Wednesday, December 3, 2008

galleria gifting

There’s a cool holiday store open just for the duration called " Tis the Season" at The Galleria downtown, on the Lower Level next to Crooked River Books (Monday - Friday 10:30 to 5:30). What makes it interesting to me is that everything is artisan produced, most are locally based businesses, and all have a culinary theme. The shelves are stocked with gourmet foods, wine, and unique accessories for kitchen and table.
Deby Cowdin has brought all these folks and their wares together. She’s the creative brains and kiln firing brawn- along with husband Scott- behind From the Blue Bag, a North Olmstead based company that collects bottles and turns them into functional fully tempered dishware. The name refers to the plastic bags commonly used for recycling. Each of her Grey Goose trays, Jagermeister dishes, or Disarono Liqueur platters (pictured here) equals less trash and more conservation of resources, making them gifts that are positively green as well as attractive, useful and out-of-the ordinary.

Among the products are jarred sauces from St Aubyn's Pride and Garden Vineyard Grove’s wine jellies. Both are women owned ventures and having personally tasted what they make, I can say that I would never give these to anyone as a present. That’s because the stuff is so good that no matter how generous my intentions, I’m sure I’d end up keeping all purchases for myself. Hopefully, there are others out there with a more generous spirit than mine. My favorite from St. Aubyn’s line is the caramelized balsamic onion chutney. Every single version of Garden Vineyard Grove jelly I’ve tried- and there are quite a few I have yet to dip into- is astonishing. But so far it’s a tie for most loved between Pinot Noir Smoked Cherry and Riesling Tarragon.

Other things you’ll find that are likely to generate some oohs, aahs and appreciation when unwrapped include trivets and serving trays crafted from wine corks by Herm Waltemate; bowls, martini and cocktail glasses, decanters, and utensils artfully decorated with beads and wire from Collectable Serving’s ; scented gel candles molded inside bottles that once held beer, wine, liquor, and condiments; hand painted aprons, maple cutting boards made from recycled wood, wine bottle lamps, toffee and specialty coffee. Although the general rule of thumb is don’t shop hungry, in this case it wouldn’t hurt to come feeling a bit peckish since store staff are offering samples every day.

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