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News / Business / Clark County Business

Food makes the perfect gift: Clark County businesses have your fill of tasty presents

By Rachel Pinsky, Columbian freelance food writer
Published: December 8, 2023, 6:05am
7 Photos
Premade gift baskets at Not Too Shabby (Rachel Pinsky)
Premade gift baskets at Not Too Shabby (Rachel Pinsky) Photo Gallery

Food and drink are perfect gifts for everyone because we all like to indulge at the end of the year. Plus, consumable presents don’t create extra clutter because they’re only around long enough to enjoy. Here are some tasty gifts to pick up for those on your list.

Indian Tomato Pickles and Masala Chai from Tiffin Asha: After the pandemic, Sheila Bommakanti and Elizabeth Golay of Tiffin Asha decided to close their Portland restaurant featuring Southern Indian cuisine and focus on creating condiments that are vegan, gluten-free, and Non-GMO Project verified. They joined the Vancouver Farmers Market this year to sell two items: a rich, jammy, citrusy tomato ginger pickle and a mustardy, piquant green tomato pickle (both $12.95 for a 9-ounce jar). They decided to start their line of prepared foods with these popular items from their restaurant that are very versatile.

“We could see it being used for more than Indian food,” Golay said.

The red tomato ginger pickle goes well tucked into grilled cheese or a hamburger. It’s also a good addition to a cheese plate because it pairs well with everything from a light, creamy Brie to a pungent, funky Roquefort. The green pickle with its profusion of mustard seeds is nice on hot dogs and sausages, as well as added to stir-fries or curries.

Tiffin Asha recently added a Masala Chai ($22) with Nilgiri black tea (a specialty tea produced in the Nilgiris District of southern India) flavored with cinnamon, cardamom, rose petals, fennel, black pepper, cocoa, ginger powder and sea salt, then mixed with blue agave. The sticky mixture requires just a bit of hot water and milk to create a warm, spicy drink with a hint of sweetness. Order through the website (tiffinasha.com) or visit the Vancouver Farmers Market 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday or Dec. 16. Masala Chai is only available currently at the Vancouver Farmers Market and on the website, but both tomato pickles can also be found at Pop Local.

A vacuum-sealed can of coffee history from Pull Caffé: A group of notables from Germany and the United States, including Probat President and CEO Wim Abbing, visited Yacolt this year to verify that Todd Millar’s fire-heated coffee roaster is indeed the oldest 120 kilo Probat machine operating in the world. Based on their best evidence (most Probat records were destroyed during World War II) the machine dates back to 1896.

Millar’s vacuum-sealed tins of medium dark roast Mocha Java blend coffee ($30.95 for a 2-pound can, $179 for a case of six from pullcaffe.com) aren’t just a novelty item. The bean blend comes from a recipe from the 1800s and is fire-roasted in the antique Probat using a mix of alder, cherry and maple wood. It makes for a full, rich, mocha-noted cup of coffee or espresso. In addition, vacuum-sealing the beans in a tin can keeps them fresh for a long period of time.

Homemade cookies delivered to your door from Tammy’s Cookie Company: After years of baking cakes as wedding gifts, her daughter’s swim team and various friends’ events, Tammy Brennan recently decided to start a home-based baking business. She sells cookies ranging from the classic chocolate chip to an apple-pie-inspired creation with a cinnamon brown-butter base topped with apple pie filling and a drizzle of cinnamon glaze. Brennan makes all the elements from scratch, including sea salt caramel, toffee and marshmallow fluff.

The rotating weekly menu of cookies can be delivered to Vancouver, Camas, Salmon Creek and Ridgefield with a minimum of a dozen ($33 plus $5 delivery fee). Customers can also preorder at www.tammyscookieco.com for pickup at her various pop-ups around town, including an upcoming event from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at OMW Market (207 E. McLoughlin Blvd., Vancouver).

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Subscription from Starter Bread: Matt Kezie and Zena Walas deliver their spongy, chewy sourdough whole-grain loaves every week to subscribers to a pickup spot in Vancouver ($30 for three weeks, $110 for 11 weeks, $470 for 47 weeks, www.starterbread.com). I’ve subscribed for the past two months and I look forward to grabbing a warm brown-paper-wrapped loaf of bread on Monday afternoons. Past loaves have included a seven-grain with oat flakes and sprouted rye berries, a sun rye made with a rye and spelt dough, and a large round farm boule with a whole grain climate blend from the Washington State University Extension in Chimacum.

