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Dining A La King: Looking for gifts for the food lover?

It’s the time of year when we scurry for holiday gifts, but our guide to local food gifts may help you amble rather than rush as you seek out something for the food lovers in your life.

For the sweet tooth: It’s pretty easy to find locally made candies. In Goshen you’ve got Olympia Candy Kitchen and The Nut Shoppe both making chocolates. South Bend Chocolate Co. is cranking out more and so is Claey’s Candy, maker of Chocolate Charlie. Don’t forget the “Amish crack” at Rise & Roll Bakery locations around the area. That chocolate covered nut crunch has become a go-to for many who live here and many who don’t.

For the beer lover: Craft beer has been on the rise locally and brewpubs and bars are offering mug clubs. Inevitably those enjoying a beverage in their mug get asked what they get. The answer is slightly less expensive brews, special offers and being just a little bit more cool than the average customer. Iechyd Da’s mug club is full, but Constant Spring, Goshen Brewing Co. and Crooked Ewe are all offering mugs right now. If you buy the $50 mug at the Spring, it’ll be a pottery cup made by Dick Lehman and inscribed with the name of your choosing.

For the wine lover: Fruit Hills Winery in Bristol has a range of local wine offerings. So does Gateway Winery in Goshen. For someone interested in trying their hand at making wine, Gateway and Quality Wine & Ale Supply have winemaking kits. Quality also has supplies to make beer, soda or cheese.

For the classy host: Northern Indiana is blessed with a bunch of amazing local potters. Goertzen Pottery in Goshen has a wide range of pottery for the home kitchen and table from owner Mark Goertzen and other local potters.

For the explorer: Gift certificates or cards are always a way to support a restaurant and give someone a chance to enjoy a meal. Restaurants have gotten better at offering deals too. You can get a card at just about any restaurant, but the Navarre Hospitality Group that operates Artisan, Cafe Navarre, Rocky River and O’Rourkes is selling cards that you can use at any of the four restaurants. And if you spend $100, you get $25 back. You can also buy Downtown South Bend Bucks through DTSB, the group promoting downtown, that can be used at about 50 different businesses, including a bunch of restaurants.

For the fashion conscious: Restaurants call it merchandise. I call it cool to wear a shirt, hat or other piece of apparel from our local restaurants or breweries. Iechyd Da, Bacon Hill Kitchen & Pub, Goshen Brewing Co. and even Lucchese’s have items for sale. The designs of such items keep getting better and better and so does the range of options.

For the charitable: Soup of Success continues to be one of my favorite gifts to give. The soup and cookie mixes are put together at Church Community Services by women learning job skills. When you buy the mixes at CCS, Ten Thousand Villages or other vendors, you give back to women trying to get ahead. You could also give the gift of food by making a donation to Faith Mission, The Window or other agencies in the name of someone you love who would appreciate such a gesture.

For the curious: Every time I turn around this season, I see a gift basket. Local retailers and food purveyors have gotten good at putting them together, but you could also make your own with a range of items on this list or from other food businesses.

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