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Fairway’s Fine Food Holiday Gifts

Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Artisanal VinegarsFor a long time now, you’ve mentally registered that you get far more pleasure out of giving something memorable than receiving something memorable. We know you. You’re just like us. The nettlesome drudgery of having to go to the trouble to shop for a gift is only made bearable when you come across something you know is going to be unforgettable. Which doesn’t happen very often. So how do you find that thing? Those things? Well, EUREKA! The newsflash of the year is that your plain-old, taken-for-granted Fairway just might be the place where you knock-off every single important gift you have GOT to come up with. Fairway offers the most exciting specialty foods you’ve ever seen.

Fairway imports a lot of European stuff exclusively direct from the maker. Practically every time you’ve seen Fairway in magazines and newspapers, the reason is the writers are writing about something they found at Fairway. Something that thrilled them. And it is these very culinary items that the recipients of your largesse will find so memorable, so exciting, so usable, so unlike anything else anybody ever gave them.

Like the four artisanal Catalan vinegars that make salad vinaigrettes, sauces, marinades and pan deglazers so excruciatingly delicious. Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Moscatell and Vermouth, each by itself a stunningly fine vinegar. When each is given, it’s a Catalan celebration, and when given as a quartet, they are culinary show-stoppers in the kitchen.

Or give a bag of the famous Dos Cafeteras candies (based on availability) from Pamplona, in the Spanish Basque country, made with coffee and milk since the 19th Century.

Or wow with a couple of jars of the remarkable La Trinquelinette preserves from Burgundy, made in small batches with fruit sourced from orchards that are so tiny the big jam-makers can’t bother with them. This is jam like my grandmother used to make. And the rhubarb and strawberry rhubarb are ethereal, like nothing I’ve ever tasted before. Other flavors include cassis, raspberry, bitter orange, strawberry and apricot. Once again, a quartet of them would be a knock-out present.

There’s just something about vinegar that makes me happy. Maybe it’s because vinegar may be the single most complex foodstuff in the entire realm of gastronomy, and that nothing can bring itself to bear upon so many recipes and salads with more effect than can an exceptional vinegar. Like our AOC (name-protected) Banyuls wine vinegar direct from Banyuls in France, as sweet and complex as an adult honey. Or any of our Laurent Agnes Bordeaux wine vinegars, the highest-end high-end wine vinegar made in France, intelligentsia wine vinegar heretofore known only to top French chefs.

And we have these tins of sardines, La Quiberonnaise (based on availability), that are so cool you will simply drop to your knees. They’re from Brittany, the land that invented sardines, and first, the tins are embossed with such gorgeous and retro graphics, you’ll want to keep them after you’ve gorged on the contents. But the clincher is that these are not your ordinary sardines. These are the treasured vintage sardines; they’ve been in the tin for several years. The French know that the result of this minuscule artisanal production is that the little fish become so much more flavorful, something otherworldy during their tin time, and only at Fairway is the vintage (millesime) sardine held in such reverence as given to them by the French.

The Holy Grail at Fairway is decidedly olive oil. Of course it’s all extra-virgin and first cold-pressing. That goes without saying and, truth be known, neither means anything these days, if you know something about olive oil, and we sure as heck do. We know more about olive oil, we care more, and we’ve done more with olive oil than any importer, retailer, fanatic amateur and scholar anywhere in the world. Fairway’s Steve Jenkins’ lectures and tastings of olive oil at prestigious venues such as The 92nd Street Y and the National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington DC sell out well in advance.

And the most thrilling thing about this time of year is that the grassy and ebullient new pressings are trickling into our stores only now, this week and next, and the week after that. The freshest, most assiduously chosen olive oils in the history of the substance, and that would be, oh, around 3,500 years, as close as we can track. In addition to our 13 scintillating “barrel” oils, each of which is a specific district-within-a-region olive oil shipped to us in barrels (all are unfiltered and fresh out of the groves of regional Spain, Italy, France, Greece, Australia, California, and Mexico). We also import exclusively in the original bottles AOC oils from Southern France, as well as Italian and Spanish oils from specific districts-within-regions. There is no finer and more memorable gift under the Tuscan (or Umbrian, or Catalan, or Sicilian, or Pugliese …) sun than well-chosen olive oil, and at Fairway you are at the source. You are all but in the grove.

As with olive oil, we take artisanal honey to a new height, and you know there is a honey-lover in your milieu. Give a quartet of honeys, one of the Chailan waxed tubs filled with creamy Les Garriques Provencale honey, any one of the four gorgeous crocks of Bihophar organic honeys.

Saffron is a grand gift, too, and we have several sources from which we derive powerful and exotic saffron, the world’s most expensive spice. Plus, we love to give the famous gray sea salt, Sel Gris de Guerande by Le Paludier. Bearing its name-controlled designation, a means of protection for this coveted artisanal product, every flake and crystal was crafted from the sea here on the Brittany coast for many centuries using the same ancient technique and the same old rakes and seines. The coarse sel gris in the jute (burlap) sacks is the “wet” sea salt, each crystal impregnated with the immaculate essences of Brittany’s Atlantic Ocean, a means of bringing the sea to your table. The coveted “flower of the salt,” fleur de sel is made of the delicate flakes skimmed from the wind-blown and sun-thrashed top crust of the ancient craft of raking the sea until it yields its soul.

These are just a few of the fine food gifts that make Fairway the most exciting shopping experience you’ll have the entire holiday season. These are also the reasons your gift recipients will pay rapt attention when they notice a gift is coming from you.

TELL US: What’s your favorite food gift to get at Fairway?

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2 Responses to “Fairway’s Fine Food Holiday Gifts”

  1. Bob
    November 14, 2011 at 12:41 am #

    If I knew someone who was as passionate and discriminating and serious about olive oil as I am, it would have to be that. But I don’t.. So until I do, I will just have to be content with buying it as a favor for myself! And vintage vinegar would be a very close second.

  2. Christine Porretta
    December 17, 2011 at 3:09 am #

    Our online store Fairway Marketplace just launched! Check it out:

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