MENDOCINO Co., 12/12/22 — All of us eat to live, but some of us live to eat (and perhaps with a great glass of wine in hand). We all have that friend or family member – the home cook who never lets you go hungry, the foodie who Instagrams every meal, the friend who seeks out a reservation at the hottest restaurants, and the wanna-be sommelier who always insists on picking the best wine for dinner. What’s better than a fabulous food or beverage gift for all the above? A locally made gift, of course! Here are fifteen Mendocino County-made goods to give this season. 🎁
For the organic cook – McFadden Farm’s Organic Herb & Garlic Box 🧄
The McFadden family has been producing certified organic wine for over 40 years. However, it’s the family’s selection of Potter Valley-grown organic herbs and garlic that have a cult following of home cooks around the country. McFadden Farms packaged six of their most popular herbs – Italian, basil, garlic powder, herbes de Provence, chili flakes, and a Beans & Soups Blend – and a handcrafted garlic braid into one giftable box. The braid comprises 13 garlic bulbs that can be easily hung in one’s kitchen for a classic look. While the box will impress any home cook, it’s also a great housewarming gift for new and experienced cooks alike. $54 at McFadden Family Vineyard & Farm.
For the condiment collector – Mendocino Mustard Hot & Sweet 🌭
Mendocino Mustard’s Hot & Sweet mustard has graced the cupboards and sausages of locals since 1977. It’s hands-down the best small batch mustard in the country and continues to be handcrafted in Fort Bragg despite being nationally distributed. This mustard is tangy, and like the name says, a little hot and a little sweet. It’s perfectly balanced and is great for deviled eggs, sandwiches, salad dressings, marinades and more. Bonus: it’s soy-free, vegan, and kosher certified. A great stocking stuffer! Mendocino Mustard can be found at virtually every grocery store in the county. $6.19 at Harvest Market.
For the food historian – Six California Kitchens by Sally Schmitt 👩🍳
Legendary chef and restaurateur Sally Schmitt died in March 2022, leaving behind a legacy that includes founding the French Laundry in Napa Valley and serving as the matriarch of the Apple Farm in Philo, a farm, orchard, inn, garden and culinary destination with cooking classes and a farm stand. Within the memoir-cookbook’s 352 pages are stories of Schmitt’s at-home and professional cooking life, photographs, ephemera, illustrations and 115 recipes that use seasonal and local ingredients. It’s a must for the gourmet in your life for both the recipes and the historical significance. $38 at the Apple Farm.
For the baker – Mendocino Grain Project’s Sonora Soft White Wheat Flour 🍞
The Ukiah-based Mendocino Grain Project is one of the coolest food programs in Northern California. It grows grains and other staple crops, including beans locally and sources crops from other counties, such as rice from Glenn County and quinoa from Humboldt. The project cleans and processes its grains at its local mill, including this Sonora flour. Sonora is one of the oldest wheat varieties in North America and is named after Sonora, Mexico, where it was documented by the Spanish in the 1700s. This heritage grain is perfect for pastries, flatbread, pie crust, tortillas, pancakes and breads with a quality that will impress both the baker and the eater. $7 to $15 at the Mendocino Grain Project.
For the entertainer – Hardwood Ramekin Serving Tray with Ramekins 🥣
A perfect hostess or housewarming gift, this hardwood ramekin serving tray can be used for holiday parties and beyond. Derek Lockyer, co-owner of Astoria Home Store in Mendocino, crafts beautiful cutting boards, cheese/charcuterie boards, and serving trays that are heirloom worthy. This specific tray has three holes to hold three of Lockyer’s colorful glazed ramekins, which come in a variety of colors including red, white, blue, aqua and more. I recently purchased a set and use it to serve olives, nuts, dips and snacks. $38 at Astoria Home Store.
For the mushroom hunter – Lone Wolf Mushroom Knife 🍄
Nothing says Mendocino County winter like mushrooms. This knife is the perfect gift for the mushroom hunter in your life, no matter the level of experience. Fort Bragg mushroom hunter and artisan Billy Sprague crafts beautiful and functional mushroom knives built on his decades of foraging experience. Sprague’s knives are crafted with a hooked R. Murphy blade (made in Massachusetts) and a multi-colored horse hair brush with a leather inlay. Festive handle colors ensure the brush won’t get lost or left behind while foraging. Each knife is one of a kind. $60 at Folklore (45011 Ukiah St., Mendocino) or contact Sprague for availability.
For the spice freak – Boonville Barn Collective’s Piment d’Ville 🔥
Just when you think pinot noir is the most popular export from Anderson Valley, meet Piment d’Ville. This sassy, spicy, and sweet chili powder is crafted with Boonville grown Espelette chiles, a signature ingredient of the Basque region in France. This “farm-to-jar” spice is sold at gourmet markets nationwide. Piment d’Ville is a great seasoning spice. Use it on avocado toast, eggs, french fries, grilled corn, a seafood or poultry seasoning, or toss popcorn in it with a touch of olive oil. Grab a two pack directly from the Collective (keeping one for yourself, of course), or buy it at your local speciality market. A two-pack is $23.99 at the Boonville Barn Collective.
