Fork in the Road is publishing a series of local gift guides this year — one from each regular contributor. This one comes from Nicole Schnitzler.
With the last weekend before Christmas upon us, it’s full shopping speed ahead. And while it’s doubtful any retailer will offer a tranquil experience on Super Saturday, fresh air, Christmas lights and hot cider are credit card-swiping accompaniments that come but once a year — and aren’t found indoors. Enter Union Square’s holiday market. Nearly 200 vendors camping out until December 24 makes this festive assembly worthy of a trek or two for everyone on your last-minute list — including the food lovers. Here, we present five gift options to please even the most discerning palates in your life.
Kings County Jerky Co., $8.99
With backgrounds in graphic design and photography, co-founders Chris Woehrle and Robert Stout weren’t always planning on making beef jerky. But when the food-loving duo entered a Brooklyn cooking contest and won, they decided to give food — snacks, in particular — some serious thought. And so Kings County Jerky Co. was born. The team uses 100 percent grass-fed beef that is free of antibiotics and hormones for their two-ounce-pack offerings, which include cracked pepper with black peppercorns and Spanish paprika and Korean BBQ.
Nunu Chocolates, from $8 (box of four) to $20 (box of 12)
Owner Justine Pringle produces her sought-after sweets on site in her Atlantic Avenue Brooklyn location, where she uses single origin cocoa from a family-run farm in Colombia. Gift boxes include truffles in a range of flavors, from boozy (moonshine, mezcal-chili, prosecco and sake) to caffeinated (earl grey and espresso). Her best sellers, however, are the hand-dipped chocolate caramels, which are finished off with a modest dusting of fleur de sel.
No Chewing Allowed, from $24.99 (54 truffles, divided into two bags) to $147.45 (12 boxes of 22 truffles)
Thanks to their namesake rule, these chocolates pack as much quirk as they do flavor. But the protocol is more than good marketing; the French truffles are of the laissez-faire, less-is-more attitude: Pop one in your mouth and let it melt completely for ultimate smoothness. And in the event of an eager bite down, there’s always room for a second try with generously-loaded gift sets, which include anywhere from 54 to 264 of the Willy Wonky-esque cocoa nuggets.
The Filling Station, Oils: 200 ml from $9.95 to $24.95, 750 ml from $29.95 to $75.95; Salts: two oz from $5.95-$10.95, 4 oz from $9.95 to $19.95
This Chelsea Market inhabitant heads east for another year at the holiday market, where a kitchen dweller’s dream comes true by way of bottles of specialty oils and vinegars and jars of exotic salts. Their EVOO offerings are first cold-pressed, a cold extraction process resulting in high quality and low acidity (below 1 percent) and a host of flavors, from black truffle to blood orange. Passing the salt becomes a lot more fun with a gift set of seasonings — a stackable stocking stuffer you can create from a broad flavor assembly that ranges from merlot to green tea.
The Jam Stand, Jams: $10/canister
It was the international travel done by best friends Jessica Quon and Sabrina Valle that inspired the inception of the Jam Stand, and a Williamsburg kitchen that witnessed its birth one idle Thursday afternoon. Since then, the duo has been cranking out canisters of fresh fruit with offbeat and likeable personas, from “You’re My Boy BLUE-berry Bourbon” to “Drunken Money,” a buttermilk pancake-beckoning combination of sugar coated bananas, rum, and lime.
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