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Fork in the Road is publishing a series of local gift guides this year — one from each regular contributor. This one comes from locavore Deena Shanker.
With only eight shopping days left until Christmas, people are starting to scramble. Just on the cusp of desperation, this is the week when gift givers start to ask themselves, “Socks aren’t so bad, right? I mean, everybody needs them.” Yes, socks are bad. Even if everybody does need them. Especially in New York, where options are endless, there is no reason to resort to hosiery for gifts just yet. If you’ve got a food-lover on your list, consider going a more creative route — there are other life necessities you can wrap or stuff into a stocking. Our advice: Start with condiments. Local condiments — the type ideal for schmearing all over your organic grass-fed burger.
Sir Kensington’s Ketchup, $7/jar or $21/four-pack
Start with the basics. Everyone needs good ketchup, and while Heinz may appear to have cornered the ketchup market, some interlopers are slowly but surely edging in. Case in point: Sir Kensington’s, made with all-natural ingredients like tomatoes, organic sugar, and jalapeños. Founders Mark Ramadan and Scott Norton have been toying with ketchup recipes since college, and they now they offer five products — classic ketchup, spiced ketchup, classic mayonnaise, sriracha mayonnaise, and chipotle mayonnaise — and sell their wares to hotels, restaurants, and grocery stores all over the city. Not sure which to try? Norton recommends his favorite, the classic. “I’m really a purist,” he says.
Tin Mustard, $8
Placate your resident mustard-lovers with a jar of Brooklyn-made Tin Mustard. Made with only mustard seeds, mustard powder, vinegar, salt, and water, this deliciously spicy mustard does well on a sandwich, but it’s even better slathered on a pretzel. Look for it in your favorite local shop.
Empire Mayonnaise, $5-$9/jar, $21/assortment
Give a special someone a taste of a luxurious spread: One taste of Empire Mayonnaise’s heavenly white truffle mayo, and they’ll never be able to go back to Hellmann’s. If that’s not your gift recipient’s thing, though, check out the rest of the line — the Brooklyn artisans offer a range of flavors, from the super spicy red chili to the smooth and subtle black garlic. All are made with local pasture-raised eggs, non-GMO oils, and seasonal flavors, and many are made for short runs only, giving your gift the added distinction of being a limited edition.
A&B American Style Pepper Sauce, $12
If you know someone who’s stocking up to survive the Sriracha shortage, turn them onto a possible alternative with a bottle of A&B American Style Pepper Sauce. Concocted by childhood friends who “just wanted to eat good food and have a good time,” this small batch creation combines a bright flavor, metered spice, and earthy sweetness. Add it to Ramen noodles, a burrito, or a breakfast omelet. And if your recipient is a real hot sauce fanatic, consider going with A&B’s special gift set, which includes the original flavor and the special Brooklyn Grange edition pepper sauce.