Holiday Gift Guide: The Best Of Food And Drink Gifts!

Everyone loves to get little goodies in their Christmas stockings, but in my book, the big goodies are even better. I have chosen some of my favorite chocolates, classic Italian veggies preserved in EVOO, hot sauces, wine, tequila and more that anyone and everyone would want to keep on hand for holiday guests just popping in or even staying for a holiday dinner!

Everyone’s looking for a terrific wine for that holidays that is reasonably priced with great reviews. As several reviewers on the wine sites state, “You can’t go wrong with Babich!” I could not agree more. Their Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2021 retails for only $12.99 and is bottled in New Zealand. Here is the official description from the Babich site: “The nose displays gooseberry, herbal and tropical notes.The Babich Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc has a delicious palate with a full fruited entry, again gooseberry layered with rock melon and a zesty long mineral / herbal finish. This is the classic Babich style that complements a variety of foods, or drinks equally well on its own.” Simply put, Babich Sauvignon Blanc 2021 is a real crowd pleaser. Load up now because many Babich products have sold out at many liquor and wine sales sites and stores in the past. Here is a great place to purchase this item at an amazing price of under $10 a bottle: Babich Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2021. (I think you will also love the Select Blocks Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2021 as well!)

I just recently discovered Vignoli Italian Food Anthology and while they have award winning olive oil including ones infused with everything from citrus to basil, people should take note of their remarkable grilled vegetables which are preserved the old fashioned way (in small batches and in glass). They have at least six varieties including the above Mixed Grill, Zucchini and Eggplant and the easiest way to impress fussy guests without any muss and fuss is to serve these in individual small bowls at the center of your table with a cheese board and charcuterie. The Vignoli team uses some of their top of the line EVOO when creating their jarred grilled vegetables and you might find yourself dipping some nice freshly baked bread in the jar after the vegetables are gone! All varieties are $14 for a 13.5 ounce jar. The Vignoli team also has diversified gift baskets for the holidays that include their highly acclaimed homemade pasta, aforementioned selection of olive oils, vinegar and more. The bottles of cold pressed olive oils have stunning presentations and one big bottle would be something any proud chef would love to display. Orders over $100 ship free. Here’s a link to purchasing the above Mixed Grill: Vignoli Mixed Grill.

I fell in love with Miss Maude’s chocolate the minute I tried it for the first time! I recommend gifting Miss Maude’s Story which consists of five of Miss Maude’s signature eight-flavor chocolate bars. Available in organic 60% dark Italian chocolate or organic 32% milk chocolate. Each box includes one of the following bars: Why Choose? (Salted Caramel, Marcona Almonds, Earl Grey, Pink Salt, Veuve Clicquot Champagne, Tart Cherry, Hazelnut Praline, and Crisped Rice in Dark or Milk Chocolate), Secret Single Behavior (Peanut Butter, Caramelized Saltines, Strawberry Ice Cream, Potato Chips, Red Wine, Pretzels, Butter Caramel, and Caramelized Cheerios in Dark or Milk Chocolate), Après-Ski (Spiced Caramel Cider, S’mores, Wasabi Peanuts, Hot Toddy, Bailey’s & Coffee, Shortbread Cookies, Cheese Fondue, and Mulled Wine in Dark or Milk Chocolate) and Resort Rendezvous (Coffee, Macadamia Nut, Rum Caramel, Dragonfruit, Hibiscus, Pineapple, Coconut, and Margarita in Dark or Milk Chocolate) and Theater (Butter Popcorn, Cola, Raisins, Peanuts, Creamy Mint, Sour Blue Raspberry Gummies, Peanut Butter Crunch, and Chewy Caramel in a combination of Dark and Milk Chocolate). I can’t believe that someone came up with chocolate bars with eight different flavors. Buy Miss Maude’s Story here for $70: Miss Maude’s Story.

Crafted in a small Mexican town, amidst the highest peaks of the Jalisco Highlands, every step of Teramana’s tequila-making process is meticulously done to create delicious tequila that truly honors the land it comes from. Utilizing local businesses and practices allows them to create our sustainable ultra premium tequila. I have been using the Anejo Small Batch tequila myself for the past few months—I love it in margaritas but a lot of my friends just like it “neat.” It has gotten a lot of great press and everyone I know who has tried it, loves it. You can purchase a 750 ml bottle here for $39.99: Teremana Anejo Small Batch Tequila.

