On Dec. 14, Love Apple Farms is offering a workshop on making chocolate truffles for holiday gift-giving.
Growing, Making, Giving: A serious bumper crop of holiday ideas are sprouting (sorry, I can't help it) up at Love Apple Farms, starting with 2014 gift certificates for classes of all kinds—25% off! So if the foodie on your gift list is interested in herb gardening, bee-keeping, jam-making, tomato growing—to name but a few of the special workshop areas available up at this renowned farm—you may purchase a gift certificate at a great price until Dec. 25. Go check the Love Apple Farmsclass schedules, and then order your gift certificate. And if you enjoy making your own specialty food gifts, you will want to hurry and sign up for the Dec. 14 Chocolate Truffles for Gift Giving workshop. First is an introduction to chocolate, and then you'll learn how to make the perfect ganache filling, some using liqueurs, herbs and nuts. After learning the basic techniques for four distinct truffles, you'll be taught how to expand this repertoire with your own variations. Grand Marnier Truffle with Candied Orange Zest—yes, that sounds like my kind of truffle. And it's only one of the four basic varieties you'll learn to make. Can you imagine how blown away your recipients will be when you gift them with a box of chocolate truffles, truly beautiful designer chocolates, that you have made with your own two hands? Yes, you can do this at home (once you've taken this class led by professional pastry chef Maggie Cattell). Again, this Truffle Making class happens onSaturday, Dec. 14, noon-4pm ($89).
More Holiday Cookies: Time for mulled wine, fresh walnuts and mandarines, tart and juicy and somehow sweet all at once. Holiday gifts are waiting to be plucked from the shelves and display cases of our favorite retail shops, wine merchants and bakeries. For example, while grabbing a few of those irresistible Gayle's olive francese rolls for dinner last week, I spotted beautiful cookie gift boxes ($15.95), gold-foiled, wrapped with a silvery bow and filled with three colorful varieties of Gayle's beautiful holiday cookie classics: butterstars, checkerboards and fudge crackles. A gift for just about anyone with taste buds. Treat your office mates, or your yoga instructor, or your favorite aunt.
EcoFarm: It's not too early to make plans for the 33rd annual gathering of movers and shakers in the sustainable food landscape. EcoFarm Conference will be held Jan. 22-25 on the Asilomar Conference Grounds, loaded with practical, informative and inspirational workshops about every tier of growing, marketing, strategizing and policy-making involved in the organic and ecological farming world. Jim Leap, former head of the UCSC AgroEcology Farm, will offer two workshops during the action-packed program. And Jesse Cool of Flea Street Cafe will team up with Carlos Canada for some tasty organo-cuisine. Check it out at www.eco-farm.org—then plan to be there!
Wines of the Season, Part 3: Birichino's Muscat Canelli,packaged in a slender elegant bottle, offers wintry perfume of honey and apricots. For after-holiday dinners, this 13% alcohol dessert wine is perfection. It also makes an apt hostess gift and, yes, undoubtedly, an excellent stocking stuffer ($18). . . Congratulations to Richard Alfaro, “excited and honored” that the 2011 Alfaro Family Lester Family Vineyards at Deer Park Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noirwas picked one of the SF Chronicle's “Top Wines of 2013.” It’s made from Corralitos grapes expertly managed by the illustrious Prudy Foxx. A gift for that special connoisseur?