November 28, 2012

Soup to Nuts: Gifts for special foodies

Here are seven that have earned the official Meredith Seal of Approval.

By Meredith Goad
Staff Writer

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A Pie of the Month Club gift allows the recipient to choose a dozen pies through the year at Two Fat Cats bakery in Portland.

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The Honey Exchange in Portland offers a delicious variety of honeys and honey-related gifts, from bee-themed jewelry to mead from around the world.

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The spicy blueberry steak sauce, along with the original Loughlin's Irish steak sauce, is available in Pat's Meat Market, Moran's Market, Borealis Breads, Rosemont Market's Munjoy store and Maine Pantry. It's also available on Loughlin's website and Pemberton's website (

These sauces would make good stocking stuffers or, paired together and presented nicely, a good hostess gift. 


Most are $10 to $12 a jar. 

I came home a couple of months ago and found a note on my back door. My neighbor's Internet had gone out, he got bored and mowed his lawn, and then he came over and mowed most of mine. Hope you don't mind, the note said.

Are you kidding me?

I immediately packaged a little something from The Honey Exchange with my own note: A big thank you with honey on top.

Phil and Meghan Gaven opened The Honey Exchange last year, and I'm always surprised by the number of people I run into who haven't been there yet. It's a great place to buy a gift, whether it's for a holiday or a simple thanks for a kind gesture. I took visitors from away there over the summer, and they immediately started picking up honey to take home.

If you're not into honey, you can get all kinds of honey-related gifts here too, from bee-themed jewelry to mead from around the world. But it's the honey that fascinates me, and I love trying the different kinds. (They have a honey tasting bar that usually has several varieties for you to sample.)

Each jar tells you where the honey was made, what season it was harvested in and what kind it is – orange blossom honey from Florida, for example, or cotton honey from North Carolina. Right now at home I have a tall jar of dark honey for daily use from Haas Apiary in Biddeford (harvested in fall 2011, according to the label), and a jar of Brazilian pepper honey, harvested in summer 2011 by Webb's Honey in Florida, that has an unusual peppery flavor.

These jars are small enough to be stocking stuffers, but you could also bundle several of them together and impress your friends with one large gift.


$20 for 8 ounces of beans 

This gift is for the person who has everything, and who also loves coffee. Or the coffee lover for whom, when it comes to a good cup of joe, money is no object.

Coffee by Design's Harvest Reserve line is pricey, selling for $40 a pound, but you'll have the satisfaction of knowing you're giving the best of the best. The limited edition coffees come in amber jars presented in nice copper bags.

Right now the three coffees being sold under the Harvest Reserve label include the Panama Boquete Geisha coffee from the Esmerelda Estate, a light-to medium-bodied coffee "with extremely distinct floral aromas and a lively taste that presents a sparkling brightness and sweet burst of honey tea to the tongue." Phew.

In a recent press release, Coffee By Design owner Alan Spear called this coffee "insanely amazing" and said it was "the best coffee I've ever had."

Also in the current Harvest Reserve collection is a coffee from Rwanda that was awarded a 2011 Cup of Excellence from an international jury of coffee professionals. It's described as "sweet and creamy with flavors of bright cherry and warm honey."

The third Harvest Reserve that's available now is a Guatemalan coffee that has "full body with intense sweetness and distinct notes of peach and strawberry."

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For cheese lovers, consider a gift of Cabot’s award-winning Clothbound Cheddar. It is sharp, rich and buttery, with notes of caramel.

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Ice cider is a not-too-sweet dessert wine that’s been developed over the past decade or so in Quebec. Eden Ice Cider is made in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom.

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Spicy Blueberry Steak Sauce & Marinade is made by Pemberton's Gourmet in Gray.

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Coffee by Design’s Harvest Reserve line is pricey, selling for $40 a pound, but you’ll know you’re giving the best.


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