Let’s talk about food and drink. Specifically, where you buy gifts for your favorite food- and drink-obsessed friends and family.
Our first stop when picking out a nice bottle of wine for someone is Henry & Son. For beer, we head to Elevated or The Ale Jail; for spirits, Surdyk’s or Zipps Liquors; for coffee, Wesley Andrews, Bootstrap, or a million other great local roasters; and for tea, TeaSource or the newly opened Jinx Tea.
We’re also big fans of using functional handmade pottery and utensils in a home kitchen; Foundry Home Goods, Forage Modern Workshop, Northern Clay Center, and The Grand Hand Gallery consistently deliver on this front. For cookware and cutlery, Eversharp Knives, Cooks of Crocus Hill, and Kitchen Window are solid bets.
For stylish European kitchenwares, we’re head over heels for Flotsam + Fork. For all things Nordic — Swedish dishrags! Salty licorice! — we dig the gift shops at Norway House, the American Swedish Institute, and, of course, the nearly century-old Ingebretsen’s. For Japanese imports, ŪMEI. For cookbooks, Magers & Quinn and Moon Palace.
If we wanna to impress a meat lover, we’ll pick up a little something-something from Lowry Hill Meats; for our vegan pals, we’d raid the shelves at Eureka Compass Vegan Food or The Herbivorous Butcher. And finally, for thoughtful hostess gifts and edible stocking stuffers, ya can’t beat Golden Fig Fine Foods, Holy Land, France 44, United Noodles, and Dragon Star Oriental Foods. Suffice it to say, nobody on our ‘Nice’ list will ever go hungry.
Brick-and-mortar stores aside, we’re huge fans of Minnesota makers. What follows is the third installment in our seven-part Ultimate Minnevangelist Gift Guide, dedicated to tasty #MNMade gift ideas for food & drink lovers.
1. The so-handsome-it-hurts Thomas apron ($70) from BA Craftmade Aprons, produced right here in Minnesota.
2. Wiggly-waggly walnut jam and cheese spreaders ($10) from Minneapolis furniture designer Stangler Works.
3. A wheel-thrown Confetti spoon rest ($24) from rockin’ local ceramicist Louisa Podlich, a.k.a. A MANO in the Northrup King Building.
4. The Lake Superior Bounty Box ($58) from Northern Waters Smokehaus in Duluth. It includes one whole whitefish and two packages of trout.
5. A limited-edition, cold-pressed Plum with Wildflower Honey shrub ($12) from Sharab Shrubs. Use it with tequila, gin, mezcal, or vodka, or try it in a lamb or pork marinade. It’s sold at Zipps Liquors, Surdyk’s, and The Wine Thief.
6. For the Swedish cat lover in your life, a Dala natural cotton tea towel ($14) from Schaefer Design Co in Duluth.
9. Hakkeblokk End Grain Butcher Block ($150) in maple from Fjelsted Nord in Hastings.
10. Several local gift guides plugged this $95 gallon of Cry Baby Craig’s pickled habanero and garlic hot sauce. That’s hardcore!
11. But we’d also love to draw your attention to this: Nadina hot sauce, made in very small batches in St. Paul. Look for it near the register at Joyful African Foods in the same strip mall as Arc’s Value Village. It burns so good.
12. Also noteworthy: this four pack ($31) from Double Take Salsa Co. Smokin’ El Jefe is one of our faves.
13. Know a fermentation whiz? Check out these rustic crock and jar weights ($8) from Elisabeth A. Fondell of Twin Spruce Pottery in Dawson.
14. Option B: Buy ’em a membership to Pickle Witch’s Pickle of the Month Club and they’ll have a jar of vegan probiotic goodness to look forward to every 30 days. A pint-sized, three-month subscription is $48; a quart-sized, three-month subscription is $72.
15. Organic Fence Jumper Bourbon from RockFilter Distillery in Spring Grove won a silver medal from the American Distilling Institute. It’s made with Oaxacan green corn and cherrywood-smoked rye by former Navy combat fighter pilot Christian Myrah. Buy it at Zipps Liquors.
