It seems like the moment the last slice of pumpkin pie is eaten, the Christmas decorations will come up and we will start the countdown to the end of the year. The leaves change color, the weather cools down and it even rains. The winter vacation time is here.
In the spirit of local shopping, helping small and / or family run businesses in the East Bay, and the urge to feel a little comfortable, here are some items that you could give as gifts to others or (shhh) yourself.
For cocktail lovers in cold weather
The Wright & Brown Distilling Company could be the first place to legally distill spirits in Oakland since Prohibition began. Photo credit: Wright & Brown / Instagram
Wright & Brown Distilling Co.
2715 Magnolia St. (near 28th Street), Oakland
Local distillers and childhood friends Earl Brown and Dan Wright designed, built and founded the Wright & Brown Distilling Company in West Oakland in 2014.
It was the end of a long dry spell as this distillery is believed to be the first to legally distill spirits in Oakland since the beginning of Prohibition.
Wright & Brown produce a small, barrel-aged artisanal rum made from 100% Class A black molasses. With a touch of nutmeg, cinnamon and butterscotch (and even some chocolate) this rum gives your old fashioned, hot butter rum or coquito – or any other favorite drink in wintry weather – special flavors. Ms. Barstool recommends adding this to your Tom and Jerry vacation for a satisfying, warm drink.
The barrel-aged rum and other Wright & Brown spirits (all homemade) can be picked up from the roadside (Tuesday to Saturday 1pm to 6pm). Meet the cat!
It’s best to call first and make sure they have it, but the rum can also be found at a number of bottle shops in the larger East Bay.
For people who can’t get enough oil
These brightly labeled, shiny cans with high-quality olive oil deserve a first-class place on your shelf. Credit: Fat Gold / Instagram
Kathryn Tomajan, co-founder and majority owner of Oakland-based Fat Gold Olive Oils, founded the brand in 2017, the culmination of an ongoing career as an olive oil maker, taster and instructor.
Tomajan tells Nosh that her olive oils have “personality”, with flavors that are “fruity, tangy and robust – more like European versions” that capture the unique essence of the olive varieties she uses, which include Frantoio, Maurino and Picual Arbequina.
Fat Gold also offers a gift subscription, which means that you (or a lucky friend or family member of yours) will receive a can of unique oils four times a year, usually a single variety: something to focus on in December, March, June and September.
Tip: watch out for limited small series during the holidays.
For your favorite grill chef
Everett and Jones
126 Broadway (near 2nd Street), Oakland
4245 Macarthur Boulevard. (near High Street), Oakland
1955 San Pablo Ave. (near University Avenue), Berkeley
Everett and Jones’ Super Q Barbeque Sauce has a lot of history. The story can be found right on the label and began in 1973 when Dorothy Everett realized that if she wanted to get authentic barbecue sauce in the Bay Area, she had to make it herself.
With their eight daughters and a son and son-in-law, the first Everett and Jones opened almost 50 years ago in an old building in Oakland. In 1974 the family was able to open a second restaurant in Berkeley. The company now has six locations in the Bay Area.
This tomato-based sauce, which has been described as “a successful blend of intoxicating sweetness and peppery spiciness”, is available in three versions: mild, medium and hot. You can find it in almost every store in the East Bay: Safeway, Whole Foods, Berkeley Bowl, Lucky, Farmer Joe’s Market, and the Everett and Jones restaurants in Berkeley and Oakland. You can order the sauce online and by the box.
A bonus tip from founder Dorothy Everett: Cook the meat without sauce and just pour its own juices over it. Her recommendation to “get the most out of the meat and sauce” is to heat the sauce and pour it over the meat “just before serving”.
Sweet, smoky, fruity and sublime – a classic from Oakland. Friends don’t let friends grill without some of it.
For a nut butter nut with a peanut layer in between
Much Better butter is free from peanuts, gluten and dairy products. Credit: Much Better Butter
Much better butter
As Julia Child famously said, “With enough butter, everything is good.” And it could get a lot better than good with organic handmade sunflower butter from Berkeley family business Much Better Butter.
Founded in January 2020, Much Better Butter began with founder Tina Wolf’s desire to create a healthier version of Nutella, their favorite treat, for their kids – and something that would provide a tasty spread option for kids with peanut allergies.
