exceptional balsamic vinegar 12 days of shopping pragmaticmom.com

12 Days of Shopping: Quick Gifts Whole Foods/Foodie Stores (Day 11)

Gifts on the Run for Foodies

Capability:Mom and I are on the home stretch here both for our 12 Days of Shopping posts and for our own holiday shopping.  This post lands very close to Christmas and is meant to help you out if you need to dash to the store for one more present whether it’s a quick return gift from someone who unexpectedly gave you a gift or someone you accidentally left off your list.  Or maybe you are so efficient that you can do all your shopping in one fell swoop!

She is posting on gifts from Whole Foods and has some great ideas that I am cribbing for my own house including a fragrant cinnamon broom which I am going to buy for myself today!

We chose gifts that you can mad dash to the local fancy supermarket or ethnic market for a quick and unique present.  You might even need to make this pit stop anyway for your own holiday meal shopping  That’s even better:  killing two birds with one stone is what is all about this close to Christmas!

Formaggio Kitchen.  Unless you live in Cambridge, MA near Julia Child’s old digs, or in the South End of Boston, you won’t be able to mad dash to this exceptional cheese & gourmet food store but you probably have a cheese shop or gourmet shop near you.  I do urge you to check out their site for yourself after the holidays though!  They ship everywhere and are well known among the Slow Food foodies.

Gift ideas:  a tiny bottle of exceptional balsamic vinegar paired with a nice olive oil would make me happy.  We do an annual pilgrimage to South End Formaggio for these very items and they last us all year.  The bottle is so pretty that we save it to use for a bud vase.  You could store homemade salad dressing in it as well.

exceptional balsamic vinegar 12 days of shopping pragmaticmom.com We enjoyed this very bottle all year.  It’s $44 for 200 ml and it tastes like raisins.  It’s sweet and syrup-y and delicious dribbled over vine ripened tomatoes and mozzarella cheese with a bit of fresh basil strewn about (but removable for those kids who don’t like green stuff).

I like a grassy olive oil and this is what we’ve been using as our fancy olive oil, $35 for 500 ml:

fancy olive oil grassy formaggio kitchen 12 days of shopping mad dash gifts pragmaticmom.com

True Parmesan Cheese comes from one region in Italy (Emilia-Romagna).  I buy a chunk several times a year.  It’s delicious grated over pasta with a pat of butter and a sprinkle of Maldon sea salt.  This is my favorite lunch, and my little boy’s too!  Try the Parmigiano Reggiano Cravero Riserva (3 years aged, reserved) at  $28/pound.  The reason to buy cheese at Formaggio Kitchen is that they go through several tons a week.  Yep, you read that right.  TONS!  This means that when they slice open a huge wheel of cheese, it sells quickly so the cheese doesn’t dry out.  This cheese is so good, you can chuck it out and eat it out of hand.  That what my kids love to do.

parmigianno regianno cheese, pragmatic mom


I think anyone would be happy with a cheese sampler gift from these cheese experts.

All-nighter Sampler, $40After Dinner Cheese Sampler, $65

For anyone who wants to try cooking Mediterranean cuisine, a medley of hard-to-find spices would be a nice gift.  You can even pair it with a cookbook by Paula Wolfert, the expert in this field.  I like to experiment with Aleppo Pepper and Sumac.  I can buy these at a local bakery, Sofra, which has a small display of their own spice mixtures plus these.  You could also include fancy salt.  I am especially partial to Maldon sea salt, $7, which is flakey and delicious and much touted by Nigella Lawson to the extent that she makes a full disclosure that she is not a paid to endorse it!  I can usually find Maldon sea salt at Whole Foods.

mediterranean cook book paula wolfert 12 days of shopping pragmaticmom.comMaldon sea salt, 12 days of shopping pragmaticmom.com
Sumac, 12 days of shopping pragmaticmom.comSumac, $5.50 for 2 ounces

Aleppo pepper, 12 days of shopping pragmaticmom.comAleppo Pepper, crushed, $5 for 5 ounces

To view any item more closely, please just click on image.

The 12 Days of Shopping

I will be posting The 12 Days of Shopping jointly with Capability:Mom. Please visit her blog to see the other half of each post.

Dec 1: Make Your Own Gifts GRANOLA, Amazing Granola from Nigella Lawson versus Amazing Granola Bars from The Barefoot Contessa

 Dec 2: Kids Make Gifts CRAFT (ModPodge versus Clove Fruit)

 Dec 3: Personalized Gifts (Fancy Address Stampers versus Pretty Papers Giveaway)

 Dec 4:  Father-in-Law/Dad and Mother-in-Law/Mom

 Dec 5Tutors/Teachers

 Dec 6High Tech/Low Tech

 Dec 7Hostess/Gifts That Give Back

 Dec 8: Sanitation Engineers, Mail Carriers, Hairdresser, Delivery People, Babysitter, Cleaning People, Dog Walker/Dog Trainer, etc. (a.k.a. who else did I forget?) and Emily Post’s Etiquette on this subject.

 Dec 9Husband, Me (Our Own Wacko List); Capability:Mom Husband/Wife

 Dec 10:  Dog/Cat

 Dec 11: Quick Gifts from Whole Foods versus Gourmet Food Store

 Dec 12: ‘Cause I Am So Together,  Last Minute Home Made Gifts:  Cookies & Personalized Holiday Tags

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Sofra? I think I see a visit in my near future! You have wonderful taste and I would love all of these items – Thanks!

  2. Tim

    Thanks for the post! I like your gift suggestions. San Giacomo balsamic is one of my favorites. The Cotta olive oil from 2010 harvest is on its way to us right now (worth waiting for). Happy Holidays to all!

    • Thanks for stopping by. I’m a huge fan of your store which reminds me … I need to stop by for more cheese! And the Cotta olive oil! Thanks for the heads up on its arrival. I will be by soon!

  3. Capability

    I love that vinegar, too, and I am overdue for a Formaggio visit-happy shopping!

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