We like shopping for the holidays just fine. What we don’t like are long lines, big-box hype of products that no one really needs (or wants) and the whole anxiety-inducing marketing blitz of the season. So we’ve come up with holiday gift ideas for any budget. Sources include advertisers and non-advertisers. What’s in common: These are all thoughtful ways to support local businesses in South Florida, and delight your gift recipients, and bring some of the joy back to giving.
Ricardo of Cao Chocolates is kicking off Small Business Saturday Nov. 28 with discounts, raffles, fun for kids and – of course – really delicious chocolate … bars, bites, truffles, bonbons, hot chocolate. This bean-to-bar artisan is as hospitable as he is talented, hosting regular parties and chocolate and wine get-togethers. (From $5.35)
At Gaucho Ranch, their 100% na tural grass-fed beef – free of antibiotics, hormones and grain – is not local (it’s from Uruguay, from a 100-year-old family-owned farm. But they are involved in the South Florida community, sharing their love of grass-fed beef at regular events and receptions. (Meats from $6.29/lb)
… and Drink
Jeffrey Wolfe of Wolfe’s Wine Shoppe on Miracle Mile doesn’t just know his wines – he knows just about everyone in the South Florida dining scene, too. Before opening Wolfe’s, he ran the wine program at Norman Van Aken’s eponymous Coral Gables restaurant. Count on getting the very best wine advice (and maybe a kiss from the puppy, too). (Wines from about $10)
At Lemon City Tea, Miami’s culture and vibe inspire their line of teas, resulting in flavors from Latin America, the Caribbean and South Florida. Taste their products at area restaurants (listed online), and shop for them on their website. (Tea samplers start at $4.99)
Bring Segura Viudas Cava to the party! This sparkling wine, steeped in the tradition of the Penedès region of Spain, is crisp, tasty and affordable, making it an ideal gift and accompaniment for holiday festivities. Find it at Whole Foods Markets, Milam’s, Publix and Sedano’s. (From about $8.99). More ideas for pairing Segura Viudas Cava with holiday desserts here.
Gin is making a comeback (Our Tropical Tippling columnist Paula Echevarria wrote about the G&T in our summer issue) and at the front of the line is Martin Miller’s Gin. Made with Icelandic water, Martin Miller’s gins are flavored with juniper and coriander, angelica, licorice root, cassia bark, Florentine iris and lime peel in the first distilling, and bitter orange peel, lemon peel and lime peel in the second. Find it in local liquor stores. (From about $27)
Each month, the folks behind the California Wine Club scour California’s wine country looking for handcrafted, award-winning wine from small family wineries. Just choose the series level you want, from Premier to Aged Cabernet, and they’ll send you – or your gift recipient – a shipment every month, for as long as you want – no membership fees. (From $39.95/month + shipping; use code EDIBLE15 and save 15%)
Tickets to Special Events
Here’s a treasured gift: Tickets for one or more of the delightfully quirky events at the Key West Food and Wine Festival (Jan. 27-31). Every event and venue is something special: from the Be Naughty, Be Saintly Cocktail Class at The Saint Hotel’s Pilar Bar to BuRLeSQUe, BARoLo & BRûLéE at the Papa Doble Social Club. (Tickets per event from $10–$195)
Celebrating its 15th year, the South Beach Wine and Food Festival (Feb. 24-28) takes over South Beach, Miami and – new! – Fort Lauderdale with events that range from local baker Fireman Derek’s Midnight Breakfast ($95) to a Bloody Mary Brunch hosted by the cast of Chopped. The big-name events (Nigella Lawson, Nobu Matsuhisa, Daniel Boulud, Joel Robuchon, among others) are already sold out, but there are plenty of others available. (Tickets per event from $20)
Get into the sweet spirit of the season at Burger Beast’s new dessert event, SugaPie at Magic City Casino (Dec. 13). Sample fare from new The Salty Donut, guava gurus PG Bakery, Knaus Berry Farm (where the line is sure to be shorter than the Saturday queue at their Redland farm), Fireman Derek’s pies, Exquisito Chocolates, among others; plus savory foods, coffee, and beer – so it’s 21+. (Tickets $30)
Many chefs and cooks in South Florida and beyond get their professional training at Johnson & Wales University in North Miami. Recreational cooks can take advantage of their chef-instructors and facilities at a series of monthly hands-on Chef’s Choice classes starting in 2016, with themes that include healthy cooking (Jan.), regional French cooking for couples (Feb.), quick 30-minute meals (Mar.), chocolate baking and pastry (April) and yeast breads (May). The three-hour classes are held on Saturdays for 10-15 people. Register online. (Classes $100 per person)
Not only does Coral Gables’s Aragon 101 offer a charming selection of glassware, serving dishes, cookbooks and beautiful gifts, they feature regular classes with a variety of chefs, including Best of Brunch (12/5), Hors D’Oeuvres and Wine Bites (12/10), Gifted Sweets (12/12), Old School Noche Buena (12/14). Holiday Dinner Party (12/19), Tamales! (1/19) and Soups & Stews (1/30). Fun for you and a friend – or go all out and arrange a cooking party. Gift certificates available, too. (Classes from $75)
Featured in our fall issue, Ayesha D’Mello teaches classes in Indian cooking in her Southwest Miami home throughout the year. Gift certificates are available for Ayesha’s Kitchen. (Classes from $85)
Food blogger, cooking teacher and Wok Star Eleanor Hoh shares her secrets for healthy wok cooking at classes held during the year at kitchen showrooms in North Miami and the Design District. (Classes: $85)
Giving memberships to nonprofit organizations and institutions benefits more than the recipients – they provide valuable support to programs, collections, educational offerings and other funding needs.
