If you read my blog, ever, you know that this is the only vanilla I use. Nothing else tastes like it, and although it is a little pricier, it is worth every penny. The vanilla paste is a wonderful treat for someone who makes their own ice cream, meringues, whipped cream...It is basically all those little vanilla bean specks in a sugar based suspension. It keeps a long time, much longer than vanilla beans, which tend to dry out. It really eliminates scraping the bean, and there is no waste.
Seasoning your food is paramount. Maldon sea salt crumbles perfectly on your salads and meat. And tellicherry pepper is all I would ever put in my grinder. I never believed there was a difference, but there is. Truffle and Salt is an expensive addition to a pantry, but nothing tastes as decadent as truffle. It is amazing sprinkled on pasta, potatoes, even popcorn. Finally, the tin of Potlatch Seasoning. We sell out of it often, and for good reason. It is terrific on salmon, but also makes a yummy sour cream based chip dip and season your chicken with it before you make chicken salad and wow...whole new level of flavor!
My dad buys Hot Rocks in bulk. We all get them. It is a chunky salt and pepper mixture with a little lemon in there as well. It is so good on a steak! The little jar on the right comes from the St. Helena Olive Oil Company. It is a darling package with some great herbs inside. Just add a great olive oil and dip your bread. I also sprinkle it on pasta.
The baker in your life will thankyou for any of these. Instant espresso powder enhances anything chocolate, but also can bring a great coffee flavor to baked goods without adding any additional liquid. This is my favorite brand. Some are very bitter, almost burnt tasting. The Pernigotti cocoa is something I talk about frequently, it just beats anything from the grocer. Lyle's Golden Syrup is delicious and beats out corn syrup every time. And local honey is a gift everyone would love. Honey has many benefits, and local honey is shown to help with seasonal allergies. I also love that I support a local bee keeper.
I have sung the praises of Captain Rodney before. These are usually found in a specialty store, and are fun additions for the holidays.
If your food lover doesn't have a Trader Joe's and you do, here are some suggestions. I stock up when we go to Nashville. The nut selection is vast, and priced very well. Almond meal, raw almonds, sliced almonds, pistachios (out of the shell) and macadamias are some of my favorites. The white balsamic is my everyday vinegar, I buy 4 bottles at a time. The peanut butter cups? Delicious. I bought them in August and they have been in hiding for 3 months. I treat myself to one every week or so. They also usually have some good special chocolate things for the holidays. I just love this store. Wish we had one in Memphis....hint hint hint.
So certainly there are lots of other great food items, but this is a good start. A change from the classic olive oil, bottle of wine or Christmas candy route. So head and out and make your food lover happy. You may reap the rewards of your gift as well! So what are you waiting for? Shop, and maybe someone else will cook!