Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Howard County Gift Basket: Local Treats You Can Buy Alone Or Assemble A Local Gift

Sugar cookies from Touche Touchet
Let's say that you need a gift basket -- as a hostess gift, as a friendly nod to a customer, or just as a gesture to cheer up a friend.

This week, I'm writing a "Gift Week" series of posts aimed at inspiring folks to shop at local spots.

Think local (and buy your own basket), and you can deliver something unique and delicious.  It's even better if you're someone like a real estate agent or someone else trying to promote Howard County.  You can find great food produced by local folks.

Every item below would make a fine gift on its own, but you could customize baskets that will really catch people's attention with some of my suggestions:
Southern Skies coffee
  • Sugar cookies from Touche Touchet in Columbia.  For $4.50 and up, they sell hand-decorated cookies that will last weeks sealed in their packages.  Winter scenes.  Christmas scenes.  Hanukkah, hospital scrubs, or just "Thank You" cookies.  They're pricey, but they're gorgeous and delicious.  They're the touch that you put on top of the basket for pizzazz.
  • Coffee from Southern Skies in Finksburg.  Just over the county line, Jeff Givens roasts small batches with aim to deliver fresh, seasonal beans.  It's so good that Red Envelope is offering a gift set with Southern Skies coffees, mug and a wooden box.  Or order from their Web site.  (If you want true Howard County, you can buy from local roasters like Mad City Coffee in Columbia as well.)
  • Caramel and other popcorns from Crunch Daddy Popcorn.  As I said yesterday, the popcorn is spectacular.  Not just sweet.  Crunch Daddy does wonderful flavors that are actually unique. Again, made by hand in the county.  They have retail locations from Columbia to Catonsville (and beyond), plus you can check out their Web site.
  • Cotton candy from the Sweet Treats stand at the Columbia Mall.  This is your secret weapon.  You need to buy it fresh, but it adds striking, colorful fun to any basket.  Plus, it's just $3 a bag, and they're spinning several flavors every day.  It's worth figuring out how to slip it in your basket.
  • Jams from Rare Opportunity Farms in Westminster.  I sampled these at the Second Sunday market this month off Main Street, and they had all kinds of fall flavors in jelly jars (plus cookies, a chocolate chip cookie worth driving to Carroll County).  They are scheduled to come back for the final Second Sunday market in December, plus their Web site says they sell at the Little French Market in Ellicott City and Mad City Coffee in Columbia.
  • Barbecue sauce from Kloby's Smokehouse on Johns Hopkins Road.  The pit boss in your life will love a savory contrast to the holiday sweets.  Kloby's sells five different bottles, including some seriously spicy "Honey Hab" and some local flavor in the "Chesapeake.
  • Olives and chutney from Scratch, a little company run by Stephen Etzine.  Stephen's effort is new enough that the company has no Web site, but we had his chutneys and his own olives at the Second Sunday market.  They're terrific, and he does some beautiful, minimal packaging so the jars would be great in a basket.  You can reach Stephen by emailing the company at scratchfood@gmail.com.
Really, all these items are great for stand-alone gifts or "stocking stuffers."  Southern Skies even sells a "Java Passport" where they ship you coffee every month.  No minimum length.  That's fun for a coffee lover.

What else would you put in a Howard County gift basket?  I know there must be other people making great products in -- or near -- the county.  Tell folks what you would recommend.  Feel free to include Web site links.

Macsmom turned me on yesterday to a bakery called From Momma's Kitchen, and other bakeries may do some item that would last in a basket.  You could also pick up a good bottle of wine or beer at one of our local shops or more coffee from the Little French Market in Ellicott City  I wish Larriland Farm were open because they sold bottles of local honey in their barn store.  Is that Larriland honey sold retail anywhere else?
Kloby's BBQ sauces


Karen P said...

Don’t forget CookieRide www.cookieride.com ---she even delivers. For the holidays last year Casey, the owner of Cookie Ride, made gluten free and regular sugar cookies for us. She even made some from a Scandinavian cookie cutter I owned. We also had a Gingerbread House party, where she came to our house with all the supplies and made gingerbread houses with the kids.

bmorecupcake said...

Those olives at Second Sunday are absolutely divine. Glad to see he got them back in stock.

Stephanie said...

If you're going to talk bakeries, you could include pretty much anything from Kupcakes & Co. They are by far my favorite cupcake place (with a few other bakery sweets) in HoCo.