It’s the time of year when you can combine “eat local” and “buy local” to make “give local.”
Giving someone a taste of northern Indiana and southern Michigan is an easy way to scratch items off a holiday shopping list.
The food and beverage scene here offers plenty of ways to give someone a taste of this area’s best.
Here’s your list – from readers, Flavor 574 staff members and your faithful food guy – of where to look.
Rise ’N Roll’s nut crunch (aka Amish crack)
There are plenty of sweet ways to share holiday spirit, but I’ll make a case for cashew nut crunch from Rise ’N Roll Bakery as being one of the best. Some of my family members from outside the area yelp with delight if given this stuff and threaten to hide it from others. I’ve had crunches from other places and they just aren’t as good. A tub or package of it will cost you $5 to $6.
Goshen and South Bend are ripe with places to pluck other locally made chocolates. Truth staffer Clara Bush recommends Olympia Candy Kitchen, which has been in business more than 100 years at 136 N. Main St. in Goshen. Two blocks south, The Nut Shoppe is producing a similar array of chocolates. Goshenites argue over which is better, but turtles or chocolate-covered creams from either will be loved.
B on the River, 333 Nibco Parkway in Elkhart, has a range of sweets, too.
South Bend has Chocolate Charlie, available across the region. Claey’s Candy has been in business 95 years and its blend of marshmallow, chocolate and peanuts is popular. South Bend Chocolate Co. has turned into the area’s biggest candy purveyor and its products are widely available, too. If you’re near Fort Wayne, DeBrand Fine Chocolates is your go-to.
You can find local jams and jellies at a few places. Local Amish markets and bulk food stores have some good finds, but if you’re stumped, you can head to Das Dutchman Essenhaus in Middlebury. Noodles, apple butter and Amish peanut butter would be available there and a variety of other places.
Baked items are a bit tricky because they’re perishable. Rise ’N Roll’s cinnamon caramel donuts – which I call the best in the world – are best the day or two after making.
It probably goes without saying the clock doesn’t tick as fast for fruitcake.
Cookies from Adam’s Cake Shop in Elkhart or any number of other bakeries can work, too — though personally, I don’t want to have to try to avoid taste-testing the cookies while I’m wrapping them.
OK. You shouldn’t eat pottery. But you should eat off of it. Or drink from it.
Our area has so many good potters that it’s impossible to name them all, but Mark Goertzen, Dick Lehman, Todd Pletcher, Eric Strader, Fred Driver, Eric Kaufmann and Justin Rothshank all do amazing stuff. (In full disclosure, many of them are good friends and I own more pottery than I can use.)
Most of these potters and more will be at the Michiana Potters Christmas Market from 1 to 6 p.m. Dec. 13 at the Hawks Building, 213 W. Madison St., Goshen.
If you want to give someone the chance to make pottery, you could get them a class at the Goshen Potter’s Guild.
A number of businesses are creating gift baskets, but you could also make your own if you’re in DIY mood.
- Salt or spices from s.a.l.t. Sisters, based in Goshen and available at Martin’s Super Markets.
- Award-winning Colby cheese from Guggisberg, Middlebury or any number of cheeses from Oh Mamma’s on the Avenue in South Bend.
- Olive oils from Olive Branch locations in Granger or Goshen.
- Some of the aforementioned chocolates.
The coffee scene has expanded in northern Indiana beyond just the coffee shop serving brew.
In addition, you can now find green beans that you could roast yourself at DIY Coffee and Ale Supply, 114 E. Washington St., Goshen. And though it’s not necessarily a local food gift, while you’re there you should pick up a Chemex. It’s a glass jug designed for you to make coffee by pouring water over the grounds slowly. It’s for coffee geeks, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be making some of the best coffee possible in a home kitchen.
Beer, wine and spirits
Go buy a growler.
A half-gallon jug designed to be filled with craft beer made by your friendly neighborhood brewer. Sit in Iechyd Da any afternoon and you’ll see plenty of people traipsing in with growlers in hand.
They’re refillable. Most brewpubs will fill any growler.
A sealed growler filled with tap beer, mead or cider can stay fresh in a refrigerator at least several weeks. A growler for someone who likes craft beer would be a great gift.
If you go to Iechyd Da, Bell’s, Bare Hands, Greenbush, South Bend Brew Werks, Evil Czech or other places, you can get hats and swag, but like the pottery, they’re difficult to consume. If you want something you can taste, you’re getting a growler or bottles of beer.
You can’t find local cider or mead yet, unless you know Flavor 574’s Joe Kuharic, but I predict it won’t take long until it’s made and sold locally.
Several local wineries, particularly Fruit Hills in Bristol, offer wines they’ve created. Perhaps you’ve made your own wine, which would be a great gift, but you can’t really start on that now and be done by Christmas.
There’s been more development on the spirits front. Journeyman Distillery in Three Oaks, Mich., now has a full line of products available, even up to a full barrel. The Indiana Whiskey Co. in South Bend lets you buy a Whiskeytuity for $350, which gets you a bottle a year for the rest of your life.
Of course you can buy a gift card at a locally owned or operated restaurant, and you should. That’s a great thing to do.
But perhaps even better would be to make arrangements for a special meal for friends or family at your favorite restaurant. Ask for something out of the ordinary. You could even go so far as to pay a chef to come cook for you and friends.
As you prepare for the holidays, may the bustle not overtake the fun of all this. May there be celebration and joy. May we all not eat too much at the holiday carry-ins, or too many cookies.
I’m hungry. Let’s eat.
Editor’s note: Eric Kaufmann’s name was misspelled in the original version of this column. We apologize for the error.