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    Holidays for the Foodie in Your Life

    By David Landis, The Gay Gourmet–

    It’s hard to believe that the holidays are upon us once again. This year has flown by and now it’s time for those holiday dinners, gatherings, present exchanges, and more. But what to give the foodie in your life? Luckily, the Gay Gourmet has some answers! Here are some of my top picks:

    Tamalitoz: Skip the candy canes and try Tamalitoz, a fiery, fierce candy inspired by the sweet taste of Mexico. It’s a fruity ribbon-style hard candy filled with mild chili lime seasoning, and is the only candy on the market to put seasoning inside. It started in a tiny candy store in Mexico City and is gay-owned by the husband & husband team of Jack and Dec. The couple wanted to come up with a unique blend of flavors from Mexico and Britain that represented both of them. 

    Kokak Chocolates: It’s always nice to support a local Castro merchant and Kokak Chocolates are perfect for the holidays. In keeping with owner Carol’s dedication to creating new varieties, the 2023 holiday offerings include: a “Holiday fun chocolate tower” with tropical fruit, caramel, and Pride chocolates; the “Merry Holiday Tree Tradition,” a six-inch chocolate tree sculpture centerpiece complete with a wooden mallet; and a “Holiday Fun Basket” featuring five-piece chocolate cosmic robots and a “Goin’ Bananas Lolly” in the shape of a monkey.

    Neptunia Gin from Hendrick’s: As a Negroni lover, this one speaks to me. Launched in March 2022 from master distiller Ms. Lesley Gracie’s Cabinet of Curiosities, this limited release gin uses a blend of Scottish coastal botanicals eliciting a crisp citrus finish that captures the magic of the sea, and is “as refreshing as Scotland’s ocean breeze.” The bottle design is eye-catching too, showcasing Hendrick’s classic shape with a seafoam green label.

    MYX Fusions Watermelon Moscato: Who isn’t a sucker for a celebrity-endorsed holiday gift? Rapper, singer, and songwriter Nicki Minaj is now making a splash for the holidays with her new watermelon Moscato by MYX Fusions. It’s a fresh watermelon-infused wine, with none of the seeds, and is perfect for holiday entertaining.

    Sammy Hagar’s New Rum, Lost Cask: Here is another fun celebrity product. Bay Area rocker Sammy Hagar has a new, limited-edition spirit offering called Lost Cask rum, as part of his 75th birthday celebration. He’s just released an exclusive batch of this version of Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum. The exclusive 500 numbered bottles include 75 unique bottles hand-signed by the Red Rocker—a much-desired holiday gift for collectors and fans.

    Hot N Saucy: Whether they’ve been naughty or nice this year, hot sauce is a perfect stocking stuffer. An Amazon’s Choice, Hot N Saucy is expertly handcrafted for hot sauce lovers who enjoy indulging in spices and flavors like “Collards N Ghost” and “Beet N Fresno” that add flavor to any meal.

    Magical Teas at the Top of the Mark, InterContinental San Francisco: Kids and kids at heart can take part in seasonal fun at one of the InterContinental Mark Hopkins’ Magical Teas at the Top of the Mark. Delicacies served include tea sandwiches such as cucumber and salmon roe, freshly baked homemade scones with Devonshire cream, and a dessert bar with everything from Oreo cookie gingerbread men to assorted mini-cupcakes. You can also sample the family-friendly array of dishes from the chef’s table, including mac and cheese, a make-your-own sliders station, load-them-up French fry station, and much more. Activities include Cookie Decorating with the Pastry Chef, Balloon Art with Raul The Master Balloonatic, and Face Painting with Fire Pixie. Magical Teas are Saturdays and Sundays in December up until Christmas Day.

    Spice Tribe: This is a Bay Area-based online spice shop that showcases Owner Trent Blodgett’s global food adventures through an array of single origin and unique custom spice blends that he created from memory. His blends are much like a travelogue of his journeys. Some of his offerings include: “The Marrakesh Sitar,” an exotic mix of ginger, cinnamon, and rose that creates a rich aroma that reminds Blodgett of a sitar player he shared a meal with on the streets of Marrakesh; and also the “long-tail sunset,” a spice cocktail of Thai chile, tamarind, and coconut inspired by fishermen friends in Southern Thailand. Other blends include a one-of-a-kind espresso-citrus adobo from Nicaragua, named for his adventure through Mombacho Volcano’s coffee plantation, as well as his treks through Mexico, Japan, and more. 

    Up On the Rooftop at the Archer Hotel Napa: The third annual holiday pop-up at the hotel’s Sky & Vine Rooftop Bar has an all-new menu and cheeky cocktails crafted by the resident barkeeps. The installation features cozy igloos that seat up to four guests, plus sparkling trees and shimmering lights. Look for holiday-themed cocktails like Not Your Average Nog, shareable plates like Grinch’s Crabby Artichoke Dip, andCheerful Churroswith apple cider caramel and dulce de leche.

    International Smoke’s Christmas Eve: Chefs Michael Mina and Ayesha Curry present a globally inspired buffet this Christmas Eve. Enjoy chilled shellfish, snow shell crab claws, oysters, butternut squash soup, roasted cauliflower with tahina, pomegranate, and pistachio, and Ayesha’s signature fresh-baked corn bread to start. Favorite holiday main dishes follow from International Smoke’s carving stations, including cedar-smoked salmon, honey-glazed ham, and wagyu prime rib with sides like truffle mac & cheese and potato puree. End on a sweet note with gingerbread sans rival cake—a Filipino-inspired layer cake with meringue and cashew caramel buttercream and dark chocolate eggnog cream parfait. 

    Truboy BBQ: From a barbecue lover: “There’s nothing better than “fresh off the fire” smoked Texas BBQ. Anyone can enjoy an authentic Texas BBQ experience at home with Truboy BBQ, which delivers fully smoked and ready-to-heat Texas BBQ straight to your doorstep nationwide. This is premium BBQ with only the finest cuts of USDA Prime grass-fed all-natural meats ethically sourced from local Texas farms. Truboy BBQ selections include brisket, beef and pork ribs, pulled pork, lamb shoulder, sausages, turkey, and more—all infused with mouth-watering Texas flavors.”

    From Scratch: This is a new book by the producers of the popular Netflix series (David and Jon Moscow) from Permuted Press and distributed by Simon & Schuster. It promises “adventures in harvesting, hunting, fishing, and foraging for a fragile planet,” and includes ten chapters focusing on specific foods harvested from a particular region. Throughout, the book (as the publisher says) “helps us understand the history of food and how it sustains culture and community, seeing the people behind the production of our food and the issues we face.”

    Serendipity: Did you know that your morning coffee is due to a herd of energetic goats? A new book from Apollo Publishers written by Oscar Farinetti, founder of the high-end global food chain Eataly, shares fifty remarkable stories of how some of the greatest successes in the food world came about by chance.

    Happy holidays!

    Kokak Chocolates:
    Neptunia Gin from Hendrick’s:
    MYX Fusions Watermelon Moscato:
    Sammy Hagar’s Lost Cask Rum:
    Hot N Saucy:
    Magical Teas at the Top of the Mark:
    Spice Tribe:
    Archer Hotel Napa Sky & Vine:
    International Smoke:
    Truboy BBQ:
    From Scratch:

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

    The Gay Gourmet
    Published on December 1, 2022