Look, I’m sure the last place any of you wants to be this weekend is Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods or any grocery store anywhere near anyone else who might be shopping for their holiday meal. I understand. So I’ve compiled a list of a few off-the-beaten-path food shops where you can put together an amazing gift basket for the hard-to-shop-for Gourmand in your life.
Papa Cristos, aka C&K Importing @ Normandie and Pico. This is my favorite store in LA. Also my favorite restaurant. In fact, it would be really nice if you would buy this one for ME. They have everything from amazing prepared foods (best Spanikopita ever) to meats and olives and cheeses to canned goods, olive oils, and wines. My top pick: Roditas wine, which is a pinkish table wine and best for drinking in the hot sun (they don’t always have any in stock but it is worth it if you can find it).
California Market @ 5th and Western. You could make a gift of just the weird desserts, starting with Pocky and working your way down the aisle to the funny packages with no English anywhere on them. For a more adventurous foodie, you could pick up a selection of Kim Chee. Yum!
China Town or Little Tokyo. I don’t know specific stores, but you could really go crazy with a sushi-making kit, silk pajamas and slippers, Hello Kitty items… your only hindrance is your imagination.
O & Co. Am I crazy? The Grove is hardly out-of-the-way, I know. But if you can find parking at a meter on Beverly, you’ll be OK. And this olive oil specialty shop has some really divine gifties. I once bought a $36 can of olive oil and an $11 jar of sea salt. I couldn’t afford either one, and they were worth every penny. The salespeople seem to know what they’re talking about and are very friendly. Plus, you can taste everything.
If there’s nothing on this list that strikes your fancy, try Ellen Bloom’s list here. She has some great ideas!