Five Last-Minute Gift Ideas for Food Lovers

Give the gift of chocolate-making.
Give the gift of chocolate-making.
Rob Christensen for the Village Voice

Put down the wrapping paper, your time is almost up. If you, like us, tend to procrastinate wildly on your gift-buying, you may find yourself dreading the trip to crowded shops filled with like-minded souls. Here's a thought: Don't go. Gift an experience instead, which you can buy today without leaving your home. We've compiled five local last-minute gift ideas for food lovers that you can buy from your computer. If those fail? Consider a gift card (to, say, Whisk for home cooks, Blue Apron for kitchen novices, or a restaurant for the person who uses his or her oven for storage space) -- studies show it's what they really want, anyway.

An Eataly Class Mega Italian market Eataly offers a variety of classes, which range from a $35 tour of the market (with tastes of cheese, pizza, and chocolate along the way) to lessons in pasta-making, cheese-making, or wine-pairing. Shopping for a vegetarian? Check out the special Meatless Monday classes, which cover meat-free food from different Italian regions. Most classes hover right around $100.

Bklyn Larder Cheese Club Know a total cheese head (or, um, someone who throws a lot of dinner parties)? Consider gifting them a subscription to Bklyn Larder's cheese club, for which they'll be shipped three cheeses per month. The Larder considers seasonality and appropriate age when selecting that month's dairy, so offerings change throughout the year. And while your recipient's first shipment won't show up by Christmas, they can look forward to a spread soon. Three months of cheese costs $199.

Coffee Subscription Service Lauren Mowery's list of last-minute gifts for coffee and tea lovers contains a number of items and experiences you can pick up today and gift tomorrow. But if you're super-short on time, you might consider gifting a coffee subscription service. Writes Mowery:

For an absolute last-minute gift, try newcomer Vega's coffee bean subscription service. Just print out the email gift card (redacting the date, of course), proving that you ordered coffee to be delivered to your recipient's apartment/house, and slip it into an envelope and onto a bough of the tree. Elect to order the 12-ounce, small-batch, single-origin coffees in two shipments for $30, four shipments for $60, or eight for $120, and on up (sorry, no volume discounts), and choose the roast level and grind type (and note that whole beans are preferable for any serious enthusiast). Sure, Starbucks has a subscription service, as do several other known brands, but New York-based Vega offers a vanguard model: Its beans are roasted by the farmer.

Astor Wines Wine Clubs Whether you know a novice looking to gain a little more knowledge on what they're pairing with dinner, or a sophisticated drinker who sips bottlings from all over the world, you'll likely find an Astor Wines wine club to fit your giftee. The Discovery Wine club ($89.97 for three months) gets a recipient two bottles of wine a month from regions known for making great everyday wine. The World Passport club ($299.97 for three months) gets them a couple of bottles from some of the world's most exalted regions. And there's the 12 Under $12 club ($299.97 for three months), which nets a dozen bottles of inexpensive juice each month.

Raaka Chocolate Making Class One of the coolest factory tours we attended this year was of the new Raaka Chocolate facility in Red Hook. Raaka makes bean-to-bar chocolate, which means it skips roasting the beans before making bars. Its chocolate is fruity and nuanced as a result. The owners offer chocolate-making classes, wherein students follow the entire process and eventually cast and temper their own bars. You can also tour the factory and have a little tasting. Tours are $10; two-hour classes are $50. Only drawback? The classes are full until April 2015, which means your recipient will be looking at some delayed gratification. If that's too long, Raaka also has a chocolate-of-the-month club called First Nibs, which nets three monthly bars -- two of which are one-off experiments (the other is a classic flavor). That costs $24.95 per month. Check out all of Raaka's gifts on its website.




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