There was one year when my poor mother/Santa filled my stocking (along with my brother and sister's) with office supplies. Scissors, Post-its, Scotch tape. Needless to say, that went over like a lead balloon, with a Santa mutiny threatened by all three of us. "How could he do this to us?" we moaned, looking for the Toblerone. Needless to say, the error was never repeated. Holiday shopping can be exhausting and expensive, but I urge you all not to forego the lowly stocking, which sets the tone for the rest of the day. Toys are good, jewelry, socks and lip balm are always welcome. But food conquers all. Everyone likes it, you don't have to worry about whether or not it will fit, and most packages fit quite nicely in a knit sock. Here are three options for stuffing—see our complete gift guide for more gastronomic gifts.
The devilish collaboration between Humphry Slocombe and Boccalone has resulted in the creation of a treat so irresistible, even the New York Times took notice. The lard caramels combine the flavors of burnt sugar with the richness of pork fat, with a touch of heat from the addition of piment d'esplette, a fruity pepper grown in the South of France. Though here in SF, lard and bacon-infused treats may seem like old news, give this to anyone who lives outside the bubble and the wonders of Christmas will be fully evident. Available at both Humphry Slocombe and Boccalone, $3.50 for 4 caramels.
Of all the things I stuffed into socks last year, the most popular were the bags of Prather Ranch beef jerky. Never mind that it was 8 in the morning, those bags were torn into with an alarming enthusiasm. You can choose from original, sweet and spicy and one made without soy or sugar. They also carry a pork jerky. The 3-oz. bags will set you back $8—it is money well-spent. Available at Prather Ranch Meat Co., Ferry Building Marketplace, 415-391-0420.
A wedge of cloth-bound Vermont cheddar and a bag of Santa Barbara shell-on pistachios from Market Hall Foods in Oakland is a stocking stuffer that is elegant, sophisticated and delicious. And while $42 may seen like a high price to pay, consider this—the spirit of the holidays is likely to sweep over the recipient and they're very likely to share the loot with you. Note: this gift also would make a great host gift—send in advance of your arrival for maximum impact. Available online or at Market Hall Foods, 5655 College Ave., Oakland, 510-250-6000.