Slippers, socks, headphones—they’re all fine. Gifts you can eat, tho… that's the level of bestowed enjoyment that we're aiming for when we pick the best gifts for our loved ones. Keeping someone's feet warm is nice, but filling their belly with truffles or chocolate or cheese? Jumpin' Jehoshaphat. That's the good stuff.
The best food gifts feel special and decadent, but also cater to the preferences of your friend, family member, or lover; perhaps they're looking for an adaptogenic latte to start their morning with Gwynethian serenity, maybe they're fiending for gabagool, or maybe they're the type whose favorite contact sport is gorging on Pocky sticks at midnight. Maybe they can eat infinity olives, or perhaps you're sending them seasoning blends to escort them on their journey to becoming a less toxic version of Gordon Ramsey. The truth is that we all eat, and helping each other do it better with thoughtful, edible gifts is one of the greatest forms of charity.
So introduce your giftee to pistachio cream and pickle-stuffed olives, or spice up their life with flavors from around the world. Buy a giant basket and lovingly fill it with the pie formerly known as Crack Pie, ready-when-you-are soup dumplings, Japanese chips, and bittersweet spritzers; then give it to the greatest food lover in your life. Here are the best food gifts for anyone and everyone in 2021.
For true dumpling fiends
Dunno about your friend group, but our squad lives for a juicy, savory dumpling—which is why we were infinitely hyped when two of our favorite Chinese food purveyors, Fly by Jing and Xiao Chi Jie, released frozen, direct-delivery dumplings this year. Our editor Ian Burke tried Fly by Jing's dumplings and found them to be "wonderful," "mouthwatering," and "restaurant-quality.”
Meanwhile, Rec Room's editorial director Hilary Pollack made XCJ's soup dumplings and says they're mind-blowing and hella easy to prepare. She also rides hard for the Ginger & Scallion Umami sauce, which she calls "umami heaven." XCJ's "Full Dumpling Experience" is sold out, but you can still grab items à la carte.
Nutella: tired. Pistachio cream: wired.
Yep, that's shots fired—and of course, no disrespect to the chocolate hazelnut spread that's captured the hearts of the world. But yo, have you ever had pistachio cream? More luxurious and decidedly greener, it's a sweet, nutty condiment that's life-changing on toast, ice cream, or straight out of the jar. Vincente Delicacies' Cream of Pistachio is nuts (no pun intended); one reviewer calls it "the best pistachio cream ever" and another says their family from Sicily gives it their big-time seal of approval.
If your budget doesn't have 30 bucks factored into it for Italian dessert condiments, grab a $13 version from Fiasconaro, a family-run Italian company that's been in business since 1953.
For snack weebs
In America, we have no shortage of snack options—Flamin' Hot life, you know? But do we have Hokkaido butter chips, Calpico-flavored mochi, and a gazillion flavors of Kit Kats? Until recently, nope; you would have had to buy a ticket to Japan to stuff your face with those. Now, thanks to the bad bitches over at Bokksu, a Japanese snack box subscription service, you can get them delivered straight to your 'Murican apartment door.
For the ones who order their martinis "super, super dirty"
Dirty: yawn. Extra dirty: standard. Filthy: now we're talking. Filthy makes some really wild drink garnishes for everything from 'tinis to Bloody Marys, and perhaps the most visually berzerk are these olives stuffed with tiny gherkins. Gift to your friend who's always looking for ways to upgrade their home bar cart. Throw in a half-dozen pouches of olive brine if they're truly a filthy, filthy little freakazoid.
The pie that started a revolution
Once known as Crack Pie until we collectively realized that comparing desserts to a drug epidemic wasn't in great taste, Milk Bar's signature Milk Bar Pie—we will say—is so difficult to stop eating you might call it addictive. It's buttery, gooey, super-sweet, and crazy-good, and you no longer have to wait in line at one of Milk Bar's NYC bakeries to grab one.
For the future wine mom (or dad)
In Good Taste’s highly coveted wine advent calendar sells out real fast—so we recommend grabbing it as soon as possible.
But if a $150 wine advent calendar is a little heavy on your wallet, we also rec the brand's Wild Child Collection, which includes eight "less traditional" wines for the wine weirdos, or the California Wine Mixer, a set of tasty wines straight outta the best coast. Each glass comes in a cool little bottle, as well as with helpful tasting notes and the option to throw an online wine mixer with your pals. It’s like Sideways, but without getting in a screaming match with your womanizing friend. Plus, how else can you try eight good wines for 65 bucks?
For the hardcore ice cream head
Some people make ice cream tasting into a life's pursuit, not just something you do opportunistically when walking around a seaside town. And to these people we say: Hell yeah, we salute you, and we are you. Of course, if you're enthralled with the wild world of ice cream, we hope you've heard of Salt & Straw, the ridiculously good, highly inventive ice cream company that got its start in Portland, Oregon but has been (deservedly) expanding like crazy the last few years. You can now order variety packs of its pints online, with outta-this-world flavors ranging from Mushroom Muddy Buddies and Panther Coffee Chocolate Tres Leches to "Buttermilk Pancakes, Bacon & Eggs." Better clear some room in the freezer.
