Chew On This

Be creative when it comes to hostess gifts

December 3, 2013 

Offer the host a chance to indulge in a childhood treat by pairing a jar of Durham-based Big Spooners peanut butter.

COURTESY OF KACY JOHNSON

  • Where to buy

    Old School Mill grits: Two-pound bags of grits, about $5, and a multitude of other products, such as country ham, pound cake mixes and dried apples, are available at Parker and Otis, 112 S. Duke St., Durham, other specialty food stores, and at oldschool.com.

    Videri chocolate: Three-ounce chocolate bars, $7.99, and other chocolate treats can be purchased at Videri Chocolate Factory, 327 W. Davie St., downtown Raleigh. To find other retail outlets, click on Where to Buy at viderichocolatefactory.com.

    Big Spoon Roasters nut butters: Eight-ounce jars, $7-$12, in such flavors as peanut, peanut cashew and chai spice, are sold at the Carrboro and Durham farmers markets on Saturday mornings, all over the Triangle at specialty food shops (check out Find Us list on website) and at bigspoonroasters.com.

    Farmer’s Daughter Brand jams and jellies: Six-ounce jars of such flavors as blackberry, blueberry elderflower and peach with vanilla bean and bourbon cost $9-$10. They are sold at the Carrboro and Durham farmers markets on Saturday mornings, at Parker and Otis, and Rose’s Meat Market & Sweets Shop, 121 N. Gregson St., Durham, and at farmersdaughterbrand.com.

    Baker’s Peanuts: A 11/2-pound tin of the trio of treats (chocolate-covered peanuts, lightly salted and blistered peanuts and peanut brittle) costs $24.95 at Southern Season, 201 S. Estes Drive, Chapel Hill or $18.50 at bakerspeanuts.com.

    Angus Barn cheese crock: A 20-ounce cheese crock costs $16 at the Angus Barn’s country store, 9401 Glenwood Ave., Raleigh, or a 1-pound costs $24.95 at Southern Season. Also available at angusbarn.com.

    The Cultured Cow Creamery cheeses: Cheddar, smoked cheddar and Parmesan cheeses cost about $7.49 for an 8-ounce block, available at Whole Foods stores, Weaver Street Market stores, Lowes Foods and many specialty shops. Find a complete list at cultured-cow.com/buy-our-products/.

This time of year, it’s a good idea to stock up on a few gifts for all the hosts and hostesses inviting you to brunches, cocktail parties and get-togethers this holiday season.

So I checked in with a couple of folks whose opinions I respect on such matters: Jennings Brody, owner of Parker and Otis in Durham, and Kirstin Hunt, specialty food buyer for Southern Season.

Brody has two go-to gifts. She pairs a 2-pound bag of Old School Mill grits from Albemarle and a bar of Videri chocolate made in Raleigh.

“One’s for the morning and one’s for after the party,” Brody explained.

Her other idea: Offer the host a chance to indulge in a childhood treat by pairing a jar of Durham-based Big Spoon Roasters peanut butter with a jar of marshmallow fluff or a jar of Carrboro-based Farmer’s Daughter Brand jam or jelly. Who doesn’t like peanut butter and jelly or peanut butter and fluff?

Meanwhile, Hunt clued me into a fact that folks in Chapel Hill may be pleased to learn: Southern Season is the only place other than the Angus Barn selling the Raleigh restaurant’s signature cheese crock, filled with the delectable spread that starts any meal there.

Hunt’s other favorite gift suggestion is a 11/2-pound tin featuring a trio of Bertie County-based Baker’s Peanuts products: chocolate-covered peanuts, lightly salted and blistered peanuts, and peanut brittle.

I will add one more suggestion for a local product that I was introduced to earlier this year: The Cultured Cow Creamery cheeses. This family-owned, Durham-based Holstein cattle farm and cheese-making business produces an excellent line of cheddars. My favorite is the smoked cheddar. It’s a gift to enjoy with your hosts if they are willing to share.

Whatever you decide to give as a gift, Brody urges people to be creative: “I think more people should bring something different than a bottle of wine.”

Weigl: 919-829-4848 or aweigl@newsobserver.com; Twitter: @andreaweigl

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