Food gifts have become a hot item for the holidays. Whether it’s spicy barbecue sauce for him or crunchy peppermint bark for her, you can almost never go wrong giving food.
Lucky for us, the central San Joaquin Valley’s premium food makers offer a lot of choices, from sweet to savory. But it isn’t always easy to find what you are looking for.
So to make your gift buying easier, we offer a few suggestions on what to look for and where to shop.
▪ For a down-home, no-frills approach, Circle K Ranch, 8640 E. Manning Ave., carries a full line of dried fruit, nuts, candied nuts and gift boxes. Its jumbo chocolate-covered raisins are popular, along with the walnuts covered in dark chocolate and milk chocolate. Other favorites are the California Tray with chocolate- or yogurt-covered nuts and raisins for $34. Find the online store at www.circlekranch.com.
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▪ Schaad Family Almonds, 16471 Whitesbridge Road, Kerman, is a great spot for almonds and pistachios in a variety of flavors, from garlic to chile lemon. Prices for nuts start at less than $10 and a 10-item gift basket is about $130. For details, visit the farm’s gift shop or its online store, www.schaadfamilyalmonds.com.
▪ The well-known Simonian Farms, 2629 S. Clovis Ave., Fresno, is almost a must for your out-of-town guests coming to visit. It’s a combination ag museum, arcade and farm store. The longtime roadside attraction has one of the most diverse selections of foods, including dried fruits, nuts, its own line of fruit-flavored wines and flavored olives. This year, they also have 10 flavors of jam, from white peach to pomegranate. Gift baskets and boxes are also available and start at $24. Check out the online store at www.simonianfarms.com/.
▪ For nearly all local, Fresno State-made products, there is only one place to go: Rue and Gwen Gibson Farm Market, 5368 N. Chestnut Ave. The store is stacked with gift possibilities, from award-winning wine to candy covered nuts. New products are rotated in all the time and currently include cranberry pistachio bark, white chocolate peppermint bark and almonds coated in an apple cider flavoring. The store also has dozens of other gift-worthy products, including extra virgin olive oil, molé barbecue sauce and freshly roasted coffee.
▪ Fans of spicy food have an interesting new option. One of Fresno’s newest food trucks, Sweet and Spicy Fresno, is bottling three of its sauces: sweet and spicy peanut sauce, a spicy sriracha, and something called “Chan’s Whatever Sauce.” Chan’s sauce is a potent mixture of ginger, sesame oil, hoisin, dark soy sauce, sriracha and garlic. The sauces are $5 each and can be picked up at the food truck. For details, visit their Facebook page or call them at 559-697-8626.
▪ Speaking of sauces, Ampersand, one of Fresno’s hottest spots for locally made ice cream, is selling three sauces: whiskey caramel, hot fudge and salted caramel. The sauces are great on ice cream, of course, but are also good as a topping on cakes, pies or cheesecake. You can even use the salted caramel drizzled on soft cheeses, said Jeff Bennett, an owner of Ampersand.
▪ If you are looking for local coffee, try Kuppa Joy in Fresno and Clovis or Lanna Coffee in downtown Fresno. Both have gift possibilities. Lanna has several options, including a gift box with a four-ounce package of coffee, a coffee mug and a bar of Molucca hand-crafted dark chocolate. Kuppa Joy has several items, including its own line of coffee. Prices for a 12-ounce package start at $13.95.
▪ Donna Mott, owner of Ooh De Lolli Kitchen Works and Fine Edibles, says her food subscription service is a perfect way to give someone something warm and delicious for the holidays. The Drop Box Bakery is a collection of local bakers and cooks who prepare a monthly meal consisting of soup and bread and/or soup, bread and dessert. The meals can feed two people. A vegan/gluten free menu is available. The price for the service varies from $25 to $35. Details can be found at www.oohdelolli.com.
▪ Local restaurant owner Carol Ocheltree of Tree of Life Cafe & Bakery, 2139 Kern St., Fresno, has lots to choose from, including homemade cookies, peppermint bark, peanut brittle, fudge, pies, pumpkin bars, jams and jellies with flavors like key lime and serrano, and gift baskets with the restaurant’s signature soup mug. You can reach the restaurant by calling 559-663-7776.