Everyone has a hot sauce lover in their life and I think that I have found the perfect gift for them. African Dream’s three pack of their most popular sauces provide you with all of your flavor needs while seriously bringing some African heat from our South African grown chillies. Their African ghost peppers have a hot and complex flavor and all of our sauces are all-natural and preservative-free. Think your normal hot sauce but turned up a notch in terms of heat and flavor. This is a must-have for the hot sauce connoisseur looking to add some variety and uniqueness to their hot sauce collection. African Dreams is definitely a unique hot sauce brand and if you have never experienced African heat or flavors then this is the perfect pack for you. The African Ghost Pepper Sauce provides maximum heat, the Ghost Peri-Peri sauce provides maximum flavor and the Bird’s Eye Chilli Sauce gives that unique African twist that you won’t find anywhere else. Impress your friends and family with some authentic African flavors, but these sauces aren’t just limited to African cuisine—they can literally be eaten with anything! Order here for $24.95: African Dreams 3 Bottle Set. (Amazon has many African Dreams sets you should check out including ones with dry spices!)

The Houston-based WarPig BBQ is a competition BBQ team founded by US veterans and they’ve got many sauce and dry rub kits that will make great holiday gifts for the BBQ lovers in your life. Over the years, the team has developed one of a kind barbecue products and put them to the test in competitions across the country—so you know they’re good before you buy them. The WarPig team has battled the most legendary BBQ masters in the world with their sauces and rubs—and have truly forged a remarkable path to success. The largest grocery chain in Texas, HEB, chose the F.U.B.A.R. Elite BBQ sauce as the first place winner in their 2017 Quest For Texas Best contest but our favorite sauce is F.U.B.A.R. Flamethrower Elite—which is the perfect stocking stuffer for people who love everything hot, hot, hot and love to battle others on how much heat their mouths can take! Follow these creative culinary gentlemen on Instagram under this handle: @txwarpigbbq. You can buy a 21 ounce bottle of F.U.B.A.R. Flamethrower Elite for $7 plus postage on the WarPig website. Here’s a link: Flamethrower Elite Sauce.

There is something that Santa cannot deliver but wishes that he could—high quality pierogis made from all natural farm fresh ingredients. Undoubtedly, if Santa was given permission to deliver Holy Perogy! to the little boys and girls around the world on Christmas Eve, he and his reindeers would eat them before making it to the very first house! Holy Perogy! is a line of premium frozen perogies unforgettable flavors, both classic and modern. Holy Perogy! uses a longtime Ukrainian family recipe to create delicious perogies in their Toronto restaurant, but US customers can find them in the freezer aisle of their local grocery stores. What sets Holy Perogy! apart from other frozen pierogis is that they not only taste great but they have the most premium ingredients. The thin dough is packed with flavorful freshly cooked mashed potatoes and other real, whole foods from onions to jalapeños and back again. Holy Perogy! perogies are uncooked and packaged in a resealable standup pouch that maintains freshness for up to a year in your freezer. The two-step process for preparing them at home takes minutes and results in authentic, fresh flavor and texture every time. These amazing pierogies work well as a main dish, a side or a snack (especially with sour cream as a topping). All of the unique flavors in this brand are made with non-GMO potatoes, with plant based and vegetarian options available. Every one of the unique Holy Perogy! flavors are sure to amaze your holiday guests, including: Fully Loaded Potato with Cheddar & Bacon, Oh! So Cheesy with Potato & Cheddar, Sizzlin’ Fried Onion with Potato, and Kickin’ Jalapeño with Potato & Cheddar. For more information, visit holyperogy.info. (Retail price is about $10 to $12 per bag.)

Two of my top wines picks for holiday entertaining are brought to you by La Rioja, a top Spanish winery. The first one is Vina Alberdi Crianza 2018, made of 100 per cent Tempranillo grapes. Vina Alberdi Crianza 2018 stands out for its intensity with red fruit aromas (strawberries, raspberries, red currant and cherry), leading to elegant notes of vanilla, toffee, coffee cream, cinnamon, brioche and hazelnuts. The balance between acidity and alcohol stands out on the palate, with soft, sweet, rounded tannins and a pleasant final sensation. This wine is generally priced in the low 20s and you can order it here on Drizly for only $20: Vina Alberdi Crianza 2018. The second one is Lagar de Cervera 2021 made from 100 per cent Albariño grapes. This wine is clear and bright and has a green color with golden reflections. It has a a pronounced aroma of apple and ripe pear with pineapple and quince also being prominent. There are hints of lemon peel that help make it particularly crisp, lively and elegant—with good structure on the palate. This is the perfect wine to enjoy with any appetizer and is a remarkable companion to seafood, salad, fowl and fresh cheese. It also works well with Asian dishes, especially sushi or sashimi. This wine’s retail price is in the low 20s and you can purchase it here on Vivino for $22.94: Lagar de Cervera Albariño 2021.

