Last weekend, Artisanal LA and Unique LA combined to give you the gift of convenient two-stop holiday shops: fancy and/or homey food stuffs for the foodie in your life; home-spun arts and crafts for the not-foodie in your life. Artisanal LA was a downgraded version of its fall version; Unique LA was a massive, overwhelming congregation of some 300 local vendors sprawled about the entire penthouse of the California Market Center. Navigating through both was half the fun, once you got past the overwhelming nature of it all. For those who didn’t make it out (womp womp), I had a few choice favorites – so long as you trust me, your shopping will be pretty much done by the time you reach the end of this post. And, because all of these gifts are from local vendors, you probably can find them somewhere in town or you might even be able to work out an arrangement where you order online and pick it up offline. Who needs the mall?
For the bacon lovers
I love bacon. Having said that, I’m waiting for the put-bacon-on-everything trend to end, and the put-bacon-on-things-that-actually-taste-good-with-bacon one to begin. Lucky for me, bacon belongs on bread pudding and in caramels.
Oh. My. Wow. Is the only thing I could say after tasting Creme Caramel‘s bacon bread pudding. The bread pudding itself is custardy without drowning in it; it’s bready without the dryness. Add the bacon, and you have an explosive smack of flavor and salt. Just, wow. I’m buying this right now. This may or may not be present for myself. Ok, it is.
Morning Glory Confections’ Bacon Fat Smoked Spanish Paprika and Fleur de Sel artisan caramel
I’m not a big fan of caramel generally, but these were delicious. Morning Glory Confections’ already flavorful, smooth caramel gets a subtle undertone of bacon (it is just the fat, after all), and the paprika and fleur de sel hold their own to round it all out. You think it’s too many mix-ins, but unlike my sister at YogurtLand, Morning Glory strikes a perfect balance between not enough and too much.
For the pie lovers: Crust by Stephanie Jayne‘s Missouri Butter Pie
Pie is the so-old-it’s-new trend that supposedly is making a comeback (as if it ever went away). My favorite pie at Artisanal LA: Crust by Stephanie Jayne‘s Missouri Butter Pie. It’s a take on the St. Louis gooey butter cake: with a crackling top, it’s a little gooey, a little sugary, a lot delicious. Stephanie also makes a variety of other pies inspired by Americana – your classic apple and pumpkin pies, for example – as well as distinct creations, like her campfire s’more pie and fleur de caramel tart. And, in what possibly is the best idea ever, she also sells slices of pie, so you don’t have to go to a crappy diner to just get a forkful.
For the cupcake lover: The Scootabaker’s Cupcakes
She delivers her baked goods via scooter, so she’s The Scootabaker, natch. At Unique LA, she offered mocha latte, triple strawberry, and almond green tea mini-cupcakes, as well as full-size lemonade cupcakes. Subtle flavors, moist cakes, balanced frosting – and people are stopping traffic outside Magnolia for what?
For the one who could use less Threadless: Urban Octopus’ t-shirts
Back in the old days and in the future, people put/will put messages, food, and other whatnots in canisters and sent/will send them to each other via pneumatic tubes. Today: not so much. Instead, the would-be tube traveling canisters house Urban Octopus‘ sweet graphic tees; as far as I know, hand or snail mail delivery are your only options.
For the biker: Beatrice Holiday Wheel Cute Couture
For those who would like to give a child an educational toy without resorting to American Girl: Kauzbots
Each of these Kauzbots symbolize a cause, and ten percent of the retail price of each Kauzbot sold is donated to the bot’s particular charity. Kalvin is the robot group’s leader, and he wants to teach kids about homelessness. Sure, big K’s not quite a professor in urban politics and the criminalization of poverty, but for a little kid, it’s an interesting way to start the dialogue.