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Welcome to WFAEats — a fun adventure where we explore all things tasty and interesting in the Charlotte food scene. We want to share stories, recipes and culinary escapades and hear about yours!

In Good Taste: Keep It Local With Holiday Food Gifts

Tasty treats abound this time of year. So to help you with your holiday gifting, here are some suggestions for flavorful foods guaranteed to please.

New this year, 7th Street Public Market debuts “Holidays in the City.” Billed as a “market within a market,” it offers an expanded selection of seasonal items and runs through December 21st.

Atherton Mill and Market jam

Atherton Mill and Market will help you put together the perfect gourmet gift basket. Plan to attend Taste of the Market Tuesday on Dec. 17 from 3 to 7 pm; that’s when shoppers can sample a smorgasbord of locally-made goodies.

Mecklenburg County Market continues its legacy as N.C.’s oldest farmers’ market, operating since 1937; it currently features Beverly’s Gourmet Foods. Matthews Community Farmers’ Market remains open throughout the winter season, too, with Saturday-only hours 8 to 10 a.m., rain or shine.

Charlotte’s own Healthy Home Market (formerly the Home Economist) has an abundance of specialty food items you can buy in bulk. Check out their website for tips on giving a “green” party. Visit Savory Spice Shop for more than two dozen kinds of chili peppers to spice things up. 

Cheddar Pecan Wafers from Encore Catering

Cheddar pecan wafers and pecan brittle are ready to give in holiday tins from Encore Catering, whose proceeds support the Community Culinary School of Charlotte.

Courtney Paul creates luxury chocolate confections by hand with infused flavors like chipotle, wasabi, bananas and more. They come wrapped in an exclusive crown-design paper labeled with different neighborhoods in Charlotte.

Make no bones about it, dog lovers will devour canine-themed confections from Debbie’s Delights.

Pink Lady Cupcake truck, Southern Cake Queen

Love cupcakes? The Charlotte region boasts plenty of choices, but there’s only one “Pink Lady” mobile cupcake truck that travels through the area. That’s where you can grab-and-go, or order in advance from the Southern Cake Queen, who will arrange your pick up or delivery.

Think outside the cookie box and you’ll find giftable goodies in some unexpected places. Beadlush, known for its gorgeous jewelry and supplies, also offers locally-made vegan and gluten-free sweets. The Boulevard at South End stocks delectables – many under $10 – from lots of local vendors, too. Tucked inside Book Buyers, you’ll find The Greener Apple serving up some vegan goodies, including a smoky-bacon-flavored coconut for snacking.

If beer floats your boat, you can find enough of it locally to set sail. As the appreciation for microbreweries increases, so do the possibilities for gift giving. CharlotteBeer.com has great suggestions for aficionados.

Windy Hill cider from Windy Hill Orchard

Windy Hill Orchard, just down the road in York, S.C., is the first and only licensed and bonded cidery in the Piedmont of the Carolinas, producing hand-crafted hard ciders and upholding a commitment to sustainable agricultural practices.

Muddy River Distillery has tapped into its long awaited, barrel-aged Carolina Rum, Queen Charlotte’s Reserve. It’s perfect in a Dark and Stormy, or in a traditional Old Fashioned. Owners Caroline and Robbie Delaney distill, age, bottle, label and seal their products in an old textile mill on the side of the Catawba River in Belmont, N.C., where you can arrange a tour. And in the “spirit” of seasonal cheer, they share these convivial cocktail recipes:

Queen Charlotte’s Reserve Dark & Stormy:

In a tall glass, place 2 oz. Queen Charlotte’s Reserve rum, add 3 oz. Ginger Beer, and serve.

Credit Wikipedia
Old fashioned.

Queen Charlotte’s Reserve Old Fashioned:

In a rocks or old-fashioned glass, place 2 oz. Queen Charlotte’s Reserve rum. Add 2 dashes of bitters, 1/2 teaspoon of sugar, a splash of water or club soda, then garnish with an orange slice and a maraschino cherry. Add ice if desired and serve.

Whether you spend your season tippling or tee-totaling, heating up your kitchen or just chilling out with friends, we wish you every pleasure your palate desires. Happy holidays!

Amy Rogers is the author of Hungry for Home: Stories of Food from Across the Carolinas and Red Pepper Fudge and Blue Ribbon Biscuits. Her writing has also been featured in Cornbread Nation 1: The Best of Southern Food Writing, the Oxford American, and the Charlotte Observer. She is founding publisher of the award-winning Novello Festival Press. She received a Creative Artist Fellowship from the Arts and Science Council, and was the first person to receive the award for non-fiction writing. Her reporting has also won multiple awards from the N.C. Working Press Association. She has been Writer in Residence at the Wildacres Center, and a program presenter at dozens of events, festivals, arts centers, schools, and other venues. Amy Rogers considers herself “Southern by choice,” and is a food and culture commentator for NPR station WFAE.