Shop Small! South Florida Holiday Gift Guide
We've tracked down good local sources for thoughtful gifts. Some are advertisers, others are folks we've written about or met over the years. All represent the best in local businesses.
Food and Drink Artisans
Cao Chocolates in Pinecrest and with a pop-up in Dadeland makes artisan bean-to-bar (and tree-to-bar) chocolate, in bars, bonbons, confections, brownies and more. Romanicos on Coral Way features fine Venezuelan cacao in their products and provide the chocolate for Guayaba y Chocolate in Little Havana, which incorporates local flavors like guava and passionfruit, in their whimsical creations. Susana and Isabel of Cacao Art have been honored for their bonbons, which incorporate exquisite chocolate and local flavors. Exquisito Fine Chocolates, recent winners at the Food Innovation Pitch Night, makes outstanding cocoa as well as bonbons.
Florida honey is available in all kinds of varieties: wildflower, mango, prized avocado, rare Tupelo (from North Florida), ginger, mangrove, just to name a few. One of the best selections is available from Farmers Market Honey, found at farmers markets, including Plantation and Pompano Beach on Saturdays, Tamarac on Sundays and Imperial Point Medical Center on Thursday. G’s Dream Farm honey from Homestead is sold at the Miami Springs Farmers Market on Saturday, Kendall Village on Sunday, the Sunrise Swap Shop every other Sunday, and at the gift shop at Fruit and Spice Park. Keez Beez raw honey comes from Florida Keys apiaries producing mango, avocado, black mangrove, Brazilian pepper, seagrape, palm and Jamaican dogwood honey. Buy online or find at Milam’s Markets.
Reeny’s Butterflies Blooms and Bees features honey and other products – soaps, candles, gift baskets – made locally. Local beekeepers Natural and Raw Creations sell their honey, plus handmade soaps, mosquito repellent, bath bombs and lip balm, at the Southwest Community Farmers Market at Tropical Park on Saturdays.
While South Florida is not known for dairy farms (too hot), local cheesemaker Bruno Ponce of Mimmo’s Mozzarella makes mozzarella and burrata, plus their own specialties: truffle porcini, braided cheeses stuffed with fruits and nuts or olives, scamorza and other artisan cheeses. Find at their shop, at Gaucho Ranch, or at Yellow Green Farmers Market on weekends.
Wolfe’s Wine Shoppe on Miracle Mile in Coral Gables is not just your go-to shop for outstanding wines at all price points, but for expert advice delivered with wit and wisdom from Jeffrey Wolfe, our wine columnist, who knows everything and everybody in town.
BAKED GOODS AND PASTRIES
Artisan breads, French pastries, cookies and pies are ideal hostess gifts, perfect for neighbors, co-workers and your favorite UPS driver. We love the rustic breads and babkas from Zak the Baker available at his Wynwood bakery, Pinecrest farmers market on Sundays and at Whole Foods Markets. At Madruga Bakery in Coral Gables, Naomi and her team turn out whole-wheat loaves, galettes, pies and cakes. Fireman Derek's Bake Shop in Wynwood serves up pies, cakes, cookies and some savory bakery goods.
In Broward, JW Pastry’s classic croissants, French pastries, artisan breads and jumbo cookies – plus a gluten-free selection – are available in his bakery and at the Plantation farmers market (Saturday), Tamarac farmers market (Sunday) and Broward Health Imperial Point (Thursday) Chef Pamela Wasabi makes vegan holiday pies and cookies. Zaytouna Food – pastries, spice blends and hummus prepared by Syrian refugee women in South Florida – is now available at the Merrick Park farmers market on Sundays.
For the charcuterie lover, small-batch sausages are genuinely appreciated. Proper Sausages’ bangers and bacon make a fine addition for the Christmas table (their Miami Shores shop is also a great resource for fine meats, wine, craft beer plus housemade pickles and specialty foods for the discerning foodie). They ship, too. Buy grass-fed beef and lamb, organic poultry, morcilla and organic chorizo, organic yerba mate plus everything you need for an Argentinean asado from Gaucho Ranch's spacious new shop at Rail 71. Look for tasty bacon and sausages for brunch at Babe Froman at Pinecrest farmers market every Sunday (they’ll soon have a brick-and-mortar store). And formerly local chef Matt Hinckley has opened a butcher shop in Orlando, where he makes charcuterie and ships it out.
