Looking for Interesting and Unique Last Minute Gift Ideas? Here Are Some Real Winners!

Are you looking for some fabulous last-minute gift ideas? I have some fabulous gift ideas that share with you that you can order online and have shipped to the recipient. The gifts are food products and are the winners of the Yankee Magazine Food Awards for 2019. This array of gourmet and unusual foods will inspire you and entice you to try them. There’s so many great flavors and textures available in this list.
I would like to thank Yankee Magazine, Senior Food Editor Amy Traverso and  Eileen Campion of  Rosland and Campion PR for allowing me to share this fabulous article and list of the 2019  Best of Yankee Food Awards.  The Yankee Food Awards 2019 images are courtesy of  ©Yankee Magazine/Lori Pedrick .

The 2019 Yankee Food Awards are featured in Yankee’s “Special Holiday Issue,” on stands now &  available online at NewEngland.com

While these vendors are closed for the holiday, you can still order things to have for New Year’s Day as well as to ship out as after the holiday gifts. I had originally posted this December 1, but it seems to have gone “poof” and disappeared. I reassembled this piece so that more people would see this.

 

 

 

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By Amy Traverso, Senior Food Editor, Yankee Magazine

©Yankee Magazine/Yankee Food Awards by Amy Traverso

Photo Credit for Yankee Food Awards 2019:  ©Yankee Magazine/Lori Pedrick

 

Saucisson au Fromage
Babette’s Table | Waitsfield, VT

 

 

On American party platters, cheese and charcuterie are generally confined to separate zones. In France, however, there’s a whole category of sausages made with cheeses such as chèvre and Roquefort. So after Babette’s Table founder Erika Lynch went to Gascony to study the art of charcuterie, she returned home to Vermont and developed a saucisson sec (a traditional French salami) made with shavings of Shelburne Farms’ two-year-old cheddar. The cheese lends a brothy umami flavor and brings a deeper richness to the pork, which Lynch gets from two local farms. “From our inception, Babette’s Table has been committed to the local agriculture community in Vermont,” Lynch says. In fact, the artisanal charcuterie company is so local that its full line is available only in Vermont (luckily, you can buy this sausage online from Shelburne Farms).

 

Rockweed Cheese
Lakin’s Gorges Cheese | Waldoboro, ME

 

 

It’s not unusual to hear farmstead cheesemakers describe how their products reflect terroir, a catch-all term for the soil, landscape, and climate of a food-producing region. But Allison Lakin created her Rockweed cheese to reflect the flavors of both her Waldoboro farm and the nearby Maine coast, making it the first New England cheese to beautifully express … meroir?

Inspired by Morbier, this is a semi-soft French cheese with a layer of vegetable ash in the center, Lakin takes cow’s milk from her own herd at East Forty Farm and layers it with dehydrated rockweed powder from Maine Coast Sea Vegetables in Hancock. The powder lends a mineral brininess that enhances the rich Jersey milk.

“I’ve been looking for a way to create a cheese that is of this place,” she says. “When I eat [Rockweed], it makes me think of oyster stew, with the creaminess blending with the brininess.”

 

Aged Bloomsday Cheese
Cato Corner Farm | Colchester, CT

 

 

Aged Bloomsday is “something of a happy accident,” says Mark Gillman, who with his mother, Liz McAlister, runs a 35-acre dairy farm halfway between Hartford and New London. One fateful June 16, when the cheese making wasn’t going according to plan, “we changed the recipe on the fly,” Gillman says. Then they waited. Six months later, they knew they had something special. With another six months of aging, it was perfect, and Aged Bloomsday was born. (The name is a nod to a more famous June 16 event, the annual celebration of novelist James Joyce.)

Reminiscent of an English-style cheddar yet with the nutty notes of Gouda, this is a golden-hued cheese, mature and complex, with a native mold rind and herb and caramel flavors. Credit the cheese-making but also the cows: McAlister has been carefully shaping the herd of 40-odd Jerseys (plus one Brown Swiss) for a few decades. She and her son have a hand in everything, from pasture management to selling the cheese, which they bring to farmers’ markets in New York and Connecticut (it’s also sold online). While Aged Bloomsday would be right at home on any cheese board, we also love it with a chocolate stout or apple pie, or in the ultimate mac and cheese.

