Best Food Gifts from 5 Cities

We scoured several cities across the country, tracking down the best edible gift in each to share the spirit of the city, including a few with in-airport kiosks for the ultra-last-minute gift giver.
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Photo by: Andrew Cebulka

Andrew Cebulka

When it comes to holiday gifts, home is where the hearty appetite is. But if homemade gifts elude you, rely on the pros to help play savory Santa. We scoured several cities across the country, tracking down the best edible gift in each to share the spirit of the city, including a few with in-airport kiosks for the ultra-last-minute gift giver. Whether you’re keen to give chefs’ pantry favorites or a nip of the holiday spirit, here are our tasty local finds.

Check out the full gallery for the best food gifts from even more cities. 

Charleston: Bittermilk’s Gingerbread Old Fashioned Mix

For those keeping spirits bright, Bittermilk takes the chaos out of mixing and muddling with its just-add-booze combinations. Combinations like the Smoked-Honey Whiskey Sour and the elderflower-tinged Tom Collins are appealing year-round, but during the holidays the Gingerbread Old Fashioned is Christmas in a cocktail glass. The mix combines ginger, orange and other baking spices, all waiting for a quick stir of rum and ice. Garnish it with an orange peel or a mini gingerbread man and embrace seasonal feelings.

Philadelphia: Soom Tahini

Thought we were going to suggest shipping cheesesteaks? Tahini may not be the most-obvious Philadelphia food, but this is no ordinary tahini. Nutty, robust and creamy, this spread brings surprising complexity to a one-ingredient condiment. Started by three sisters, the brand includes sesame-based dips and a chocolate-sesame spread that's a great nut-free Nutella alternative. But the original is superlative, called out by Philadelphia superchef Michael Solomonov as his go-to. Give it as is, or bake some into cookies, using the recipes on Soom’s site.

Washington, D.C.: Gordy’s Pickle Jar

What more-fitting way to get out of a gift-giving pickle than with a little dill or half-sour action? The pickling pundits at Gordy’s use local, seasonal, organic ingredients whenever possible to create next-level jars of spicy, tangy, perfectly crunchy pickles. Around this time of year, the Bloody Mary Mix is ideal. With the right hit of vinegar and cucumber with cherry peppers and ample garlic, it’s the perfect hostess gift or on-hand helper for impromptu holiday brunches. Order online or pick up a jar at Salt & Sundry.

Nashville: Olive + Sinclair Bourbon Nib Brittle

Give the gift of the whiskey trail with this Nashville chocolatier’s bourbon nib brittle. Tennessee's first bean-to-bar chocolate company makes stone-ground chocolate (grits-style), adding Southern touches like buttermilk white chocolate and cocoa nibs that are smoked in the same Tennessee smokehouses that produce Benton's bacon. The bourbon brittle recipe calls for the nibs to be aged in small-batch bourbon barrels before they're mixed into crunchy, buttery chocolate-covered brittle.

Chicago: Frontera Salsa

Obliterate winter chill with fiery chipotle salsa (or the more medium-spice tomatillo version) from Rick Bayless’ Frontera. Spoon it over Christmas Eve tamales or serve both versions side by side for festive Christmas-colored dips. The chef also sells Aztec-style chocolate sauce spiced with chile and vanilla, an unexpectedly robust topping for ice cream, online and in his restaurants. Jars of all three are available at the Frontera cafes within O’Hare International Airport, meaning that you can carry the 16-ounce salsa and 11-ounce chocolate sauce on board with no TSA hassles.

 For great food gifts from other cities, check out the full gallery.

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