This year, give the gourmand in your life a taste of Chicago. Here are five options to get your started.
Katherine Anne Confections marshmallows
We’re longtime fans of Katherine Duncan’s caramels and truffles. This winter, she’s adding marshmallows (sweetened with organic sugar and local wildflower honey rather than corn syrup) to her repertoire, in flavors like peppermint, chocolate, vanilla-bean with black pepper and (our personal favorite) salted caramel. $7; see katherine-anne.com for local retailers.
Stu’s This Is Bloody Mary
Just in time for holiday brunches, former Pastoral cheesemonger Stu Waters has bottled the secret to a great Bloody Mary (hint: It involves pickle juice). Just add tomato juice and vodka, such as the Wisconsin-made Death’s Door (pictured). $7.99 at Pastoral (locations citywide, pastoralartisan.com).
Birchwood Kitchen pickles
Since this cheery café opened, it’s had a penchant for sneaking pickles (onions, squash, etc.) into sandwiches and salads. Now, those bright housemade pickles—turmeric-pickled cauliflower, cumin-pickled carrots, spiced pickled beets—are for sale in mason jars. Bonus: Birchwood is also selling jars of the ingredient that, for whatever reason, has become synonymous with gourmand cred: pimiento cheese. $7.50. 2211 W North Ave (773-276-2100).
Old Town Social charcuterie
Local fans know the best way to phone in hors d’oeuvres is to pick up some finocchiona and soppressata ($15/lb) from Jared Van Camp’s makeshift “butcher shoppe” inside this bar. For the truly intense charcuterie hounds, the adopt-a-prosciutto program ($260) allows OTS to cure a 15-pound leg of organic Illinois hog, sending updates to the “owner” over the 15 months it takes to fully mature. oldtownsocial.com.
Adrienne Lo, one half of the underground dining club X-marx, has launched this crazy good (sorry, couldn’t resist) line of nuts (e.g., meringue-coated Texas pecans) and brittles. One-up the Garrett’s mix with a gift pack of smoked paprika almonds and spicy Sichuan peanuts ($15) or a package of all three brittles: cashew-peanut, pecan-peanut and almond-peanut ($25). 773-600-1771, mamasnuts.com.