Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours
tastecarolina.net, $50 to $65
Where to buy: On the company’s website.
Too many Triangle residents don’t take time to explore the place where they live and get to know the businesses and artisans that make it great. And that’s why a gift certificate to Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours is a perfect gift for that special someone who could use a little adventure.
The company offers year-round walking tours in seven cities, including Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, that give participants a behind-the-scenes look at local businesses and restaurants. Tours include samples of savory and sweet treats along with beer and wine.
Food from Tasty 8s
tasty8s.com; $6.88 for a hot dog
Where to buy: Tasty 8s Gourmet Hot Dog Co. at 121 Fayetteville St. in downtown Raleigh.
Dentist Brett Wells opened Tasty 8s in August as a way to cater to consumers’ increasing demand for creative recipes and local ingredients. And he hasn’t let them down.
The restaurant makes eight types of dogs topped with everything from fried okra and chow chow to cream cheese, cucumber and guacamole. They’ve even got a veggie version.
The place also offers Belgian frites, served with dips such as jalapeno buttermilk ranch, chipotle crema Mexicana and pimento cheese.
And if you’re going for a hot dog and fries, you might as well get a milkshake, too. With flavors like apple pie or peanut butter, fudge and banana, you’ll be sorry if you don’t.
Take a break from holiday shopping and treat all the hungry people you know.
Moon and Lola jewelry
Where to buy: Moon and Lola stores at 208 S. Wilmington St. in Raleigh and at 219 N. Salem St. in Apex; online and at other retailers.
Kelly Shatat, a Raleigh native and graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, turned to crafts for a creative outlet after transitioning from pharmacy sales to working as a pharmacist.
In 2003, she founded Moon and Lola after a friend asked her to bring her crafts to a holiday show in Greenville. Shatat sold out of her about 100 pieces of jewelry and started a small-business journey that eventually resulted in her opening a production facility and store in Apex along with retail locations in Raleigh and Charleston.
You can also find Shatat’s jewelry at more than 1,000 stores across the globe, including Nieman Marcus and Nordstrom.
In November, Oprah Winfrey picked Moon and Lola’s cuff links as one of 72 items on her “Favorite Things” list, but we think the company’s monogrammed earrings and necklaces are awesome gifts, too.
Clothes and toys from Nüvonivo
nuvonivo.com; $4.50 to $99
Where to buy: Nüvonivo, 111 E. Hargett St. in downtown Raleigh and the company’s website.
Ray Malouf opened retail shop Nüvonivo in August 2013 as an arm of Eastern Commercial Agencies, a wholesale clothing distribution company that his father Abdallah runs in downtown Raleigh and his grandfather started in Beirut.
The place sells everything from fashionable and unique clothes for babies and kids to learning toys and accessories. It won’t be hard to find something cute and fun for the little ones.
Barley Labs peanut butter dog treats
barleylabs.com, $2.49 to $6.49
Where to buy: Harris Teeter, Lowes Foods, independent shops and the company’s website.
Scott Beaudry’s search for a way to reuse the leftover grain from his craft beer projects has evolved into Barley Labs, a more than 2-year-old Durham business that has received national attention for its dog treats made from Fullsteam Brewery’s spent grain. Beaudry and Theresa Chu named the company after their black mutt, Barley, who is also vice president of quality control.
The all-natural treats come in cheese, pumpkin and peanut butter flavors, with peanut butter being the most popular, Chu said. For every bag of all-natural dog treats sold, Barley Labs donates 10 cents to the Animal Protection Society of Durham.
What dog doesn’t love treats? So get some. Your pups will thank you.
Rock of Ages Winery: Cork & Pork wine
rockofageswinery.com, about $13.95
Where to buy: Some Harris Teeters, Walmart, other retailers and on the company’s website
About 14 years ago, Kevin Moore and his brother Herbert Moore were drinking wine at their annual family camping trip and created a plan to each plant 1 1/2 acres of grapes. Herbert backed out, but Kevin wouldn’t let the idea go.
In April 2002, Kevin and his wife Kim Moore planted 3 acres of young vines by hand and added 23 acres in 2003.
