There should be no pressure to give gifts in this year of all years, but if you are inclined to treat yourself and others at some point this month (holidays or not), here are some ideas on how to do it with flavor. These thoughtful food and drink-centric presents range in price from “I Got Five on It” to the splurgy end of the future in local food tech.
Feed Meimei’s Ultimate Bay Area Boba Guide ($4.99)
No one has tried more Bay Area boba shops than Feed Meimei — especially in one day, as she has documented in hilarious detail on her popular YouTube channel — and her digital guide to the beloved local lifestyle maps out all of her favorites. Pay to download this for the boba fiend in your life and send them the code. For even more cuteness, pair the guide with a drink from Urban Ritual, one of her top picks in the region. I’m partial to the Crème Brûlée Boba (pictured above; $5.75).
Direct Trade Heirloom Cacao Bar from David Upchurch Chocolatier ($6)
David Upchurch uses French techniques to create his bright and beautiful Ecuadorian chocolate bars, giving them a silky smooth finish. He works directly with women farmers in Los Rios to source the heirloom cacao beans to make the treasure pictured above. Currently, Upchurch sells individual bars and confections at the Stonestown Farmers Market on Sundays, but will soon be offering bundles of his bars online as well.
Gift Card from Rize Up Bakery ($10-100)
Give the gift of freshly baked bread from former pro rollerblader and private chef Azikiwee Anderson, who launched a backyard bakery in the Richmond District in 2020. If you go the gift card route, your recipient can decide whether they want their sourdough loaves ($15) straight up or with inclusions like cherries and almonds, hot links or garlic confit with lemon thyme.
Frozen Pizza by Zero Zero ($15.95-$21.95)
Hook up your loved one with frozen pizza from chef Bruce Hill’s pizza institution so they can have leopard-spotted deliciousness on demand. Pies are available from the restaurant and they have also been spotted in the freezer case at Other Avenues.
The Juhu Beach Club Cookbook: Indian Spice, Oakland Soul and Preeti Mistry Collection by Spicewalla Spices ($16.99)
Chef Preeti Mistry created a super cute set of seasoning staples: Smokey Black Cardamom, Mustard Fenugreek, and Sambar Masala. The whole three-pack combo with their 2017 cookbook was on sale at the time of this writing, so you may be able to get an even bigger gift bargain if you move quickly.
Hawaiian BBQ Feast for Two by The Sunday Family ($38)
The Sunday Family’s Hawaiian Feast for 2 became an early king of San Francisco’s quarantine comfort food takeout scene for good reasons: kimchi fried rice with fried egg, Huli BBQ chicken, grilled short ribs, chicken katsu, pulled pork, Spam musubi, egg rolls, mac salad, mochi muffins and two cans of sugar-tastic Hawaiian Sun drinks. Giving this homey potluck fantasy as a gift via delivery or quick dropoff instead of your actual physical presence would be a classy move indeed.
Community Food Box from La Cocina ($45-110)
Each week, the incubator of food businesses owned by women (many of whom are immigrants) offers a changing selection of snacks and meals for pickup and delivery to help support their vendors at a challenging time. The box is available in three sizes: a sampler ($45), a meals-focused set ($75) and the works (pictured above; $110) — the latter is basically equivalent to a week’s worth of meals and snacks.
Gift card for Edible Bouquet at Bluma Flower Farm ($50)
Berkeley’s Bluma Flower Farm is currently sold out of their gorgeous and original seasonal bouquets comprised of edible flowers and herbs, but securing a gift card will help a small local business now and give your gift recipient a brighter future (that they can choose to eat or not).
BBQ Box by Curio ($85)
After Curio, the bar and restaurant extension of The Chapel, sent me one of their new BBQ boxes to shoot and sample, it occurred to me that this would make for a wonderful gift for someone who you’d like to send into a loving food coma. You can pick them up or have them delivered within San Francisco. Pictured above is a set with a dozen Coca-Cola braised and Fernet Branca glazed ribs that fall off the bone when you look at them, Fernet BBQ sauce, truffle mac and cheese, BBQ seasoned potato sticks, broccoli slaw and pickles.
Matcha Making System by Cuzen Matcha ($369)
On the personal wishlist end of this gift guide (want!), we bring you one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Best Inventions of 2020 and this year’s recipient of the Future of Foods Award at the San Francisco Design Week Awards: San Mateo’s just-released Cuzen Matcha. The matcha making system (pictured above inside a room at the SingleThread Farms Inn in Healdsburg), which mimics a Japanese stone mill and bamboo whisk, includes the ingredients for your first 60 cups of matcha.