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Give Him Something To Remember
by Jialin Luh on Jun 12, 2009
Father’s Day is little over a week away. Maybe you count yourself among the 9.4% nationally unemployed (according to stats as of June 5). Or maybe you’re just pinching pennies, saving for a rainy day. Or hell, maybe you’re one of those people who doesn’t feel the need to spend money to let the dads in your life know you find them endearing. Whatever your philosophy, there’s still time and ways to make this Father’s Day memorable without breaking the bank while offering a San Francisco bent to things and supporting local businesses.
Maybe so-called Hallmark-generated holidays have you ranting. Call me sentimental but I still think there is something sweet about thanking figures that have made a positive mark in your life, even if they’ve created holidays to remind (okay, maybe nag) you.
Never underestimate the art of DIY crafts. If your budget leans to the low end, a heartfelt handmade card can do the trick. Local joints Kozo Arts, Flax and Paper Source provide just about anything you need to put together a one-of-a-kind Father’s Day card. Not particularly confident in your artsy abilities? No problem. There are many things that can be done with photos, which family members are likely to cherish for years to come. If you can find multiple wonderful photos, surprise your recipient with a photo calendar, which can be produced cheaply at your pick of print shops and big box office supply outlets. Do you have Flickr? Good for you. Now in addition to sharing digital photos with your loved ones, Flickr has a smattering of tools to help you create things like stickers, calendars, photos, books, custom cards and more from your digital photos.
Does your recipient wear t-shirts and hoodies? We’ve thankfully progressed beyond the iron-transfer photo white-tees. One of my favorite local spots, My Trick Pony, specializes in creating custom soft goods. Meaning, you can bring in a photo, drawing/sketch -- basically whatever graphics you can dream up -- and the folks at My Trick Pony will work with you to realize your dream. For example, say you draw stick figures of yourself with Pops and a haiku of your creation. My Trick Pony will do their ultimate to turn this into a delightful one-of-a-kind work of art/memento!
Feeling like something a little more utilitarian? Everyone requires food and drink. Whether your recipient could care less about “gourmet” or is on the more discriminating, foodie side, it’s possible to give a gift that doesn’t become the “‘gourmet’ basket from my aunt” left for ravenous friends/roommates/coworkers. A meaningful consumable gift means knowing the tastes of your recipient. Obviously if your giftee doesn’t use wine for anything but cooking, he might not appreciate an aged vintage. Fortunately if the person you’re shopping for enjoys eating and/or drinking, there are some great local options.
Let’s cover the liquids first. Brick-and-mortar establishments K&L Wine Merchants (a stone’s throw from the 4th and King Caltrain station) and D&M Wines and Liquors (Pac Heights) have your back. Both have been in the business for decades and have a variety of buying clubs to choose from. These clubs are best for those not dead-set in their preferences. If Pops only drinks X from Y year, he might respond to your gift of club membership with a forced smile. On the other hand, if the recipient has an open mind, clubs are a great way to expose him to new varieties and can provide something special to look forward to.
I could rehash all the options K&L and D&M offer but what’s the fun in that? All you need to know is that K&L has four wine clubs and a champagne club. Pick a club and all the guess work is taken out; selection is done for you. Similarly, D&M operates a fine selection of whiskey, brandy, and champagne clubs. If you’re like me and didn’t know that cognac, Armagnac and Calvados are different varieties of brandy, the friendly people at D&M can help you choose. However it’s helpful to know what your man likes to drink (the more specific the better). For the more non-commital/cautious/frugal, gift certificates are a safe bet, and both companies do mail order through easy-to-navigate websites.
Yes I haven’t forgotten there is such a thing as a non-alcoholic beverage and by that I’m not talking about “virgin” drinks and “non-alcoholic beer” (barf). For coffee addicts, locally based favorite purveyor Blue Bottle Coffee does gift subscriptions (seven to choose from!), but again if you’re not a fan of the club/subscription model you can opt for a gift certificate or take your pick of beans -- decaf is available. If you want to be fancy, get a few different kinds and add a handmade card. If you’re not already familiar with Blue Bottle, their tagline is “Microroasters of organic and shade grown coffee”. Based out of Oakland, Blue Bottle’s popular “kiosk” sits on Linden in Hayes Valley. If you’d rather, you can also make your purchases online.
Quality chocolates and cheeses are perfect for giftees who love something to nosh on. While there certainly isn’t a shortage of places to get artisanal sweets locally, Charles Chocolates across the bay in Emeryville has a unique and delicious “Chocolate of the Month” club, with subscriptions starting at three months for $150. If you prefer to buy a box, they’re actually doing a (surprise) Father’s Day Special: 15% off any 20-piece “Deluxe Assortment” box with coupon code “FATHERS09”. I like the fact that the assortments come in classy blue/brown boxes, so no need to worry about a tacky gold, pink or red gift box.
On the savory side of things, did you know about The Cheese School of San Francisco? It might sound too good to be true, but it’s exactly what it says: a school whose main curriculum is cheese. With popular classes like the “Basic Cheese Primer” to “Chenin & Chevre”, The Cheese School offers courses suited for anyone who delights in cheese. Subject scope ranges from broad (Cheese 101) to very specific (Cheese from Down Under, or the Iberian Peninsula, or how to pair cheese with olive oil, for example). Most will set you back $65 for a two-hour course and include wine pairings. A gift of a class at The Cheese School is guaranteed to be unique and tasty!
Last but certainly not least if nothing above strikes your fancy, there’s always Kamei Restaurant Supply. Very economical but aesthetically pleasing sake sets, cooking supplies (hello custom barbeque tool set?) and housewares of myriad styles await for mixing and matching. Because as cheesy as it is, it is often the thought put into the gift that makes its recipient feel all that much more special.
by Jialin Luh on Jun 12, 2009
Wines: image courtesy of K&L Wine Merchant's
Raisy Assortment from Charles Chocolates, photo courtesy Charles Chocolates
Cheese School SF photo courtesy The Cheese School of San Francisco