Christmas is next week and you’re in a bind. You still have a few people to get gifts for but they’re notoriously hard to shop for. What to do?
Food to the rescue!
The plethora of gift baskets, snack boxes, cookie tins and edible arrangements that get passed out during the holiday season belies the importance food plays into our celebrations. Plus, who doesn’t like gourmet chocolates or high quality fruit?
Here’s a small selection of places in and around the Tri-Cities where you can buy gifts that may not pull the heart strings but will fill a stomach, which isn’t that bad of an alternative:
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Country Mercantile: Plenty of choices here for gifts, no matter the taste. The market sells a variety of gourmet foods, including preserves and jams, baking mixes and more. Then there’s its own gourmet chocolates and candy, from peanut brittle to truffles.
It’s also easy for many Tri-Citians to get to with the opening of the new Richland store on Ava Way on the south side of Badger Mountain. That store is offering holiday festivities on Saturdays and Sundays, including the opportunity to see Santa Claus, pick up a Christmas tree, visit a photo booth and train rides.
The store’s original location in north Pasco off Highway 395 carries the same array of products, though it is not offering seasonal activities.
Chukar Cherries: Prosser’s own purveyor of fine fruit and chocolate also has plenty to offer. Beyond its perennial selection of dried fruit, nuts and chocolates, Chukar Cherries has a number of gift baskets and boxes with its products ranging in price from $20 to $150.
Folks can either visit the store at the company’s headquarters at 320 Wine Country Road in Prosser or order items online at www.chukar.com.
Ariel Gourmet & Gifts: This shop in The Parkway shopping district in Richland is perhaps the best option of the three for a gift for your favorite cook. Sure, you can pick up regional wine, European food stuffs and items from local producers such as Chukar Cherries or Pasta Mama, which was first sold commercially at Ariel’s, but there are also quality ingredients such as sauces and a large array of cookware and kitchen gadgets, from silicone vegetable steamers to fine tea sets.
Plus, gift wrapping is complimentary for items purchased in the store.
Picking the right wine
Be it appetizers or lamb, something spicy or something sweet, Thomas Henick-Kling, director of Washington State University’s viticulture and enology program, has some suggestions for picking wine for your holiday meal.
For cheese and crackers, “port wines, fortified red wines and sweet Rieslings go nicely with basic appetizers,” Henick-Kling said in a news release.
For meat courses, whites and softer reds such as Rosé, Pinot Noir and Grenache work well with ham and other pork dishes. Go for a big red when it comes to lamb and beef, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah or Malbec or a blend of those choices.
Less traditional holiday meals such as Thai or Indian don’t work with reds but whites such as Sauvignon Blanc and Gewürztraminer are great. Sparkling wine works well with sushi.
And sparkling wines also go great with desserts, as do sweet Rieslings.
In case you’d like a wine made by WSU students to pair with your meal, several are available, including a Bordeaux-style red blend, a Syrah, a Barbera and two sparkling wines. They are available at the Pullman campus but also at the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center in Prosser or by contacting the WSU viticulture and enology program at 509-372-7224.