Delectable Stocking Stuffers and Host/Hostess Gifts

Studded with candied citrus peel, Emporio Rulli panettone is always a treat.

Studded with candied citrus peel, Emporio Rulli panettone is always a treat.

For The Holiday Sweet Tooth

Nothing says Christmas like a fluffy, buttery, sweet panettone.

And nobody makes them as irresistible as the Bay Area’s Emporio Rulli.

Chef Gary Rulli makes this 16th century Italian specialty in the time-honored tradition.

The Panettone Milanese, which I had a chance to sample, is made with plenty of butter, egg yolks, golden raisins, acacia honey, and Italian candied orange and citron peels. It’s yeasty bread meets cake.

Enjoy a big wedge on its own, or toasted and smeared with butter or jam, or as the foundation for an over-the-top bread pudding or French toast.

Rulli only makes them at this time of year. So don’t miss out. A small is $23.95; a large is $29.50.

For The Outdoor Enthusiast

If you thought Patagonia only made outdoor clothing and gear, you’re in for a surprise with its Patagonia Provisions, a line of food products made to be enjoyed on-the-go. I had a chance to sample a few.

The “Wild Sockeye Salmon, Lemon Pepper” comes in a shelf-stable package. The salmon is rich and meaty tasting, and not overwhelmed by a heavy-hand of smokiness.

You still taste the sublime fish, with the lemon and pepper subtle notes. After all, the fish is the hero. A six-ounce bag is $12.

Patagonia's smoked wild sockeye salmon.

Patagonia’s smoked wild sockeye salmon.

Soup in a flash.

Soup in a flash.

The “Tsampa Soup, Garden Veggie” is the perfect way to warm up after a long, autumn hike.

Just add water to the mix of dried onion, carrot, kale and bell pepper. What’s nice are the grains that give this soup some heft — cracked barley, bulgur, and toasted buckwheat.

You won’t be fooled into thinking this is homemade soup you made on the stovetop. But for a dried soup, it’s pretty tasty, especially if you add a drizzle of olive oil before enjoying.

One packet, which makes two small servings at 120 calories each, is $6.50.

For The Adventurous Cook

RawSpiceBar is a subscription service that sends a curated box of freshly ground, small-batch spices monthly to you or someone on your gift-giving list.

Each box contains three blends, along with three recipes, and info on the origin of the spices.

My sample Ethiopian-themed box came with smoky-spicy berbere; mitmita, a heady, very spicy mix of African birds eye chilies, cardamom, black pepper and garlic; and pumpkin pie spice made with cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, mace, and star anise.

Spice up your life with this subscription service.

Spice up your life with this subscription service.

Use the berbere on roasted carrots, the mitmita in beef stew, and the pumpkin pie spice in ricotta donuts, the recipes for which are included.

Choose a six-month or yearly subscription. Each box is $6.

For Food Gal Fans, Bay Area Foodies and Just About Anyone Else

What better gift than my cookbook, San Francisco Chef’s Table (Lyons Press)?

OK, yes, I am biased. But this really is a delicious compilation of some of the best eats the Bay Area has to offer. And it’s illustrated with the most gorgeous photos by award-winning photographer Craig Lee.


Inside, you’ll find stories and recipes from more than 50 of the Bay Area’s top restaurants, including State Bird Provision’s “Glazed Pork Ribs with Scallions & Togarashi”; Craftsman & Wolves’ “Thai Mango Scones”; Manresa’s “Nasturtium Tonic & Gin”; and Prospect’s “Chocolate Mudslide Cookies.”

Is your mouth-watering yet? Look for the book at local bookstores, and on Amazon.

Winner of the Snake River Farms Ham

In last week’s Food Gal contest, I asked you to tell me what you make a point to save during the holidays — and why. The winner will receive a free ($179 value) Snake River Farms Kurobuta whole bone-in ham.

A magnificent ham from Snake River Farms.

A magnificent ham from Snake River Farms.

With nearly 40 entries, it was tough to choose one winner. But in the end, I had to go with this clever and spot-on one. Congrats to:

James Trachsel, who wrote, “I save ‘room’ because there is always something else coming.”

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