Saturday, December 3, 2011

Local Indiana food gifts

Holidays and hometown foods just make sense. When it comes to Christmas gift giving, a taste of home can be a good thing.

For our family, a decade out of Kansas City, there's the Strawberry Hill povitica we used to get each year. Or the Velvet Creme popcorn that my in-laws send that the kids will just dive into a tub from. Or, of course, bottles of Vignoles or Tailgate Red from Holy-Field Winery.

But finding Indiana concoctions has taken some time for me to find. I still vividly remember years ago asking a friend what Indiana was known for for food, since a visiting friend wanted to try it. I got a blank stare.

Recent years have led me to some great treat ideas. And as I started shopping for an old college friend, with whom I still exchange fun treats each Christmas season, I thought local is best. And I wasn't disappointed in my search.

Here are some of my favorite food finds in Indiana, some of which I'll be sharing this holiday season:

For the sweets fan

Try funky artisian marshmallows from 240Sweet in Columbus. We discovered these treats at a winter market a few years back, and the kids are always itching for tastes! These come in crazy flavors for every palate, from Bourbon Sugar Churro with Cajeta to Chocolate Hazelnut Swirl to Bacon Maple Toffee.

Carmel lovers will be thrilled with the homemade chewy goodness from Abbott's Candy in Hagerstown. Our graphic design agency shares these with us each Christmas season, and they disappear. Quickly.

Chocolate lovers will like the Indiana-made Endangered Species Chocolate (dark chocolate is fabulous!) or the artisian Chocolate for the Spirit, a new chocolate company out of Shelbyville I discovered at last weekend's Carmel Winter Market. Let me just say "Wow." If you haven't heard of them, you will soon. They were featured in yesterday's Indianapolis Star, and their Mayan Spirit Bars were selected among the top 5 favorites at NY Chocolate Show by gourmet magazine, "The Nibble."

For the wine lover

Locally, I love to visit Mallow Run Winery in Bargersville, but a new favorite for me may be Simmons Winery's Vignoles wine, which I found much drier than the Vignoles I'm used to from Holy-Field in Kansas City.

For the cook

Cooks may want to tap into oils, flavored sugars and spices from Artisano's Spices and Oils in north Indianapolis (also at the Carmel and Indianapolis winter markets). My sister-in-law quickly squirreled away the blueberry-flavored sugar last Christmas, and a good friend and I can just spend an afternoon snacking on bread with their fabulous flavored oils.

You might also check out a cookbook from Daniel Orr from FARMBloomington. We love to dive into his FARMFood cookbook, which focuses on seasonal eating year-round, and I understand he has a new Carribean-inspired cookbook as well.

Sometimes, a taste of home is well worth it this holiday season.

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