 

Everyday Matzoh
Patchwork Farm & Bakery | East Hardwick, VT

 

 

Wednesday is matzoh baking day for Charlie Emers. An unleavened bread dating back to biblical times, matzoh is often thought of as bland wafers—which Emers’s oblong crackers, beautifully irregular and flecked with sesame and flax seeds, are anything but. For the past 18 years, he has been baking breads and crackers in a converted outbuilding on his farm, but matzoh didn’t arrive on the scene until he was asked to bring some store-bought matzoh to a Passover seder and found that it was sold out. He improvised a passable approximation—mostly flour, water, and some olive oil—and his interest was piqued. Further research resulted in a spelt-based cracker with just a hint of rye that is light and crisp and has an irresistibly nutty flavor. “It’s such a simple thing in some ways,” Emers says, who received such overwhelmingly positive feedback at the farmers’ market that he put his matzoh into regular production. (Note: While the ingredients are kosher, the bakery is not kosher certified.) Recently, Emers has been dabbling again in farming, with the hopes of growing and milling his own flours to use for his various breads, pastries, and, of course, matzoh.

 

Spiced Plums with Port and Star Anise
Blake Hill Preserves | Windsor, VT

 

 

 

Although Vicky Allard comes from a long line of British jam-making hobbyists, she hadn’t planned to make it her career. But after leaving their corporate life in Manhattan for the green acres of Vermont, she and husband Joe Hanglin began turning their farm’s bumper crop of berries into preserves. Friends raved, a local grocer offered to test-market their product, and in 2009, they launched Blake Hill Preserves. This particular offering was created in 2016 in partnership with famed cheesemaker Jasper Hill Farm (another Editors’ Choice Food Awards winner): It’s the perfect match for Jasper Hill’s Bayley Hazen Blue cheese. But the combination of plums, warm spices, and port also makes it uniquely food-friendly. Try it with yogurt or oatmeal, with ice cream, or baked into cookies.

 

Maple Walnut Ghee-nut Butter
Farmtrue | North Stonington, CT

 

 

This may be the most delicious nut butter on the market. It’s like cookie dough, only good for you, and it’s terrific in baked goods and sauces, slathered on toast or roasted sweet potatoes, or eaten right from the jar. Farmtrue founders Kim Welch and Lynn Goodwin first connected through Ayurveda, the 5,000-year-old Indian mind-body health system that treats food as a form of medicine. Ghee, a clarified butter of sorts, is a foundational ingredient in Indian cooking, but the two were unable to find locally made organic ghee for their own kitchens—so they decided to create one together. Farmtrue’s ghee-based organic foods and beauty products try to keep things as close to home as possible, including using local grass-fed butter. Every Farmtrue product is made in their 3,200-square-foot facility, which also serves as a gathering space for yoga workshops, cooking classes, and holiday pop-ups.

 

 

Mulling Syrup
Wood Stove Kitchen | Mont Vernon, NH

 

 

It was while working as a researcher and adviser for the United Nations that Steve Zyck became smitten with the culinary traditions of Europe and the Middle East. On a wintery trip to Copenhagen, he tasted his first mug of mulled wine, ladled out from a giant copper cauldron by a pushcart vendor. “It wasn’t just about the spices,” Zyck recalls, “but the hint of fruit.” So when he returned to the States to launch a line of cocktail syrups and mixers, he made sure his mulling syrup was true to that memory, only with the addition of Cape Cod cranberry juice to the familiar flavors of clove, allspice, cinnamon, and orange. The result is bright and fresh and with just the right amount of sweetness, thanks to a bit of brown sugar. Beyond creating your own mulled wine with the syrup, Zyck suggests adding a few teaspoons to apple pies, marinades, pancake mixes, and even, as a wink to its Scandinavian roots, your favorite Swedish meatball recipe.

 

Cider Honey Farmstead Caramels
Big Picture Farm | Townshend, VT

 

 

Louisa Conrad and Lucas Farrell bring their artistic sensibilities to everything they do. She’s an illustrator and photographer by training, and he’s a poet, which means that their farm’s products have some of the best-designed, most lyrically annotated packaging in the business. But it’s what’s inside that matters most, and here they also excel. Using milk from their herd of Saanen goats, they produce ultracreamy, dash-of-salty caramels in flavors such as brown butter bourbon, chai, and our favorite, cider honey. The goat’s milk is subtle but pleasantly tangy.