No bland chicken here
If you don't have an abuela nearby to visit for incredible home-cooked meals, you can grab Loisa's trio of Latin flavors (Sazón, Adobo, and Sofrito) that (literally) spice up every meal, all three of which we consider all-purpose for any soups, stews, meat, veggies, or rice you're vibing today—plus, they're all vegan, gluten-free, and free of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.
Because Y2K is back, baby
OK, so we all got a little burnt out on truffle fries circa 2011. But time is a flat circle, my guy, and if espresso martinis are coming back around, you bet your arse we wanna bring truffles back, too. You could definitely make the case that Truff's super-popular truffle hot sauce never went out of style, because it's always been a hit; just ask the 21,000+ happy peeps who've left sensational reviews for the stuff on Amazon. Is it for everyone? No, it's not. Some people can't handle anything spicier than Taco Bell's mild sauce, and others think truffles smell like feet. But for the right person, this is the jam, whether you go with a single bottle or a gift sampler.
For the yoga 'n' meditation types
MUD\WTR really speaks to those of us who feel like we're gonna die after a couple of shots of espresso but still want a morning pick-me-up that's a) tasty; b) ritualistic; and c) gonna help us actually get to inbox zero today. Of all the coffee alternatives out there, it stands out as the cream of the crop, both for its superb, chai-like flavor and alert-but-chill effects. Check out our full-length review of it if you wanna hear all about its charms (and yes, we do roast the spelling/styling/punctuation a little). Also, the starter kit/gift box comes with a frother, which is always fun.
For the home cook who's getting pretty good, actually
To those who actually learned how to season food during the dark, homebound times of 2020: congrats! A time of more cooking helped us realize how important it is to have a well-stocked pantry, which is why a fab gift for the recently minted chef du apartment 2B is Burlap & Barrel chef's choice collection. Your friend's got thyme, oregano, and everything bagel seasoning; it's time for them to graduate to black lime, sun-dried tomato powder, and other magic add-ins—plus, all the brand's spices are single-origin and ethically sourced.
For the person who's cut back on drinking, but still enjoys sippin'
Hangovers seem to be gaining strength with each passing year, and while we love a cocktail, we don't love an entire Sunday spent bedridden ordering Chipotle delivery. Canned cocktails are getting good, but even they can prove poisonous. Thankfully for us, there's Haus, which offers medium-ABV (18%) aperitifs that are versatile yet complex, from "New Fashioned" and Lemon Lavender to Ginger Yuzu. The sampler pack (customizable!) is perfect for trying four different flavors in one go, and super-affordable at just 50 bucks for four bottles.
Cheeses of the world, unite and take over
When we talk about cheeseheads, we're not referring to sports fans from Wisconsin. We're shouting out the folks who never met a double crème they didn't like, live and die for the sharpest of Cheddars, and ain't afraid of veiny blues. For these souls, Murray's Cheeses of the World sampler is a guaranteed grand slam, from cave-aged Gruyère to drunken goat cheese.
For the teetotaler
Being sober is hot. In 2021, this is known. But being a sophisticated Adult™ means swapping the Mike's Hard for craft mocktails instead of some wack-ass soda (though, no disrespect to Baja Blast), and in that category, we'd like to recommend Curious Elixirs. The brand's “booze-free cocktails" are formulated to be ready to drink straight up or on the rocks. And blessedly, they are in no way too sweet or syrupy; you'll find a perfectly balanced flavors in Elixir No. 1, for instance, which is modeled after a Negroni, or the cucumber-forward Elixir No. 3, which contains allegedly beneficial herbs including ashwagandha, used in Ayurvedic medicine to reduce stress. For a limited-edition vibe, check out the No. 6, which is like a next-level piña colada.
For the vegan with great taste
Vegan ice cream can be super hit-or-miss, which is why your plant-based brethren will be extra-grateful to receive a box of Mochidoki's vegan collection. No boring-ass, standard combo of vanilla, chocolate, and green tea mochi here; we've got six different flavors of chewy pleasure, from passion fruit and lychee to matcha coconut and chocolate hazelnut. It's a bonus that they can last in the freezer, but we doubt they'll make it long without getting scarfed.
For the super-busy gourmand
Sometimes, you've got I-can-barely-muster-the-energy-to-make-mac-and-cheese burnout, but fave-takeout-dish cravings. Omsom packs some of the best flavors of Asian cooking into handy little pouches that are ready to be thrown in with whatever proteins and vegetables the store (or your fridge) can provide. Follow the provided recipes, and you’ll have restaurant-quality Thai, Vietnamese, and Filipino meals ready to go in under 30 minutes.
Nosh on, hungry hungry hippos. In the words of Jimmy Durante, make someone happy.
The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story.