Monday, November 21, 2011

The Lazy Man's Holiday Gift Guide — Online Shopping Mania

Posted By on Mon, Nov 21, 2011 at 8:12 AM

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If you're like me, you'd rather eat at Taco Bell after midnight than fight Green Hills traffic any time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Fortunately, if you have access to a computer (and you are reading this online, right?) there are plenty of good catolog and online options to find some great food-related gifts for your loved ones. Both local and national companies are probably bombarding your inbox with offers to ship to Aunt Gladys in Peoria, so why not take advantage of their willingness to do the heavy lifting for you?

The Loveless Cafe and their Hams and Jams catalog have always been a go-to source for giving a little taste of Nashville to friends and family around the country. People who I have sent Loveless gift packs to have been almost universally grateful with the one exception of a certain Yankee friend of mine who threw away the country ham claiming that it had "gone bad" because it was so salty. Dude!

To celebrate their 60th birthday, Loveless has been popping up around town giving away free biscuits. Most recently they were set up in front of the Bridgestone Arena to feed hungry hockey fans on Saturday night. They have two more stops on their magical mystery tour, including one today somewhere and another in Franklin on Saturday, Nov. 26. For hints as to exactly where they'll show up, check out their Facebook page.

For that relative who may not like their ham deliciously salty, there's always Honeybaked Ham. For the holidays, they've released two new intriguing products, a sweet and spicy smoked bacon and an intriguing pretzel bread. Put those together and I'll bet they make a heckuva sandwich. Their hams and turkeys are also a favorite contribution to any holiday table.

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I discovered another unique pork product courtesy of a family-run business out of Murfreesboro called The Hamery. Bob Woods and his family have been curing country hams that have been consistent Grand Champion and Blue Ribbon award winners at the Tennessee State Fair since the early 1970s.

The Hamery has developed their version of prosciutto which they cheekily call "Tennshoeto," a thinly sliced ham that is smoked with apple and hickory wood and then cured for eighteen months. Usually it is only available around the holidays, and it is so popular that online orders are limited to two packages per person. With more smoke than its Italian cousin, Tennshoetoe makes an excellent appetizer wrapped around asparagus and roasted in the oven or a truly decadent sandwich meat. Buy a package for yourself and give another to a friend. Y'know, like maybe the food blogger who pointed you in the right direction occasionally.

Look to the cookie!
  • "Look to the cookie!"
For your friends who celebrate Hanukkah, or anybody who loves a good pastrami sandwich, consider Schmaltz's Deli out of Illinois. I recently received a care package of products from these folks that included a 1-pound package of some of the most delicious pastrami I've ever eaten. This perfectly smoked thinly sliced stack of brisket is spiced with salt, garlic, cloves and black pepper and makes a very comforting meal with some rye bread and spicy mustard.

I also received two potato knishes, a tub of smoked whitefish spread and the uniter of the confectionery world, a black and white cookie.

Schmaltz has very reasonable pricing and will ship to anywhere in the country thanks to an arrangement with FedEx. Your food will arrive in a temperature-controlled cooler right to the recipient's door or to your address for a great holiday meal. Challah atcha boy!

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Closer to home, Arnold Myint has developed a line of products for holiday gift-giving based around the products he uses at Cha Chah and at AM@FM in the Farmers' Market. In addition to some really high-end bar linens crafted by Nashville fashion designer (and recent recipient of Garden and Gun's "Made in the South" award) Otis James, Arnold is also selling a flavor pack of his Apricot Grain Mustard and Hickory Smoked Salt. Both ingredients are featured in many of his dishes, so if you're a fan, check him out at ArnoldMyint.com or you can pick them up in person at AM@FM. Arnold has also said if you have a special request or don't want to use PayPal, just email him through his website and he'll hook you up.

Speaking of the Farmers' Market, they have partnered with Local Table magazine to create their own holiday gift guide filled with products from farmers and artisans from around the region. They'll be hosting a Local Table Holiday Market in the Market House at Nashville Farmers' Market on Saturday, Dec. 3, from 5:30 until 8:30 so you can meet and shop from these merchants in person. The guide also includes a listing of local Christmas tree farms so you can take a family trip to bring home the perfect fir. Some of the farms have special events going on during the month like hayrides and bonfires, and even a few visits from St. Nick himself, so load the kids up in the Family Truckster and make a day of it.

With any luck, I won't have to leave my house in December or at least until the college football season is over.

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