It’s the gift-giving season. Alaskans are ready to buy, wrap and share some of what makes the 49th state special.
“Most of our holiday shoppers are looking for something uniquely Alaskan to send to friends and relatives out of state,” says DeeAnn Apgar, owner of Summit Spice & Tea Co. in Midtown Anchorage.
At Apgar’s shop that might mean local tea blends and hot cocoa, Alaska-grown jam, local chocolate or pickles made from bull kelp. For other Alaskans, sending gifts to friends and family Outside means one thing — seafood. And, of course, there are sweet treats — for people or your favorite pup. Here’s a rundown of some items available from local shops.
A gift list that didn’t include Alaska seafood would be as shocking as an early morning earthquake.
And, of course, there are plenty of shops that offer salmon, halibut, scallops, crab and other goodies — available locally or to ship Outside. Here are thoughts from a couple shops that highlight what’s available.
“I think Alaska seafood — and game, for that matter — has always been a popular thing for Alaskans to send family and friends Outside,” says Cade Smith at FishEx. “This time of year, though, crab is king! Conveniently, Alaska’s Bristol Bay king crab season also takes place just in time for the holidays.
“When crab is given as a holiday gift, it can also be enjoyed on New Year’s Eve, or secreted away in the freezer in store for that next anniversary or other special occasion.”
Rob Winfree from 10th & M Seafoods echoes Smiths thoughts on a holiday crab feast.
“We currently have 16 gift packs that we offer,” Winfree says. “These gift packs were designed over the years to reflect packages being built by our clients. These types of packages were so popular that we started offering them as a prebuilt gift box to simplify their shopping experience.
“But king crab is always the most popular during the holidays, so you will notice that most of our packs include either gold or red king crab.”
A taste of Paris
Another idea: Sweet Caribou offers its Parisian macarons in seasonal flavors including gingerbread eggnog, peppermint bark, cranberry orange, salted caramel hot chocolate, hot buttered rum and tiramisu.
Owner James Strong says Sweet Caribou’s holiday gift boxes are “perfect for that special someone who has everything." Other flavors decorated for the holidays include passionfruit, birthday cake, strawberry shortcake, green velvet, chocolate mousse and pomegranate chocolate.
Strong says the store also has holiday gift baskets that include Sweet Caribou’s handcrafted favorites like peppermint bark, caribou tracks and other sweets.
Treats for your favorite canine
Daisy Nicolas from Drool Central is ready to help you get just the right gift for Fido, Fluffy or Bella.
Among the special items for the dogs are the Stocking Stuffer Probiotic Fido ($6.50) in two flavors — Alaska-grown red beets or blueberry — and includes homemade goat kefir from Alaska-grown goat milk, organic coconut flour and fresh eggs. Also popular is the Crunch Brat gift box ($20) that includes Peanut Butter Chicken Gizzard Chips, Bageltov Sally, Bageltov and Le Coeur Rouge.
You can find Drool Central at the Southcentral Foundation’s Holiday Bazaar from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday at 4085 Tudor Centre Drive and at the O’Malley Castle Market, 1520 O’Malley Road Saturday (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and Sunday (noon to 5 p.m.).
Don’t forget the markets
Midwinter is definitely the slow season for farmers markets, but don’t forget that the Center Market and the Thankful Thursdays market are both open at the Midtown Mall, offering items for your table and under your tree. Valley-grown vegetables, cuts of pork, honey, salsa, grass-fed beef and fermented foods are among the food products at the markets.
Center Market is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays; and the Thankful Thursdays market is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays.