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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!

Local, Last-Minute Food Gifts

Courtesy of Iva Jean's Fudge

Does this sound familiar? One minute you’re raking autumn leaves, and the next thing you know Santa’s on your rooftop.

Yes, it’s the final countdown. Even worse, Christmas and Chanukah both fall on December 25, a Sunday this year. That means fewer days for shopping, schlepping – and shipping those gifts.

Never fear: Branded food products made here in Charlotte are easy to find at grocery and specialty food stores. Pop a few goodies into a basket and your tasteful gift is ready to give.

Start with aromatic Enderly Coffee for fresh beans roasted locally on Charlotte’s west side. Check out their coffee “subscription” plans, too. Then buy a little extra to keep yourself caffeinated for the final sprint to the gifting finish line.

Claire Putterman makes magic with her Modern Muffins. She devised a way to both reduce the calories and boost the flavor. Since the muffins contain no preservatives, you’ll need to freeze them if you plan to keep them more than a day or so – not that you’ll have any left over to worry about.

This is barbecue country, so recipients will be eager to savor the saucy flavors from Race City Sauce Works: especially Moonshine & Black Cherry, or 98 Octane with habanero and ghost peppers. Jalapeño-Tequila Mustard is a seasonal specialty worth seeking out.

The folks behind Dick Stevens Jerky Mix cleverly combined two iconic snacks, jerky and trail mix, into premium beef and turkey blends that promise the extra energy needed for active lifestyles. (For some of us, that means the act of assembling the gift basket.)

The “official” history of Gourmet Tomato Relish asserts that King Tut, Moses, and Thomas Jefferson were all fans. We can neither confirm nor deny these bold claims, but we did locate some tempting recipes to “relish,” using this tangy concoction, over on the Foothills Fancy Foods company homepage.

Waxhaw is just a stone’s throw from Charlotte, so we’re including Iva Jean’s Fudge, made in small batches, on our must-have list. Seasonal flavors change but luscious Lemon Meringue and captivating Cappuccino are two on the year-round roster.

Sometimes it seems as if a new brewery opens in the Queen City every week. Charlotte Beer will keep you informed on all the news about the best brews. If you’re unsure which to purchase, tap into your beer-lover’s dream by gifting him or her with tickets to the Queen City Brewers Festival, coming up in February 2017.

Need something stronger? Cocktail culture is booming. Check out the spirited offerings of whiskey, gin, and vodka from Doc Porter’s and the Great Wagon Road Distilling Company. Liquor stores in Charlotte stock Queen Charlotte’s Reserve Rum from Muddy River Distillery, just across the river in Belmont; check out their recipes, too.

These are just some suggestions to get you on your way. For more local products, visit one of the many farmers’ markets, boutiques, and other purveyors of local foods. We always find something new and delicious at the Mecklenburg County Market, Atherton Mill and Market, 7th Street Public Market, Earl’s Grocery, and Pasta and Provisions. (For this story, we visited Harris Teeter, Publix, Reid’s, and Mecklenburg County ABC stores. Some items are seasonal or have limited availability.)

As always, some of the most meaningful gifts are those we bestow on behalf of others. Don’t forget the organizations that feed our hungry neighbors all year long. These include Loaves and Fishes, Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina, as well as the many soup kitchens and pantries at local houses of worship.

Here’s wishing you happy – and tasty – holidays!