HOT SAUCE AND CONDIMENTS
When we wrote about peppers in our spring issue, we discovered lots of delicious, locally made hot sauces and condiments. Here are some good choices:
• Bone Lee of Islamorada is back in action after Hurricane Irma. Buy his hot sauces online or find him at the Islamorada farmers market.
• André Gourmet Sauces include certified organic BBQ, maple and hot sauce with varying degrees of fire. You can also buy sweet potato and pecan pies on his website.
• Blackie’s Best gourmet pepper sauces use local ingredients and can be bought online or at retail stores in South Florida, including Robert Is Here.
• Jammy Yummy’s unusual savory jams – jalapeno, caramelized onion, red pepper, tomato, carrot, portobello – work well for holiday cheese platters. Buy online or at Milam’s Markets and Whole Foods Markets.
• Bruce’s Ghost Peppers showcases hot peppers in multiple sizzling forms: hot sauces, dips, rubs, powders, jams, jellies, plants and seeds.
You’ll find a great assortment of treats from Happy Dog Bakery, including baked dog biscuits in a range of flavors (lamb and sweet potato pie, chicken and veggies, bacon cheeseburger), huge biscuits, meaty beef ribs, natural roasted bones and tripe. They’re at farmers markets at Plantation (Saturday), Tamarac (Sunday), Broward Health Imperial Health (Thursday), Lauderdale By-The-Sea (seasonal), plus other markets in South Florida:
For the House
DRINKING AND DINING
There’s really something for anyone interested in food, drink and good design at Aragon 101 in Coral Gables. Look for hand-selected tableware pieces collected on travels by owner Erica Guzman; tasteful carafes and serving ware; and gifts at all prices; a small but important collection of cookbooks; and gift certificates for her outstanding events: special classes and dinners and cooking and baking classes for teens. In South Miami, Isabel specializes in home accessories with an emphasis on the whimsical.
Getting a good night’s sleep on a mattress free from toxic chemicals is important at SEB Mattress in Coconut Grove. Their organic mattresses and bedding represent an investment in a healthy lifestyle for the whole family – from babies to kids, teens, adults and pets. This family-owned business offers Naturepedic certified organic mattresses, bedding and pillows with organic cotton, kapok, non-GMO plant-based batting, and choices for those with allergies and orthopedic needs. We also love their pet beds, made from plastic bottles.
For the Garden
VEGGIES AND FRUITS
Our Edible Gardener columnist Dylan Terry recommends his favorite tools for your backyard garden. His Ready-to-Grow Gardens sells vegetable, fruit and herb seedlings. Need more help? Dylan and his team can install a food forest, raised-bed garden and get you started: . Tiffany Noé and Muriel Olivares of Little River Cooperative also sell plant starts from their nursery, help others grow their own produce and train urban farmers. Bee Heaven Farm sells plant starts at Pinecrest farmers markets on Sunday at the beginning of the season.
Don’t overlook garden and museum gift shops as sources of local foods, books and artwork. At Miami Beach Botanical Garden, there’s a beautifully curated selection of garden and botanical-related products. Coral Gables Museum’s tiny, treasure-filled gift shop by Books and Books is stocked with unique local and art-infused gifts. And for books, just head next door to Books and Books, celebrating their 35th year. At Redland Fruit and Spice Park in Homestead, find tropical fruit-related books, treats, products and gifts.
FRESH TO YOUR DOORSTEP
Treat your loved ones to food shipped directly to their door. For tropical fruits, Robert Is Here ships all kinds of fruits in season, plus local honeys, hot sauces and condiments; check their website for what’s available. Now in South Florida, Hungry Harvest delivers boxes of “rescued” produce – freshly harvested fruits and vegetables that may be discarded by supermarkets because of aesthetic imperfections or surpluses. You can choose organic, fruit-only and other choices. Not only are you reducing food waste with your purchase, but you’re also benefiting their local partner, Lotus House. Is your gift recipient a vegan? Give them a food delivery from Artichoke Foods, plant-based prepared food for grownups and kids, too. They also cater.
What better way to support the community than by becoming a member? Benefits include free admission, special events, gift shop discounts and more.
Miami Beach Botanical Garden
Coral Gables Museum
Jewish Museum of Florida–FIU
Redland Fruit and Spice Park
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
Rare Fruit and Vegetable Council of Broward
Rare Fruit Council International
Slow Food Glades to Coast
Slow Food Miami