Just as the closing farm stands make edible gifts scarce, here’s a new crop of food artisans who should be able to satisfy all your holiday, housewarming, and general present-giving needs.
MACARONS. The toast of Shelter Island’s gastro-intelligentsia are the macarons at Mark It With G, a tiny bakery at 11 Grand Avenue, across the street from the post office where Route 114 bends toward the North Ferry. Parisian macarons, in fact, which look like little candy hamburgers, with two almond cookies sandwiching a creamy filling, and are a rare progenitor to massive, grated-coconut-caked American macaroons. There are a rotating dozen or so flavors, including pistachio, coffee, raspberry and hazelnut, which can be shipped nationwide. On weekends, the handsome shop offers an ever-expanding list of cash-and-carry sweets and savories, including croissants and petit pain au chocolat, duck and porcini quiches, parsnip-ginger soup, and their own version of the French peasant dessert, clafouti, made with local pears poached in Beaujolais and baked into a four-inch tart filled with mascarpone cheese. Mark It With G products also show up at Catapano Dairy in Peconic, Cavaniola’s Gourmet in Sag Harbor, and perhaps more locations. But, for now, they are selling as fast as they are made.
CHOCOLATES. “There’s a kind of hole in the chocolate world out here,” says Susan Kennedy, who with her husband, Daniel, launched Chokola’j, a micro-chocolatier in Moriches named after the Mayan word for the treat. A spontaneous tasting panel quickly devoured the contents of their 12-piece gift box. Particularly suggestive sounds were made during the eating of their Chamomile Honey Caramel, inspired by “a simple cup of tea” and made with local wildflower honey, chamomile flowers steeped in fresh cream, and a light amber caramel. Other memorable products include their dark chocolate brownies, vanilla flake salt caramels, the North Fork Red made with local merlot, their raisin-topped Late Harvest made with local chardonnay, and a newly released dark hot chocolate and bars. The Stone Creek Inn in East Quogue offers a flight of Chocola’j products and Macari Vineyards in Mattituck sells their gift boxes. But the best way to order is to call 631.874.2674.
TEAS. Like cacao, Camellia sinensis, the plant that yields all the world’s teas—green, black, white—only grows in the tropics. But a new boutique tea company in Southampton hopes to make this calming plant a ritual for East End life. “There’s a huge lack of good quality loose-leaf teas in America,” says Tathiana Teixeira, a dancer with the Teatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro and Nina Buisson Contemporary Move in New York City, who found refuge from the mental and physical stress of the professional ballet circuit in the ritual of tea, and launched Plain-T with her husband Alessandro. “People still think tea is only for when you’re sick. But tea is always a moment of peace.” Comparing tea to wine, the company’s Web site suggests extensive food pairings. Plain-T doesn’t just sell a range of loose-leaf teas (better at preserving freshness and subtle flavors than tea bags), but prepares custom tea packages for restaurants, hotels and private events that includes pots, cups, instructions and other brewing tools. There are mom and baby tea boxes, tea boxes for men, tea boxes for yogis, and tea boxes for polo players. Their product already shows up at Midtown Manhattan’s tea mecca Takashimaya, Sant Ambroeus and the Plaza Café in Southampton, and Pierre’s in Bridgehampton. Visit plain-t.com or call 212.758.2413.
Editor’s note: Mark It With G has closed.