Slow Food Glades to Coast, covering Broward and most of Palm Beach County, promotes good, clean and fairly produced food, hosting farm tours, restaurant visits and tastings. They actively support school nutrition programs and community gardens and hold an annual Growing Green Communities conference. Membership benefits include discounts on events, newsletters, a semiannual magazine and exclusive events. (Memberships from $30)
Slow Food Miami supports edible school and community gardens, local growers and artisan food makers. They host regular Snail Socials, an annual Snail of Approval Tasting Party, and other events throughout the year. (Memberships from $30)
When you become a member of the Miami Beach Botanical Garden, you get reciprocal admission privileges at 300 other botanical gardens, free one-year subscriptions to Better Homes and Gardens and edible South Florida, and native blanket flower seeds, plus discounts at events and local businesses. (Memberships from $50)
Members of the Coral Gables Museum get free admission, two single admission tickets for guests, discounts at the gift shop, invitations to members-only parties and events and other benefits. (Memberships from $30)
At HistoryMiami, members receive free admission, invitations to member exhibition opening receptions, discounted or free admission to special events, reciprocal membership benefits at more than 200 museums and historic sites nationwide and discounts on City Tours. (Memberships from $40)
Gift memberships to the historic Bonnet House & Gardens in Fort Lauderdale help preserve this historic house and gardens. Benefits include free admission, special discounts and gifts. (Memberships from $55)
Gifts with South Florida Flavor
Florida City’s legendary fruit stand, Robert Is Here, has always been a source of local fruits and vegetables, preserves, hot sauce, jams and jellies, honey and other South Florida foods. Now, you can also get their book, Robert Is Here: Looking East for a Lifetime in the store, online and at area bookstores. ($21.35 plus shipping)
Who captures Miami’s distinctive cultural spirit better than the O, Miami Poetry Festival folks? Their online shop includes Forager: A Subjective Guide to Miami’s Edible Plants, Miami-Dade ZIP Codes print, t-shirts and books. (From $10)
Give a gift subscription to edible South Florida and other Edibles. Yes, we’re free, but a subscription means each issue will be delivered via first-class mail to recipients. Locals and out-of-town residents who want to keep up with food and drink news will appreciate this thoughtful gift. And if you want to know what’s happening in other cities, you can subscribe at a special rate online. ($28 per subscription; $20 each for three titles)
Buy a beautiful poster, t-shirt, mug or onesie featuring Florida’s national parks. The Creative Action Network revived the legacy of the New Deal arts projects by inviting artists and designers from all 30 states to create a new collection of See America posters celebrating natural landmarks and treasured sites, including the Everglades and Dry Tortugas. (From $20)
Support your local artisan and farmer at South Florida farmers markets. They’re the perfect source for local honey, jams, jellies, preserves, candle, soaps, hot sauce, jerky, cookies, cakes, breads and crackers, crafts, seasoned sugars and salts, herbs, healthy pet treats, garden supplies and more. Create a local gift basket or box filled with fresh vegetable and fruits, condiments and pastries for a special person. You’ll have as much fun putting it together as your lucky recipient!