More great gift ideas to add to my 2010 Gift Guide

My very own artisan jams and marmalades

Some of you probably already know that I make jams and marmalades. If you follow me on Twitter you might have even bought some. If this is the first you’ve heard of this, let me tell you a bit about this little adventure of mine.

For the past couple of years, I’ve been making very small batches of jams and marmalades for sale. I’m inspired by the beauty of the products I have access to in this area, like stone fruits from Andy Mariani’s legendary orchard and exotic citrus from a secret garden atop a scenic hill in Watsonville. The secret citrus garden belongs to our good friend Gene Lester, a retired engineer who has dedicated his life to his passion. He’s cultivated a magical garden of at least a couple hundreds varieties of exotic citrus. For years I’ve been visiting Gene’s garden to help David harvest citrus to use at Manresa, and one day I gave in to the mesmerizing calls and started making my own marmalades. I’ve been doing it each citrus season since.

You won’t find an “Orange Marmalade” in my collection, instead, you’ll find ones with poetic names like Bouquet des Fleurs, Sanguinello, and Rangpur. Each batch is made in the classic bitter marmalade style, from a single varietal of citrus to showcase its own unique flavor and perfume. Jeffrey Steingarten, an early (and loyal) fan of my jams and marmalades, calls them “unparalleled”.

My jams are made in much the same way, inspired by the amazing heirloom stone fruits from Andy’s Orchard. I make them in very small batches, with only pristine fruits, minimally processed sugar, and never with commercial pectin. Pectin is just for the meek. Where acidity is called for I use fabulous Meyer lemons from Gene’s garden. Each season Andy keeps some of his best heirloom fruits for me, like my favorite local plum the Elephant Heart and the heirloom white peach Silver Logan, which dates from the time bright acidity hasn’t been bred out of them. Andy also has French varietals otherwise difficult to find, such as the little-plum-that-could Mirabelle and the fantastic Reine-Claude.

All my jams and marmalades are made in small batches, in my treasured copper bassines à confiture I hauled back from France.  I only have very limited quantities, no more than 40-50 boxes (12 jar each) each year, I usually sell them out at the end of each season. This holiday is the first time I still have them for sale, because I was so busy at the end of summer I didn’t get around to putting all of them up for sale. So, if you’d like to try some, or give some away as gifts to your jam loving friends, you still have a chance, just mosey on over to my Etsy shop and get some while you can.

If, by the time you read this post, I’m already sold out of the jams – sorry – I have two local jam makers I adore and highly recommend, June Taylor Preserves and Blue Chair Fruits. Try them!

Because a food lover is never complete without wine

And now, to round out my gift guide this year, I’m adding two fun gift ideas especially for the wine lovers. When one of my readers asked me why I had no wine gift ideas on my list, I had no good answer for him. I supposed it’s because if I were to start on wine I’d have to write an entire list for them alone!

There are so many fantastic ideas for wines. You could give your wine-loving dear ones a fine Burgundy she or he couldn’t normally afford. You could sign them up on a fantastic wine voyage known as the Dooniverse. But then two ideas came to me and got me so so excited I had to add them to my gift list this year.

One is some great value and lovely wines at Dee Vine Wines. David and I are very good friends with the owner Dade Thieriot (read:disclosure) so I follow him on Twitter. Lately I’ve been seeing some wonderful deals he tweeted about, so I went to check his online store. There I found 7 pages of lovely Rieslings, all under $20! Dade imports wines directly from the producers, and he only brings in wines that fit his taste. Knowing Dade, I can tell you his taste is fine indeed. So, this is a personal recommendation. Try some of those fantastic value Rieslings from his list, I’m sure you’ll love me for it. (If you’re planning on cooking Dorie’s French Supper from my Dinner @ 8, the wine I recommend for the meal is a Riesling Kabinett, and you can find some lovely ones right here at Dade’s shop.)

The second wine recommendation also came from a friend. Our dear friend Keiko Niccolini brought two of these ingenious Govino wine glasses to our pig roast (for which we asked friends to bring their own eating/drinking vessels, long story) and forgot to take them home. Instead of returning them to her I greedily kept them for my own use (read:busted). David and I love to sail, and these shatterproof Govino wine glasses are perfect for our sailing trips. Gone were the days we drank good wine out of cheap supermarket plastic cups. Now we drink them out of these stylish Govino glasses – they’re like your usual stemless wine glass but with an indentation that fits your thumb so you could grip the glass (without having to cup it like you’re a wine heathen or something.) I think they’re just brilliant. Back then they were only sold to wine professionals to use at tasting events, but now you could get them at your local stores or on Amazon. I think a set of these glasses will make just about any wine-lover among your dear ones very happy this holiday season. (read: dear my own dear ones I could use more of these!)

So, that’s my list. What about yours? What fun holiday presents are you planning to give or hoping to get? Do share!

(Please go back to the original gift guide to leave a comment so we have them all in one place.)

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