1) Villa Gabriella Organic Olive Oil and 8-Year Aged Balsamic
I am so hooked on this amazing balsamic. I've never used one at home like this. Aged for 8 years, this balsamic has a wonderful flavor that is perfect on a bruschetta, pizza or salad. I love to make a little salad of spinach and fresh mozzarella with grape tomatoes and drizzle it with this balsamic. It's delicious. Their oils are no less spectacular. This is a lovely indulgence for any foodie on your list.
2) Fannie May Cubs Candy
I am one of the biggest Cubs fans out there and I was so ecstatic that this was finally our year! If you know someone who loves the Cubs as much as I do - and who also loves chocolate, they'll be in heaven with the Cubs wrapped candy bars and Wrigley Field Mix of fine chocolates.
3) Tastefully Simple mixes
When you're planning a party or just want to put out a spread for your family on a lazy weekend or to watch a special event together, Tastefully Simple makes it easy to whip up some goodies that taste like they were more work than they really were. Some of my favorite products are the beer bread, lava cakes and spinach dip mix. But my favorite of all is this baby below - the Bold Buffalo Bleu Cheese Dip Mix. You can simply add the powder to some sour cream and mayonnaise or get more creative with it. I've also adapted it to create a warm dip that always goes fast!
4) Lou Malnati's pizza
Despite having spent my entire life living in the Chicago suburbs, I somehow had never tried Lou Malnati's until a couple years ago at the Taste of Chicago. There are just so many wonderful pizza places and I didn't think their deep dish could be that much better than Giordano's or Gino's East or Sanfretello's. But there's just something about it that nudges it just above the rest of their stiff competition. If you have a foodie friend who hasn't tried it or have someone on your list who is just an overall fan of pizza, this is a gift they will be very happy to get. Get a gift card or schedule a dinner together. And for those outside of the area, you can also ship it and give them a test of what the best pizza in the country tastes like. It's also great for those who have moved from the Chicago area and long for a taste of authentic Chicago-style pizza.
I first got a taste of the delicious small batch treats when I attended the Good Food Festival earlier this year. I love chocolate and I have to admit that I've become a major chocolate snob. American candy bars just don't do it for me any more. I'd rather have one bite of gourmet chocolate than a case of Hershey bars. A lot of the chocolate I eat is from foreign countries - Switzerland, France, Belgium and others. However, this is made in the Midwest with local ingredients and they are every bit as good as the stuff that comes from across the ocean. Treat a friend or family member - and treat yourself.
6) Tickets to a beer dinner
I'm a big fan of food. My husband's a big fan of craft beer. So, when we recently attended a beer pairing dinner at Bohemian Joe's in Lansing, we were both in our glory sampling several courses of what we loved. The dinner included four courses plus an enormous cheese/nut/fruit tray to start off for only $40 per person (if you order tickets at least a week in advance, after that it goes up to $45.) I was amazed at the chef's creativity in not just pairing foods with the beer, but using the brews in making the dishes. I can't wait to go back again. If you know someone who would love the experience, they'll be doing these dinners monthly on the third Tuesday. In January they'll feature Lagunitas and in February, they'll have 18th Street there to host.
7) GourmetGiftBaskets.com Presidential Cookie Cakes
If you want to present a gift that will be the talk of your holiday celebration, these presidential candidate cookie cakes will. Buy individually or get all three. If you were wondering, the guy in the middle isn't Ronald Reagan (although he bears a striking resemblance.) That's Gary Johnson. When our cookies arrived, my kids wanted to dig in right away. My son said, "Maybe we should have the Gary Johnson one, so at least he can be first in something." These big sugar cookies are a gift that will not soon be forgotten.
8) Dinner at The Florentine
One of the top 5 meals I had this past year was at The Florentine, a fine Italian dining spot located inside the JW Marriott. Everything exceeded expectations and it's a meal that I still dream about and want to go back and duplicate. Read about what we tried here. If you make dinner plans for your significant other for a meal in their dining room, it will be one that will score you some big points. Want to double your points? Extend your visit with an overnight stay and this luxurious hotel. Want to triple them? There's a spa there that will blow you away and leave you so relaxed and mellow and rejuvenated.
9) PopcornFactory.com Cubs World Series Tin
Celebrate the exciting win of my beloved Chicago Cubs with a big ol' tin of gourmet popcorn. Not only are you getting a delicious gourmet snack, but you'll have this souvenir tin to hold on to commemorating the long awaited win. The back lists the players of the 2016 World Series Team.
10) Urban Accents seasoning sets
If you have never tried Urban Accents seasonings, you don't know what you're missing. I love that this is a local company and the product they put it out is top notch. My pantry is full of different seasonings from their line. They have some really awesome gift packs that any foodie would be thrilled to get. They have barbecue gift packs. Popcorn gift packs. One that I really loved was the pizza gift pack that had several ethnic seasoning blends to switch up your pizza. I adore the Grecian Pizza seasoning set. It's a great way to get more creating in the kitchen. Take a few minutes to browse their website - or if you see it in a local shop, be sure to grab a few bottles.