I will fully admit that when it comes to Christmas shopping, I usually am one of those out on Christmas Eve, rummaging through what’s left on the shelves. Thankfully, being a food writer, there are plenty of last minute items you can grab for the foodie in your life without the hassle of a shopping mall.
Treatful: Gifts don’t always have to be wrapped up or in an envelope. Treatful offers the ability to treat your friends and family to personalized, online gift certificates at great Bay Area restaurants. The gift certificates are sent online at a date that the buyer selects. The website also notifies the restaurant of the purchase so that they can expect the recipient (s) as a future customer. Treatful San Francisco has over 180 restaurants available, in all parts of the Bay Area. There is a also a great description of each location which can make it a bit easer to decide on the perfect spot.
Zagat Smartbox: The Smartbox offers food “gift packages” for two in selected cities, including San Francisco. It contains a gift card for a special three-course dinner at the participating restaurant. There are 45 restaurants in the Bay Area to choose from, all of which are naturally Zagat-rated. Unlike some other gift cards, the Smartbox Table for Two allows the recipient to choose which restaurant they’d like to dine at, making it easier if you are not quite sure what type of cuisine your friends or family might be interested in. The Table for Two Smartbox is $99.
K&L Wine Merchants Personal Sommelier Service: For the wine lover, this is a great wine club to join. K&L has stores in San Francisco and Redwood City and has a great collection of wines of all varieties. The great thing about the program is that unlike a lot of other wine club memberships, the subscriber has a real say in the amount they want to spend, how many bottles they get per month and what types they’d like to try; it can be personalized each month with the help of a K&L staff member.
Outstanding in the Field: One of the most memorable dining experiences I have ever had is my Outstanding in the Field dinner in Nicasio. Started in 1999, Outstanding in the Field is a way for food-lovers to connect with the land and origins of their food. The traveling tour makes several stops in the greater Bay Area each year, usually at farms in the area. Organizers select a special guest chef to prepare the meal from ingredients they will find on that farm. Diners get a chance to tour the site, then sit at an enormous communal table for a wonderful feast. It is an expensive adventure but a real treat for anyone who really loves food.
Omnivore Books: Every time I go into Celia Sack’s Omnivore Books in Noe Valley, I grab at least one or two books that peak my interest. The store has an amazing collection, both old and new, with anything and everything you can imagine. There were a number of locals that came out with books this year which might make great gifts (Ryan Farr, Mourad Lahlou, Emily Luchetti among the bunch). It is a great spot for anyone looking for a hard-to-find cookbook or just something from one of their favorite food writers.
For those who haven’t found that perfect gift yet, this can be a good roadmap. Good luck with the shopping!!