Heavy Table’s 2015 Local Food Gift Guide

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Pulling together a gift guide that rounds up the best in food and drink is a lot of work — but it’s a hell of a lot of fun, too. Minnesota and the Upper Midwest are swimming in an ocean of great real food, craft beverages, kitchenware, barware, and more. We discovered a treasure trove of great stuff as we searched for the best. Here’s the only guide you need for your holiday gifting pleasure.

The Appetizers: Gifts Under $10

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Shaped Party Bags | $2.50 | Kitchens Eden Prairie Center
If you’re giving food this year, these friendly snowman bags are a unique way to wrap it. One package has 15 bags and ties. Available at Kitchens Eden Prairie Center. — Amy Rea

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Winter Chickadee Potholder ($6) and Winter Chickadee Oven Mitt ($9) | Kitchens Eden Prairie Center
Celebrate one of our year-round residents with this cheerful pair of oven accessories. They’re holiday in tone, but not to a degree that would keep you from using them throughout winter. — Amy Rea

Gluten-Free Butternut Squash Fusilli | $6 | Sunrise Market & Cafe
Here’s an interesting stocking stuffer for your favorite gluten-free (or gluten-averse) friend: gluten-free sweet potato pasta from Sunrise Market on Grand Avenue. The pasta is made with brown rice flour, tapioca and potato starches, eggs, and xanthan gum, and it cooks in only four minutes. — James Norton

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Mayana Chocolate Kitchen Sink Bar | $7 | Surdyk’s
This Wisconsin-made artisanal candy bar belongs in the stocking of anyone who has a passion for well made desserts. Granted, it’s seven times more expensive than your typical Kit Kat or Three Musketeers, but it’s also seven times as good. The Kitchen Sink Bar combines peanut butter, pretzels, crispy rice, salted caramel, and 66 percent cacao dark chocolate to create a treat with a wonderful crunch, deep umami, a touch of salt, and a restrained but enjoyable caramel-driven sweetness. — James Norton

Terroir Chocolate Bars | $7 a 2-ounce bar | Golden Fig Fine Foods
These made-in-Minnesota bean-to-bar chocolate bars pack a lot of creative energy and flavor into slim, trim packages. The Salty Nibber (60 percent cacao dark milk chocolate, cocoa nibs, and salt) is balanced and easily ravaged; Cardamom Krumkake is an appropriately Minnesota-forward confection that soothes with its assertive warm spicing.

mill-city-gift-guideSponsored by Mill City Farmers Market: Do yourself a favor and visit Mill City Farmers Market on December 12 and 19 for your one-stop shop this holiday season. Find an abundance of seasonal produce, freshly baked bread, and pastured meats and cheeses for your holiday meals. You will also find and an expansive selection of unique, high quality gifts and decor, including handcrafted knits, kitchenware, jewelry, and even sustainable Christmas trees! Free gift wrapping will be also be available at both markets. Find us inside the Mill City Museum from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. every second Saturday through April.

Cannon River Kitchen Drop Biscuit Mix | $7 | Golden Fig Fine Foods
The holidays are a time for festive breakfasts, and what breakfast isn’t made more festive by the presence of biscuits? Pick up this mix and drop it in the stocking of a friend or family member to help assure a more biscuity frame of mind this winter.

Swedish Wet-It! Cloth | $7 | Kitchens Eden Prairie Center
Fairly new to the U.S., these reusable dish cloths that are also biodegradable have become a popular item in kitchen stores. Use them any way you’d use a paper towel or dish cloth, and they last up to six months. — Amy Rea

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Spinach and Tomato Basil Fusilli | $8 | Sunrise Market & Cafe
There’s an old Italian tradition that we could learn a lot from — a Christmas Eve meal celebrated with an indulgent pasta dinner featuring noodles colored red and green for the holiday. (OK, I guess the main thing we’d learn is that you should carbo-load for the winter.) Sunrise has the colored noodles, and they’re ready for action this holiday season. — James Norton

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Dot’s Pretzels | $8 | American Swedish Institute
Dot’s Pretzels are a new item at the American Swedish Institute’s museum store this year, and the shop reports they’re flying off the shelves, often paired with Lars Swedish Spicy Brown Mustard ($3.50). Makes sense to us — the holidays tend to be overloaded with sweets, so why not offset them with a crunchy / spicy one-two punch? — Amy Rea

James Norton / Heavy Table

James Norton / Heavy Table

La Quercia Nduja | $8 for a 5-ounce roll | Golden Fig Fine Foods
Who knew that the Upper Midwest would boast not one but two delicious varieties of ‘Nduja, the spreadable cured meat that resembles a spicy homemade pepperoni in flavor but applies itself to bread and sauces like a pate. You can find the Madison-made Underground Meats version online or kicking around town, and if you head over to Golden Fig, you can find an equally good rendition by La Quercia of Iowa.

