As we look forward to putting 2020 behind us, we still have a few weeks of holiday gift-giving and eating. Though the season will look different this year, it’s more important than ever to support struggling small businesses as we build our way back and look forward to 2021.
I give food gifts more often than not, and this year am looking forward to focusing on local. We have a wealth of Alaska-based culinary offerings, everything from wild berry products and birch syrup to salts from Homer and Sitka.
I asked a group of Alaska food enthusiasts to share their picks for most-wanted. While not at all a comprehensive list of culinary gift ideas, these are their favorites, with, when applicable, their comments in italics. For your own food gift suggestions, feel free to share in the comments section at the bottom of the story.
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• ”An Anchorage Greens subscription is the gift that keeps on giving!”
• Fun gear and food from the AK Salmon Sisters.
• Restaurants need our support more than ever, and gift cards are an easy way to spread the love. Ginger in Anchorage is giving 10% of gift-card sales to their employees. Consider a gift card to Crush bistro or their wine shop for wine club finds or take-home-and-bake meals. For the holidays, choose from beef Wellington or wild boar roulade and all the trimmings.
• ”For fancy at-home feasting, Kincaid Grill is offering curbside pickup of Chateaubriand and garlic king prawns.”
• Need a hit of spice to brighten up your winter palate? Give gift cards to Mandala Indian Restaurant (“Just had the BEST Indian food for dinner….Got take-out at Mandala and I can’t wait for us all to go together one day”) or Hometown Korean, which packs up a dizzying array of housemade banchan to accompany bibimbap or spicy soft tofu stew.
• For cooking at home, consider gifts from Summit Spice and Tea or The Spice and Tea Exchange in South Anchorage, a coffee bean’s-throw from SteamDot Coffee Co. (“Now through Dec 24, when you purchase $100 or more worth of gift cards, you get a free $20 gift card to go with it”).
• Don’t forget gift cards for the spicy wings at Bear Tooth or your favorite pizza and brew at Moose’s Tooth. (“I love that BearTooth does nacho kits, premade breakfast burritos, and bean and cheese burritos. Plus margarita mix - the prickly pear is our fave. Add some fun Mexican tableware and/or glasses from Allen and Peterson or Metro Cooks.”)
• Altura Bistro (“A gift card for spot prawn bisque is on my wish list!”)
More than ever this year, the gift of booze is on many lists. A pretty bottle of homemade cordials (my neighbor gave me one named after my overused phrase “disco nap”) or a growler of homemade brew are always fun. (“I always love a gift of spirits, especially from The Wine House or any new release at award-winning Anchorage Brewing Co. They have the coolest art!”)
• Some restaurants are offering make-at-home cocktail kits. (“I crave the creative, fun cocktails at South, and they have to-go kits… The hot buttered rum is my go-to this year for holiday gift-giving…including myself.”)
• A Make Your Own Holiday Survival Cocktail Kit. (“A gift certificate to La Bodega that includes: Luxardo Maraschino cherries, Peychaud’s or Angostura bitters, Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth and Zardetto Private Cuvee Burt Vino Spumante. The Bodega folks are awesome: Often we call and ask them to pick out some fun stuff. They NEVER disappoint. On that note, a gift cert to my absolute Alaska favorite sushi place, Sakura (they are doing a fun to-go menu with the latest no-dining-in restriction), with a gift certificate to Bodega that folks can use at the Girdwood Bodega as well.”)
• Port Chilkoot Distillery in Haines for holiday cocktails and general spirit lifting (“and they have the loveliest labels”).
Coffee, tea and probiotics
• A teapot, some tea cups and a gift certificate to Indigo Tea Lounge and/or Summit Tea and Spice.
• Baked goods are always welcome. (“My dad requests that I mail him a dozen Fire Island chocolate chip cookies every Christmas and the Samovar Tea from the Kobuk.”)
• Dead Hopper Roastery (“for the best coffee in the state”).
• Get your winter run on while giving back to the food community at Skinny Raven. (”We have small gifts to say “thank you” for that support, and to pay it forward to other businesses who may need the extra boost this month. For all purchases over $100 at either Skinny Raven location, grab a gift card for local restaurants, cafes and juice bars for coffee, meals and treats, while supplies last. Let’s keep Anchorage running!”)
From land and sea
• Send the gift of seafood: “I really love Catch 49 — by and for Alaska — and for shipping out of state, Sena Sea.” Alaska Homepack for smoked fish and king crab gift packs; Wildfish Cannery smoked octopus—(“I add to chowders for an extra smoky flavor.”)
• Barnacle Foods for kelp hot sauce and salsas.
• If you need some luxurious fungi (chanterelles and black winter truffles) for your holiday dishes, email Capriccio Specialties.
• Bambino’s in Anchorage makes organic and kosher meals for babies, using ingredients including Alaska seafood.
• Butcher Block 9 (“for birch syrup shoulder bacon!!”)
• It’s never too cold for ice cream, even in Alaska. Check out the seasonal flavors at Motley Moo and Wild Scoops or go for a gelato or sorbetto at Gelatte (“Gelatte’s tiramisu and stracciatella gelato flavors are like a little taste of that holiday in Italy none of us will be taking this year.”)
• For a taste of Hawaii, a box of warm malasadas with flavors like passion fruit and guava at WikiWiki donuts. This recent addition to the Anchorage sweets scene started out as a cottage industry by two women who wanted to empower other moms staying at home to homeschool their kids during the pandemic. For the holidays, “Two of our employees came up with hot cocoa bombs as part of the ultimate Christmas package and so we are happy to let them keep all proceeds.”
• Go to Sevigny Studio for Alaska potters on show — an array of cups and plates and other vessels for your holiday table. Or Metro Cooks for fun kitchen supplies.
• Aurora Chocolates for handpainted chocolates inspired by the northern lights
• Heather’s Choice (“delicious, packable snacks for hiking, camping, skiing, etc.”)
• Wildland Chocolate for handcrafted chocolate treats
• Sweet Caribou (“I can’t get enough of their Parisian macarons and they have delicious salads as well!”)
• Check out Northern Knives for expert knife-sharpening or a new chef’s knife or ulu.
• Consider a gift card for an Alaska food tour such as those offered by Voyij.