Appetites: Foodie gifts for the holidays

45th Parallel bourbon
Bourbon from 45th Parallel Spirits in a shot glass Wednesday, May 2, 2012 in the tasting room at the New Richmond, Wis., distillery.
MPR Photo/Jennifer Simonson

During the holiday season, it can be challenging to find a gift for the person who has everything. The last thing they need is another crocheted potholder to stuff in a drawer or another socket set to clutter up the garage.

The next time you're faced with this dilemma, consider an edible gift that the recipient can enjoy until gone.

Rachel Hutton, senior editor of Minnesota Monthly magazine, recommends a few locally made edibles, including spirits, spices, and salami, for food lovers on your list.

Hutton: I'm a big fan of the beverages coming out of 45th Parallel Spirits. They're one of the few small-batch distillers in the country and they are located just across the border in New Richmond, Wis. The first spirit 45th Parallel debuted was vodka made from grain, mostly corn, which comes from a farm just a few miles down the road. The vodka is very smooth, with a clean, slightly sweet flavor.

The distillery also offers tours where you can watch them boil the mash in a large copper still. (More about the process)

MPR News: What other spirits does 45th Parallel produce?

45th Parallel bourbon
Bourbon is aged in barrels for two years at 45th Parallel Spirits Wednesday, May 2, 2012 in New Richmond, Wis. This whiskey, which is 45th Parallel's first batch, will be bottled and sold in August.
MPR Photo/Jennifer Simonson

Hutton: They're now in the process of distributing bourbon that they've been aging in oak barrels for the last couple of years, and they also make limoncello, the Italian lemon liqueur. It's a classic digestif and would be a terrific finish an indulgent holiday meal.

MPR News: Now would you drink limoncello with salami?

Hutton: I'd recommend drinking it afterword, to freshen your palate from all the garlic. But if you think your gift recipient might enjoy cured meats, Northern Waters Smokehaus in Duluth makes excellent salami, a French-style sauccicon sec, and pepperoni, which is my favorite.

MPR News: Why is that?

Hutton: Typically the only time we eat pepperoni is on pizza, and often times its quality is mediocre, so it gets a bad reputation.

But Northern Waters will change your perception of pepperoni. Their product has a strong fennel flavor and a kick of heat from crushed pepper flakes. It's great simply sliced and eaten on its own, on a platter of charcuterie and cheeses.

MPR News: You could bring a local meat and cheese platter to a party, too?

Hutton: Yes, and if you wanted to include a hostess gift, you could present those items on a locally made cutting board. Wood from the Hood is a company that makes beautiful cutting boards from sugar maples cut down around the metro area.

MPR News: That won't fit in a stocking, though?

Hutton: I think spices make great stocking stuffers for those who love to cook. Saffron restaurant in Minneapolis makes its own Middle Eastern spice blends and sells them in giftable tins. Also, Raghavan Iyer, a well-known Indian chef in town, has his own line of spices, Turmeric Trail, which he sells at Kitchen in the Market.

Rachel Hutton is restaurant critic and food editor at "Minnesota Monthly." Her work has been featured in the "Best Food Writing" series. Follow her @rachel_hutton.

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