For the carb lover – Fort Bragg Bakery Point Noyo Pumpernickel Artisan Bagels 🥯
Hands down one of the most unique bread-based products coming out of Mendocino County, Fort Bragg Bakery’s pumpernickel bagels are absolutely delicious. Great bagels are hard to come by on the West Coast, and this is a tasty bagel with the earthy yet sour taste of pumpernickel. Hand-shaped, boiled and hearth-baked, these bagels are dense yet spongy and a wonderful match with apple butter, stone fruit marmalades, tuna salad, or just butter and a little bit of salt. The bagel or pumpernickel fan in your life will thank you. $9 for a four-pack at markets throughout the county.
For the seafood lover – A gift card to Princess Seafood 🦀
Anyone local who eats seafood knows Princess Seafood in Noyo Harbor. Owned and operated by fisherwomen who catch the vast majority of the seafood they sell, Princess Seafood is the premier seafood market on the Mendocino Coast. The market sells fresh seafood, sundries and freshly prepared lobster bisques and chowders, seaweed salad, dips and more, which you can enjoy on the patio. There is also a fabulous restaurant further down the harbor, offering harborside views, live music, and a large menu of fresh seafood offerings including tacos, poke, and the best crab sandwich you’ll ever have. This gift card can also be used at Princess’ farmers market locations. Anyone lucky enough to get this in their stocking will not let it go to waste! Starting at $25 at Princess Seafood.
For the conservationist – Abalone: The Remarkable History and Uncertain Future of California’s Iconic Shellfish by Ann Vileisis 🐚
The red abalone is an icon of the Mendocino Coast. It’s a coveted, gourmet delicacy and its shiny, iridescent shells decorate yards throughout the county. It’s also critically endangered along with six other abalone species found in California. Ann Vileisis’ new book is a fascinating and moving biography of the abalone. The book documents the biological history of the abalone and the complex relationship between the mollusk and humans. It’s an emotional rollercoaster filled with joy, loss, despair and hope. You’ll never look at abalone shells the same again. $22.95 at the Noyo Center for Marine Science.
For the fermentation fanatic – Mendo Ferments Fresh Turmeric Sauerkraut 🥘
Fermentation is one of the most historical forms of food production dating back centuries. Mendo Ferments, based in Willits, channels ancient techniques with contemporary processes to create locally sourced, handcrafted fermented products. Mendo Ferments’ Fresh Turmeric Sauerkraut uses organic turmeric root, known for its anti-inflammatory properties, to create a “light, rich, floral base” to a traditional sauerkraut. Its flavor and texture is great for salads, sandwiches and sausages. This product was a finalist for the Good Food Awards in 2022, the gourmet food equivalent of the Academy Awards. $9.99 at the Willits or Fort Bragg Farmers Markets or your local speciality market.
For the pantry cook – F/V Scandia Albacore Tuna 🐟
Not all canned tunas are equal. F/V Scandia’s canned albacore is an exceptional product that would be welcome in any foodie’s stocking to whip up a quick meal to remember. Docked in Noyo Harbor, F/V Scandia travels the coast to fish for young surface-caught wild albacore. The tuna is caught using hook and line and is certified turtle and dolphin safe. The caught tuna is immediately processed and frozen to ensure quality. It’s probably the best canned tuna you’ll ever have. A perfect Mendocino gift to ship as a unique gift nationwide. Prices vary depending on the grocer. $7.99 at Harvest Market.
For the coffee drinker – Thanksgiving Coffee Club ☕️
Fort Bragg’s Thanksgiving Coffee is celebrating its 50th year leading the way in the sustainable coffee movement. What started as a hippie couple’s idea of paying the bills in 1972 has evolved into a revolutionary local brand that is a certified B Corporation, Fairtrade, USDA Organic, kosher, as well as Smithsonian Bird Friendly. Introduce the coffee drinkers in your life to Thanksgiving with a coffee club subscription that includes two 12-ounce bags of fresh coffee sent to their doorstep every month. Thanksgiving offers three clubs: Single Origin, Dark Roast and the Roastmaster’s Club. $42 a month from Thanksgiving Coffee.
For the wine drinker – A bottle of Coro 🍷
In 2000, a group of local winemakers came together to create a signature ultra-premium blend of red wine using only Mendocino County grapes. The wine, Coro (chorus in Italian), became the first proprietary blend in the United States. It must comprise between 40% and 70% zinfandel blended with one or more other varietals which may include petite sirah, sangiovese, syrah, and other reds. Each wine undergoes a rigorous panel review to be accepted for the annual vintage. Between eight and eleven wineries are accepted annually, and each winery’s blend is unique and different each year, earning a cult-like status among collectors. Coro wines are bold, big, and make for steak dinner wines. A bottle of Coro starts at $40 at Sip Mendocino/Golden Pig Wine Shop.
For the cider drinker – Gowan’s 3 Bottle Cider Gift Set 🍎
The Gowans have been growing apples on their Anderson Valley farm since 1876. The family’s orchards are grown using sustainable and organic practices and include a variety of heirloom apples that they use to make delicious alcoholic ciders they call “applewines.” Gowan’s gift set includes three certified organic, award-winning bottles of cider, specifically the Gravenstein, Macintosh and 1876 Heirloom, the latter a French-inspired blend of various apples. The ciders are dry, slightly effervescent, and a great introduction to California cider. $38 from Gowan’s Cider.
All photos are courtesy of their producers.
Sarah Stierch covers food, beverage, culture and breaking news for The Mendocino Voice. Contact Stierch at [email protected]. The Voice maintains editorial control and independence.