As the local food movement takes off, Nashville has gained a holiday perk: More and more delightful edible gifts are being produced right here at home. Yes, some exceptional food gifts are being made in our hometown and home state (and we’ll include Kentucky, too, for good measure). I’m here to share some tips.
I’ll concentrate on recommending some non-sugary food gifts. (First, a quick reminder of some local candies you may already have on your list: Olive and Sinclair chocolates; Goo Goo Clusters; Bang Candy Compa- ny’s marshmallows and exotic syrups; Colt’s Chocolates, including the nutty caramel Bumble Bees; and two spectacular local toffee purveyors: Nashville Toffee Co. and Walker Creek Toffee.)
I’ve listed four categories of notable goodies, but the list is far from comprehensive. A visit to the Nashville Farmers’ Market, for example, will turn up many more terrific local products. But here goes:
Cheese, glorious cheese
If you made it to the Southern Artisan Cheese Festival last month, you know our region is turning into a big wheel on the cheese scene.
Tennessee’s Sequatchie Cove Farm, for example, won a top prize at the American Cheese Society’s confab this year. To help you find the cheesiest treats, Kathleen Cotter operates The Bloomy Rind, a storefront inside Porter Road Butcher (501 Gallatin Road in East Nashville; the cheese line is 429-9648, the butcher is 650-4440). Cotter and her team can help you pick out something special from their collection. Also, quite a few local cheeses, like the popular goat cheeses from Noble Springs, and the diverse line of cheeses from Kenny’s Farmhouse in Kentucky, are available at outlets like The Turnip Truck and Whole Foods.
Meat, glorious meat
You probably already know that a Tennessee gentleman named Allan Benton has conquered the culinary globe with his smoky bacon. You can purchase Benton’s bacon by the pound at Mitchell Delicatessen (1402 McGavock, 262-9862) and Lazzaroli Pasta (1314 Fifth Ave. N., 291-9922). Also, the aforementioned Porter Road Butcher has all manner of cured delights, including bacon, sausage and hot dogs, not to mention excellent fresh cuts for cooking a holiday feast.
Booze, glorious booze
Tennessee and Kentucky are fine places to buy sippin’ stuff, not just from the established brands, but also from newer Nashville folks like Corsair Distillery. Meanwhile, here are two newcomers: Belle Meade Bourbon (which is being made in Kentucky, but under the auspices of the two Nashville brothers reviving the Green Brier Distillery brand) and Whisper Creek Tennessee Sippin’ Cream, a 40-proof liqueur made from Collier & McKeel Tennessee Whiskey combined with fresh cream and selected spices — a flavor profile developed with local chef Deb Paquette.
Spread the word
Nashvillians have been putting up fruit and other seasonal bounty in jars since the settlement’s early days. Today, two local artisan brands come to mind: Perl Catering and Bathtub Gin. The latter is owned by sisters who combine organic fruit and the grown-up flavors of spirits in a delectable mélange (Strawberry Limoncello jam, for example). Perl, in addition to catering, sells terrific condiments like Balsamic Onion Marmalade, and they’re poised to open a cafe and shop in Bellevue (7114 Highway 70S, Suite 109) as early as next week.
• Finally, I offer a shopping venue worth a visit for all kinds of clever local arts-and-crafts wares: the annual Porter Flea Holiday Market. Bathtub Gin is one of 60-plus artisans who will appear at the market. But here’s the best part: It’s also a food-truck roundup. Browse the gifties, then dine at roster of trucks that includes Riff’s Fine Street Foods, Yayo’s OMG, Wrapper’s Delight, DegThai, Pizza Buds, The Waffle Boss and Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. Porter Flea is 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Dec. 1 at Marathon Music Works.