Food & Drink

Holiday Take-Out: The Essential Culinary Shops in Seattle

Go-to stops for luxe cooking staples, hostess gifts and more

By Jess Thomson, Cynthia Nims and Sheila Cain December 9, 2015

This article originally appeared in the December 2015 issue of Seattle magazine.

Best for: Boxed and ready dinner party sweets
From escargot to chutney, verjus to heritage beans, ChefShop (Interbay, 1425 Elliott Ave. W; 206.286.9988; covers a lot of culinary territory. At this time of year, the selections grow to include a particularly exquisite array of panettone ($36–$68), the traditional holiday sweet bread from Italy. With nearly three dozen varieties available this year, they come in an array of styles and flavors. The European packaging also makes them a striking gift. But not all of ChefShop’s holiday treats are imports. The stollen ($19)—a rich bread with candied orange peel and marzipan—is made in Seattle by chef Jean-Claude Ferré, but it tastes of an authentic German heritage. And with inspiration from Great Britain, Seattle-made Mother Sperry’s Plum Pudding ($17–$37) is also available, which you steam at home, producing lush aromas. Pretty much anything you see in the online store is available at the shop, as long as it’s not out of stock.

Big John’s PFI
Best for: Bulk items, baking and Italian pantry staples—and cheese!
The hidden gem of destinations for serious food lovers, PFI is a wonderland for entertaining ingredients. For starters, stock up on the frozen tartlet shells ($6.75–$8.80) and puff pastry ($6.85–$9.10; the all-butter is worth the extra bucks). There are fancy jams for stocking stuffers or house-guest breakfast offerings and big blocks of chocolate for making candy and dessert. Many elegant salts are available in bulk for your holiday cooking, and for gracing your dinner table. Imported panettone, nougat and fancy candies are among holiday-worthy sweet treats. Need olive oil? PFI has you covered, from 3-liter cans to more petite selections you might pick up for hostess gifts. The cheese case is among the most tempting in town (though note: The store often has half-pound minimum purchases), plus bulk olives and cornichons to serve alongside. Bring an extra shopping bag; you’re sure to find more than you thought you needed. Chinatown/International District, 1001 Sixth Ave. S; 206.682.2022;

Marx Foods
Best for: Flash-frozen specialty meats and jars of fancy food items
The online store Marx Foods is a resource for foods that can inspire any cook, and at its home office and retail store on Lower Queen Anne, you’ll find some of its inventory available. This time of year, meat is a centerpiece item and pulling a goose out of the oven makes quite an impression. Marx sources whole free-range goose ($10/pound), raised in South Dakota, that you can pre-order now, with a December 21 deadline for Christmas. (While you’re at it, pre-order some fresh white Alba truffles from Italy to ensure your supply for swanking up anything on the menu.) Marx Foods also sells mildly flavored merino lamb from New Zealand, the frenched rack ($24/pound) a particularly elegant choice. Plenty of other meats (frozen and vacuum packed) are on offer: duck, pheasant, squab, foie gras (whole lobe or sliced), grass-fed beef, wild boar and Berkshire pork. And you’ll see other temptations while you’re there, including ideal hostess gifts (from artisan ketchup to exquisite vinegars) and many things that will add pizzazz to holiday cooking. 144 Western Ave. W; 206.447.1818;

London Plane
This is one of the more multifaceted food destinations in town, which makes The London Plane a premium option for multitasker shopping. You’ll find some basic items to help shortcut cooking projects, including frozen stocks, frozen pie dough, frozen ready-to-bake fruit galettes and house-made ricotta. (As supplies allow, you may be able to buy some of London Plane’s homemade cultured butter, too.) Loaves of its signature sourdough Plane bread ($8) and other baked goods are available. The deli case, which is driven by seasonal ingredients and inspirations, features house-made pickles, salads, dips and spreads to fulfill some of your dinner menu needs. Most of the foods can (and should) be ordered in advance. For decor, there are elegant flowers and candles available year around, with gorgeous wreaths added to the selections around the holidays. You can even take care of some gift shopping, with select cookbooks, artisanal kitchen tools, handcrafted pottery, ornaments and even the paper to wrap them in. Pioneer Square, 300 Occidental Ave. S; 206.624.1374;

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