Who doesn’t love a great meal or a get together with friends over a refreshing beverage? Still, some people seem to get a bit more enjoyment out of the process of preparing that food and drink than others. Affectionately, we call these people foodies, and they flock to Seaside, which is well known for its restaurants and shopping.
Foodies don’t graze mindlessly, consuming food without considering the enjoyment of it. No, foodies study cookbooks. They have casserole dishes in every color, size and shape. They critique a meal like a professor grading final exams. If there is someone on your list this holiday season who fits that description, read on for a selection of gifts sure to please the pickiest of your culinary-obsessed friends and family.
For the coffee lover
Amavida Coffee & Tea strives to uphold excellent ethical practices that ensures a long-term supply of high-quality Organic coffee. This approach positively impacts the lives of coffee farmers and their communities. Buy a bag of the 12-ounce Baroque Blend in whole bean ($12.95), and pair it with the Baratza Encore coffee grinder ($139), which makes the perfect grind for drip/manual brew and also grinds fine enough for espresso. Your recipient will be thanking you when fueling up each morning. amavida.com
For the cookbook lover
The pilgrimage to Seaside would not be complete without a stop at Great Southern Café, one of the popular restaurants owned by well-known culinary talent Chef Jim Shirley. Growing up in a Navy family and traveling the world, his cookbook, “Good Grits!” ($22) is packed with Southern, gulf seafood-inspired, and international recipes, the most popular of course being his famous Grits A Ya-Ya. Pair the cookbook with Big Jim’s Oyster Juice (three jars for $24), Chef Jim’s personal hot sauce recipe, delicious on everything, especially raw oysters, and throw in a $100 gift card for good measure. This is the ultimate gift of good taste. thegreatsoutherncafe.com
For the kitchen accessory lover
The Art of Simple is nirvana for the foodie and home goods obsessed. As the name suggests, this shop is good at making everyday things simply better. The Art of Simple is known for its unique “wow” items and now offers a new line of custom gift boxes in signature orange, as well as wooden boxes and crates. You can go that route by calling the store, or plan to purchase The World Is Your Oyster Tray ($85), perfect to display or use at your next culinary feast. Pair the tray with Oyster Bakers (set of 12 for $50) that will satisfy any bivalve appetite when filled, and then grilled or baked. A bottle of high quality Champagne, like Veuve Clicquot ($50), would really make this gift collection pop.
For the culinary gift basket lover
Modica Market brings great joy to those who can’t get enough of fine food and drink. Seaside’s gourmet grocery offers sample selections of fresh, homemade Southern specialties, as well as hand-crafted meals-to-go. The staff are highly skilled at building gift baskets too (starting at $50 and up). You can have them fill it with the top-of-the-line cheeses, like Cowgirl Creamery, and add charcuterie, condiments, crackers and chocolate. Including a really nice bottle of wine, like 30A Coastal Dunes Chardonnay, will certainly add to the holiday cheer. modicamarket.com
The late celebrated chef Anthony Bourdain once said, “Food is everything we are. It’s an extension of nationalist feeling, ethnic feeling, your personal history, your province, your region, your tribe, your grandma. It’s inseparable from those from the get-go.”
Susan Benton is a food and travel writer with published articles, recipes, and photography in many local, regional and national publications. Her website is 30AEATS.com where she writes about the secrets of Gulf Coast food.