MENDOCINO Co., 12/15/23 — All of us eat to live, but some of us live to eat (perhaps with a cocktail 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 jam fan — Fairall’s Farm jam
Nothing beats a schmear of homemade jam on a toasted English muffin in the morning or as a late-night snack with a cozy cup of tea. If you know someone who agrees, then pick up a jar or two of Fairall’s Farm jam. Lovingly crafted by Amanda Fairall, proprietor of Fairall’s Farm, a food truck and farm stand that makes regular appearances at farmers’ markets and special events countywide. Fairall creates interesting flavor combinations such as cranberry grape, strawberry blackberry, chocolate-covered raspberry and pomegranate pear butter, all which she describes as being “jam-packed with love” in an interview with Word of Mouth magazine. $12.95 for an 8 oz. jar. Available at the Ukiah, Fort Bragg and Willits farmers’ markets, Vic’s Place every Sunday from 4-6:30 p.m., and online at Etsy.
For the busy home cook — A subscription to Mendo-Lake Food Hub
Consider giving back to that foodie friend who cooks you dinner once a week or often laments on how they love to cook but have little time to head to the store. A biweekly subscription to Mendo-Lake Food Hub will provide the recipient a box of locally grown organic produce available for home delivery or local pickup weekly or biweekly. Gift-givers should buy the recipient a gift card, which can be redeemed for a subscription for produce (including customizable boxes) and add-ons including Mendo Magic microgreens, Rhizing Ground Farm eggs and Grainsong breads. Gift certificates start at any amount and are virtual — cards can be emailed to the recipient directly or to yourself to keep the gift a secret. Purchase gift certificates here.
For the friend on a Mediterranean diet — Terra Sávia olive oil sampler set
The Mediterranean diet has gained popularity for its healthy lifestyle and the possibility for increased life expectancy. Olive oil consumption is a key component to the “Med life” (along with a nightly glass of red wine!). Located in Hopland, Terra Sávia has been growing certified organic olive oil on site since 1999. Whether you’re buying for a friend hoping to make a healthy go of it in January or a longtime olive oil enthusiast, Terra Sávia’s olive oil sampler variety set features three 100 ml. olive oils: the Frantoio, a single varietal fruity Tuscan-style olive oil; Meyer lemon, a flavorful oil perfect for pastas, seafood or dipping fresh bread; and Moraiolo, a single varietal intense oil with flavors of herbs, green tea, apples and a slight bitterness. All three reflect the diverse personality of Mendocino County olive oils. $37 at Terra Sávia, 14200 Mountain House Rd., Hopland, (707) 744-1114 or online here.
For the Mexican food fanatic — The Secrets of Salsa
One of the best food publications from Mendocino County, the Secrets of Salsa features over 30 salsa recipes from Mexican immigrant women living in Anderson Valley, the self-described “Salsistas.” The concept for the book came out of English as a Second Language classes at the Anderson Valley Adult School as a way to gain language skills while sharing meals and recipes with the community. The spiral-bound, 80-page cookbook has 31 recipes for salsas ranging from fresh salsa fresca to spicy habanero salsas. It’s a perfect gift for new and experienced cooks alike, and a special piece of Mexican-American folk and food culture. Secrets of Salsa is available for $14.95 at bookstores and cooking stores throughout Mendocino County, as well as online here.
For the plant-based diner — Gift card to the Fog Eater Cafe
The Fog Eater Cafe in Mendocino is one of the premier veggie-centric restaurants in California. The casual, quirky and colorful cafe offers vegetarian and vegan offerings that the restaurant describes as “California cuisine with a Southern twang.” The menu offers a great introduction to plant-based eating for those who are curious (or meat eaters who need a bit of extra convincing that fried cauliflower can be as good as fried chicken — and trust me, it can). The staff is friendly and welcomes questions about their food offerings, all which are made with organic ingredients, most sourced locally. Dinner and Sunday brunch is offered, and the restaurant serves an interesting selection of natural wines curated from the Fog Bottle Shop, the cafe’s neighboring wine bar. Gift cards are available for purchase at fogeatercafe.com.
For the mushroom hunter — Born Free Natural Mystic 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. $65 at forage.com.
For the soup lover — Colleen Hennessey Ceramics soup bowl
Coast resident Colleen Hennessey crafts sturdy handmade ceramic tableware, including soup bowls that quietly scream “warm and cozy!” Before being a ceramic artist, Hennessey worked as a professional chef in San Francisco and Los Angeles for fifteen years. Hennessey’s heirloom-worthy soup bowls are approximately 6 inches wide, 2.5-3 inches deep and “glazed in matte pale gray with a swath of foggy white.” The bowls are dishwasher-safe. From the simplest chicken noodle soup to a filling ramen, this bowl will make any soup shine. One bowl starts at $46 at the Study Club ((707) 937-1777), 10470 Lansing St., Mendocino) or colleenhennessey.com.
For the kitchen organizer — Christopher Cisper sponge holder
Christopher Cisper is a coastal resident known not only for his singing, songwriting and guitar playing, but also for his beautiful functional ceramic pieces, including his artful sponge holder. Cisper’s sponge holders have multiple holes of varying shapes and sizes to help sponges breathe and a design reminiscent of the biodiversity of a tidepool. Each one is unique in color and design, allowing the gift recipient to turn a mundane kitchen tool into an elegant display. $25 at Sportsman’s Park Gallery & Gifts, 32094 N. Harbor Dr., Fort Bragg, (707) 734-4273, [email protected].
For the tea drinker — Mendocino Tea Company Organic Tuber Tonic
Organic Tuber Tonic is Mendocino Tea Company’s most popular product, and it is no surprise: it’s delicious. It’s the brainchild of Mendocino Tea Company founder, herbalist and educator Lee White, who founded the company in 2003. In 2021, White’s friend Sarah Bodnar became the owner and opened a tea shop in Mendocino. Tuber Tonic is a caffeine-free tea made with organic turmeric, ginger, elderberries, cinnamon and black pepper. It’s a zesty, fruity and healthful tea blend that is delicious hot, cold or on ice. It’s a great gift for tea enthusiasts or for folks looking for a tasty, healthy alternative to sodas. $20 at Mendocino Tea Company (10550 Lansing St., Mendocino) or mendocinotea.com.
For the beer drinker — New Museum Brewers & Blenders beer
Just in time for the holidays, Point Arena’s New Museum Brewers & Blenders launched canned beers. Brewer Peter McDowell crafts small production brews using an open square fermentation process, one of the oldest beer-making methods in the world. He’s one of the few brewers in the United States to use this method, which is more common in Eastern Europe. Even better, many of his beers utilize hops and ingredients grown in Northern California. The result is a thoughtfully crafted beer, making the new canned beers a perfect gift for the hophead in your life. The New Museum offers its Among the Ferns Farmhouse Pale Ale, Mean Sun Lagerbier Hell and its Gardeners Stash Unfiltered IPA in 16 oz. four packs ranging from $21-$23 sales tax and CRV included. Available at the New Museum (265 Main St., Point Arena), Elk Store in Elk, Fog Eater Bottle Shop in Mendocino, and the Piaci Pub and Princess Seafood Market in Fort Bragg. Contact thenewmuseumbeer.com for more information.
Note: Sarah Stierch covers food, beverage, culture, weather and breaking news for The Mendocino Voice. Contact Stierch at [email protected]. The Voice maintains editorial control.