Rim Cookie Cutters | $8 | American Swedish Institute
Why just make gingerbread cookies when you can make gingerbread cookies that slip on the rim of a glass or mug? These adorable cookie cutters come in a package of three: a house, a star, and a heart. — Amy Rea

american-craft-gift-guideSponsored by the American Craft Council: Find the best in Minnesota-made gifts at the Holiday Craft Hop, hosted by the American Craft Council and RSP Architects, in partnership with Ship & Shape, Minnesota Jewelry Arts Guild, and Gather Arts Registry. Browse jewelry, ceramics, artisanal food, and more as you wander through the historic Grain Belt Brew House, rarely open to the public. For this one-day event, it will be transformed into an unbeatable holiday marketplace, featuring more than 50 talented makers. Visit the Holiday Craft Hop event page for an up-to-date participant lineup. When you’re at the event, stop by the American Craft Council table to enter for a chance to win tickets to their show in April.

Enki Brewing Cacao Porter | $8.50 for a 22-ounce bottle | Elevated Beer Wine and Spirits and other stores
For all the rich cocoa flavor that this brew packs, it’s also surprisingly clean and light on the palate, with a welcome creamy kick of fine carbonation that keeps what could be a syrupy beer nice and lively. Guaranteed to bring welcome cheer to any gathering that it attends. — James Norton

Brew Pub Pint Glass | $9 | Bibelot
Raise a glass to toast the hearty Twin Cities brewery scene with this pint glass that lists nearly all the (current) breweries in town. — Amy Rea

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Minnesota Honey | $9 | Bibelot
The jar says it all: eight ounces pure honey. The sweet bottle is worthy of displaying on your kitchen counter. — Amy Rea

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Fused Glass Coasters | $9.50 each | Bibelot
Minneapolis artist Kerry Brooks makes these delicate-looking (but not delicately constructed) coasters in an intensely hot kiln. Each one is unique and colorful, with its center of sparkling glass. — Amy Rea

elevated-beer-wine-store-adSponsored by Elevated Beer Wine & Spirits: Elevated Beer Wine & Spirits is a craft beer focused, full service liquor store in South Minneapolis and White Bear Lake. Elevated prides itself on providing the service, selection, and expertise that takes the neighborhood liquor store to the next level. Our giant build-your-own-six-pack wall and ever expanding craft and local spirits selection provide perfect holiday gift ideas for the discerning imbiber on your list.

Nordic Cinnamon Sprinkle | $9.50 | American Swedish Institute
Nordic, a Minneapolis-based company, took on the Scandinavian love for cinnamon and created this sprinkle. A mix of cinnamon, sugar, and vanilla, this is the perfect addition to so many foods and drinks — cocoa, lattes, pancakes, oatmeal, yogurt — and of course, lefse. — Amy Rea

Small Plates: Gifts $10-$25

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Cello Bag of Artisan Caramels | $10 | Annie B’s
Annie B’s got a shout-out from Oprah herself for their Minnesota-made caramels, and it’s no wonder – they have that lovely milky, buttery, dairy thing going on that sets the best caramels apart from the rest. These bags of joy are sure to win over the caramel fan in your life, or make a new convert to the cause.

Peppermint Tawashi Scrubbers | $10 | Kitchens Eden Prairie Center
These sturdy, crocheted, all-cotton scrubbers from Japan, sold in sets of three, are adorable, but they’re also surprisingly strong on tough food remnants while remaining gentle on easy-to-scratch surfaces. — Amy Rea

BBQ Smoker Box | $10 | Nordic Ware Factory Outlet
A vented lid lets you dial up (or down) the amount of wood-chip smoke that comes out of this sturdy little box that can sit beneath or on your BBQ grate. Yet another arrow in the quiver of the habitual backyard griller. — James Norton

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Cream of Lutefisk Soup Mug | $11 | Bibelot
What better present to give that person who loves to brag about their Scandinavian heritage? You could up the ante by creating some actual cream of lutefisk soup to go with it, but somehow we suspect the gift will be more happily received without the soup. — Amy Rea

Indeed Old Friend Holiday Ale | $11 | Elevated Beer Wine and Spirits and other stores
A beer brewed with honey and ginger could go wrong in a number ways — it could burn with aggressive ginger bite or be overly sweet on the palate, but Old Friend does neither. It’s a celebratory beer that doesn’t go overboard, and, if anything, its ginger is almost soft spoken amid the frivolity. It’s a good story in a bottle, and a damned attractive bottle at that. — James Norton

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Winterberry Lid | $11 | Kitchens Eden Prairie Center
This festive lid made of BPA-free, food-grade silicon will seal itself onto any smooth-rimmed dish, and since it’s heat-safe, you can put it on a dish right out of the oven or on one that needs reheating. — Amy Rea

Two-Piece Holiday Spatula Set | $11 | Kitchens Eden Prairie Center
No cooking job is too big or small for these sets of spatulas with varying holiday designs. Besides bringing a good amount of cheer to the task, the larger spatula has a measurement table on the back. Available at Kitchens Eden Prairie Center. — Amy Rea