Rock of Ages Winery in Hurdle Mills was born and built from the Moores’ continued passion to build a business in which they could tend family land and mix various styles of grapes.
If you need a hostess gift, don’t miss out on Rock of Ages’ Cork & Pork red. It’s the winery’s most complex blend, and is made from four dry red wines and a spark of Muscadine sweetness. And it pairs well with anything spicy. So get a bottle or two for yourself, too.
The Cultured Cow’s Red Heifer Cheddar
cultured-cow.com, about $7 for 8 ounces
Where to buy: Wake Forest Farmers Market, Harris Teeter at Stonehenge Market and Falls Pointe Shopping Center in Raleigh and at Chatham Downs Drive in Chapel Hill.
The Cultured Cow Creamery is part of Agri-Science Opportunities, a multifaceted dairy that started in Durham but recently moved to Person County. Agri-Science’s mission is to produce food products and cattle to help feed a growing global market and find solutions to food shortages in poor countries.
Agri-Science Opportunities was founded in 2011 under a partnership between Dr. Sam Galphin, a veterinarian who specializes in advanced reproduction techniques, and retired real estate developer David Falk Sr., who died in April after a long illness. Cultured Cow has temporarily moved their aging and packaging facilities to Graham.
Cultured Cow’s Red Heifer Cheese is the company’s sharpest cheddar. It’s made from raw milk and aged for at least six months. This year, it won first place at the N.C. State Fair’s cheese category. Package this with wine and crackers and give it to all your foodie friends.
Raleigh Flea Market treasures
Where to go: Raleigh Flea Market at the N.C. State Fairgrounds, 1025 Blue Ridge Road, Raleigh.
The Raleigh Flea Market has something for everyone. If that special someone on your list is hard to shop for, hit up the flea market on Saturdays for unique, vintage and handmade gifts.
The flea market has a little bit of everything, from old-school Pyrex bakeware and furs to hammocks, socks, custom paintings of dogs and yard art made out of forks and spoons. If you can’t find a gift there, you probably aren’t looking hard enough.
vybesunglasses.com, $35 per pair; individual pieces range from $2.50 to $12.50
Where to buy: On the company’s website.
Chase Denison couldn’t find a pair of quality, matte, white sunglasses that fit his vision, which, at the time, was all matte white pair, so he decided to make his own.
Denison, a 2014 Apex High graduate who attends New York University, along with his brother Chris Denison, who attends Appalachian State University, and friend and N.C. State University student Kyle May, founded Vybe Sunglasses, which are customizable shades with interchangeable parts that come in 12 different colors and eight different polarized lenses.
That means glasses can be blue, purple and yellow one day and red and white the next. So get this for the fashion forward teen on your list.
House of Swank BBQ T-shirt
Where to buy: House of Swank, 321 Hubert St. in downtown Raleigh, the company’s website and other retailers.
About four years ago, John Pugh bought a $50 screen-printing kit and started making T-shirts in his kitchen. He started with a half dozen shirts. He sold those and used the money to make more. Soon he was traveling to music gigs, art shows and other places lugging the shirts in a 1960s suitcase
Pugh’s T-shirt making evolved into the Raleigh-based House of Swank Clothing, which sells North Carolina-themed T-shirts and other accessories wholesale, online and at various events in their downtown Raleigh space. Pugh co-owns the business with his wife, Jessica Robinson.
House of Swank’s most popular T-shirt pays homage to the longtime battle over which North Carolina barbecue is best: Eastern or Western. This tee is perfect for both the tomato and vinegar lovers on your list.
Where to buy: Feelgoodz Tree House at 206 S. Wilmington St. in downtown Raleigh and online.
Raleigh-based Feelgoodz owners created this product to diversify their offerings beyond their selection of warm weather flip-flops made from all-natural products.
Lizzielooms are made with veggie-dyed, natural fibers and are handwoven and hand-loomed by artisans in Guatemalan fair wage communities. These slipper-like shoes, which come in a variety of patterns and colors, are great stocking stuffers for your mom, sister, wife or daughter.