December creeps up on us, with its festive expectation. Only a few gifts, we think, only to put pen to paper.
There’s the kindergarten teacher, the aunt who always hosts the holiday dinner, the friend traveling from afar. Eventually, we look forward to January, that month of no holidays, of tranquil, present-less peace on earth.
But in the meantime: We must shop, and shop wisely. Growing up, my own Jewish Christmas stocking was always a panoply of fine edibles, from chocolates to fruit. I like the idea of food-centric gifts. They’re tangible, but also ephemeral, just like the season. They inspire joy, even if it’s only momentary. And they don’t collect dust in the back of a closet somewhere, awaiting a fine occasion for their use.
If you’re looking to adorn a loved one’s stocking with something local and delicious, Aquebogue’s North Fork Chocolate Company has numerous options. The traditional-minded will find dark, sweet, creamy solace in bags of seasonally available Chocolate Chip Mint Bark ($6), though I’m also quite fond of their cello-wrapped S’mores Pops ($4), Belgian chocolate-dipped roasted jumbo marshmallows on sticks rolled in finely crushed graham crackers.
Or, head to Smithtown for Yottabyte’s fun and delicious Turkey Leg ($4), made to resemble a bird with marshmallow and pretzel rods dipped in chocolate and coated with Coco Puffs. If your favorite friend or relative doesn’t have a sweet tooth, never fear: Sang Lee Farms’ Red Hot Chili Bomb Sauce ($7.99), made with cayenne, Thai, Serrano, and cherry bomb peppers, suits the savory.
North Fork Chocolate Company, 740 Main Road, Aquebogue, (631) 599.4944, open Tuesday through Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Yottabyte, 9 Singer Lane, Smithtown, (631) 656.9800, open Wednesday through Sunday, 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Sang Lee Farms, 25180 County Road 48, Peconic, (631) 734.7001, open Friday through Monday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Under the Tree
Looking for something with a little more gravitas for under the tree? Long Island Spirits, the Island’s first distillery, produces an incredible line-up for the spiritally inclined. I’m partial to the Pine Barrens Barrel Reserve Botanical Dry Gin ($52), with its marriage of citrus and juniper accents. But non-gin drinkers may prefer the aromatic and lightly sweet Lime Sorbetta ($17.99), made from a potato spirit base that has been infused with Tahiti limes. For the teetotaler, consider a perfect Panettone (this isn’t your grocery store fruit cake) from Leonetti Pastry Shop ($17 to $25). The most fanciful variety is filled with orange cream and doused with chocolate ganache. For the savory foodie, travel to Huntington’s Forest Pork Store, known for their European-style meats, the most festive of which is the “Pig Salami,” a dried pork sausage made in the shape of a pig: the ultimate holiday gift.
Long Island Spirits, 2182 Sound Avenue, Baiting Hollow, (631) 630.9322, open daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Leonetti Pastry Shop, 82-16 Glen Cove Road, Glenvale, (516) 625.8242, open daily 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Forest Pork Store, 380 E. Jericho Turnpike, Huntington Station, (631) 423.2574, open Tuesday through Saturday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
At the Table
Few purveyors make old school desserts the way Jamesport’s Junda’s Pastry Crust & Crumb does—and their Apple Strudel is a testament to this fact. Flaky, butter crust reveals soft-to-the-tooth apples. You could wrap this, but it’s best eaten fresh (at your holiday table, for instance). Ideal with any holiday meal is the rich, creamy, and hyper local Mecox Bay Dairy Atlantic Mist, made in the style of Camembert. Your host will love this cheese, which is an elegant entrée to a festive meal. If your host is a culinary adventurist, stop by Aquebogue’s Crescent Duck Farm and pick up a whole fresh duck for dinner, a gift that rewards the gifter as much as the giftee.
Junda’s Pastry Crust & Crumb, 1612 Main Road, Jamesport, (631) 722.4999, open daily 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Mecox Bay Dairy, 855 Mecox Road, Bridgehampton, (631) 537.0335, call for hours.
Crescent Duck Farm, 10 Edgar Avenue, Aquebogue, (631) 722.8000, call for hours.
If you’re looking for something truly old school, Long Island has numerous food-friendly options. This year, Carissa Waechter of Carissa’s Breads will be baking a Bûche de Noël, the classic holiday “Yule log” made from meringue, mousse, and cake. Looking for something a little more “adult”? You can make a locally sourced eggnog kit with eggs from Iacono Farm, rum from Sag Harbor Old Whaler’s Style Rum, and raw milk from Ty Llwyd Farm. Pack your ingredients in a basket, tie a bow around it, and you have an eggnog kit to beat all other eggnog kits.
Carissa’s Breads, 68 Newtown Lane, East Hampton, open Thursday through Monday 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Iacono Farm, 100 Long Lane, East Hampton, (631) 324.1107, closed Tuesdays, call for hours.
Sag Harbor Old Whaler’s Style Rum, sagharborrum.com.
Ty Llwd Farm, 5793 Sound Ave, Riverhead, (631) 722.4241, open daily 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.