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Wooden Spatula and Spoon | $11 (each) | Kitchens Eden Prairie Center
These eye-catching kitchen utensils not only make an attractive addition to the kitchen, they’re extremely useful as well. They’re made of durable hardwood that’s painted with food-safe colors then laminated. They can be used on nonstick cookware too. — Amy Rea

cocoa-fig-gift-guide-ad

Sponsored by Cocoa & Fig: Sweeten the day of a colleague, loved one, or friend this holiday season with a gift box of treats from Cocoa & Fig, the Twin Cities’ premiere bakeshop and dessert catering company. Choose from a variety of boxes filled with made-from-scratch seasonal goodies including peppermint bark, chewy chocolate ginger cookies, cranberry pistachio shortbread, and more. With options at every price point, you’re sure to find something for the foodie on your list! View our gift box menu online.

Santa Origami Napkins | $11.50 | American Swedish Institute
Standing Santa origami napkins are perfect for the children at your table (and surely we don’t need to add the cliche about those who are a child at heart?). Napkins come in a package of 12, with simple instructions — no major origami skills needed. — Amy Rea

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

The Uncommon Green Maps Glassware | $12.50-$15 for lowball glasses and pints | online
If you’ve ever wanted to knock back a beer, Scotch or (God forbid) something non-alcoholic out of glassware focused on where we live, Uncommon Green has you covered with streets, neighborhoods, and local topography right there on the glass. Whether you’re from Minneapolis, St. Paul, Madison, Milwaukee (or, you know, another major city), you can swill in style. — James Norton

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Blacklist Cocoa Hefeweizen | $13 for a bomber | Elevated Beer Wine and Spirits and other stores
When you start playing with chocolate-evocative flavors vis-a-vis holiday beers, you want to find two things: first, that a light, natural cocoa flavor actual permeates the beverage, and second that there’s nothing artificial, cloying or otherwise forced about the spirit. Blacklist Cocoa Hefeweizen pulls this off with style to spare. This is a tasteful and tasty way to warm a holiday gathering. — James Norton

Boulevard Tart Cherry Imperial Stout | $13 | Elevated Beer Wine and Spirits and other stores
There are a lot of ways to approach cherry flavor when it comes to beer. It can be thin and sour, or sickly sweet or simple and understated. Or it can be a big, fat, juicy cherry bomb, like this lovely special beer from Boulevard, one of the Midwest’s old reliable brewers. This is a beer that jumps in with both feet, and if you’re a fan of wet, bold, unapologetic fruit beers, you’ll love it. — James Norton

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

B.T. McElrath 6-piece Eggnog Cup or 5-piece Poinsettia Chocolate Set | $13.50 | Local shops
We were attracted to these chocolate collections for their design sense — both of them do a lovely job of evoking the holidays — but we committed to them based on their flavor. The eggnog cups have a delicately spiced white chocolate thing going on, and the jam-meets-chocolate taste of the poinsettias is bombastically celebratory. — James Norton

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Pea Soup Bowl and Spoon | $14.50 | American Swedish Institute
Dried yellow pea soup (known as Ärtsoppa in Swedish) is a very Swedish tradition, and one that translates well to our winter climate. A package of Lars Yellow Pea Soup mix goes for $6 at ASI. The accompanying peapod-decorated bowl and spoon are charming and serve a reasonably-sized portion, and the ceramic has a nice heft to it. — Amy Rea

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

G. Gova and Co. Mini Panettoni | $15 | Broders’ Cucina Italiana
The almost impossibly light, chewy, and delicately sweetened celebration bread known as panettone makes for a thoughtful gift under almost any circumstances, but it’s hard to top this three-piece gift set for pure class. It includes a panettone made with chocolate chips, one with dried fruit, and a light, gently flavored classic called pandoro (golden bread). — James Norton

Duluth Coffee Company Coffee | $15 for a one-pound bag | online or the DCC Cafe in Duluth
We were initially intrigued by Duluth Coffee Company because its founder, Eric Faust, was a regular contributor to the Heavy Table. We became sold on the coffee because it is thoughtfully sourced and skillfully roasted. We bring it with us when we travel and sling it around as gifts. Plus, the beans come in full one-pound bags — you’ve gotta love that. — James Norton

Courtesy of Northern Clay Center

Courtesy of Northern Clay Center

Sponsored by Northern Clay Center: With the advancement of ceramic arts as its mission, this not-for-profit art center has grown over the last 25 years to have an impact both locally and globally. In addition to year-round artists, Northern Clay Center is now showing the work of special-guest holiday artists. Whether it’s artful and affordable tableware you crave, or an exceptional investment for your collection, NCC has it and will gladly wrap it for you.

