals, and soon you will be able to order Grants’ Family Farm (from Gloucester) eggs with your share.
This is a big local food gift, and a certain commitment, but there are lots of fun ways to give a CAFC share. Promise to be the person who picks the share up each week. Or, promise to be the fish-preparer every week. Or, give a CAFC share saying, “let’s make this be our night to cook together.” This gift will last for at least six weeks, and it’s a great way to support local fishermen and our waters. Telephone: 978-865- or click here: http://www.capeannfreshcatch.org/
Give Local Grass-Fed Beef. The Lane family has been operating Seaview Farm in Rockport for over 175 years. To give a gift certificate for their CSA or a share of their grassfed beef, is to give a piece of Rockport history and its future. Supporting Seaview Farm is a means to keep it there. For the ideal Dickensian Christmas dinner, Seaview Farms has prime rib roasts and prime rib steaks – raised on Rockport soil – for purchase in their South St. Farm store. Seaview Farms is now offering a “Lucky 13” beef promotion; when you purchase anything from the farm store equaling $10, a “cow” is marked off on your “Lucky” card. On the 13th purchase you receive $10 off a beef purchase of your choice. Tuck a Seaview Farms “Lucky 13” card in someone’s stocking?
Give Turtle Alley Chocolates and how to make them. Turtle Alley Chocolates are a carnal pleasure. There is nothing, nothing quite as perfect a gift as a pound of Turtle Alley chocolates, handmade in Gloucester and Salem, designed by owner Hallie Baker’s extra-sensory intelligence for flavors and textures. Turtles, truffles, bark – you choose, but I am hoping everyone on Cape Ann receives a box of these for Christmas. That stated, this year, you can also give the more intense cook in your life the Hallie Baker cookbook in which she spills all her turtle secrets!
“Turtle, Truffle, Bark, Simple and Indulgent Chocolates to Make at Home” is the ideal gift for the person you know who owns a candy thermometer. Give the book, but include a pound of truffles, too!
Give healthy oceans. Who fishes matters. That’s the tagline for NAMA, the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance, an organization based in Gloucester that is working “to enhance and maintain healthy marine ecosystems by organizing a decentralized network of community-based fishermen, fishworkers, and allies,” declares its mission.
Who fishes matters. Think about it; if you buy your fish from a local boat that fishes off the New England coastline with a crew who have homes near your house, children in schools near you, who are out fishing to make a living wage for their families, the whole impact of that economy is very different than what happens when you purchase frozen fish from an Asian company with no traceability. You have no knowledge under what circumstances that fish was caught, and it could be anything from the use of explosive devices, to extreme pounding techniques which destroy coral reefs, to slavery. This is not a matter of just quaint vs. big; it is a matter of the ocean ecologies being unable to sustain the unregulated over-fishing that produces cheap food, not to mention the labor issues that accompany these practices.
Who fishes matters; it’s true. If you care, or know someone who cares, go to the NAMA website. Read about their work. Make a contribution, and receive the 2015 Eat Local Seafood Ornament, which you can then gift to someone you love who loves the ocean.
Give “In Cod We Trust.” Shamelessly, I suggest my own cookbook as a gift for the cook in your life, or for the friend you know who lives far from Massachusetts, and is homesick for Indian Pudding and cranberry sauce. Or for the armchair anthropologist you know who enjoys reading stories and histories about local foods. Filled with recipes from the Portuguese, Sicilians, Finns, Swedes, and Wampanoags who have settled on these shores, along with classic clam chowder and blueberry grunt, my cookbook testifies that culturally the coast of Massachusetts is honestly as varied as the coast of France.
“In Cod We Trust” can be purchased locally at The Bookstore of Gloucester, The Book Shop of Beverly Farms, and Toad Hall in Rockport. (Or here, on my website.)
Give Gossip! Carry your groceries home in this spunky new bag created for the Cape Ann Museum. Printed with “The Gossips,” a design by Virginia Lee Burton, founder of the Folly Cove Designers, this bag is historical, still very funny, and still very chic. It proves that Virginia Lee Burton and the Folly Cove designers struck the perfect design chord sixty years ago, and still do. It’s thrilling that the Cape Ann Museum is once again making locally produced, great style functional, exactly what Jinnee imagined.
The Give Cape Ann Alumni list; great gift ideas – that are still great – from previous columns.
Jen’s Twisted Sauce
Fishermen’s Wives Cookbook
Alexandra’s Green Devils
Tucks Candy Canes
Cape Ann Olive Oils
The Nutty Redhead nuts