At a loss for what to get your food-loving friends and family this holiday season? Not to worry. Nosh scoured the East Bay to find incredible makers and purveyors offering gift-worthy eats. From jams to pickles to chocolate, there’s something delicious for everyone on your list.
INNA Jam: Jam gift set
Stop by INNA Jam during the Emeryville shop’s special holiday hours (8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday; 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Saturday) to pick up some preserved creations. Mix and match with a gift set of two, four or six jams with wild flavors including the tangy Moro blood orange jam, the savory apricot chutney (with ginger and coriander) or the award-winning, pretty spicy Fresno chili jam. $33.95-$95.95. INNA Jam, 1307 61st St. (at Doyle Street), Emeryville
June Taylor Company: Christmas cake
Stemming from a longstanding English tradition, June Taylor’s Christmas cake isn’t your ordinary fruitcake. Laced with candied citrus peels and plump wine-grape raisins, this holiday loaf is packed with port-macerated stone fruits, almonds and spices before being washed in a vintage plum brandy. $75-$85. June Taylor Company, 2207 Fourth St. (at Allston Way), Berkeley
Casa de Chocolates: Mexican hot chocolate mug set
The Berkeley-based chocolatier has been whipping up delicious confections with Latin American flavors since 2012. Instead of buying a box of Swiss Miss, snag a Mexican hot chocolate mug set — complete with an earthenware mug, small molinillo (traditional wood whisk) and a decadent chunk of chocolate — for the cacao lover in your life. $32. Casa de Chocolates, 2629 Ashby Ave. (near College), Berkeley
The Cultured Pickle Shop: Pickled pumpkin
Briney, tangy and oh-so-squash-y, a jar of pickled pumpkin with leek and lemon zest from The Cultured Pickle Shop is sure to be a crowd favorite. If no one on your list likes pumpkin, you’ll find plenty more offerings to choose from at this innovative Berkeley store, which concocts a myriad of cool ferments — including kraut, kombucha and kimchi — using seasonal ingredients, that will add a bit of zing to any meal. $12. Cultured Pickle Shop, 800 Bancroft Way, Suite 105 (entrance on Fifth Street), Berkeley
Oaktown Spice Shop: Tonic water kit
Perfect for the mixologist in your life, this kit has all the spices and botanicals needed for this DIY project. Plus, the helpful folks at Oaktown Spice Shop even provide a recipe card and online video to help your burgeoning bartender concoct a classic, elderflower or lavender tonic water concentrate that’s both tasty and natural. $21-$28. Oaktown Spice Shop, 546 Grand Ave. (near Euclid Avenue), Oakland; 1224 Solano Ave. (at Talbot Avenue), Albany
EXAU Olive Oil: Letregi (2018)
Although the makers of EXAU have only been making fruit-forward Italian oils for a short while, the Oakland-based brand won silver at the New York International Olive Oil Competition (the largest and most competitive of its kind) for its balanced 2018 Letregi. $27. Pick up a bottle on EXAU’s website and various retail locations in the Bay Area.
Mole Diaz Bros: Mole negro
This 16-ounce jar of liquid black gold is made with generations of love and more than 20 ingredients, some of which are so secret they’re not even mentioned on the ingredients list. Find the vegan, gluten-free Oaxacan sauce available for purchase at Agave Uptown or online. $9.49. Agave Uptown, 2135 Franklin St. (at Broadway), Oakland
Yumé Boshi: Umeboshi
Made in small batches using traditional, artisan methods, Oakland’s Yumé Boshi is making preserves “the way Japanese grandmas used to.” Dedicated to maintaining the art of Japanese pickling and preserving, Yumé Boshi’s umeboshi plums are a salty and tangy addition to soups, braises, sauces or simply served over rice. $16–$25. Yumé Boshi products can be purchased online and many local retail stores.
Leaves and Flowers: Loose-leaf tea
Put together a unique gift of ethically- and sustainably-sourced loose leaf teas from Leaves and Flowers. The Berkeley-based company offers a large selection of handcrafted, small-batch and botanical infusions, like Forest, a tea made with toasted barley, nettle, raspberry leaf, balsam tip and lemon peel; Paz, with yarrow, spearmint, tulsi and rose petal; or Van Van, with lemongrass, ginger, orange peel and cinnamon. Be sure to include a brew guide with your package for truly proper tea. $14 and up. Several local shops carry Leaves and Flowers teas, but you’ll find the largest selection online.
Arawak Farm: Dry Rub and Spice Blend #1
Inspired by the founder’s Arawak Indian heritage, Oakland-based Arawak Farm provides clean, minimally processed and preservative-free spices and spreads. For the grill master, pick up the Dry Rub and Spice Blend #1 — a harmonious mix of paprika, garlic, sugar, cumin, ginger and more, this bold rub is perfect for beef, pork or wild game. $6.99. Purchase Arawak Farm spices online.
Absinthia: Absinthe Supérieure Blanche
Carefully crafted from certified-organic and locally grown grapes and herbs, this award-winning absinthe from an Oakland-based maker packs a punch of fresh wormwood, anise, fennel and coriander for a smooth and elegant drinking experience. And don’t worry, the only fairy you might see are of the sugar plum varietal. $38. Find Absinthia at various retail stores in Berkeley and Oakland.
Picnic: Chicken liver mousse
With a brick-and-mortar coming soon to Albany, Picnic currently sells its meaty wares at the downtown Berkeley and Kensington farmers markets. Perfect for the Francophile or adventurous eater, Picnic’s chicken liver mousse is a rich, smooth spread tinged with traces of bacon, shallot, herbs, and bourbon. $10. Find Picnic from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Saturdays, at the Downtown Berkeley Ecology Center Farmers Market, Center Street at MLK Jr. Way, Berkeley; and 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Sundays, at the Kensington Farmers Market, Kensington Circle, Kensington