Food & Culture

Holiday Gift Guide: The Purpose-Driven Palate

Here’s how to support local food businesses

By Stefanie Ellis December 7, 2020


This article originally appeared in the November/December 2020 issue of Seattle Magazine.

The Holidays are a season of gratitude, and one of the biggest ways to show thanks to others is by giving them gifts. As we slowly close the door on 2020 and hope for a positive and healthy 2021, this year’s giving feels a little different. We won’t be going to parties as we used to, or flying across the country to see loved ones, but this is still a time of deep connection with those who matter. The small businesses in our communities matter very much, and some of the best ways to show gratitude are to consciously choose them in our gift giving. Here is a short list of several of the more creative and fun food-focused ideas out there. 

Virtual Cooking Classes

The Table Less Traveled
Once upon a time, The Table Less Traveled sent Seattleites to magical destinations across the world, where they got to meet cool people and cook with them in their homes. It’s still doing that, except now you cook with your hosts via computer screen. But you’ll still be in Lisbon, making chef Ana’s Portuguese tomato stew, in Peru making chef Nacho’s chocolate alfajores (chocolate caramel cookies) and splurging on chef Gaia’s seasonal risotto in her Tuscan kitchen. 

The Pantry at Delancey
Cook from your kitchen with the chefs from The Pantry at Delancey for a twist on in-person cooking classes, which are usually sold out minutes after being posted. Though nothing can compare with the Pantry’s communal cooking classes, the menu choices and introduction to different cultures through the recipes translate just as well online. Buy your own ingredients or pay extra and pick up all the ingredients at The Pantry’s Ballard location, prepped and ready, for classes on Thanksgiving wines, holiday breads, winter cocktails, Buche de Noel and more. 

Chef Box Live
This is a complete pivot from large-scale food and beverage events. Sound Excursions was created prepandemic, but it’s a creative one. Owners Sam and Cassie teamed up with Chef Matt Lewis from Where Ya At Matt to put on virtual cooking classes with some of Seattle’s most recognized chefs to support those in the restaurant community. You get a kit delivered to you (or you can pick it up in Ballard) with all the ingredients for your class, which includes homemade pasta making with chef Sabrina of Osteria la Spiga or Fruity Pebbles French Toast with chef James from Watson’s Counter.

Sweet Treats

Hello Robin
Homemade cookies are great holiday gifts, whether Hello Robin bakes them or you do. Try the already-baked flourless chocolate (gluten-free), orange habanero chocolate and the uber-popular Mackes’more, made with Theo chocolate chunks. Or, get a bag of bake-at-home cookie dough in birthday cake, chocolate chip and brown butter snickerdoodle varieties. Call ahead to order a different bake-at-home flavor, and ask about vegan cookies, too. 

Sweet Alchemy
Rather than wait in line for a scoop of ice cream, why not order some for door-to-door delivery? How does a Sundae Party at home sound? Think pints of hand-packed small batch ice cream, fragrant waffle bowls, decadent homemade fudge, mouth-watering caramel sauce and toppings like brownie bites, lavender shortbread and sprinkles. With flavors like Dark Side, UW Honey (honey harvested from UW’s horticulture center), Party Like It’s Your Birthday and Toasted Black Sesame, it’s easy to put together an ice cream flight. Prices start at $48 and $12 pints of ice cream, waffle cones and toppings are available for delivery. 

Tom Douglas
Every day can be a celebration when Tom Douglas’ famous coconut cream pie is involved, but we think the Celebration Box is extra perfect for the holidays, since it comes with champagne. It’s a perfect gift for yourself or a loved one, and this holiday season, Tom will be offering a Thanksgiving Dinner Box, Thanksgiving pie pick-up and virtual holiday cooking classes at the Hot Stove Society. 

Gift Certificates

The Intentionalist
Looking for a gift certificate that will benefit restaurants affected by the pandemic? The Intentionalist is your one-stop shop for giving with purpose. Its model is based on supporting small businesses and diverse local communities, so you know you’re purchasing from businesses owned by women, Black, indigenes and people of color, as well as veterans and the LGBTQ+ community. 

Delivery Boxes

New Day Cooperative
A group of Seattle-area producers came together during the pandemic to form New Day Cooperative, a grocery delivery service owned by the more than 30 small businesses that participate. Order everything from fruits and vegetables to fresh-baked cakes and cookies, homemade granola and local honey to meat and eggs. Prepared foods like mac ’n’ cheese, enchiladas, tamales and soups can be ordered alongside pantry staples like flour, olive oil and maple sugar. There are even chocolate, flowers and body care products. Because the markup is lower than traditional grocery stores, a larger chunk of the profit goes back to each business. It’s important to know who and what you’re supporting when many of our local businesses are struggling, and we’re excited to see a grocery service that keeps giving, in important ways. 

Savor Seattle
Support Pike Place Market and its vendors without ever having to set foot in the market. Savor Seattle, best known for its informative tour guides and hot pink umbrellas, has paused all in-person tours in favor of Market Boxes, a curation of Pike Place Market and Seattle’s best eats and treats delivered to your doorstep. Think one box brimming with all the best of Seattle’s food scene from smoked wild sock-eye salmon, fresh gourmet coffee, small batch jam, popcorn, tea and even the highly popular caffeinated chocolate all wrapped in one box. For every box sold, $5 goes to support a nonprofit such as the Pike Place Market Foundation, FareStart, Community Roots Housing or the ACLU. Market Boxes start at $99. 

Make-at-Home and Prepared Food Kits

Seattle Fish Guys
Cooking at home is synonymous with the holidays, but sometimes it’s nice to let someone else do all the work for you. At Seattle Fish Guys, you can get the Fish 4 Dayz weekly seafood meal kits, with fish-forward meals ready to go, like pan-seared jumbo scallops with asparagus and bacon, grilled unagi bowls with rice and seaweed salad, whole roasted branzino, miso black cod, tuna burgers and rockfish tacos. Desserts and drinks are included, and meals change each week. Look for special holiday offerings, like oysters and bubbles, sake and sashimi, and more. This special is not available on the website, so check out Facebook or Instagram for more info.

Feel like a pizza maestro with Mioposto’s margherita, quattro formaggi and pepperoni pizza kits, which come with fresh dough, milled tomatoes, moz-zarella, all toppings and olive oil. You can also order a meatball sandwich kit with homemade sausage, jars of Caesar dressing, Calabrian peppers, mint salsa verde, cans of tomatoes and more. Batched cocktails like the barrel-aged Manhattan, with rye, vermouth and bitters, aged in a charred oak barrel for 90 days, are the perfect way to ease into the holidays. 

Bateau has been lauded for its burgers, as the beef (and vegetables and eggs) comes from a 30-acre farm in Moses Lake, devoted exclusively to supplying owner Renee Erickson’s restaurants. The heritage cattle breeds grown on the farm are conscientiously raised, grass-fed, grass-finished and butchered in-house at Bateau. The burger kit has everything you need to make two Bateau burgers at home — including a pound of grass-fed, dry-aged ground beef, caramelized onion jam, garlic aioli and homemade buns. Also offered are boeuf kits that feed four, with beef tallow, bone broth, bone marrow butter, grass-fed ground beef and steaks butchered in-house. 

The London Plane
You can choose floral Zoom classes accompanied with buckets of fresh flowers delivered straight to your door, care packages with home-made chocolate olive oil cake, caramel sauce, flowers and wine, meal kits for a puttanesca dinner, weekly larder subscrip-tion or pastries galore. Open for in-store shopping, food for takeout or outdoor dining. 

Lisette Wolter-McKinley contributed to this story.

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