Raleigh, N.C. — The Triangle has bountiful options for gift givers who want to impress friends and family with locally-sourced food gifts. Nicole Bogas, founder of NC food gift box company NC Made, shares the Triangle-based gift ideas she’ll be giving this holiday season.
Fine olive oils & vinegars
A new addition to Brightleaf Square in Durham, Bull City Olive Oil offers great gifts for those with the most refined palates. We suggest a bottle of their ultra premium extra virgin olive oil, or "UP EVOO," which is made from a single cultivar of olives that are pressed fresh after being harvested. Pair this fine olive oil with a bottle of infused white or dark balsamic vinegar in flavors ranging from traditional, like black cherry, to unique, like coconut.
Round out your gift with the shop’s selection of locally-sourced products like Sea Love Sea Salt from Wrightsville Beach, or have a custom gift basket created.
For those who love coffee, Asheville-based company Coffee Crate will send you or your loved one a monthly selection of three four-ounce bags of whole bean, North Carolina-roasted coffee. Coffee Curator Angie Rainey selects only her favorite beans from the state’s many micro-roasters and well-known coffee brands.
You can gift one month, three months, six months or one year of monthly coffee deliveries, and each delivery comes with tasting notes and the occasional special treat.
Damn fine liqueurs
Husband and wife team Melissa and Lee Katrincic opened Durham Distillery in 2013 after working in the pharmaceutical industry for 20 years. Their national award-winning gins make great gifts for any G&T lover, but their Damn Fine Mocha Liqueur -- made with Raleigh’s own Slingshot Coffee cold brew and Videri Chocolate Factory dark chocolate -- feels like the perfect holiday gift. Available at many Triangle ABC stores and at Durham Distillery’s downtown Durham location after taking a tour, this spirit tastes great paired with bourbon or vodka.
The team at Escazu Artisan Chocolates make some of our favorite chocolate in North Carolina. Swing by their charming shop in Raleigh’s Oakwood neighborhood to create a custom box of handcrafted holiday confections, including white chocolate and pistachio snowmen, Christmas trees in caramel or orange and clove and peppermint marshmallows. Also special for the holiday season are giant chocolate snowmen and their very own hot chocolate mix featuring 65 percent blended chocolate packaged in a pretty gable box with a bow. You can also select four of their chocolate bars -- in flavors like goats milk chocolate, sea salt and pumpkin seed and guajillo chile -- and they will package them in a laser-engraved, locally-made mahogany gift box.
Cookbooks by North Carolina authors
Flyleaf Books, our favorite Triangle bookstore, has a full selection of cookbooks written by North Carolina chefs this holiday season. Pick up the beautifully-photographed new book from Raleigh’s premier chef Ashley Christensen, "Poole’s: Recipes and Stories from a Modern Diner," or gift your loved one the Southern cooking tome "Deep Run Roots: Stores and Recipes from My Corner of the South" from Kinston chef and television personality Vivian Howard.
Also available is "Curate: Authentic Spanish Food from an American Kitchen" from Asheville’s nationally acclaimed chef, Katie Button. These and more books by North Carolina authors are available at Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill.
Tucked in the wonderfully charming tiny town of Saxapahaw located west of Chapel Hill, Left Bank Butchery offers cuts of meat from humanely raised whole animals sourced from Triangle area farms. This is a great place to pick up a special centerpiece for your holiday meal, but they also have grab-and-go gift selections like chicken liver pate, pork rillette in traditional and pimenton flavors and hard-to-find guanciale (cured pork cheek) for the pasta carbonara aficionado in your life.
Artisan food gift boxes
Durham-based company NC Made offers attractively packaged gift boxes of handcrafted foods made in North Carolina. New for this holiday season are city-specific gift boxes featuring foods like chocolate-covered almonds, salted honey and handmade tonic syrup from some of North Carolina’s biggest cities including Raleigh, Durham, and Charlotte. Also available are artisan food gift assortments packed into locally-made reusable wooden crates. Shop online and have gifts sent directly to your recipients, making this the easiest gift idea for foodies yet.
North Carolina breweries make their special holiday offerings available at Triangle-area bottle shops like Beer Durham in Durham and Pharmacy Bottle & Beverage in Cary. Look for Silent Night from Kinston’s Mother Earth Brewery. With coffee and molasses notes, this barrel-aged imperial stout is offered in a 25-ounce corked bottle and is available in limited quantities, making it a perfect gift for a North Carolina beer lover.
Also available is Highland Brewing Company’s Cold Mountain Winter Ale, from Asheville, which offers its vanilla and hazelnut undertones in special 22-ounce bottles.
Holiday cookie gift sets
Angie Tucker and Christin Kubasko of Southern Sugar Bakery are two former high school counselors who shared a love for baking and turned their cookie decorating hobby into an impressive full-time operation. They’re offering their exquisitely decorated sugar cookies in holiday gift sets featuring Santas, holly leaves, ornaments, snowflakes and more. For the kids, they also offer unique paintable cookie sets, which come with extra-large outlined Christmas tree cookies, edible paint and paint brushes for little ones to decorate their own.
Give the gluten lover in your life freshly baked bread on a weekly basis with a gift of Strong Arm Baking’s bread share program.
With weekly pick-up locations at Nofo @ the Pig in Raleigh or Stovall’s Gifts & Collectibles in Oxford, baker Julia Colgrove’s delicious creations are never far away. Pay in advance for your recipient to receive a month’s worth (or more!) of bread from Strong Arm’s selection of sourdough and yeasted breads with the option to add on their beautiful pastries like dark chocolate chess tarts, apple and vanilla turnovers, and lemon shortbread cookies.
Annette Council is the daughter of Mama Dip’s Kitchen proprietor, Mildred Council, and she wanted to make the cake flavors she grew up with available to everyone at home.
Her cake mixes range in flavor from traditional vanilla and spice cake to red velvet flavored with beet powder. Available at most Triangle area Whole Foods Markets, these cake mixes from Sweet Neecy have pretty new packaging that will make lovely stocking stuffers or gifts for anyone who loves to bake.
Taste Carolina gift certificates
What better gift for a local food lover than a day spent perusing a town’s best restaurants? With a gift certificate to Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours, your recipient can choose a walking tour of Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and Carrboro, Hillsborough, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, or Wilmington. Experienced guides will lead them through the history and culture of each city, stopping along the way for tastes at local restaurants, breweries, bakeries, chocolate shops, and more as they soak up the flavors that make North Carolina a great food state.