Friday, November 16, 2007

Second Day of Christmas (Shopping): Gifts for Your Host

Late additions have been typed in at the bottom of this post.

With Thanksgiving next week I thought this topic was timely.

Food and Wine

Before you start shopping for the Thanksgiving meal consider going to the farmers market at 14th and U this weekend. Saturday will be its last day of the season. Just amble down to the Reeves Center between 9 and 1 for some great fresh farm goods. If you can't make it on Saturday try the Dupont market right next to the north exit from the Metro station from 9 to 1 on Sunday.

If sending a gift basket is your style, order one up from Whole Foods. (I know that I'm violating my locally-owned standard, but this option still beats ordering from Harry and David.) You can easily order online and either pick the basket up yourself or have it shipped.

Cheese is a good reason to be alive. The amazing Cowgirl Creamery (919 F St.) exists in only two places in the world Point Reyes Station, CA and Washington, DC. I love it so much that I stopped by the CA location on my honeymoon. At the store you can usually get a sample or two and good advice on selecting cheeses. Online orders and cheese clubs are also available.

For wine try De Vinos at 18th and U (2001 18th Street). The small shop is rated well for having a good selection given its size. It also made the W*USA 9 A-list. If your shopping takes you into Dupont rather than U Street, Best Cellars (1643 Connecticut Ave.) is perennially popular though not truly a local shop. They too are lauded for having great inexpensive wines as well as an easy to understand classification of wines by taste and style. Online orders of "six packs" can be shipped to DC, MA, NY, and VA.

Baked Goods
My favorite bakery in the entire Washington area is Amphora (294 Sunset Park Drive, Herndon). If you happen by some misfortune to be in Herndon you must stop by. Actually it may even be worth renting a Zipcar for this place. Cakes are light and fluffy and have the most heavenly icings and fillings including booze flavored wonders. My wedding cake came from them and I couldn't have been happier.

If, however, you want to stick to places within walking distance, there are myriad options. In my opinion, Whole Foods is worth skipping. A lot of the cakes are dry and not very flavorful. I can recommend the fruit tart though. Cake Love (1506 U St.) gets mixed reviews. People either love the super dense expensive cakes or find them dry and less flavorful. Take a test drive with a cupcake from Love Cafe. If pumpkin is your thing, they have a number of seasonal selections. Of course, Firehook (1909 Q St.) is a fabulous choice for cakes, tarts, and pies. If you don't feel like balancing a cake on your lap for duration of your trip to a holiday dinner, they have locations across DC as well as Alexandria and Tysons.

The shop doesn't look like much, but the flowers I've gotten from Flowers on Fourteenth (1718 14th St.) have been great and very well arranged. I think that they prefer you to call ahead, but I've also been helped on the spot. FTD is an overpriced mega company that frequently drops the ball on accuracy and quality during holiday peak order times. So put down your mouse and walk down the street to a family-owned business.

Additional Ideas
Most of you will be enjoying turkey on Thursday, and some of you will dine on it again at Christmas. At Home Rule (1807 14th St.) you can purchase turkey accessories such as lifters, a lacer, stuffing bags, and reusable pop-up timers. They also stock a truly weird candle in the shape of a roasted whole turkey.

After every meal comes the clean-up. Also available at Home Rule are the fragrant Caldrea home products. It is now possible to lust for dish soap and counter cleaner.

Sweet Magnolia (1534 U St.) carries wooden serving trays so beautiful that they could be considered art. The trays feature raised edges and are currently stocked in three different themes butterfly, vegetable, and desserts. As well potpourri from Sweet Magnolia will help chase away lingering cooking smells.

1 comment:

ser said...

I too LOVE Cowgirl Creamery. In case your travels take you back to the West Coast, they now have a location in the Ferry Building in San Francisco as well. Happy fromage!