Though many holiday traditions are on pause this year, gift giving remains a safe way to celebrate with friends and loved ones. We’ve identified a handful of special gifts — all with Philly ties — that will be just right for gastronauts and home cooks. This guide offers ideas in a variety of price points to help you find the perfect present for the food lovers in your life.
Kalaya-style meals at home
Ever since its 2019 opening, Kalaya has been rocking Philly’s restaurant scene with bold flavors, carefully sourced ingredients, and authentic Thai dishes. Chef-owner Nok Suntaranon recently opened Kalaya Thai Market to sell takeout, plus Thai groceries and goods, including sweet basil Lay’s chips, prawn crackers, Thai tea mix, dried hot peppers, and black rice. Two conversation starters stand out as gifts: an ornate, aluminum Thai Rice Server with ladle ($25) and a double-decker Fish Platter ($25) with room for a candle on the bottom to keep the dish warm. Suntaranon recommends serving steamed fish or seafood curry on the fish-shaped platter, as she does in the restaurant.
Philadelphia Caviar Co. delivers 3.5-ounce glass jars of sustainable, North American sturgeon roe — cured in the traditional Russian technique of malossol — to homes within 10 miles of the city ($120). Founder Sarah Steinberg, once a producer for the Food Network shows Chopped and Beat Bobby Flay, sources the briny stuff from local Russian suppliers. Each order comes with a mother of pearl spoon, and add-ons include handmade Russian blini, chive crème fraîche, Metropolitan bakery bread, and potato chips.
Art in the Age’s off-beat spirit trio
Whoever you give Art in the Age’s new brandy to may respond “this gift stinks” — and that’s a good thing. Made with notoriously funky durian fruit, the bartending-cum-spirits shop’s Corpse Flower Durian Brandy smells like death and decay, but, evidently, reveals a surprisingly sweet flavor when sipped over a melting ice cube. Sounds weird, but we all know just the friend who would appreciate it, as well as the shop’s new Deerslayer whiskey ($65) that’s literally distilled with venison. A giftable three-pack ($175) includes Eau De Musc, a whiskey flavored with the musky, vanilla-like extract from a gland in the nether regions of beavers.
Cooking equipment from Fante’s
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For any food lover or home cook, a trip to Fante’s Kitchen Shop is an inspiring experience. The Italian Market institution originally opened in 1906 and remains family-run today. Among the shelves full of cooking equipment, appliances, serving ware, and cookbooks are items with Philly ties that make excellent gifts. The shop sells Italian specialty items — including a showpiece device to make spaghetti alla chitarra ($59.99), a stovetop pizzelle iron ($29.99), and a ravioli form ($24.99).
Fante’s also sells its own custom pastry boards ($119.99), a Liberty Bell cutting board ($29.99), and a fruit ripener ($19.99) that can also be used to proof bread. Staff members here are well-versed in cooking and kitchen supplies — don’t hesitate to seek their guidance when shopping.
Bread and cheese subscription
This fall brought a collaborative new offering from High Street Philly’s bakers and the cheese purveyors at Collective Creamery. The five-week-long bread and cheese subscription includes a rotating loaf of High Street bread and a cheese sourced from Birchrun Hills Farm or Valley Milkhouse ($125). Your giftee will get to skip the line at the Headhouse Farmers’ Market (on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) to pick up the weekly package. Sign up at any time to start a new five-week subscription.
Goldie enamel pins
Michael Solomonov’s fast-casual falafel restaurant has a devoted fan base. They come for the fresh fried chickpea balls, soft pitas, fries tossed in shawarma spices, and the unforgettable tahini-based (read: vegan!) shakes. The restaurant group — that also includes Zahav and Dizengoff — has partnered up with local illustrator Lauren Cat West on a series of pins showcasing favorites from the Goldie menu ($20 for all four or $6 each).