What do you get the person who has everything? Food, of course.
Here’s a tasting of Kansas City-made holiday gifts that satisfy cravings for everything from pickles to bacon and caramel. The list also includes drinkable gifts (coffee, beer) and pantry staples that will seriously upgrade your friend or family member’s kitchen game. Think aged fig balsamic vinegar, smoked peppercorns and vanilla so good it’ll transport you to the tropics.
The hardest part won’t be the shopping — it’ll be keeping these gifts under wrap until Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa or New Year’s Eve.
For the Bloody Mary fan
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Kansas City Canning Co.’s Sriracha pickled green beans are the Pringles of pickles — once you pop, you can’t stop. I bought a 24-ounce jar ($13) at Urban Provisions General Store, 2616 Guinotte Ave. in the East Bottoms, after the store’s owner Savannah Northcraft recommended them.
Northcraft warned that once I opened the jar, I’d want to eat the whole thing, and she was right: These salty, sour green beans are seriously addictive, thanks to a hot sauce-spiked brine made with garlic cloves, whole peppercorns and jalapenos. A jar of them would be a perfect gift for someone who loves Bloody Marys — the spicy, salty brine tastes great with vodka.
For the coffee addict
The Roasterie’s Kansas City factory, 1204 W. 27th St., has expanded its gift shop for the holiday season. The shop sells bags of air-roasted beans from all over the world, Roasterie T-shirts, posters, coffee-infused condiments and coffee makers for geeks (French press, Chemex, Clever Drippers, etc.).
I like the diner mug ($8.99), a chunky, curvy cup emblazoned with the Roasterie’s logo on one side and its unofficial mascot, a DC-3 plane, on the other. The mug comes in black or white and makes a great gift paired with a 12-ounce bag of limited edition Holiday Blend coffee ($13.37), flavored with cinnamon, hazelnut and vanilla.
For the meat lover
Is bacon giftable? Definitely — especially if we’re talking about the miso-honey bacon sold at the Local Pig, 2618 Guinotte Ave. in the East Bottoms. The thick-sliced, house-cured pork costs $8 per pound.
As the bacon cooks in a skillet, the salty miso and sweet honey coating melds in a caramel-like crust of flavor. Trust me when I say it’s the best bacon I’ve ever cooked at home. The Local Pig also offers gift certificates for classes in charcuterie ($80), sausage-making ($65) and whole hog butchering ($100) if you have a friend or family member who likes to get hands-on with his or her food.
For the salad maker
One of my favorite pantry splurges is aged balsamic vinegar, which lends sweet depth of flavor to salad dressings and roasted vegetables. Extra Virgin, an olive oil and vinegar shop at 937 Massachusetts St. in Lawrence, sells a variety of flavors, from espresso to wild blueberry.
My favorite happens to be the best-seller, a fig-flavored balsamic vinegar imported from Italy that costs $16.95 for a 350-milliliter bottle. The vinegar’s dark, fruity flavor is heaven on everything from sliced strawberries to roasted Brussels sprouts.
For the seasoned chef
Experienced home cooks know that spices can make or break a dish. In my experience, Wood + Salt’s Tellicherry rye peppercorns make practically anything more delicious. The peppercorns are cured with rye whiskey and smoked over pecan wood. Grinding releases their deep smoky flavor, which complements everything from scrambled eggs to ribeye steaks. A 4-ounce jar costs $15 at Urban Provisions and other stores where Wood + Salt products are sold.
For the sweet tooth
For many, chocolates are a go-to holiday gift. You can’t go wrong with a box from Christopher Elbow or Andre’s. I get regular cravings for the chocolate-coated caramels at Bizz & Weezy Confections, 1800 Baltimore Ave. The caramels cost $5 for two or $14.50 for six. I suggest mixing and matching flavors, which include spiced rum, maple, chai and root beer float.
For the baker
I am forever running out of vanilla, probably because I use an extra splash in every recipe. Recently I bought a bottle of locally made Vain Tahitian vanilla extracted in cane rum for $13.95 at The Sundry, 1706 Baltimore Ave.
The vanilla is more complex than the kind I usually get from the grocery store: It tastes like raisins, caramel and, of course, rum. I’ve been adding it to oatmeal and can’t wait to try it in cookies and a cocktail. The bottle came with a recipe for a vanilla-infused Dark ‘N’ Stormy made with ginger beer and spiced rum.
For the craft beer geek
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to interview Christopher Elbow about beer (the chocolate maker also happens to be a beer aficionado). When I asked Elbow to name his favorite Boulevard beer, I expected him to say Chocolate Ale, which he helped create. But he quickly named Bourbon Barrel Quad, an abbey-style quadrupel aged with cherries in oak bourbon barrels.
Bourbon Barrel Quad is now available year-round in four-packs for around $15 at liquor stores such as Cellar Rat Wine Merchants, 1701 W. Baltimore Ave. The strong beer stands up to strong cheeses and bacon-wrapped dates, which makes it perfect for holiday parties. And according to Elbow, it’s pure bliss with barbecue.