For the coffee lover: Aeropress
They love coffee. They want it now. Speed up the process so they can bring cafe-quality java with them anywhere with the Aeropress, a nifty little gadget that makes excellent coffee out of anything, be it top notch beans or cheap stuff. It retails for under $30, comes with a huge supply of filters, and all they’ll need to get going is coffee, some hot (not boiling) water and a cup. Make it a whole gift package with a bag of Maine roasted coffee, perhaps from Rock City, 44 North or Coffee By Design. Available on Amazon.com, at Macy’s or at Bed Bath & Beyond.
For the spice fiend: Gryffon Ridge Spices
They’ve got a flair for the exotic. They like Italian herbs, Middle Eastern spices, Chinese flavors. And they love to cook. Transform meat, veggies, stews or anything from “meh” to “holy moly” with spice and herb blends from Gryffon Ridge, a Dresden-based company that makes more than 100 varieties of rubs, blends, flavored salts and more. Most are priced between $5 and $10, and a little bit goes a long way. Available at Whole Foods Market in Portland, the Belfast Co-op, Barrels Community Market in Waterville, and online at gryffonridge.com.
For the foodie in the field: Squishy Bowls
Backpackers, campers and anyone who needs to bring dishware with them can find a new friend in Guyot’s Squishy Bowls, a foldable, bendable, durable silicone bowl made by a Maine company. It folds up into virtually nothing, so it can be packed into a backpack with almost no space used. A set that includes a bowl and a small cup retails for around $15 and is available at Eastern Mountain Sports, Cadillac Mountain Sports and online at either REI.com or Amazon.com.
For the sandwich master: Northwoods Gourmet Girl
Chances are, you know someone who’s a master of the sandwich. While the cheese or meat is crucial, it’s the condiment that can make or break a sandwich. Northwoods Gourmet Girl — aka Greenville’s Abby Freethy — makes homemade ketchups, chutneys, spreads, relishes and jams that’ll make you rethink condiments entirely. The Charred Onion Ketchup in particular is irresistible when you dip a grilled cheese in it. They retail for between $6 and $12 and are available online or at State Street Wine Cellar in Bangor, LeRoux Kitchen in Portland, State of Maine Cheese Co. in Rockport or Atlantic Brewing Co. in Bar Harbor.
For the soda fan: Moxie Jelly
Divisive though it may be, Moxie is still a uniquely Maine treat, and there are folks out there that love its unusual taste. Make a soda lovers’ day with some Moxie Jelly, made by Better Than Average, the Mechanic Falls-based company that makes all sorts of jams, jellies and preserves. Spread it on toast, or make a marinade for ribs with it. Moxie makes Mainers mighty, after all. Available in retail stores like Bow Street Market in Freeport, State of Maine Cheese Co. in Rockport, Pine Tree Market in Northeast Harbor, Java Junction in the Bangor Mall and online at betterthanaveragellc.com.
For the healthy imbiber: Urban Farm Fermentory Kombucha
For the person who likes Maine’s craft beer and spirits scene, but heavy alcoholic drinks just aren’t their thing, there’s Portland’s Urban Farm Fermentory. In addition to hard ciders, they also make kombucha, a tea with yeast and bacteria added to it to make a pleasantly sour, lightly sweet, very slightly — 1.5 percent — alcoholic treat. The verdict is still out on its health benefits, but tastewise it’s a win, especially for those who like tangy drinks. UFF makes five flavors — ginger, blueberry and oak, and chaga chai and chaga mint, made with the chaga mushroom. They mix well with cocktails, too. Available at co-ops and gourmet stores statewide.
For the devoted locavore: CSA subscription to Cheryl Wixson’s Kitchen
Want Maine foods year-round? Cheryl Wixson makes it easy with her community-supported agriculture program, which from November through April supplies you with a wide array of preserved and dry goods, all made with Maine food, such as wild blueberry and rhubarb jam, puttanesca pasta sauce, bread and butter pickles, maple mustard marinade, cake mixes and special treats such as Thai cucumber relish and bloody mary mix. A six-month subscription is $300, with pickup locations from Portland to Deer Isle; it can also be mailed, and individual products can be purchased at the Belfast and Blue Hill co-ops, Rebecca’s and Central Street Farmhouse in Bangor, John Edwards Market in Ellsworth or Rosemont Market in Portland.
For the Maine food experimenter: Maine-themed cookbooks
There are so many cookbooks out there, with so many different styles. For a sweet tooth, try Kate Shaffer’s “Desserted” from Down East Books, where she shows off recipes from Black Dinah Chocolatiers on Isle au Haut. A regular restaurant eater? Check out either of the “Fresh From Maine” books from Table Arts Media by Michael S. Sanders and Russell French, which feature recipes from the best eateries in the state. A farmer’s market fan? Elise Richer’s brand-new “Always in Season” from Islandport Press uses seasonal ingredients from Maine in its recipes. Check your local bookstore, or order online.
For the fashion forward foodie: Yo Momma’s Apron Strings
Jinger Howell makes aprons that are so cute and so original you’ll want to wear them outside the kitchen. Her one-woman company, Yo Momma’s Apron Strings, keeps things small and handmade, so she’s not accepting custom orders past Saturday, Dec. 7 — but she does have a number of standard designs available online at yomommasapronstrings.com or at the Fort Andross winter farmer’s market in Brunswick every Saturday morning. They retail for between $30 and $40.
For the home gardener: Back to the Roots Mushroom Kit
Growing season is long over, of course, but fear not: garden lovers can keep the homegrown goodies coming with the Back to the Roots Mushroom Kit, an all-in-one package that grows mushrooms in your home. Just open it up, spray it with water, and in as little as ten days you’ll have up to a pound and a half of oyster mushrooms to eat. It’ll grow at least two crops of it, too — it might be just the thing to get your kids to like mushrooms. The kit is $20 and is available online at backtotheroots.com, or in stores including The Rock & Art Shop in Bangor.