Sunrise Bakery Potica | $15 | Sunrise Market & Cafe
We’re suckers for Potica, that Eastern European babka-like treat that comes our way via the Iron Range and its Serbian miners. It’s a rich, indulgent dessert bread equally at home at the breakfast table and at the dinner table as an after-meal treat. — James Norton

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Ruhland’s Strudel Haus Strudel | $15 | Sunrise Market & Cafe
Ruhland’s Strudel Haus has made a local name for itself by baking some seriously flaky, tasty, snack-ready treats. If you’re going anywhere for the holidays where breakfast is involved, you can make friends for life by bringing this stuff along for the ride. — James Norton

Leidel’s Moriah Bourbon Barrel Aged Brett Cider | $15 for a 750-milliliter bottle | Elevated Beer Wine and Spirits and other stores
The polar opposite of mega-produced ciders with their treacle sweet, one-note artificial apple flavor profiles, this Minnesota-made cider has a sophisticated astringency and a soulful, earthy heart that no doubt comes from the brett yeast. It would pair beautifully with turkey, pork, or wild game. — James Norton

Boom Island Yule | $15 | Elevated Beer Wine and Spirits and other stores
One of the most celebratory beers we’ve tasted in a long time is Boom Island’s Yule, an 11.5 percent ABV spiced ale that brings a lovely, Belgian-inspired malty complexity and surprisingly little booziness for such a big bold beer. Crack this guy open, and the party has, by definition, started. — James Norton

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Alakef: City Girl Breakfast Blend | $16 for 12-ounce bag of beans
We told the story of this remarkable, Duluth-roasted coffee in a long-form Heavy Table story earlier this year — it’s a coffee brewed in support of the missions of the Cafe Femenino Foundation and the International Women’s Coffee Alliance, two groups that work to support women coffee growers and their families. And the coffee’s delicious, too. — James Norton

Dancing Deer Baking Company Gingerbread Cookie House Kit | $16 | Seward Co-op
All the joy of assembling a gingerbread house with none of the fuss — this kit takes care of the baking and architecture for those who just want the house up and running as edible decor without the need to take an online course first. — James Norton

Wild Bird Wreath | $16 | Bibelot
Using premium bird feed, these wreaths are made in Hudson, Wis. by Plantables, a company that employs developmentally disabled adults. The feed and wreath are bird- and nature-safe and friendly. — Amy Rea

j-carver-gift-guideSponsored by J. Carver Distillery: The perfect gift for the libation lover on your list. J. Carver Distillery offers an impressive line of premium spirits including vodka, gin, barrel gin, rye whiskey, apple brandy and grappa produced with locally-sourced ingredients and available for purchase at local liquor stores. From grain to glass, discover and taste Minnesota craft spirits and visit J. Carver’s newly opened cocktail lounge located in Waconia for a tour and a taste (our story). Gift Certificates available. www.jcarverdistillery.com

Kiss My Cabbage Ginger Turnip Beets | $16 for a 15-ounce jar | Golden Fig Fine Foods
Funky, soulful fermented vegetables never looked so good. This purple flavor bomb is made just over the border in St. Croix Falls, Wis., and is part of a line of lacto-fermented products made by washing, shredding, chopping, and then tossing vegetables in sea salt, where they sit immersed in their own brine for approximately three weeks. — James Norton

Apple du Nord Spiced Apple Spirit | $17 for a 375-milliliter bottle | Elevated Beer Wine and Spirits and other stores
For years, we’ve been making our own North Dakota-inspired apple pie red eye, a homemade liqueur composed of cooked down spiced apple syrup and Everclear. Our labors may have come to an end: Du Nord Craft Spirits is making just the sort of red eye we like, punchy (60 proof) with a sweet, spiced apple taste that doesn’t devolve into raw booziness or artificial flavors. It’s a clean enough profile that it works well in cocktails. Stop by Du Nord’s South Minneapolis cocktail room, and you can taste for yourself. — James Norton

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Natural Prism Baking Half Sheet | $17 | Nordic Ware Factory Store
The embossed grid pattern on this baking sheet increases air flow for crisping, enhances the sheet’s durability and scratch resistance, and makes it look totally awesome. A great gift for the mom or dad in your life who could always use another excuse to make cookies. — James Norton

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Hearten Magazine | $18 | Common Good Books and Magers and Quinn
Heavy Table photographer Becca Dilley is also the director of the Independent Wedding Association, a group of local wedding vendors who take pride in their work and love what they do. This group put together the first-ever print edition of their annual magazine, Hearten, to showcase the gatherings of the Midwest. The issue features everything from a Scandinavian-inspired feast to a story about the revival of Precolonial Native American food to a photo shoot juxtaposing haute couture hats with Minnesota Jell-O salads. It’s a lot of fun. — James Norton

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Mastering Coffee at Home Class | $20 | Jan. 9 | Peace Coffee
What is it worth to you to master the art of making coffee at home for the rest of your days? $1,000? $1,500? We applaud the value prospect inherent in this (merely $20!) class offered by Peace Coffee, which will put a friend or trusted loved one on the right path to brewing great coffee every day, cup after cup, regardless of the brewing method. — James Norton

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Swedish Meatball Recipe Towel | $20 | American Swedish Institute
Who wouldn’t want a towel with a recipe for Swedish meatballs printed on it? And you can choose English or Swedish. — Amy Rea

