Local Gifts to Make the Host Happy
(1) We’ve been big fans of architect-slash-candymaker Stephanie Williams’ fleur de sel caramels ever since she started making them last year. And lucky for all of us, she’s got some knockout seasonal flavors now too: Citrus Spice—reminiscent of traditional Italian panettone—and Bourbon + Vanilla, which “is like classic caramel on steroids.”
$3.99 for a four-piece bag and $8.99 for a four-ounce box at Blenheim Vineyards, Feast, JM Stock Provisions, and Sweethaus in Albemarle/Charlottesville; Harriet’s General in Culpeper; and the Market at Grelen and Stonefire Station in Orange County.
(2) It’s almost as if Laura Brooke Allen was destined to be a baker of Scottish shortbread. When her Scottish grandmother immigrated to Massachusetts, she started her own shortbread business and named it after a 3-year-old Allen. Fast forward a few decades, and Allen has launched her very own enterprise—Allens' Shortbread Company, in Charlottesville—using the same 100-year-old-plus recipe that Grandma used. “We like to do it like the Brits do,” says Allen, “and make it a part of the daily ritual.”
$2 for two pieces at C’ville Coff ee or $8.50 for eight pieces at allensscottishshortbread.com.
(3) Whenever we order a cake in the mail as a gift, we worry it’s not going to be as stunning as it is in the photo. But this Shenandoah Valley apple cake from Red Truck Bakery in Warrenton arrived in our Charlottesville office looking as beautiful as ever (see for yourself here… purty, right?!). The Bundt-style cake includes a veritable hat trick of local apples: bits of the fruit, fresh-pressed cider, and applesauce are all mixed into the batter before baking.
$24 at Red Truck Bakery in Warrenton or redtruckbakery.com.
(4) For a home gardener in Central Virginia, perhaps nothing is as inspirational—and depressing—as seeing Thomas Jefferson’s remarkable garden at Monticello. Inspirational because, well, it’s downright gorgeous. And depressing because, well, it’s downright gorgeous (why can’t ours look like that?!). Pure inspiration, Peter Hatch’s captivating A Rich Spot of Earth: Thomas Jefferson’s Revolutionary Garden at Monticello is now being sold in a quite-affordable paperback edition.
$27.50 at the Monticello gift shop and other local bookstores.
(5) It’s hard to get more evocative of our state than with a can of these big ol’ Virginia peanuts— both a geographical identifier and the actual name of this variety of goober. Particularly large, crunchy, and flavorful, the Virginia peanut likes to grow in sandy soil, which is exactly what they have in flat Southampton County, homebase for the Hubs company, which has been using the same nutty recipes for about 50 years.
$7.95 for a 12-ounce can at the Virginia Shop in Charlottesville and thevashop.net.