There may be no better time than this to go local with your holiday-shopping list. America, after all, has become hyper-local by design, thanks to a pandemic-era life that keeps us close to home.
A locally created gift not only helps indie entrepreneurs and artisans, it lets your intended giftee know you gave their present some thought, even though Christmas is just around the corner. And if your gift recipient is a foodie, your search is not so daunting at all — Palm Beach County and environs are full of tasty presents.
Here are five local inspirations to consider:
“111 Places in Palm Beach That You Must Not Miss”
Palm Beach County woman-about-town Cristyle Wood Egitto has written a newly released guide book in which she compiles a funky and fabulous list of must-visit spots in the county where she was raised. They range from JFK’s island bunker on Peanut Island to the Fortune Cookie Asian market to Pineapple Grove’s Artists’ Alley to Perry Como’s grave in Tequesta.
And while her list of favorites is lengthy, the Instagrammer behind the popular Eat Palm Beach account has sprinkled in many suggestions on where to find good food and drink. Among them:
Jupiter Donuts (“where donut dreams come true), Havana’s 24-hour window (“a longstanding gem”), Benny’s on the Beach (for “a meal above the Atlantic”) and Aioli on Dixie (“first sourdough bakery in West Palm Beach”).
“My goal with the book is to show people the depth of Palm Beach County, not just the glitz and glam and the beaches,” she says. “We have a lot of historical and cultural depth.”
Where to buy: The book, “111 Places in Palm Beach That You Must Not Miss” ($20, Emons Publishers), is available on Amazon.com, where it reached No. 1 bestseller status in the South Atlantic United States Travel Books category.
Stuart chocolatier Denise Castronovo uses heirloom cacao to make her prize-winning chocolate — and by prize-winning, we mean her exquisite bars have won global competitions that have been likened to the Oscars of the chocolate world.
While all of Castronovo’s confections are gift-worthy, the chocolate-maker’s holiday peppermint bark is particularly festive. Castronovo makes it with her “Lost City” bar of Honduran dark chocolate and tops it with peppermint-scented white chocolate. The bark gets a sprinkling of crushed candy canes, which she makes with organic ingredients and no artificial dyes. (Beet juice gives the candy its red stripes.)
Castronovo described the bark-making process this way on the shop’s Facebook page: “This year I took inspiration from my earlier work as a potter. I decorated the bark using a Japanese marbling technique called ‘neriage,’ where I used two different colored clays to make a swirling design.”
Where to buy: You can pick up the peppermint bark ($27) and a diverse assortment of Castronovo chocolates online at CastronovoChocolate.com or visit the chocolate factory/store at 555 Colorado Ave., Stuart, 772-521-1699
La Coquine Aprons
Let’s get the sad news out of the way: The husband-and-wife founders of Northwood’s beloved Bistro Bistro bakery and café, Carole Gallant and Alain Ponze, recently sold the shop. The new, enthusiastic owners plan to expand the menu and bring their own culinary love to the place.
There’s a bright side, Gallant told us on her last day at the bakery, Nov. 28 — she has just started a line of stylish, one-of-a-kind aprons and other accessories called La Coquine. She has an eye for pretty fabrics, patterns, colors and detail in tailoring, plus she takes custom orders. Bright side, indeed.
Where to buy: La Coquine is still new and does not have an online shop yet, but you can glimpse the aprons at LaCoquinePB.com as well as on Instagram @lacoquinePB. For orders and information, email [email protected] or call 561-596-4935
Box of Sunshine
Kristl Story, who runs the West Palm Beach Food Tours, has come up with a gift she calls “a food tour in a box.” But really it’s a box of Florida flavor. Story packs the box with all the ingredients to make key lime pie (except eggs and butter) and a link to a pie-making tutorial by Ganache Bakery’s star baker Jamal Lake. There’s also pineapple-habanero hot sauce from Cholo Soy taco shop, Colombian coffee from Salento Coffee shop, Saw Palmetto Honey from the Bee Unique shop, plus other confections.
“It’s a gift that checks all the boxes — consumable gift, experience gift, unique gift — and your purchase supports six small local businesses,” says Story.
Where to buy: If you want The Box of Sunshine ($89) in time for Christmas, you can pick one up at the Bee Unique Honey shop at 3311 S. Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach. If time is not a factor, you can order one online at WestPalmBeachFoodTour.com. For more information, email Story at [email protected]. Bonus: At Bee Unique, you’ll find a variety of local honey and related products.
Taste of Immokalee’s Hot Sauce and Salsa
How about some salsa with an inspiring mission? The young entrepreneurs at Taste of Immokalee, a nonprofit that teaches business skills to children in that city’s farmworker community, bottle just the thing. Their online shop offers a variety of salsas, hot sauces and barbecue sauces. And they offer six varieties of “Christmas Bundles” that feature product combos in holiday packaging. They are priced from $12 to $70.
Where to buy: Find a Christmas Bundle, like the Reindeer Dash ($35) — it includes three proprietary Taste of Immokalee bottled sauces (Fire Roasted Tomato and Jalapeño Salsa, Serrano Hot Sauce and Chipotle BBQ Sauce) and a “jolly red” apron — at TasteofImmokalee.com.