Felted Chef Ornament | $20 | Bibelot
For the cook or baker in your life, this little felted chef is the perfect item for the Christmas tree. — Amy Rea

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Guldrutan Swedish Coffee | $22 | American Swedish Institute
Marcus Samuelsson has his own branded line of teas (produced by Harney & Sons) that, fittingly, can be found at the Swedish Institute ($12.50). Or if coffee is more your kind of caffeinated drink, you could try Guldrutan Swedish Coffee, roasted in Sweden at low temperatures to avoid charring the bean’s oil. Either one would be festive served in one of the many Christmas mugs ($12.50). — Amy Rea

Blue Henn Tonic Syrup | $22 for a 16-ounce jar | Golden Fig Fine Foods
Each jar of this Minneapolis-made tonic syrup, when combined with soda water and spirits, can make about 20 premium gin and tonics. Where does “premium” come into the equation? This stuff has a beautiful herbal depth and a pronounced quinine bite. Commercial tonics are a pale shadow when compared to this. — James Norton

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Child’s Tomte Apron | $22.50 | American Swedish Institute
If you have a budding chef in your kitchen, help him or her stay clean with bright, cheerful Tomte apron. Even better, get yourself the adult-sized version ($29.50), and join in the cooking and baking fun. — Amy Rea

Lift Bridge Brewery

Lift Bridge Brewery

Sponsored by Lift Bridge Brewery: Stop by Lift Bridge Brewery’s taproom in Stillwater, and buy some swag for that special someone, and a growler to share for the holidays. When the growler is empty, you can sign up for a free tour of the brewery online at www.liftbridgebrewery.com, and get that growler refilled.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Triple Crown BBQ Sauce | $24 for a three-pack of sauces | online and local stores including Golden Fig Fine Foods
Few foods are hit as many pleasure centers as does good barbecue, and few things help accentuate good barbecue as much as a well-composed, well-balanced sauce. Locally made Triple Crown BBQ sauce does a lovely job of bringing a sensible touch of sweetness to the party along with depth of spice and tartness — this is no corn syrup sludge, it’s a mature barbecue sauce for people serious about flavor. And if you seek it out now, you can still catch the Harvest Limited Edition variety, which is due to come off the shelves in early 2016. — James Norton

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Bark Tree | $24.50 | American Swedish Institute
This whimsical tree, made from a tree, would make a fun table centerpiece, especially if you opt to add some decorations to it. Available at the American Swedish Institute. — Amy Rea

Festive Entrees: Gifts $25-$50

secret-atlas-325The Secret Atlas of North Coast Food | $25 | Online
The Heavy Table’s Secret Atlas of North Coast Food ($25) tells tales of food and drink from Minneapolis to Madison to Duluth to Iowa and beyond. Assembled by a talented team of writers, designers, illustrators, and cartographers, the book is a collection of maps, comics, essays, illustrations, and reviews — a treasure trove of food lore that’s a perfect gift for anyone who’s into Upper Midwestern food and for Minnesotans and Wisconsinites far from home, who might like a taste of the homeland. Find it at The Golden Fig or online. — Staff

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Amarettini di Saronno | $25 | Broders’ Cucina Italiana
These ultra-crisp, hyper-light, super sweet, apricot-kernel infused cookies are classy as the dickens and / or the lovely orange and red tin they’re packaged in. This is a hostess (or host) gift that’ll make a real impression, and stick around for a while — the cookies are numerous and strong enough that a handful is plenty for any given occasion. — James Norton

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Twist and Lock Bundt Baking Set | $25 | Nordic Ware Factory Store
This Bundt cake starter set has everything you need to get rolling — a pan plus a twist-and-lock cake keeper to make cake transport easy and risk free. Who wants to turn out a perfect bourbon chocolate bundt cake only to see it blow up due to a sharp left turn? — James Norton

Screenshot from the Gather Art Registry

Screenshot from the Gather Art Registry

Gather Art Registry | $25+ | online
This unique collection of Minnesota-made, hand-crafted goods includes a fair number of items focused on food and drink — everything ranging from a laser-etched, wooden six-pack holder to ornamental, wrought-metal bottle openers to cheese boards, and more. We dig it when art and craft overlap, and when food’s involved as it is here, it’s a celebration worth attending. — James Norton

broders-gift-boxes-2015Sponsored by Broders’ Cucina Italiana: This year, give gifts of food from Broders’ Cucina Italiana, a local treasure — it’s a sustainable and practical way to delight anyone on your list! Shop at Broders’ online store. We ship anywhere in the continental U.S. For personalized gifting, please call 612.925.3113.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Sweetland Orchard Borealis Ice Cider| $25 for a 375-milliliter bottle | Elevated Beer Wine and Spirits and other stores
Ice cider (like ice wine) is a higher alcohol (13.5 percent ABV), sweeter, more magnificently indulgent cousin of its non-concentrated self. And while some ice ciders can get overly sweet or syrup, Borealis is a pitch-perfect balance of apple tartness and natural sweetness, making for a locally produced after dinner cordial of serious sophistication. — James Norton

