Gift Guide: Culinary Los Angeles

Snacks, sauces, munchies and moles that are worth sharing

From sauces and caramels to wine and bitters, these products from LA-based makers conjure up distinct memories for those who live there; for others, it’s a virtual culinary trip to California‘s largest city. Treat yourself to the bar version of the gooey, filled bombolini at Jon & Vinny’s, or pick up the secret ingredient to mole enchiladas at Guelaguetza, grab a bottle of Angeleno Wine (the first winery to open in the city since Prohibition) and more. Whether shopping for yourself, family or friends, each of these Los Angeles companies makes delectable gifts worth sharing.

Festival Mole Bundle

The Lopez family runs their successful Oaxacan restaurant, Guelaguetza, in LA’s Koreatown neighborhood. Having won numerous accolades (including a James Beard America’s Classics Award) for their cooking, Bricia Lopez and her family recently debuted the Oaxaca cookbook. Perhaps even better, jars of their famous mole bring the flavors of Oaxaca home, and are available together in this Festival Mole Bundle ($32) which includes the Black, Red, and Coloradito.

The Jon & Vinny Chocolate Bar

One of LA’s most beloved treat-makers, Valerie Gordon of Valerie Confections, is well-known for her luscious petit fours, historic cake recreations and impeccable chocolates. She made these chocolate bars with Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo of Jon & Vinny’s, where the bombolini are filled with Nutella and delicately presented in a bakery case reminiscent of classic Italian shops. For this collaboration bar ($10), 38% milk chocolate has been tempered with Nutella—a homage to the restaurant’s delectable creation.

Tea Powder + Eunbi Ceramics Gift Set

Ibi Yoo of Studio Kō travels to Korea to meet with local designer and find all kinds of goods for her shop. Personal interest turned her attention to sourcing high-quality tea powders, along with the utensils needed to make matcha, hojicha, hongcha, and ssugcha drinks. This Tea Powder + Tool Set ($195) comes with a black bamboo chaseon (whisk), chashi (scoop), two Eunbi ceramics cups and your choice of tea.

Holiday Spice Duo Caramels

Pastry chef Justin Chao, of Le Bon Garçon, learned how to make classic French caramels in Paris. Once returned to the US, he launched Le Bon Garçon’s classic salted caramel made with slow-cooked fresh cream, pale butter, and crystalline sugar. Since, he’s gone on to add artisanal ingredients to his creations—and fan favorites include mango passion fruit and honey lavender. This holiday season, he stirred up some spiced cider and gingerbread caramels available in gift sets ($45) wrapped in a custom cloth design.

Toasted Pecan Bitters

For anyone who has enjoyed an expertly crafted cocktail in Los Angeles, chances are Louis Anderman’s Miracle Mile Bitters  are in the recipe. Known for his classic and creative handmade bitters, Anderman has concocted various recipes using numerous ingredients including ume, yuzu and more. At Genghis Cohen restaurant in West Hollywood, Toasted Pecan Bitters ($20) complement the Zaydee’s Manhattan. They’re also available online, for you to experiment with at home.

Artisanal Pasta Gift Box

Made in small batches with certified organic durum semolina, all Semolina Artisanal Pasta is extruded through bronze dies to give the pasta a rough exterior texture—ideal for holding onto sauces. For this limited edition gift set ($80), founder Leah Ferrazzani adds her favorite organic California-grown whole-peeled tomatoes from Bianco di Napoli, a box of Jacobsen Salt Co Kosher Salt from Portland, tomato paste, hot cherry peppers and a choice of a bottarga or fennel pollen.

SuperBloom Red (2018)

Angeleno Wine Co captured the attention of Californians by being the first winery to open in LA since prohibition. Jasper Dickson and Amy Luftig Viste’s DTLA outpost has been turning out hand-crafted wines with locally grown grapes from Agua Dulce and Antelope Valley. Inspired by old-style California zinfandels, SuperBloom ($25) is made with whole-cluster grapes from 100-year-old vines. They foot-tread this wine on the stems, and ferment on the skins for five days before pressing. SuperBloom (referencing what happens when the wildflowers bloom after much needed California rainfall) comes in a bottle adorned with Jeni Emery’s art.

Deglet Noor Date Walnut Halva

When Katie Gurvin and Scott Hebel debuted their handcrafted line of Hebel & Co halva, they set up at the Hollywood Farmers Market on Sunday mornings to talk about their sesame seed confection and earned the attention of shoppers and the bustling market. The crisp and flaky texture that melts on the tongue is undeniably delicious. In addition to their other flavors (pistachio, vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry almond poppy) they make this iteration ($14), which features organic sesame seeds, Deglet Noor dates, toasted California walnuts, cinnamon, and allspice.

Almond Butter Trio

LA-based Solstice Canyon‘s stone-ground raw organic almond butters come in three flavors: original, cardamom and clove, and aztec chocolate. Founders Rachael Sheridan and Jessie Kimmell exclusively work with certified organic, raw, unpasteurized ingredients and add low-glycemic ingredients to preserve the vital enzymes. These vegan, non-GMO, gluten-free nut butters ($48) offer a bit of California freshness to toast and oatmeal.

Chocolate-Covered Dragées

At Milla Chocolates, chocolatier Christine Sull Sarioz looks to architectural forms for inspiration, particularly for the shapes of her bonbons and glossy bars. She also makes roasted and caramelized nut dragées ($58) with several layers of organic dark chocolate and dusts them with cocoa powder, raspberry, coffee or nuts. Dragées—also known as Jordan almonds—symbolize happiness, health, longevity and wealth. They are a traditional gift or favor for celebrations in European and Middle Eastern cultures, and eternally delicious otherwise.

Mt Rosemary Trail Mix

After pastry chef Sarah Schreckengaust Lange turned her attention to launching Bearclaw Kitchen, she quickly became known for her artisanal granolas layered with wildflower honey or cardamom. But for their delectable Mt Rosemary Trail Mix ($6) she pairs rosemary-candied cashews with pumpkin seeds, coconut, dried cranberries, chocolate, and crystallized ginger. This iteration comes in a two-, four-, or 12 ounce bag.

Traveler Coffee Kit

For travelers and coffee lovers, these Canyon Coffee single-serving instant coffee packs ($55) can save the day. To concoct the powder within, the team at Canyon teamed up with Swift Cup to transform their freshly roasted coffee into an instant form. The brand’s founders, Ally Walsh and Casey Wojtalewicz, chose coffee beans from Celinga, Ethiopia. Paired with a Japanese-made travel tumbler by Kinto, this kit will keep those on the move conveniently caffeinated, simply by adding the sachet to eight ounces of hot water.

Images courtesy of respective brands