Or as Conrad says, “Our milk’s unique makeup of amino acids imparts complex notes of savory goodness.”

The added cider (really a pommeau) from nearby Putney Mountain Winery brings a layer of fruitiness that feels seasonal and festive. And because the goats “drop everything the minute they hear the sounds of the apples falling and evade all fences in order to eat them,” according to Conrad, the caramels are a true taste of life on the farm.

 

Fruit Lollipops
Popette of Pendulum | Pawtucket, RI

 

 

Brenda Swift spent 20 years as a fashion designer before she began making candy, which explains why her lollipops are so visually striking—floral swirls, paisley patterns, holiday motifs.

“I was taking a break from fashion, but I found that I couldn’t not be creative,” she says. “I had these little lollipops in my head and thought I’d love to be able to sketch on candy.”

Staying true to her own healthier food preferences, she fiddled with her recipe for more than a year, using brown rice syrup (instead of corn), natural dyes and flavors, and all-organic ingredients.  “I realized the pops were really tasty and I could make them cute because of my design background, so I started doing farmers’ markets.”
Our favorite varieties are the fruit lollipops, which come in flavors such as strawberry cream, mango tangerine, and raspberry. Today Swift’s creations are in 35 states, with a goal of hitting all 50 via a new distribution deal with Bloomingdale’s.

 

Esmeraldas 70% Chocolate Bar
Goodnow Farms Chocolate | Sudbury, MA

 

 

Tom and Monica Rogan believe great chocolate begins at the source, so for the past five years they’ve traveled to the equatorial cacao-producing regions of Central and South America in search of the best raw materials.

“All beans have a personality,” Tom says. “Our bars are not a rubber-stamp product, and it takes a lot of creativity to craft them.”

After the beans are fermented and dried at or near the source, they’re brought back to the Rogans’ backyard chocolate kitchen in Sudbury. There, the couple choose the proper roasting profile for each variety and press their own cocoa butter on the way to making exquisite single-origin chocolate bars. We especially love the earthy cocoa intensity and jammy fruit flavors of the Esmeraldas bar, whose beans are sourced from the Salazar family farm in Ecuador. The flavors are “very present, like a good cabernet, and long on the finish,” Tom says.
A simple bar pressed with the Goodnow Farms logo—you’ll feel like Charlie Bucket unwrapping his first Wonka Bar when you crack this one open.

I don’t know about you, but after reading about each product and brand and then seeing the photos, I can find at least  7 products I would LOVE to try!

As you can see (literally and figuratively), there’s a lot of things here that would be great for holiday gifts but also for birthdays, Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, Mother and Father’s Day.. lots of reasons to dive into local-ish products that have been chosen as part of the  2019  Yankee Magazine Food Award Winners!

It’s not hard to tell that the judges would have had a challenging time selecting the best products!

 

Stevie Wilson,
LA-Story.com

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Author: Stevie Wilson

Digital and social media pioneer and visionary meets disruptive innovator with a passion for topics and conversations that reveal insight into the So. California lifestyle. LA-Story.com appeals to a global audience (from Asia to Africa; Middle East to Europe, No. America to Latin America) in variety of topics and sectors: style (beauty and fashion), health & fitness, entertainment (movies, TV, books, music and more) ; food, beverages & spirits; IT Security + tech , travel, special events (red carpet to green carpet) I am known for interviews ( podcasts , textual and video conversations) with notables, celebrities and companies about interesting products & brands; profiles about places that reflect the So. CA vision and special events (Oscars, Golden Globes, Emmys & other events that illustrate celebrity , athletes and home-town "stars" lifestyle and initiatives.) that illuminate the insider's perspective of So. California's lifestyle . Learn what's hot in Los Angeles, NYC, MIami and stops closer to home that make this blog a must-read because the voice, attitude, authenticity and ability to grasp the essence of most sectors, brands & products make it easy for consumers to earn what makes a brand, initiative or product unique - whether, food, fashion or finance (or any other topic "on the table") With 15+ Years online launching websites, online magazines, forums, products & brands, my voice, authenticity and ability to grasp the essence of most sectors, brands & products make it easy for me to share what the online audience and consumers alike want to learn- how to shop, live and reflect the lifestyle they wish to emulate. Need to leverage digital and social media space? Reach out to me!

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