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wasabigelatine’s 2010 holiday gift guide

As the mom of a 14 month old, I haven’t had the chance to travel since my daughter was born. But we’ve explored quite a bit of Chicago this past year mostly because of an exhausted nursing mom’s constant demands for food. From early morning espresso runs with our newborn last fall to lively dinners with our adventurous, outgoing toddler now, I’m thankful that I live in a city with something delicious to eat in every neighborhood, providing nourishment and rest for my husband and me and tasty new experiences for our daughter. This year I’m featuring local food and drink gifts from sweet home Chicago.

Bacon Bourbon Caramel Corn — Honestly, I think the bacon-with-everything trend has worn out its welcome, but I could eat Salted Caramel’s bacon bourbon caramel corn several times a day, it’s that good. It’s hard to improve upon sweet, buttery caramel, but the bourbon adds depth and richness and the chewy, salty, caramel-drenched bacon slivers push this confection over the edge into complete decadence. $12 for an 8 oz bag at Also available at Provenance Food & Wine (2528 N. California and 2312 W. Leland).

Pecan and Cherry Nougat — These chewy, snowy-white nougats by Flora Confections are made of local honey, dried cherries, and pecans. I love these delicate candies — they’re light and not too sweet, with crunchy nuts that contrast so well with the tangy cherries and soft nougat. $2.50 a piece at Green City Market (Wednesdays and Saturdays at Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, 2430 N. Cannon) or $23.95 for a box of 15 at

Old Town Social Charcuterie — Perfect with cheese, bread, and wine in front of a roaring fire, Old Town Social’s cured meats are a great snack for a cozy holiday gathering. They offer a few different types including finocchiona (Tuscan fennel salami). Starting at $12 at Old Town Social (455 W. North).

Soup & Bread Cookbook — This collection of recipes is compiled from Soup & Bread nights at The Hideout, a series of free dinners that raises money for local food banks. The book itself is a delight to look at with its letterpressed cover and charming illustrations inside. $20 at and Chicago’s Downtown Farmstand (66 E. Randolph).

Perman Wine’s Six for $60 sampler — This West Loop wine shop offers a six-wines-for-$60 package every month and is a very affordable way to try a bunch of interesting wines from around the world. (802 W. Washington)

Revolution Brewing’s Party Membership — The Logan Square brewery’s “mug club” is a good choice for a Chicago beer lover. For $25, you get a year’s membership which includes a growler of your choice (Josh loves the Anti Hero IPA and its Han Solo reference) and first dibs on tastings and beer dinners. (2323 N. Milwaukee)

Jo Snow Syrups — With sophisticated flavors like Hibiscus Basil Orange Blossom and Cardamom Rose Water, these all-natural syrups are ideal for cocktails, Italian sodas, and shaved ice. I love the playful graphics on the labels, too. $8 a bottle at Also available at Southport Grocery & Cafe (3552 N. Southport).

Ethnic Chicago Neighborhood Spice Blend — The Spice House is one of my favorite specialty food stores. It’s stocked with pretty much any spice you could possibly need plus a bunch of house blends that make excellent gifts, such as the Ethnic Chicago Neighborhood spice sets. This one includes flavors from neighborhoods near and dear to me, Little Italy’s Old Taylor Street cheese sprinkle and Bronzeville rib rub. From $19.95 for a set of four jars at the Spice House (1512 N. Wells).

Black silver octopus tentacle ring — It’s not edible, but this silver octopus tentacle ring is exquisite eye candy. Local jewelry artisan Peggy Skemp casts these beauties in recycled sterling silver from parts of a small octopus her great-grandmother found. The ring is also available in polished silver or set with diamonds — an extravagant gift for a cephalopod lover. $200 for the black silver ring at

Check out my holiday gift guides from previous years:

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  1. [...] Wasbigelatine: 2010 gift guide – Dropped our name when writing about Jo Snow Syrups. We agree with you, a bottle of her stuff should be on everyone’s list. [...]

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