North Carolina specialty foods for the holidaysBy Leah Chester-Davis
North Carolina’s artisan food purveyors offer a wide range of culinary options that make great gifts in this season of eating. Several of these food entrepreneurs got their start with recipes everyone raves about, with friends and family convincing them to bottle or package their creations. Their products fall within the specialty foods category, one of the fastest growing niche markets in the country. We serve up a list of some favorites for this year’s gift-giving. Many more ideas and options from North Carolina companies can be found at gottobenc.com.
The Queen of Oats, a Cornelius-based business, sells granola, breakfast cookies and power bars at the Davidson Farmers Market, Whole Foods in the Charlotte area and online (queenofoats.com). Made with no refined sugar, the granola and breakfast cookies are chock full of healthy ingredients like oats, Montmorency cherries, seeds and nuts. Pair Queen of Oats items with your favorite yogurt and some fruit and you have the fixings for a guilt-free breakfast that is delicious. The Queen of Oats was a Martha Stewart American Made finalist last year.
A pancake breakfast gets a nudge toward divine with Fogwood Foods Butter Pecan syrup. Fogwood Foods, based in Rockingham County, also makes jams and jellies with local produce. Put together a gift box of Fogwood Food’s Apple Pie Jam or Organic Blackberry Jelly, along with their syrup and gluten-free pancake mix from Kalo Foods in Stokesdale and you have the fixings for a down-home good breakfast. Visit fogwoodfood.com and kalofoods.com.
An appetizer or condiments basket makes a fun gift for those who like to entertain. Southerners love their chow-chows and relishes. Cottage Lane Kitchen of Chapel Hill is basking in recent accolades that come with being recognized as a 2015 Martha Stewart American Made Finalist for its fiery Southern Pepper Relish. Its “Get Me a Switch” won first in the Hot Relish category at the 2015 Chile Pepper Awards in Houston (cottagelanekitchen.com). Add Ginny O’s Cheese Straws, a Raleigh company, to the basket for another quintessential Southern snack (ginnyo.com).
Cheese is a welcome addition to appetizer baskets or paired with a cheese board and a bottle or two of North Carolina wine. Boxcarr Handmade Cheese, based in Orange County’s Cedar Grove, handcrafts goat’s and cow’s milk cheeses. The company, headed by a brother-sister team, has received 2015 Martha Stewart American Made Finalist status. Add a wedge of their cheese to an appetizer gift, or order each of their five flavors for a wine and cheese-tasting fan. Boxcarr Handmade Cheese is available in stores statewide; find a list at boxcarrhandmadecheese.com.
When it comes to sweets, chocolate and North Carolina pecans are a winning combination in Elizabeth’s Chocolate Coated Pecans and Chocolate Covered Pecan Brittle. Elizabeth’s Pecan Products is based in Turkey, Sampson County. The company was a Martha Stewart American Made Finalist last year and has North Carolina-shaped gift baskets available (elizabethspecans.com).