The Hippo


May 27, 2020








Palatable presents
Great gift ideas for your favorite foodies

By Allie Ginwala

 Have an aspiring chef in the family or a friend who treats sampling local beers like a part-time job? Surprise them with a gift that suits their passion perfectly with these Instagram-worthy gift ideas from local food, coffee, liquor and beer experts.

Culinary inspiration
For Pamela Sullivan, owner of The Kitchen Place in Salem (The Mall at Rockingham Park, 99 Rockingham Park Blvd., 894-4812, and Marlboro, Mass., one thing she’s noticed of her customers lately is that they’re looking to up their game when it comes to home entertaining. 
Wine and cheese serving platters and slate boards suit one who wants to have a nice presentation without having to explain every dish they’re serving — just write the dish details in chalk and let the guests enjoy.
Keep the presentation going with hot barware items like cocktail shakers, muddlers (great for mojito lovers) and Moscow Mule mugs or even a chill rod for wine.
“It’s very long and narrow and you freeze it and before you serve the wine you put that in it and it keeps it chilled,” she said. 
The demand for healthy living appliances continues on this season with items like immersion blenders, spiralizers and the “Cadillac of all blenders,” the Vitamix.
“We sell a lot of food scales too,” she said. “It’s not just for converting, it’s more on the health thing.” 
If you’re looking to get a little more personal, take a look at the cooking style of your giftee. For example, Sullivan likes to add to her brother-in-law’s cutlery collection each year, perhaps with a utility chopper that’s great for both vegetables and meat. If the person likes to stand apart, go for specialty items or brands to act as the centerpiece of their kitchenware.
“That’s what people want,” Sullivan said. “They want the wow factor.” 
The local ex-beer-ience
With the continued rise of micro and nano breweries across the state, Granite State Brewers Association president and White Birch Brewing founder and brewer Bill Herlicka suggested giving the gift of a beer experience.
“Beer is as much the enjoyment of the product as it is for many people the adventure,” he said. 
Granite State Growler Tours provides the transportation to different brewery tours and tastings at locations on the seacoast like Throwback Brewery, Sea Hagg Distillery, Garrison City Beerworks and North Country Hard Cider. Guests enjoy snacks and a chance to talk to the brewers or distillers — plus a cooler to keep your growlers full (check out for gift certificate details).
For those who want a self-guided experience, Herlicka suggested giving the NH Beer Trail tour card with a gift certificate to one of the participating breweries.
“Whether a place is a growler-only nanobrewery or [has] a shop that may be bigger, up to Smuttynose where they have a restaurant, give someone a gift certificate to that place [and] that gives them a reason to get out there and see the breweries,” he said.
You can also help craft an experience that combines interests. If the beer lover in your life is also a history buff, get them a gift certificate to Canterbury Aleworks and passes to Canterbury Shaker Village. For beer-loving foodies, opt for 7th Settlement in Dover or Martha’s Exchange in Nashua.
Know someone who wants to try their hand at brewing beer? Get them a class at IncrediBREW in Nashua or visit one of the homebrew shops in the state to pick up a starter kit. Check out Kettle to Keg in Pembroke, Jasper’s Homebrew & Winemaking in Nashua and A&G Homebrew Supply in Portsmouth.
Caffeinated Christmas
For the friend who equates drinking coffee with breathing oxygen, picking the perfect gift may be as simple as getting them a gift box of specialty coffee. This year Emeran Langmaid, owner of A&E Coffee Roastery & Tea, is putting together New Hampshire-centric gift boxes with three bags of coffee.
“It has all three categories for any kind of coffee drinker,” she said. “You open it up, it has a beautiful tissue paper … so grab it and go and it’s ready to give.”
The $45 box features New Hampshire Morning breakfast blend, A&E house blend and Monadnock bold. She said they’ll also have certain select coffees and special reserve gift sets with Kona, Norma Lara’s coffee from Honduras and an exclusive geisha, which comes from a specific type of coffee tree.
“We try to bring in coffees that are unique and special and really elevate the experience,” she said. “ [It would] really be a fantastic gift for someone who really enjoys coffee because it’s not readily available and it’s special.”
Lately Langmaid has seen a trend in customers using their own glass or stainless steel travel mugs. They sell the mugs from $13 to $25 with designs like lotus flowers, mountain landscapes and paisley peacocks. The newest items on their shelf are Keep Cups with the A&E logo on them, in glass and plastic.
If you’re buying for an aspiring home brewer, Langmaid said first to make sure they have a water kettle and a scale, as those two things are essential for any manual brew method. Currently popular are ceramic pour overs, Chemex and Kalita for manual pour over methods, an item any coffee connoisseur should have.
In the spirit of wine
Nothing says celebration more than bubbles, according to NHLC wine marketing specialist Nicole Brassard-Jordan, which is why prosecco and Champagne make lovely gifts for the wine connoisseur in your life. 
If you’re looking to bring a bottle of wine as a hostess gift, think of varietals that will pair well with holiday meals like cabernet and zinfandel and the heavier reds. Make it more of a package deal by gifting glasses along with the bottle.
“For me as a wine drinker, a glass is almighty important,” Brassard-Jordan said. “There really is a difference having wine in a real wine glass.”
Selecting the right bottle for a wine enthusiast may be a daunting task, so she suggested another gift route of picking up wine accessories like an aerator, decanter or carafe.
If spirits are more the style of your giftee, Mark Roy, NHLC spirits specialist, said that this time of year it’s all about the cordials and brown spirits.
“Anything whiskey-related, single-malt scotch, bourbons, those are really good,” he said. “We do have gift packs we put out there specifically for the holiday period.” 
Both Jameson and Glenfiddich have trilogies and Maker’s Mark has a twin pack.
“They can get products they can’t get any other time of year,” he said. 
Roy said the big trend in spirits accessories right now is an ice ball maker that produces a spherical piece of ice to more effectively chill your drink. Another option is to eliminate ice altogether and get a whiskey stone. A non-porous piece of soapstone, it chills the liquor without diluting it or affecting the taste.

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