The Great Scrape | $25 | Bibelot
Produced in Minnesota, the Great Scrape provides an alternative to nasty brushes for cleaning your grill. The wooden scraper forms grooves to fit your grill, and it will last for years. It’s available at most Bibelot Shops and at several online retailers. — Amy Rea

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Snowflake Casserole Carrier | $25 | Kitchens Eden Prairie Center
The holidays usher in the most casserole-appropriate time of year, so if you’re going to a holiday potluck, pack your hot dish in this cheerful casserole carrier. Or give it as a hostess gift to the potluck planner. — Amy Rea

Freezable Whiskey Glasses | $26 | Kitchens Eden Prairie Center
Perfect for that special whiskey that you’d like to serve cold but don’t want to water down with ice. The glasses are double-walled with a silicone base that won’t freeze your fingers off when you take it out of the freezer. There’s also a larger size for beer. — Amy Rea

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Felted Minnesota Potholder | $26 | Bibelot
Made by Wisconsin’s Fat Tomato Designs, these are not only locally produced, but are made with the yarn from recycled sweaters, which is hand-knit and then felted. — Amy Rea

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Wooden Snowflake Decorations | $28.50 for a package of 15 | Bibelot
These intricately carved snowflakes would look lovely sprinkled across your Christmas dinner table, or even attached to napkin holders, a way of giving a little gift at the table. — Amy Rea

Wood from the Hood Cutting Board | $29 | Seward Co-op
Discarded trees from urban neighborhoods in Minneapolis are the raw material that fuels Wood from the Hood, one of our favorite local companies. You can pick up their cutting boards online or at local shops, such as Seward Co-op. They’ve got flight paddles, too, for the brewer in your life. — James Norton

Natalie Champa Jennings / Heavy Table

Natalie Champa Jennings / Heavy Table

North Coast Nosh Tickets | $30 | Heavy Table
The Heavy Table’s North Coast Nosh is back again, with more than 30 local purveyors gathering on Feb. 25, 2016 at the seriously chic Solar Arts by Chowgirls event space in Northeast Minneapolis. The Wedge is co-hosting this gathering, which is the local sip-and-sample to end all local sip-and-samples — quality product, friendly purveyors, and a felicitous guest-to-artisan ratio that means you can actually learn a little something while you eat and drink to your heart’s content. — James Norton

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Tattersall Amaro | $30 for a 750-milliliter bottle | Elevated Beer Wine and Spirits and other stores
You want a sophisticated gift? Here’s a sophisticated gift. Tattersall, one of the area’s loveliest drinking establishments, distills an amaro (a bitter and sweet herbal spirit used in drinks like negronis) that’ll knock your socks off with its clean complexity and depth. Amaro is very much the spirit of the moment, so you’ll be right on trend. — James Norton

birchwood-cafe-cookbook-coverBirchwood Cafe Cookbook | $30 | University of Minnesota Press
Fans of seasonal, local eating anywhere would find a lot to love in Birchwood’s ambitious compendium of recipes, organized by time of year. But Upper Midwesterners can embrace this book with special pride — Birchwood’s been doing its thing for 20 years in our backyard, and now there’s a cookbook to help collect and share their knowledge. BONUS: There’s still a day left to enter your 1,000-word (or shorter!) piece in the Birchwood Cafe Cookbook Flash Fiction Contest! — James Norton

golden-fig-gift-guide-adSponsored by The Golden Fig: Golden Fig Fine Foods is a fantastic shop full of the finest Midwest-made cheeses, chocolates, preserves, candies, spices, cookbooks, and more. Stop by for the season’s best hand crafted gifts and holiday baskets for the foodies on your list. We ship worldwide.

BLiS Bourbon Barrel-Aged Hardwood Smoked Reserve Soy Sauce | $30 for a 375-milliliter bottle | Golden Fig Fine Foods
This stuff is potent. Uber-potent. Ounce for ounce, it has a far greater umami kick than your typical grocery-store soy sauce — and that’s before you take into account the profound, but natural, smoky flavor that inhabits every bit of this stuff. One of the most interesting sauces we’ve uncovered in quite some time. It would make the basis of a killer marinade. — James Norton

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

11 Wells Single Malt Whiskey | $32 for a 375-milliliter bottle | Elevated Beer Wine and Spirits and other stores
We went into this bottle of booze with our shields up and our skeptics’ hats on. Why would a Minnesota distiller even bother trying to make a Scotch-style whiskey when the Scots have done such a lovely and comprehensive job of it? But we found a new story to tell when we tried this spirit. It starts with an earthy (perhaps swampy?) nose, leading into a boozy center and a warm, mellow, long-lingering finish that was just delightful. Fans of Scotch will be surprised, amused, and (if they’re like us) happy. — James Norton