After years of investing in research and development, Much Better Butter launched its gluten-free, dairy-free, and peanut-free line just in time to keep school lunch off the table for many children. They managed to hold out during the lockdown, in part because the butter is also sold in many local stores.
Current offers include Nutella, called Chocolate Treat, as well as a version roasted with sea salt and “Honey Kissed”, which is made with certified organic Hawaiian honey from the Big Island. Tina and her husband David Dranitzky say their butter also appeals to people looking for organic, GMO-free products that they can use in many creative ways – think pancakes, waffles, fruits and vegetables, smoothies – and there are plenty of recipes out there that are available online. when you need ideas on how to best spread your butter.
For a candy freak who appreciates handmade treats
The 11-piece hazelnut-coffee-crisp-acorn box from Company Confections. Credit: corporate clothing
“People are happy when they eat chocolate”, explains the chocolatier Becky Shank from Oakland, why she founded her company Confections in 2015. It sources its ingredients from international locations, including Italy, Belgium and Switzerland. Your chocolate-dipped oreos and peppermint rind, which are packed in cute little fabric bags with holiday motifs, are guaranteed to make someone happy.
When asked about her inspiration for flavor choices, Shank says that she mostly relies on her own creativity when making her chocolate collages. For example, she made the delicious combination of churro and hot chocolate. They belong together, so why not?
Her bestseller is a classic: giant salted caramel pecan turtles. With the arrival of autumn and the holidays approaching, you might want to treat yourself to (or gift someone with) a box of sweets like their hazelnut coffee crispy “acorns”. All of these confections are good before mid-January, so if you shop early, you’ll be fine.
For the cook who wants to keep his options open
Oaktowns Baker’s and Eat Your Veggies gift boxes. Photo credit: Oaktown Spice Shop
Oaktown spice shop
546 Grand Ave. (near Euclid Avenue), Oakland
1224 Solano Avenue (near Talbot Avenue), Albany
Oaktown Spice Shop has several gift boxes that will appeal to people who may be tired of cooking the same things lately … even if it was a long time ago. The gift box options include assortments for people who want to spice up their veggies, who can’t stop on popcorn, who want to spice up their chicken, and more. There is also a range of salt, bakery boxes and tea infusion picks.
Of course, you can also select items individually and put together an individual gift box. (While you’re at it, get some glow spices or pumpkin pie spice yourself.) I sent numerous jars of truffle honey, which is only sold in stores (not online), to my daughter who lives on the east coast. She loves this stuff!
For the person on your list missing the East Bay
Send a little East Bay across the country with gift boxes from Local Food Adventures. Credit: Local Food Adventures
Local culinary adventure
Local Food Adventures, the Oakland-based food tour company, has three boxes to allow recipients across the country to enjoy a daily meal in the East Bay. Her personal tours stay on pandemic hiatus so owner Lauren McCabe Herpich has put the best of her tours into these boxes, with some extra goodies in each one.
Your Oakland Food Tour Highlights gift box hits many of the Oakland tours locations, including the Rustichella d’Abruzzo pasta in Market Hall and Amphora Nueva’s Tuscan herb infused olive oil.
There’s also an East Bay BBQ Lovers collection of rubs and marinades; and a Mele Kalikimaka Holiday Cocktail Set, which includes a bottle of French Almond Orgeat Syrup from Berkeley’s Small Hand Foods, plus festive decorations and accessories. The latter also contains the recipe for a classic Mai Tai, inspired by its legendary creator “Trader Vic” Bergeron, whose career began in Oakland.
For the little (or big) child who can’t get enough of “Up”
Nosh tells you to screw it up at Fentons. Photo credit: Fentons Creamery
4226 Piedmont Ave. (near Entrada Avenue), Oakland
4211 Piedmont Ave. (near Entrada Avenue), Oakland
Nothing beats ice cream like thick and delicious chocolate and caramel sauces from Fentons Creamery, the 127-year-old Piedmont Avenue ice cream parlor that was immortalized in the 2009 Pixar movie “Up”.
If you’ve been there you will know how good these sauces are. What a treat for yourself or for others! You can order online, stop by the restaurant, or visit Myrtle’s Lodge (Fenton’s retail outpost) across the street. Pour on and enjoy!