16. Gift this: Sweet Nature, all about cooking with honey and maple syrup, from award-winning Minnesota cookbook author Beth Dooley and photographer Mette Nielsen. Available at the Minneapolis bookstore Magers & Quinn for $22.46.
17. For coffee freaks, a pourover stand ($110, Hario drip cone included) handcrafted from American white ash by Solid Manufacturing Co.
18. Or this cool holiday gift box from newbie Minneapolis roaster SK Coffee, which invites its recipients to “explore the art of process.” For $53, you get 12 oz. of washed process beans from Colombia, 4 oz. of natural process beans from Guatemala, 4 oz. rare experimental process beans from Colombia, and info cards explaining what that means and why it matters.
19. Is the Groove pottery mug ($34) from Joanna Buyert of Fringe and Fettle in St. Paul the most Instagrammable coffee mug on the planet? Could be.
20. For your nearest and dearest fisherman: a North Woods net ($215) with an oak, wenge, and sapele handle and wenge hoop, made by Dead Drift Net Company in Minneapolis.
21. It’d go great with the newest cookbook, Fish: Recipes and Techniques for Freshwater Fish ($22.50 at Magers & Quinn) from Minnesota hunter and fish whisperer Jon Wipfli of Animales Barbeque Co. in Minneapolis.
22. And maybe this seasoning blend of Wild River Herbs ($8) from Golden Fig. Use it on fresh trout or walleye before cooking, or shake it into a lobster boil, for a kick of lemon zest, dill, onion, white pepper, and basil.
23. Here’s a fun D.I.Y. project: a concentrated habanero bitters kit ($49) from Easy and Company. It’s best used with rum, sweet and sour cocktails, and ginger beer.
24. This hand-pinched cobalt ombré treasure dish ($20) — complete with 14-karat gold luster rim — from Liz Pechacek in Minneapolis would make a unique salt cellar.
27. Brilliance Bundt Pan ($50) from Nordic Ware. Always a showstopper.
29. It’s worth stalking local ceramicist and Richard Bresnahan protégé Dom Venzant on Instagram for a nonstop feed of beautiful, wood-fired functional pottery. DM him for pricing and availability.
31. A lovely gift for the bread bakers in your life: Freshly milled flour from Baker’s Field Flour & Bread. The Forefront Variet ($10-$12) is a hard red spring wheat grown near Dawson by farmer Luke Peterson.
32. Best stocking stuffer ever: a sweet lil’ halva sampler ($7.99) from House of Halva at Keg and Case market in St. Paul. It includes bite-sized samples of seven flavors: maple, coconut, coffee, rose oil, chocolate hazelnut, Black Forest, and pistachio.
33. Get ’em a subscription to the Journeys + Sidequests Bottle Club ($250 for co-op members and $300 for everyone else) from Fair State Brewing Cooperative. Membership includes 10 subscriber-exclusive 750mL bottles distributed over the course of a year. Past beers included a smoked apricot and peach barrel-aged mixed fermentation sour and a vegan Neapolitan whiskey barrel-aged stout.
34. Another subscription of note: the vegan Jerky of the Month Club at The Herbivorous Butcher. Three months costs $90, with subscribers receiving six ounces of two different mystery jerky flavors.
35. The best-looking solid walnut serving board ($80), carved by Melty Stuff in Minneapolis.
36. Or maybe you fancy this serving tray ($138) from Ken Zakovich, founder of Timbr Design in Duluth?
37. For the home bartender: a versatile artisan tonic syrup ($15.95) made by Julia Brosz and Kari Madore of Blue Henn in Minneapolis and sold by AM Craft Spirits. The magic ingredients: cinchona bark, organic herbs, and natural citrus oils.
39. Limited-edition bottles and crowlers to go from the Barrel Takeout Room at Wild Mind Ales. Recent picks include the Pash Bash American Wild Ale for $20, Lil’ Wakatu Biere de Coupage for $10, and Mutual Weirdness Doppelbock Honey Ale for $5.
41. Best bet for tea drinkers: the Up North blend ($12) from Well Rooted Teas in Falcon. It’s made with Eastern white pine needles, spearmint, nettles, tulsi, and a touch of maple syrup.