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    Home for the Holidays (Literally)

    By David Landis–

    2020 will go down in history as the year of the homebody—literally. I was getting ready to write my December column (stay tuned for the Old Skool Café next year) when our Governor rightfully declared the need to stem the tide of COVID spread. So, we’ll resume restaurant dining in 2021. Hopefully then there will be a clear path to the light at the end of the coronavirus tunnel.

    In the meantime, I’m offering up my homage to that old Christmas carol chestnut with 12 great foodie stocking stuffers that are easy to buy and send while you’re still at home. And a few ideas to ring in the New Year, to boot.

    1. For the chocoholic: TCHO Chocolates: Free shipping and $25 off select orders of the gourmet chocolatier’s holiday gift packs, including seasonal flavors like Eggnog, Peppermint Mocha, and Rum Raisin.

    2. For the wine lover: Rhinefarm Detour: An hour-long virtual adventure through Sonoma history, wine + viticulture, including 3 Gundlach Bundschu estate wines, along with glassware, corkscrews, and accoutrements.

    3. For the pie lover: Canela’s homemade pies: Available in Emile Henry pie dishes. Check out all their holiday gear, too.

    4. For pals in the South Bay: Gourmet to-go holiday meals from Michelin-starred Baume in Palo Alto, including a $98 four-course seasonal menu, a $198 eight-course prestige holiday tasting menu, and a $298 nine-course Grand Prestige Holiday Tasting Menu (for Christmas Eve, Christmas and New Year’s).

    5. Sweets for your sweetie: Hand-crafted treats from Proper Hotel’s Villon, including DIY holiday cookie sets and hot cocoa bombs, all created by pastry chef Sohrob Esmali, who won the 2020 Food Network spring baking competition.

    6. Got the post-Hanukkah blues? One Market’s great new Jewish deli, Mark ‘n Mike’s, has a full menu available for orders the weeks of Christmas and New Year’s. The Gay Gourmet loves loves loves their pastrami. It’s meaty and tender, with just the right amount of spice: as good as Nate & Al’s in Beverly Hills and even better than my childhood favorite, Seltzer’s deli in Highland Park.

    7. Buy local for your favorite vegan: From Oakland-based retailer Nathan & Co., the Afro-Vegan cookbook by renowned chef and food justice activist Bryan Terry. He remixes favorite classic dishes of the African Diaspora with more than 100 culinary combinations.

    8. We get a kick from champagne: Rialto Glass Coupe in a perfect salmon color, designed as an homage to Venice’s iconic Rialto Bridge. Just right to complement that Billecart-Salmon rosé champagne your uncle gave you for the holidays. Also from Nathan & Co.

    9. Desserts, anyone? Can you say, “Parlez-vous Francais?”: Le Marais Bakery has a new master boulanger and the galette des rois, viennoiseries, brioches, and Parisian vanilla flan are the proof in the pudding. This French-inspired bakery also is offering up a holiday tasting box with a variety of sweet things. Locations include the Castro, the Marina, Sutter St., and soon to open in Mill Valley.

    10. A gift that keeps on giving for your favorite oenophile: Arlequin Wine Merchant in Hayes Valley sells wine club memberships with either one-bottle, three-bottle, or six-bottle a month deliveries, including additional benefits.

    11. Gifts that give back: For the quarantine cook, Family Meal: Recipes from Our Community is a digital cookbook featuring recipes from top chefs throughout America. Proceeds benefit the Restaurant Workers’ COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund.

    12. Buy Right from Bi-Rite: One of our favorite local stores, Bi-Rite Market, has a whole online holiday gift emporium. Pick from such great holiday gifts as “Best of the Bay,” “Sam’s EatGoodFood Favorites,” or the “Bi-Rite PickOfTheSeason Fruit Box.”

    To ring in the New Year—a few bubbles and maybe some caviar?

    Those that know the Gay Gourmet can attest to his love of champagne or any (good) sparkling wine. Here are some of my favorites:

    Top of the heap

    Billecart-Salmon Rose, a champagne with a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier, and Pinot Noir grapes. Just the right amount of bubbles, amazing finesse, and fervent intensity.

    Way to impress your friends

    Roederer Estate Brut Rose champagne is a fragrant blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. This vintage is flavorful and less than half the price of Billecart-Salmon.

    Always a good choice

    Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label is consistently high quality from one of the world’s largest champagne houses. It always makes a great statement.

    Best bet for the money

    Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut Sparkling Wine from Sonoma is local and the Today Show called it one of America’s best.

    To top it off

    To make that New Year’s celebration special, order the California white sturgeon caviar from San Francisco’s The Caviar Company on Union Street. They even have a gift set with French blinis, mother of pearl spoons, and crème fraiche.

    There you have it: 12 holiday gift ideas to wrap a cloistered year—and some great bubbly choices to welcome the New Year. Don’t forget the partridge in a pear tree. See you in 2021!

    David Landis, aka “The Gay Gourmet,” is a foodie, a freelance writer, and a PR executive. Follow him on Instagram @GayGourmetSF, on Twitter @david_landis, email him at: or visit him online at:

    Published on December 17, 2020