▪ Valley wineries may not get the attention of those in Northern California, but there is no shortage of premium winemakers here. At ApCal, 32749 Avenue 7, Madera, you can find between 50 and 100 locally produced wine varieties for sale. Among the wineries featured are Moody Press, Engelmann Cellars, LoMac Winery, Milla Vineyards, Yribarren Family Vineyards, Saviez Family Estates, Quady Winery, Birdstone Winery, Ficklin, Papagni Wines, Cru Wine Company, Solitary Cellars and Ramos Torres Winery. Prices vary from $25 to $75 a bottle. For more information, visit its website at www.apcalwine.com.
▪ And if you really want your gift to talk on your behalf, try Speak Wines, a Southern California company with Valley ties. Each bottle contains a special saying, such as “Love You More” and “Dream Big Darling.” Speak Wines are available online at speakwines.com or can be purchased at Fäsi Estate Winery in Friant, 42415 Road 208. They sell for $25 per bottle.
For higher-end gifts that will please your foodie friends and family, you should check out Enzo’s Table in Clovis, Sierra Nut House in Fresno, Sumner Peck Winery and Fruit Stand in Friant, California Gourmet Company in Fresno and Rosetti’s Fine Foods in Clovis.
▪ Enzo’s Table, 1959 N. Willow Ave., Clovis, is an upscale farm store that features the company’s award-winning extra virgin olive oil. The premium oil comes in delicate, medium and bold flavors. Oil prices range from $12.99 to $19.99. It also has a line of balsamic vinegars and recently introduced a line of pesto and three specialty olive oils flavored with Fresno chilis, clementines and fresh basil. The pesto comes in four flavors: sweet pepper, basil, artichoke lemon and sun-dried tomatoes. The pesto is $12.50. Details at www.enzostable.com.
▪ Sumner Peck Winery and Fruit Stand, 14439 N. Friant Road, Friant, features several award-winning wines, including the Sumner Peck Ranch 2014 Viognier, a 2012 Chardonnay and a 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon. This year, they’ve added some new products from Sticky Lips Gourmet Foods. The Ahwahnee-based company makes several sauces, including a sweet and tangy barbecue sauce and a zinfadel tri-tip marinade. For details, visit sumnerpeckranch.com/.
▪ The Sierra Nut House, Villaggio Shopping Center, 7901 N. Blackstone Ave., Fresno, is well-stocked with dozens of items, including nuts, dried fruit, candies, soup mixes and wine. The shop is known for its gift boxes and baskets. Among its newest items are truffle oil and truffle pate. The online store can be found at www.sierranuthouse.com.
▪ California Gourmet Company, 2015 W. Bullard Ave., Fresno, is well-known for its chocolate-covered treats and gift baskets. The shop’s best sellers are its super-sized chocolate-covered strawberries and chocolate- and caramel-dipped apples and pears. It also is featuring a new local company called Ciderhouse Foods from Springville. The company makes apple syrup, apple butter and apple granola. Prices for the apple products are about $10. You can also order online at www.californiagourmetcompany.com.
▪ Rosetti’s Fine Foods, 3 Railroad Ave. in Clovis, the southeast corner of Clovis and Sierra avenues, is the headquarters for biscotti lovers. The small family-run company makes biscotti in several flavors, from chocolate chocolate almond to lemon almond. Also popular: fruit cakes that Rosetti’s calls Harvest Cakes. Prices for the biscotti range from $3.50 to $12.95. Harvest Cakes are $15.95 and $36.95. Rosetti’s online store is www.rosettis.com/.
▪ If that isn’t enough and you still can’t find something for the man in your life, then a trip to Fresno Ag Hardware, 4590 N. First St., Fresno, is in order. The store is a barbecue lover’s dream come true. Along with selling a full line of barbecues, the store has become the unofficial headquarters for locally made barbecue sauces, rubs and marinades. It carries some of the best, such as Hutch’s Gourmet Barbecue Sauce, Petrucci’s Secret Sauce and Pa Paw’s Killer BBQ Sauce. It also has a full line of rubs and seasoning from Pappy’s, Diamond K Spice & Herb and Ravens.