Okay, so these items fall more into the stocking stuffer or hostess gift categories than a blowout splurge for your nearest and dearest. But you should know what to buy those people, anyway. A battalion of etiquette experts agree that anyone faced with hostess- or stocking-induced circumstances can't go wrong with splurgy small items...versions that are just a wee bit more expensive than what you might buy yourself. Here are some favorites (clockwise from bottom left) from local food purveyor types.
The local purveyor of ice cream and hip-hop inspiration now offers some of its toppings for sale. Test tubes of sprinkles come in lavender bee pollen sugar, sweet and salty cocoa, and "Molly's favorite." You can pick up hot fudge sauce, vanilla bean caramel, and rhubarb rose compote, too.
Chocolatier Autumn Martin cold smokes these chocolate chips get in a smoker built by her dad. They're sweet. They're savory. They'll elevate the hell out of the simplest batch of cookies. Find them in her Ballard Ave shop, or one of these fine establishments.
Boat Street Pickles
When she's not busy, you know, opening fantastic restaurants, Renee Erickson is busy stepping up her pickle business. The pickle enterprise has a new co-packer (sounds dirty) to keep up with demand. Find them in grocery stores around town.
Jacobsen Salt Co.
Sure, technically this is a Portland company, harvesting off the Oregon coast in Netarts Bay. But the first salt harvested in the state since the Lewis and Clark days is showing up more frequently in the 206. It even gets a name shout-out in places like the Whale Wins. But I'm awfully partial to this portable tin. Find the salt online or at DeLaurenti.
The Fremont chocolatier has tons of gifty options—Ben Affleck-endorsed Congolese chocolate bars, for example. But this summer a group of students from FareStart stopped by for a lesson in caramels, and devised some flavors based on the classic mirepoix. The sweet-savory results come four to a box for $12, flavored with caramelized onion, carrot coriander, celery herb, and bay fennel.
Pike Place Market's new pickle shop sells five fermented versions of its namesake product, plus kimchi and whatever else owner Britt Eustis feels like fermenting. A new $30 at-home fermentation kit, the Pickle-ator, contains everything you need to get this party started at home (except produce and water).
Simple and Crisp
Local girl Jane Yuan's new line of dried fruit is way prettier than anything you could make at home. The vivid discs of orange, apple, pear, and blood orange ($3.25 for as small sleeve, $9 for a larger pack of about 30 slices) are saviors when gluten-free guests feel dissed by your cheese and cracker plate. The website has a chart for pairing these with wine, cocktails, cheese, and the like, and info on which markets carry them around town; Calf and Kid founder Sheri LaVigne is particularly enamored.