Charm-i-days idea #1: Zingerman’s treats

Try some sugar and spice. And by that I mean from brown muscovado sugar from Mauritius and smoked paprika from Spain.

The charming Zingerman's bread lady

Mmm ... Zingerman's bread

Holiday food gifts have moved so far beyond fruitcake that even fruitcake is going to be trendy again one day. If anyone on your list has a sophisticated palate and likes to dabble in a kitchen now and then, head straight to Zingerman’s online store. Acclaimed by everyone from Mario Batali to Jeffrey Steingarten, this Michigan food shop and deli makes amazing breads and desserts and is a trustworthy source for all kinds of other goodies.

Just pick and choose based on the taste of whichever lucky person you have in mind – even with a selection of random items, you can’t go wrong. How about some light muscovado sugar and a tin of smoked paprika that magically transforms soups and meats? Or a bottle of aged balsamic vinegar and a jar of wild Italian cherries? Throw in a jar of licorice jam or a chocolate-hazelnut spread that leaves Nutella in the cocoa dust.

The breads you can order online come with instructions for reheating, and I recommend starting with either the chocolate sourdough or the paesano loaf. Zingerman’s also offers gift baskets and unusual clubs, like bacon of the month or the rare olive oil club. I could go on and on, but it’s much more fun to just go look at their site.

The economy being what it is, culinary delights seem like more of an indulgence than ever – and a comforting one at that.

Brown sugar from Mauritius, $4
Pimenton de la Vera Paprika – dulce, $7
Hazelnut & chocolate spread, $22
Licorice Jam, $17.00
So many more delights, prices vary

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