Here’s a smorgasbord of satisfying food and drink options that are easy answers to your gifting dilemmas
The clock is ticking, and you still haven’t finished your holiday shopping. In addition to buying for family and friends, you need presents for your dog-sitter, housekeeper, and administrative assistant. You’ve also got a stack of event invitations, which means you need to stock up on host and hostess gifts.
Lower your stress level by relying on a present that’s sure to please. Everyone needs to sup and sip. Here are a few delicious ideas.
A bottle—or more—of cheer
This go-to gift is the usual choice for the person who’s throwing the party. You can’t go wrong with a bottle of wine or a six-pack. But it’s also ideal if you know that several people on your shopping list have a penchant for a certain type of beer or a local wine.
Many area purveyors are offering special releases or packages during the season. Dogfish Head, the big daddy of Delaware’s craft beer scene, has released a 12-pack with four varieties of ales, including Sixty One, an exclusive that is a hybrid of continually hopped 60 Minute IPA and Syrah grapes. The other ales in the pack are 60 Minute IPA, 90 Minute IPA and Indian Brown Dark IPA. Look for the set at stores throughout Delaware. dogfish.com.
Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant has released Reindeer’s Revenge, a four-pack of an American-style Belgian golden ale with flavors of grapefruit, spice, and banana. For the holidays, you can also purchase four-packs of Russian Imperial Stout and 750-milliliter bottles of Iron Hill’s special reserve selections. (Buy a case of reserves and you’ll get 10 percent off.) Iron Hill’s growler gift pack includes the 64-ounce bottle, two glasses with the company logo and a $20 gift card. ironhillbrewery.com.
Local brewers aren’t the only ones highlighting the season. Chaddsford Winery’s Holiday Spirit is a spiced red wine with a hint of sweetness, cinnamon and cloves. You can drink it warm or cold with an orange peel. chaddsford.com.
If you’re not sure what your wine-lover likes, consider a gift card from Penns Woods Winery, also in Chadds Ford. You can buy $25 to $200 cards online. They’re delivered via UPS. pennswoodsevents.com.
Frank Pagliaro of Frank’s Wine in Wilmington says many customers are buying his wine-of-the-month club memberships for friends. “That always seems to be a huge gift item,” he says. “For $149.99, you get a bottle each month and the opportunity to purchase more of that wine for 25 percent off during that month.” He expects that bourbon, rye, and Irish whiskey will be popular gift items since these categories of spirits are “on fire” right now. frankswine.com.
Don’t know whether they like Grey Goose or Tito’s? Give the mixologist in your life all the fixings for the perfect cocktail with a subscription to the Shaker & Spoon Cocktail Club. The monthly delivery is a box with three recipes and everything needed to make 12 drinks—except the alcohol. shakerandspoon.com.
If you have a serious Dogfish fan in the family, buy him or her the Spirited Weekend package offered by Dogfish Head Distilling Co. Held from Jan. 12-14, the weekend includes two nights at the Dogfish Inn in Lewes and guided tours of all the Dogfish Head properties in coastal Delaware, including Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Dogfish Head Brewings & Chesapeake & Maine. That’s not all. The package also features an exclusive bottle of Rum Casked Whiskey in a handmade wooden box, a Moscow Mule happy hour at Striper Bites (the restaurant next to the inn), a fireside chat with Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione, a mixology class, and a discount code to use on spirits at the Milton brewery. Transportation to the Dogfish Head properties is included. dogfishheadbrewery.ticketleap.com.
Winter coffee break
Gifts that go down easy aren’t limited to booze. This season, Brandywine Coffee Roasters, started by Brew Ha Ha! founder Alisa Morkides, is offering Doe Run, a limited release blend of Gustavo de Jesus Rivera Colombian micro lot and Costa Rica Cereza Roja Natural. It’s a light roast combination that will take the chill off winter mornings. According to Morkides, it’s a full-bodied blend with tasting notes of cocoa, raspberry, cranberry, and ginger snaps. brandywinecoffeeroasters.com.