James Norton / Heavy Table

James Norton / Heavy Table

Fire Cider gift bag | $32 | online or Seward Co-op or Eastside Co-op
The first time we tried Fire Cider was at a cafe in Wausau, Wis., and it’s not an experience we’ll soon forget. This stuff is a potent amalgam of apple cider vinegar, oranges, lemons, onions, ginger, horseradish, habanero pepper, garlic and turmeric, and it kicks like a donkey. Believe whatever you’d like about the health benefits, it’ll get your blood pumping first thing in the morning — better than a double shot of espresso. — James Norton

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Minneapolis-St. Paul Serving Board | $33 | Bibelot
How well do you — or the person on your gift list — know the Minneapolis-St. Paul neighborhoods? This serving board could spark some conversation and quizzing. It even comes with a card of fun facts about the Twin Cities. — Amy Rea

running-aces-adSponsored by Running Aces: Get hooked on our delicious trout at Trout Air Tavern or enjoy our 24-hour service at the All-In Grill. Whether you’re looking for a freshly cooked, locally sourced meal with your family or friends at Trout Air Tavern or a bite to eat and drink with our tableside service from the All-In Grill while you’re winning big at our card tables, we have something for everyone.

Twin Cities Treasures Gift Box | $35 | Peace Coffee
We love the local-first aesthetic of this Peace Coffee gift box. It includes the company’s Twin Cities Blend, plus dunkable treats form Thumbs Cookies, Annie B’s Sea Salt Caramel Popcorn, Poor Boy espresso caramels, and honey chocolate bonbons from Mademoiselle Miel. It’s practically a Minnesota-food primer in a box. — James Norton

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Cast Aluminum Mini Cocottes | $35 | Nordic Ware Factory Store
We’re big fans of Nordic Ware’s cast aluminum bakeware. It’s tough and beautiful like cast iron, but it’s also surprisingly light. These mini-cocottes would be perfect for serving up individual baked apple desserts, or French onion soup, or any course for two that delivers a big hit of flavor. — James Norton

Northern Clay Center

Northern Clay Center

We’re big fans of the Northern Clay Center, which is part art gallery, part teaching space, part retail shop. It offers visitors a chance to browse a ridiculously varied array of pottery handmade by artists both local and national. Theme, price, and practicality varies from piece to piece, but we’ve always managed to find a one-of-a-kind item to impress, and we love that NCC’s stuff sits so squarely at the intersection of art and craft and decorative and useful. — James Norton

Annie B’s Classic or Merry Christmas Assortment Popcorn Tin | $36 for 22½ ounces of popcorn | online
The popcorn lover in your life needs this big, brassy trifecta of popcorn. It includes a nicely done sea salt caramel popcorn, sharp cheddar, and triple treat (caramel, sharp cheddar, and lightly salted white popcorn.) This is no trifling gift; it’s a good month’s worth of quality snacking. — James Norton

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Tag Teapot | $37 | Kitchens Eden Prairie Center
This hand-painted ceramic teapot with its simple tree will warm up any holiday table. It’s large enough to make tea for two, or even three or four. — Amy Rea

Sprout-Worthy Herb Garden Box | $40 | Bibelot
Perfect for the gardener in your life, or for the person who needs to know that spring will come. The locally produced pots are filled by, among others, developmentally delayed adults at Hudson, Wisconsin’s Plantables. — Amy Rea

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

Apple Brandy | $40 | J. Carver Distillery
Distinct from applejack or apple liqueur, Minnesota’s first Calvados-style apple brandy brings rounded, dry apple notes to cocktails and cooking and makes a lovely accompaniment to all sorts of holiday feasting and drinking. Its apples are sourced from the nearby Sponsel’s orchard and include Haralson, Honeycrisp, and Chestnut Gold varieties, which are fermented into hard cider. The cider is distilled and placed into Minnesota-made toasted barrels, adding a mild smokiness to the bottle. — Paige Latham

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Glass Almond Cake Tray | $46 | American Swedish Institute
Swedes love their almond cake, especially at the holidays. This specialty pan ($15) comes with a recipe, and the resulting cake would look lovely displayed on this festive glass almond cake tray. — Amy Rea

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Minnesota Pitcher | $46.50 | Bibelot
With its sturdy heft and iconic Red Wing logo, this Minnesota-shaped pitcher from Red Wing Stoneware is perfect for pouring milk or maple syrup or even gravy. — Amy Rea

Becca Dilley / Lake Superior Flavors

Becca Dilley / Lake Superior Flavors

Abbey Cake | $48 | 4½ pounds | The Jampot
This is the fruitcake to end all fruitcake: a bourbon-blessed monk-made confection featuring dark raisins, walnuts, and molasses. It’s moist and delectable. Properly wrapped, it stays wholesome for months, and will get you through the holiday season — and the whole winter, for that matter — in good spirits. — James Norton

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Fika Tray | $48 | American Swedish Institute
“Fika” is a Swedish ritual involving coffee and some kind of sandwich or pastry. It’s also the name of the highly regarded restaurant in the American Swedish Institute. To celebrate Swedish traditions and foods, the Institute had this fika tray designed with all kinds of Swedish and food-based symbols. — Amy Rea

snowflake-shortbread-nordic-ware-gift-guideSponsored by the Nordic Ware Factory Store: For the holiday season, Nordic Ware offers this delicious classic shortbread recipe made in its new Sweet Snowflakes Shortbread Pan. Find more holiday gifts and ideas at the Nordic Ware Factory Store, a family-owned, American manufacturer of quality cookware, bakeware, microwave and barbecue products, and specialty kitchenware distributed worldwide. The Factory Store in St. Louis Park is frequented by home cooks, chefs, and restaurant owners, and it hosts twice-monthly evening classes. 4925 Highway 7, St. Louis Park, 952.924.9672 www.nordicware.com.