I am lucky enough to live a few blocks from Julien Boulangerie on the Upper East Side (located non Third Avenue between 71st and 72nd Streets) and the French style baked goods as as “legit” as it gets. Julien’s won’t divulge all their baking secrets but admits that one of them is the use of super high quality French butter. In the past year, several Julien’s locations have popped up in Manhattan and Brooklyn and word on the street is that the best croissant in NYC can be had here! That’s because Julien is a Parisian native who has spent the majority of his life perfecting his craft. It really says something when your shops in France are so successful that you can open up several of them In New York. When you look at the glass display case in any Julien store, you will notice a lot of French delights, some that you have never seen before—your eyes will open up wide and then undoubtedly you will start drooling. It’s hard not to take home a half dozen buttery patisserie items and eat them in one or two days.For your holiday dessert table, I strongly suggest going into any store to buy a six or 12 pack of ganache filled macarons which are $18 and $36 respectively. (Being a caramel lover, the Dolce De Leche is my absolute favorite flavor.) They are available on julienboulangerie.com but going in to see the glass case of about 20 flavors is a truly Parisian experience. Julien’s will also have two types of Buche De Noel available for pickup on 12/23-12/25. (Last year’s flavors were Hazelnut and Chocolate With Strawberry.) To purchase Julien’s items via mail order, go to julienboulangerie.com/shop.

I just discovered a double flavor sensation called the Pecan Pizza Pie + Pecan Pie Combo that is available exclusively on Goldbelly for a limited time. You get a traditional old school pecan pie that melts in your mouth and a Pecan Pizza pie made with a buttermilk pizza crust, thick bourbon infused tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, a spicy Balsamic glaze (that customers put on right before serving) and fennel dusted pepperoni flavored pecan halves! It’s the American Pecan Promotion Board and legendary New Jersey based pizza shop Tony Boloney’s who developed this “one two punch” of a gourmet package. The limited-edition, Pecan Pizza Pie + Pecan Pie Combo is available for consumers exclusively on Goldbelly.com for $99.95. “We are known for our out-of-the-box creations, and we’re thrilled to be bringing this ready-to-bake pizza meets pie mashup to the masses just in time for the holidays,” says Mike Hauke, Founder and Owner of Tony Boloney’s Brands. “This plant-based pie is a delicious marriage of our savory classic pizza and the iconic pecan pie, heaping with holiday flavor.” You might have seen Hauke on various food shows including The Best Thing I Ever Ate and he always wows whomever he is creating pizzas for! I will be ordering another one of these packages next holiday season if they are made available again (and I am sure they will because they are flying off the Goldbelly shelves). Tony Baloney’s pecan pizza is a perfect item to throw in the oven for lunch the day after Christmas when you do not want to muss and fuss and the traditional pecan pie is something that you will want to eat all the time! Order here: Pecan Pizza Pie + Pecan Pie Combo.

I have always been a big fan of cooking oil sprays and they have not only made my plain dishes a lot tastier but helped me from burning pots and baking sheets as well. I just found a couple of new cooking oil sprays to love and they would make perfect stocking stuffers for the chef in your life. The brand I am speaking of is Chefs Life®, a revolutionary line of custom culinary oil blends founded by Celebrity Chef Brian Malarkey. There are two elevated blends available—Chefs Life Original Cooking Oil Spray and Chefs Life Brown Butter Cooking Oil Spray. The buttery one especially blows me away because it packs so much flavor (I love to coat my cast iron grill with it before cooking a nice piece of steak. Chefs Life products are available in more than 2,100 Kroger stores nationwide and online. Order the Brown Butter flavor here for $4.99: Chef’s Life.

If you are a lover of chocolate hazelnut spreads, I strongly suggest that your try the ones by Fabalous, which are created in Italy—these spreads are a delicious combination of organic hazelnuts, cocoa and chickpeas. Fabalous is actually the first hazelnut-chocolate spread to use chickpeas as the primary ingredient (32%), with each 7.05 ounce jar containing on average 128 dried chickpeas and eight shelled hazelnuts. This chocolatey treat can be enjoyed guilt free, as it has 37% less sugar and 49% more protein than the leading cacao and hazelnut spread brand—and it works many ways, not just on bread. Fabalous can be used over pancakes or toast for an indulgent breakfast, or just spooned straight from the jar, guilt free. There are several variations available including an amazing one that includes natural orange flavor! Each jar retails for about $7.00 on gourmica.com and they make amazing stocking stuffers for hazelnut spread maniacs (like yours truly). You can order on this link (I strongly recommend trying the crunchy version): Fabalous Crunchy Hazlenut & Cocoa Spread.

