The holidays are upon us and there is so much planning and shopping to do for hosting parties and open houses, not to mention attending them. Luckily there’s a wide range of excellent quality (some have won awards!) local and sustainable foods conveniently available at retail that are perfect for your holiday table, a hostess gift, a gift bag for a special friend and even for your little one’s stocking. Have fun shopping!
The Farmer’s Cow has just added heavy cream and half and half to their product line so head to your favorite grocer (Shaw’s, Stop ‘n Shop, Whole Foods Markets and The Fresh Market), and pick some up. The Farmer’s Cow line includes milk and eggs so you can go local with the dairy for your holiday baking. Butter you ask? Coming soon!
Move over sparkling cider, Twelve is here and it’s my top non-alcoholic pick for serving at adult parties. This all natural, no sugar added, lightly carbonated drink is sophisticated, festive, and food-friendly. Created by the legendary chefs David Burke and Alfred Portale, it is now made by a company headquartered in Fairfield which outsources production to a winery in Ohio. The clever and catchy name is derived from the 12 hours which span the drink’s recommended consumption time – from noon to midnight. The base is white grape juice to which organic teas, herbs, spices and citrus essence is added, along with a light carbonation. Twelve makes a great base for mixed drinks too -try vodka or dark rum. You can find Twelve at Whole Foods Market, Palmer’s Market in Darien, and Balducci’s.
The famous all-natural, vegetarian fed, Willie Bird whole smoked turkey, formerly available exclusively through Williams-Sonoma’s catalog, is now available at Palmer’s Market in Darien. You can thank Richard the butcher for bringing in this bird from Sonoma, CA to grace your holiday table. Head to Palmer’s Market at 264 Heights Road in Darien, just off exit 10 on I95 across from the Noroton Heights train station. They also have Lyman Orchard’s Apple Cider, fresh Long Island duck, and wild harvested Mexican white shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico, a sustainably raised and harvested seafood. Available raw with the shell on or peeled and deveined, it’s the perfect sustainable seafood choice for a make ahead appetizer and is now the ONLY shrimp carried by Palmer’s Market in Darien.
Head to Whole Foods Market Westport for some pasture raised, grass-fed beef from family-owned New England farms that’s sold under the Wolfe’s Neck label. This special program brings together over 150 family-owned farms in NY, NJ, CT, MA, NH, MA, and VT who share Wolfe’s Neck Farm’s dedication to humane and sustainable agriculture. Stop in Whole Foods Market at 399 Post Road West in Westport on Saturday, December 19 from noon until 3 pm to join me for a Free Holiday Roast Tasting and Sustainable Discussion featuring Wolfe’s Neck Natural Beef. The first 20 guests will receive a free holiday gift and they’ll be tips and holiday recipes for the taking! Don’t forget to bring your #5 containers for recycling.
Walter Stewart’s Market at 229 Main Street in New Canaan is an amazing source for many locally produced foods perfect for hosting holiday celebrations or giving as gifts. Don’t let the Elm Street address scare you off; they have plenty of parking in their lot and are down the road from the congested shopping area. Walter Stewart’s is a compelling one-stop holiday shopping destination for award-winning Michelle’s Pies (Norwalk), Blue Jay Orchards‘ Cider Donuts (Bethel), Lyman Orchards’ Apple Cider ( The Gracious Gourmet’s award-winning spreads and tapenades (Bridgewater), El’s Kitchen’s dry rubs (Weston), Sankow’s Beaver Brook Farm’s premium ice cream (Lyme), maple syrup from Lamothe’s Sugar House (Burlington), Hopkins Inn Caesar and House Dressing, and Bear Pond Farm’s (Glastonbury) line of nut-free pestos made with organic basil and non-GMO canola oil. Look for the line of Organic Chocolate Mexicano from the sustainable and socially conscious company Taza Chocolate (MA) near the registers. This stone ground, organic chocolate is the ne plus ultra of authentic Mexican-style chocolates to eat or sip while sitting by the fireplace with a good book or socializing with friends. Don’t forget to ask for a recipe card if you want to make Mexican hot chocolate. Taza Chocolate makes a great stocking stuffer or gift set.
Kallari Single Source USDA Organic Chocolate bars make a fabulous stocking stuffer, hostess gift or finishing touch to a gift bag. Made by a cooperative of 850 indigenous Kichwa farmers in the Ecuadoran Amazon, they are “the only farmers’ cooperative in the world that harvests, markets and enjoys all profits from its own line of organic chocolate” according to The Kallari Story printed inside the box. This is beautiful, elegant, flavorful chocolate devoid of any hard edges or bitter notes. This puzzled me at first, but now I understand why; it’s made from a rare cacao varietal called Cacao Nacional that flourishes in this area and once faced extinction. Perfect for your”green” foodie friends, Kallari is available exclusively at Whole Foods Markets nationwide.
Stop in to the Fairfield Winter Farmers’ Market at the Fairfield Theater Company on Saturdays between 10 and 2 for CT maple syrup, the full line of Beltane Farms artisanal, farmstead goat’s milk cheeses and yogurt, and a wide variety of unusual salad greens and root vegetables from USDA Certified Organic Starlight Gardens. Their reddish-purple dragon carrots are fantastic – stunningly beautiful, tender and sweet. Video from opening day at the farmers’ market is available for viewing on YouTube: Beltane Farms and Starlight Gardens.
The perfect gift for anyone looking for a healthy start to the New Year is a gift certificate to the award-winning organic, vegetarian restaurant Health in a Hurry in Fairfield. Go in with a friend or two for a $50 gift card on special for $42.50. For the cook looking to expand her repertoire, how about a cooking class with chef/owner Sue Cadwell? Starting in January, classes will be held in her kitchen from 6:45-8:45 pm, where a cooking demonstration and light meal is $45 and includes a booklet of notes and recipes. Classes include Winter Soups, Grains & Beans, Gluten Free Cooking, Your Health-Supportive Pantry-How to Get Started, What Is Tempeh Anyway?-Demystifying Soy and Whole Food Meal Planning Made Easy.
For the not-yet-21 reader in your family, how about the Young Reader’s Edition of Michael Pollan’s book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”? It’s now available for $10 in paperback!
For the girlfriend who isn’t quite sure how to green her kitchen, I recommend filling a reusable shopping bag with a few green kitchen staples like recycled aluminum foil, bio bags for composting kitchen food, a reusable kitchen cloth (instead of paper towel) and unbleached parchment paper.
Have a wonderful Holiday and a very Happy New Year. May all your foodie wishes come true.