The roast is also available at the Brew Ha Ha! cafés, which are now selling holiday latte drinks, including Candy Cane Latte, Frosted Gingerbread, White Mocha Matcha, and Salted Caramel Mocha. brewhaha.com.
For the meat-eater in your family, consider The Meat House’s Butcher’s Club Membership. The recipient will receive a choice of one to 12 options each month for six months. Selections might include filet mignon, jumbo shrimp, cowboy steaks, prime New York strip or rib-eye. If you just want to purchase a special item from the Chadds Ford shop, peruse exotic sausages made with wild boar, alligator or pheasant. themeathouse.themeathouse.com/pa-chaddsford.
You can also sign him or her up for the Stock Yards Steakhouse Club, offered by Harry & David. There are three- , six- and 12-month options. Despite the name, the selections feature more than red meat. An oven-roasted turkey comes in November, for instance, and spiral-sliced ham is the April feature. harryanddavid.com.
If you’re traveling during the holidays, and want to give your hosts a taste of the First State, there are plenty of options.
If you’re not going far, Grotto Pizza sells frozen, shrink-wrapped bake-at-home pizzas. grottopizza.com.
Claymont Steak Shop uses a special wrapping process for those who want to transport subs out of the immediate area. claymontsteakshop.com.
And both of these Delaware-based businesses offer gift cards. “They’re popular as stocking stuffers and thank-you gifts for clients and employees,” says Demi Kollias, owner of Claymont Steak Shop, which has three locations in New Castle County.
Put together a package of local ingredients, including products from Wilmington Pickling Company. You can find them at Locale BBQ Post in Wilmington’s Little Italy. (Dan Sheridan owns both businesses.) localbbqpost.com.
The pickles are also available at Janssen’s Market, which increases its supply during the holidays to meet demand. janssensfinefoods.com.
Add a box of chocolates from Govotos, which has been part of area family holidays since it opened in 1894. There is a location downtown as well as one in Talleyville. Prefer to send by mail? The shop ships orders from Oct. 1 through May 15. Gift certificates are also available. govatoschocolates.com.
There are several area bakeries that sell goods that are beloved holiday staples. Serpe & Sons Bakery in Elsmere reopened in October 2016 after a devastating fire. Once again, you can grab some Italian pastries or cookies and a slice of tomato bread for yourself. serpesbakery.com.
You can also buy Italian goods, from panettone to homemade cannoli to prosciutto, at Papa’s Food Market in Little Italy. Search Papa’s Food Market on Facebook.
Those who don’t want to DIY a gift basket can turn to the pros. In north Wilmington, Janssen’s Market is the go-to place. “Gift baskets are always popular,” says Paula Janssen, who owns the store with her
parents. But not just any gift basket. “Fruit baskets are no longer as common—very few families can eat an entire basket of fruit before it goes bad,” she notes. She says the team prefers to work with the giver to personalize a basket to suit the recipient’s preferences. It may include several pieces of fruit.
Note that Janssen’s is still the place for hard-to-find items that were once holiday staples. Picture plum pudding, fruitcake, mincemeat and stollen, a fruit bread.
When all else fails, there’s the gift card to the recipient’s favorite full-service restaurant. “You’re not giving just food; you’re giving an experience,” says Xavier Teixido, owner of Harry’s Savoy Grill and co-owner of Kid Shelleen’s Charcoal Grill & Saloon.
You won’t be the only one opting for an easy way out. “Each year, our gift card sales increase,” Teixido says. It helps that restaurants like Harry’s Savoy Grill offer completely digital transactions. Not only can you buy them online, but you can also send them digitally to the recipients, who can redeem them using their mobile phones. “You need a last-minute gift, you can send it to them or print it out and take it to their house,” says Teixido, who acknowledged that many people still feel more secure with a card in hand. harryshospitalitygroup.com.