Gift Guide for Foodies

Originally published Nov. 11, 2015

Everyone has at least one in their circle of family and friends — a food-obsessed individual that not only knows the difference between Gianduja (an Italian hazelnut-chocolate spread) and Nduja (a spicy Italian sausage spread), but also knows the proper pronunciation and where to source them. Good thing the Bay Area is full of epicurean-rich shops that make finding these exquisite treats a piece of cake (or Gianduia torte!).

McEvoy Ranch for Olio Nuovo

McEvoy Ranch, located at the the Ferry Building in San Francisco, is a 2-minute walk from Embarcadero BART Station. Photo courtesy of McEvoy Ranch.

McEvoy Ranch, located at the the Ferry Building in San Francisco, is a 2-minute walk from Embarcadero BART Station. Photo courtesy of McEvoy Ranch.

This year’s California harvest was a good one, which translates to a plentiful supply of Olio Nuovo. As the first press of the season, this limited oil is made from the youngest fruit, which typically contain the most assertive flavor and highest levels of antioxidants (polyphenols). McEvoy Ranch’s shop at the Ferry Building is fully stocked with three sizes of their unfiltered Tuscan blend. It makes a great gift for the olive oil fan, meant to be enjoyed as soon as possible to retain all its health benefits. Pick up a 375 ml bottle ($29), a half-gallon jug ($108), or a gallon container ($203). If you’ve got lots of foodies on your list, consider purchasing the gallon size and dividing it between several decorative bottles with your own special label.

Omnivore Books for Coveted Cookbooks

Omnivore Books, located at 3885a Caesar Chavez St. in San Francisco, is a 15-minute walk from 24th Street Mission BART Station. Photo courtesy of Omnivore Books.

Omnivore Books, located at 3885a Caesar Chavez St. in San Francisco, is a 15-minute walk from 24th Street Mission BART Station. Photo courtesy of Omnivore Books.

If there’s a celebrity cookbook author touring the Bay Area, chances are he or she will make a stop at this Noe Valley cookbook destination. Owner Celia Sack turns every book signing into a party, often preparing recipes for signing events and creating an atmosphere that is welcoming and warm regardless of the celebrity chef’s cache. She’s single-handedly helped keep antique, collectable, and new-release cookbooks relevant and in the hands of food enthusiasts. If there’s a hard-to-find cookbook or niche food magazine you’re looking for, she’s probably got it.

Diving Dog Brewhouse for On-Premise Brewing

Diving Dog Brewhouse , located at 1802 Telegraph Ave in Oakland, is a 2-minute walk from 19th Street/Oakland BART Station. Photo courtesy of Diving Dog Brewhouse.

Diving Dog Brewhouse, located at 1802 Telegraph Ave in Oakland, is a 2-minute walk from 19th Street/Oakland BART Station. Photo courtesy of Diving Dog Brewhouse.

Some might say that beer is food, especially die-hard fans that pick places to dine based on what’s on tap. This year-old tap room in Uptown Oakland not only serves up a well-edited rotating selection of unique craft beers, but also offers a place for beer enthusiasts to brew and bottle their own. Drop by and discuss the several styles of beer available to brew and look at the recipes offered. Gifting your beer fan a session of brewing and bottling ($300 includes recipe, ingredients, coaching, equipment, bottles, labels, and the resulting 6 cases of 12/22 oz. bottles) is a great alternative to burdening him or her with a bunch of home brewing equipment that might never get used.

Chantal Guillon for French-Style Macarons

Chantal Guillon, located at 1309 Howard St. in San Francisco, is an 8-minute walk from Civic Center/UN Plaza BART Station. Photo courtesy of Chantal Guillon.

Chantal Guillon, located at 1309 Howard St. in San Francisco, is an 8-minute walk from Civic Center/UN Plaza BART Station. Photo courtesy of Chantal Guillon. 

When Chantal Guillon opened her first macaron shop in Hayes Valley in 2009, cupcakes were still the rage. She rode out that wave and is now riding high with the macaron craze. Her newest location is in SOMA, where it doubles as the company’s baking facility, so supplies are super fresh. Holiday flavors include champagne-cassis, foie gras-salted caramel, and marshmallow-chocolate (pre-order recommended for these). Custom orders are available and include edible gold-gilded selections. Call or order online, or drop by, pick up a few boxes (starting at $12.50 for six) and enjoy a sandwich or cup of tea while you wait for items to be gift wrapped.

The Local Butcher Shop for Butchery Classes

The Local Butcher Shop, located at 1600 Shattuck Ave. Ste. 120 in Berkeley, is a 13-minute walk from Downtown Berkeley BART Station. Photo courtesy of The Local Butcher Shop.

The Local Butcher Shop, located at 1600 Shattuck Ave. Ste. 120 in Berkeley, is a 13-minute walk from Downtown Berkeley BART Station. Photo courtesy of The Local Butcher Shop.

This Gourmet Ghetto’s stellar butcher shop only sources sustainable, locally raised meat within a 150-mile radius. The shop’s focus of only offering the cleanest, most humanely raised products sets it apart from the standard butcher shop that might not know the farmers that raise the animals. If your favorite foodie is interested in butchery, cuts of meat, or sausage and terrine making, The Local Butcher Shop offers many classes throughout the year. Pop in and purchase a gift certificate and grab a gourmet sandwich using house-prepared meats before heading back on BART.

Market Hall’s Pasta Shop for Panettone and Panforte

Market Hall, located at 5655 College Ave, Oakland, is a 1-minute walk from Rockridge BART Station.

Market Hall, located at 5655 College Ave, Oakland, is a 1-minute walk from Rockridge BART Station. Photo courtesy of Market Hall.

As the direct importer to some of the most delicious and hard-to-find Italian holiday cakes, The Pasta Shop is the ultimate place to source Italian food gifts. Who knew that so many regions of Italy have their own unique take on leavened and unleavened fruit cakes. Favorites include the brioche-style Amarena Cherry Panettone from the Abruzzo region, the brioche-style Panettone with Balsamic Cream from the Emilia Romagna region, and the dense and chewy chocolate and hazelnut panforte from Siena. Staff can help select the best cake for the occasion or recipient’s preference and suggest a cheese to accompany. All cakes are beautifully wrapped, making the gifting super convenient.

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