The typical loaf is made with a sourdough-enriched porridge that gives the rectangular loaves a chewy interior. They’re baked until crisp and crunchy on the outside. Many whole grain loaves are dense and taste like cardboard, but Starter Bread’s offerings are flavor-packed and rich with a nice chew. Avocado toast that I had at Terrain Coffee Project reeled me in and now I treasure every bite of these deliciously healthy loaves for my morning avocado toast or to accompany a lunchtime cup of soup.

NW Nut Trays: Santa has arrived in Ridgefield at NW Nut’s Santa’s Village open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 24. Visitors can buy bags of NW Nut’s cinnamon-sugar roasted almonds or hazelnuts ($18), smoked spicy almonds ($18), as well as trays featuring a variety of chocolate flavored and specially roasted hazelnuts and almonds ($22-$38, www.nwnut.com).

Award-winning whiskey from Quartz Mountain Distillers: Most whiskey and bourbon aficionados think of places like Tennessee or Kentucky when they’re looking for quality U.S.-made spirits. Unbeknownst to many, Clark County’s Quartz Mountain Distillers (4601 N.E. 78th St., Vancouver; 360-839-2090) has racked up 16 awards so far. Most recently, the distillery won two gold medals at the John Barleycorn Awards – International Spirits Competition for its Cask Strength 4 Grain Bourbon and Straight Bourbon. Quartz Mountain distills all its products at its St. Johns location north of Vancouver using Washington grains.

Quartz Mountain’s tasting room is fully stocked and open noon to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The distillery recently released Sherry Finished Bourbon, a straight bourbon whiskey aged for over two years in sherry barrels ($69). A full list of offerings can be found at quartzmountaindistillers.com, where you can purchase bottles for pickup at the tasting room or delivery within Washington. Tulip-shaped Glencairn glasses ($24.99-$19.99) as well as curved rocks glasses ($24.99) with Quartz Mountain’s logo are available to make a complete gift set.

A gift of locally grown artisan products: For the month of December, Second Mile Food Hub (11819 N.E. Highway 99, Vancouver) will host an online “give the gift of food” event at secondmilefoodhub.localfoodmarketplace.com with a variety of artisan offerings, including nut butter, holiday cookies, seasonal gelato flavors like eggnog and apple pie from Vancouver-based Sorridi Gelato ($11.55 per pint) and handcrafted hot sauces. In addition, Garden Delights in Brush Prairie offers themed seed packets for the home gardener (four seed packets for $16.50) as well as salt-and-herb spice blends (three packs for $27.50).

The Vancouver Farmers Market is open every Saturday this winter from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Sixth and Esther streets with vendors offering farm fresh produce and artisan goods.

Custom gift baskets from Not Too Shabby: Reshell Douglas of Not Too Shabby Boutique (1515 Broadway, Vancouver; 360-695-5174) has filled her store with tables and shelves of gifts to create a Santa’s workshop for grown-ups. She will also assemble custom gift baskets (typically $75-$300).

“Most of my clients come to me and ask, ‘What do you get for someone who has everything?’ ” said Douglas.

She starts the process by asking what types of the things the recipient likes and then fills and decorates a basket to suit their desires. She carries many notable Pacific Northwest brands like Relevant Coffee, Durant Olive Mill, Battle Ground-based Whimsy chocolates and Jacobsen Salt, as well as wine and beer. She also has premade baskets for last-minute gifts.

Grab-and-go options: It’s good to have a few extra gifts on hand. There always seems to be someone missing from the gift list. Thatcher’s Coffee (104 Grand Blvd., Suite 100, Vancouver; 360-258-0571), Pop Local (111 Grant St., Vancouver; 360-600-5545) and Dandelion Tea House and Apothecary (109 W. Seventh St., Vancouver; 360-718-7642) are some of my favorite spots to grab things to have on hand or as last-minute gifts.

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Columbian freelance food writer