Courtesy of Fulton Beer

Courtesy of Fulton Beer

Fulton Brewing Party Pack Gift Box | $50
This may be THE local gift box to beat — a growler of Fulton beer, a wheel of Lone Grazer cheese, and a Red Table salami. Fulton and the Food Building are knocking it out of the park, and this box of local artisanal treats is no exception. — James Norton

Tasting Menu with Wine Pairing: Gifts $50 and Over

James Norton / Heavy Table

James Norton / Heavy Table

Homegrown Foods Service | $50+
Homegrown Foods is a great step through the front door for anyone hoping to master the art of home cookery. Their meal kits arrive every 2 weeks, and contain all the recipes and ingredients needed to cook each menu. Ingredients are sourced as locally and organically as possible, and the meals balance healthfulness with deliciousness. We really dug the puerco pibil (above) from Homegrown Foods that we made at home. — James Norton

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Coffee Fundamentals Class | Jan. 7, 2016 | $55 | Peace Coffee
If you’ve got a friend who is truly serious about getting grounded in the art of coffee, this is a class that can help: Coffee Fundamentals teaches students about Peace Coffee’s sustainability practices, the basics of coffee’s journey from seed to cup, how to talk about flavor, and how to brew professional quality coffee using a variety of methods. Practice methods will include professional-level pour-overs, commercial batch brews, and espresso. — James Norton

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Leather Chef’s Journal | $100 | Mia
If you know a cook with recipes worth recording and cherishing, you know a person who would adore receiving this serious, leather-bound cook’s journal. It looks, feels, and even smells like something the world’s most intense chef would treasure. — James Norton

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Chopsticks and Rest ($60) and Chopsticks-Keeping Bowl ($45) | Mia
If you know someone who loves to prepare Asian-inspired dishes, this is the gift for them — an absolutely lovely ceramic bowl with a purpose-made hole for chopstick storage, plus chopsticks and a rest worthy of inclusion in such a gift package. — James Norton

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Copper Glögg Pot | $135 | American Swedish Institute
Glögg is a traditional Scandinavian mulled wine, usually a heavy, red wine-based beverage. A lighter, alcohol-free, apple version is now available at the American Swedish Institute for $12.50. It’s sweet, and spiced with cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Those who prefer alcohol could add spirits to liven it up. If you want to be completely traditional, heat it in a copper glögg pot, preferably over a low fire. — Amy Rea

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Copper Fondue Set | $151 | Kitchens Eden Prairie Center
This sleek, contemporary version of the classic fondue pot is striking to look at, but thoughtfully designed for actual use. The interior is stainless steel, and there’s a ceramic insert included for worry-free fondueing. The set comes with six stainless steel fondue forks. — Amy Rea

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Coltellerie Berti Marco Parenti Italiani Cheese Knives | $1700 | Mia
If money were no object (and, alas, it really is an object) this is the gift we’d like to discover beneath our tree this year. This gorgeous collection of Italian-made cheese knives comes from a workshop, founded near Florence in 1895, where craftsmen make the knives by hand, using traditional materials (such as ox horn, boxwood, and steel) and traditional methods. Each knife is made from start to finish by a single craftsman, who signs his work. We live in a marvelous cheese-producing region, and until we have local knives worthy of the lactic glory our countryside produces, these might be just the thing for slicing up our favorite treats. — James Norton

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We thank the following stores and organizations for their assistance in compiling this year’s gift guide: American Swedish Institute, Bibelot, Golden Fig Fine Foods, Elevated Beer Wine and Spirits, Kitchens Eden Prairie Center, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and the Nordic Ware Factory Store.

 

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The Heavy Table team of writers, editors, and photographers has been documenting food and drink in the Upper Midwest since 2009.

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One Comment

  1. M.S. 12/03/2015

    As an avid reader of this blog it is dissapointing to see Shire City’s fire cider show up on this list. They are not a locally based company, they do not use local ingredients, and it is not made locally either. The company has been pursuing legal action against independent herbalists and other companies for the use of the name “Fire Cider” as they now own the trademark on the name. There is a wealth of herbal wellness products available in the Twin Cities that are locally made and operated and many local herbalists/herbal stores who could benefit from a great post such as this one. The co-ops are an amazing resource but not the end-all be-all of herbal products available in the Twin Cities http://www.freefirecider.com/