Well it's officially December which means it's crazy holiday shopping time. For those of you who are smart, you have probably gotten this out of the way around April or something when it's safe. For the rest of you procrastinators (like me) who want to get something different (read: tasty) for your friends and fam, see my little list below of places to go and what to buy for the little (or big) foodie in your life.
Union Square Holiday Market: I assume it's supposed to resemble a candy cane because of the red/white striped tent, but it screams circus to me. Either way, you cant miss it: it wraps around the perimeter on the South end of Union Square (where they have the Farmer's Market by the train station on West 14th st) and is filled with all sorts of tiny shops selling jewelry, leather goods, scarves, toys, clothes, but more importantly, food. Wafels & Dinges makes an appearance (prepare to wait for this one), along with Bar Suzette, home of the French crepes with Nutella and bananas (mmmm), Sigmund Pretzel Shop in all it's buttery, salty glory, Momofuku Milkbar (who wouldn't want Crack Pie as a gift?!), and Stuffed Artisan Canolis with their unusual and tasty twists on the Italian classic. Stop by for some sweet and savory gifts – they're open until Christmas Eve all day (11 am – 8 pm).
Brooklyn Flea – If you read my previous post a couple weeks ago on the BK Flea, you can see why it's a great place to buy foodie gifts. SCRATCHbread's Buttercream Brownies were to die for, and The Good Batch's oatmeal cookies have replaced sugar plum fairies in my Christmas dreams – yes, I now see dancing oatmeal cookies tutus. There are plenty of other options at the BK Flea for foodie gifts: Hot Blondie's Bakery, Nunu Chocolates (also at Union Square market come to think of it), Kumquat Cupcakery, Rick's Picks (for the pickle and pepper lover), Liddabit Sweets, Kors d'Oeuvres (delicious dips), Ragged Butte Bison Jerky, Whimsy and Spice, and more. Except some of the "more" you probably can't wrap up and give as a gift, like Pizza Moto. Though you wish you could. Trust me. The Flea is open now Saturdays and Sundays INDOORS at Skylight One Hanson Place, 10 am – 6 pm. There is also a special "GIFTED Holiday Market" from Dec 15-23, 11 am – 7 pm.
Holiday Shops at Bryant Park: Between 40th and 42nd streets and 5th and 6th avenues are these glassed-in little tentlets (is that a word?) with all kinds of shops much like the Union Square market. The food vendors here are a mish-mosh of well-known to not-so-well-known, which is not necessarily a bad thing because less hype means less lines. For example, ever heard of No Chewing Allowed? I met these guys at The International Chocolate Show last year, and they made these ridiculous melt-in-your-mouth truffles, hence the name, No Chewing Allowed. And believe it or not – they've been around since 1934. Another gem you may not have heard of is The Sweet Shop and their amazing handmade chocolates. I have a minor chocolate craving at the moment in case you cant tell. Which brings me to my next point – the more well known chocolatier Max Brenner makes an appearance as well. If you need something to wash all that down with, you can go to Blue Point Brewery for some beer – blueberry beer, perhaps? Or in true Winter fashion, some Toasted Lager? If that's not your thing, there's always Big Apple Cider just around the bend..
So there you have it: get yourself a few cheap wicker baskets, fill them with goodies from the shops above, tie some kitschy snowflake ribbon on it and bingo-bango you have yourself a unique gift. Don't come to me for wrapping suggestions though – last year I wrapped some presents with construction paper and electrical tape.