I have been a longtime fan of Sugarwish and I feel that what they have to offer can truly please anyone! This cutting edge company allows hardcore sweet tooth folks like myself to go on their website and select fantasy sweets in gorgeous packaging that arrives super quickly—by that I mean that for as little as $23, you can send your friends an electronic gift card that lets them pick out two or more of their favorite candies and get them sent out via FedEx totally free. The process is easy—you just go on the Sugarwish website, pick out how large a candy “wish” you want to gift along with a custom message and in several seconds, there is a cute and colorful email send to your giftee! Sugarwish has a huge assortment of sweets including some old time favorites from “back in the day” like jelly beans, gummy bears and shoestring licorice. The best thing is that the recipient really tailors their box to their own preferences. I will be treating myself to a four portion small si box of Sugarwish classic vintage candies this Christmas. Sugarwish also creates giant fifty pound play boxes for parties! The latest news is that Sugarwish has expanded to sending out wine, spirits, dog treats, flowers and more! I recently got the colorful Bohemian Rhapsody bouquet created by The Bouqs for Sugarwish and was amazed to see that it lasted a full 10 days! To peruse all the amazing Sugarwish gifting choices, go to www.sugarwish.com. (Be sure to Google Sugarwish coupon codes before ordering to get discounts!)

I just discovered AmazingClubs.com and was amazed to see how many choices there are for their monthly subscription services. For about $46 per month, you can get your hands on more than 50 “club” themes. There is everything from chocolate to lobster to cheesecake clubs and back again. I decided to “go healthy” and get the Fruit Of The Month Club box which met my expectations and more. The price includes express shipping and I got several unusual oranges from a small town in Florida, and three giant, juicy pomegranates. The total weight was five pounds, which is standard for Amazing Clubs boxes and much more than you get from other fruit subscription services. You can choose a three month to one year subscription and you will get different exciting seasonal premium fruits in each box. All fruits come from a worldwide network of award-winning growers for maximum flavor and freshness—and each delivery is covered by Amazing Clubs’ unbeatable “You’ll Love It” guarantee! You can order the crowd pleasing Fruit Of The Month Club box—which includes an e-message or printed out card to the recipient as well as a fun newsletter on the fruits and their farmers—on this link: Fruit Of The Month Club.

As a low carb dieter, I can attest to the fact that there is no such thing as enough protein in my freezer—that is why the perfect gift for just about any at home chef is a box of their favorite meat, poultry or fish or a combo of ball three (which ButcherBox can easily provide at prices lower than that of any NYC based supermarket)! ButcherBox delivers 100% grass-fed beef, free-range organic chicken, humanely raised pork, and wild-caught seafood directly to you home postage free and promptly. Boxes can be custom made or you can pick one of the crowd pleasers which are predetermined and have a little “something for everyone.” The ButcherBox Favorites is a top seller and you get about eight pounds of meat and poultry for $149 (and that really is the final cost)! The classic cuts in this box are versatile and delicious, perfect for a wide range of tastes and cooking skill levels. This just might change the way you or your giftee might shop for meat forever. In the ButcherBox Favorites box includes two one-pound packs of Ground Beef (85/15), four eight-ounce Boneless Pork Chops, three one-pound packs of Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, two six-ounce Filet Mignons, a one-pound pack of Sirloin Tips, a 10-ounce package of ButcherBox Bacon and a 12-ounce package of Apple Gouda Sausage (made with chicken). You also get to pick the exact week you would like your package sent out. If you are a generous gifter, you can get your friend or family member a subscription that lasts anywhere from three months to a year that includes a bonus of two pounds of grass-fed ground beef in every order. You can also order all steak boxes if you really want to make a grand impression. Order the ButcherBox Favorites on this link but be sure to check out all their other great gifting items: ButcherBox Favorites.

I just discovered a fabulous gift set for the cheese lover in your life (or yourself)! It’s called Bardwell’s Best and it is a beautiful selection of three handcrafted artisan cheeses from Vermont’s Consider Bardwell Farm. The cheeses that you get in this amazing sampler are: an eight-ounce Pawlet (pictured above) a bright & melty cheese, similar to an Italian-style toma, an eight-ounce Rupert, an Alpine-style cheese with butterscotchy and fruity notes, and generous six ounce chunk of the amazing Dorset Hidden Star, an earthy yet buttery washed-rind cheese (washed with sparkling hard cider from Slyboro Ciderhouse). And in case you are curious, Consider Bardwell Farm is indeed a real farm! Located in Pawlet, Vermont, and spanning the rolling hills of Vermont’s Champlain Valley and reaching into Washington County, New York, the three-hundred acre farm was established in 1864 by a man named Consider Stebbins Bardwell! The cheeses made here are “small batch” and considered some of the finest the US has to offer. Last year, a lifestyle journalist from Forbes wrote, “Among the finest American cheeses… each distinctive and full flavored.” Order the Bardwell’s Best box here for $66 plus shipping: Bardwell’s Best Box.