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Fork in the Road is publishing a series of local gift guides this year — one from each regular contributor. Up first, this list from Billy Lyons.
The time has come to secure your swivel chair, break open a browser, and spend the entirety of your lunch hour (and possibly more) clicking “buy item” without remorse. Though the idea of Cyber Monday may seem impersonal, it’s actually the perfect chance to try out some amazing local products made right here in New York. Some you might want to read. Some you might want to use. And others? Well some gifts are just meant to be unwrapped and eaten immediately. Here’s a look at five unique holiday gift purveyors I’ll be patronizing this year — each of which may make you think twice about going for that flat screen in the window.
The butcher with New York’s most famous burger blend, LaFrieda has released a new line of sausages in collaboration with Food Network host Andrew Zimmern for those of you who know people who like to start off Christmas morning with breakfast in bed. Options include cheddar bratwurst, sweet Italian, chorizo jalapeno, and chicken apple sausage. All of the sausages come pre-cooked and range from $48 to $82 depending on how many pounds you’re planning to eat — er, gift. There’s also a full line-up of dry-aged prime beef as well as burgers, with a Cyber Monday special on the original burger blend that nets you 16 five-ounce patties for $34.99.
Have friends and relatives that won’t be heading to the islands for a post-Christmas holiday? Console them with Caribbean hot sauce. Bacchanal sauce, a hot pepper sauce that’s popular throughout the islands, has made its way online courtesy of owner and Brooklyn chef Sonya Samuel; her mix is a combination of tamarind, ginger, pineapple, and plenty of hot peppers among other ingredients (all of which are 100 percent natural). A two-ounce bottle retails for $4.95, and a five-ounce bottle can be purchased for $10.95. Gift packages available could help you stock up on sauce — or enter a lot of chili competitions in the new year.
If the holidays are the only time of year you can get away with eating sweets, the Mast Brothers are offering something new this year in addition their artfully wrapped bars (though you can still pick up a gift set starting at $40. The bearded brothers have released their first cookbook, Mast Brothers Chocolate: A Family Cookbook, which details a variety of dishes you can make like pan-seared scallops with cocoa nibs. Get the book on Amazon, and take advantage of Cyber Monday discounts.
Give someone the gift of knowledge this season and reap the benefits at the dinner table (or at least avoid talking politics). Pie Corps runs a series of classes that cover topics like how to make a firm pie crust, what sweet pies you’ll need in your arsenal, and how to trade in your standard cocktail shrimp for some savory pie appetizers. Sessions start at $70 and are held at the store’s Greenpoint location. Of course, if you’re not into the whole educational aspect, you can just pick a pie to go.
When you’re stumped on what to give, booze is an excellent fall-back. Thankfully, New York is home to a bounty of beautiful distilleries, and this one features a good selection to make sure your present goes over well (or that your holiday party is epic). I’m a fan of the gin — and there are three varieties here. For the traditionalist, there’s Perry’s Tot Navy Strength Gin, a concoction with 57 percent ABV that might just halt table conversation. Dorothy Parker American gin features a mix of juniper, cinnamon, and hibiscus. Finally, the distillery’s Chief Gowanus batch is based off an old recipe that makes rye whiskey into a Holland gin that sits in an oak barrel for three months. You can head over to the distillery’s onsite bar The Shanty to peruse the selection while you drink, or you can buy through various New York retailers like Drink Up NY.