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The 2021 Eater Portland Holiday Gift Guide

Sambal, skin-contact wine, and other gifts guaranteed to delight anyone who’s from — or just loves — Portland

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Brooke Jackson-Glidden is the editor of Eater Portland.

Portland is a city that has, for years, celebrated the holidays with food and beverage: People give each other ribbon-wrapped bottles of Willamette Valley wine, gift boxes full of Oregon-made charcuterie, cookbooks written by Portland chefs. It’s a city with a number of craftspeople who make their own knives, fermentation crocks, or cast iron; Portland servers, decked out in Portland-sewn aprons, set tables with Oregon-made ceramics and glassware. The whole hyper-local thing isn’t an act; it’s just how Portlanders do things.

So perhaps a food-themed Portland gift guide is redundant — we’re all familiar with the tried-and-true standbys like Cloudforest chocolates, Westward single-malt, and bottles of Nong’s Khao Man Gai sauce. Eater Portland has written a number of them in the past, including guides for restaurant merch, cookbooks, or even ideas from other chefs. But here, we’ve compiled both the crowd-pleasers and the under-the-radar hits for any food-loving Portlander in your life — or, better yet, for those epicureans out of town who can’t find Straightaway cocktails in the local liquor store. Scroll below to get a few ideas ahead of the gift-giving season, from edible presents to kitchen tools meant to last decades.

Steelport chef’s knife on a cutting board, sitting next to produce. Polara Studio

Steelport Chef’s Knife

Portland, as a city that loves both hand-made crafts and food, is home to a number of fantastic bladesmiths and knife shops, but Steelport draws crowds in thanks to its Oregon big leaf maple handle, comfortable hold, and sturdy, wear-resistant blade. Plus, as an eight-inch knife, it’s nimble but big enough to handle simple kitchen butchery.

A woman stands in a denim work apron with pockets. Kiriko [Official]

Kiriko Japanese Selvedge Denim Work Apron

This Portland-based company is known for its Japanese textile aprons and kimonos, but this heavy-duty denim work apron is ideal for the home cooks looking for more than the typical lightweight kitchen apron: It has several pockets for cell phones, labeling Sharpies, or mid-cooking snacks, with removable leather straps that make it easy to machine wash. The apron is made with U.S. denim and hand-sewn in Portland.

A woman in overalls holds two small ceramic cups, white and brown with light speckles. Wolf Ceramics [Official]

Wolf Ceramics Tiny Cups

Beloved by Portland chefs, Wolf Ceramics serving plates and dinnerware can be spotted at a number of local restaurants and cafes, from Piccone’s Corner to Bar West. These two-piece sets of five-ounce cups have a multitude of uses: They’re great for strong cups of chai or even spirits; they can hold jams, dips, and spreads at dinner parties; and they are just the right size for seasoning salts or sugar. All of Wolf Ceramics’s cups, bowls, and mugs are hand-thrown at the company’s Northwest Portland or Hood River studios.

Orox [Official]

Orox Wine Caddy

Instead of getting the wine aficionado in your life a bottle of wine (“Wine for the holidays? Groundbreaking.”), opt for this fashionable, waxed canvas wine caddy, which comes with its own little wine key holster. If you’re feeling bold, you can even load it up with a few bottles.

Green crew-neck sweater from Deadstock Deadstock [Official]

Deadstock Farmer’s Market Crewneck Sweatshirt

The Portland restaurant, bar, and cafe merch options are relatively endless, but when looking for cool and unique apparel, coffee roaster and cafe Deadstock is an obvious choice. Owner Ian Williams worked for Nike as a footwear developer, so his taste and creative eye for merch is unparalleled; Deadstock’s clothing line includes everything from windbreakers (it’s Portland, after all) to hockey jerseys. This crewneck sweatshirt, however, gives off serious ‘90s cafe vibes, adding to its overall cozy factor. Upgrade the gift with a bag of coffee, while you’re at it.

A whole chicken sits on a wooden cutting board next to galangal, cucumbers, cilantro, ginger, garlic, winter melon, rice, and a bottle of Nong’s Khao Man Gai sauce. Nong’s Khao Man Gai [Official]

Nong’s Khao Man Gai Chicken & Rice Meal Kit

Tired: Giving someone a bottle of Nong’s sauce for the holidays. Wired: Getting someone a Nong’s hoodie for the holidays. Inspired: Getting someone a full-blown chicken and rice meal kit, complete with a whole Mary’s chicken, rice, prepped spices and aromatics, a full bottle of Nong’s sauce, the pre-made stock, and all the customary accoutrement. The full kit is $60, but learning how to make Nong’s eponymous khao man gai is priceless. Bad news for you out-of-towners: This kit is only available for local pickup and delivery.

Wellspent Market [Official]

Wellspent Market’s ‘Portland Made’ Box

Consider this gift package a beginner’s tour through Portland’s pantry. Some of the city’s greatest hits appear in this package, including Nong’s gingery khao man gai sauce, Oregon hazelnuts, Jacobsen salt harvested in Netarts Bay, and an array of distinct hot sauces. Even the New Mexican chiles are roasted in the Portland area.

Cloudforest [Official]

Cloudforest Magic Spread

We love the expertly made chocolates from Cloudforest chocolatier Sebastian Cisneros, but the brand’s “magic spread” will impress both the single-origin chocolate snobs and those simply harboring a serious sweet tooth. Think of it as God-tier Nutella: Oregon hazelnuts, Ecuadorian cacao, with dates and vanilla for sweetness. It’s fruity, creamy, and gluten- and dairy-free.

A sambal gift set from Sibeiho, which includes three jars of Boomz, AF Chili Chunka, and OMG! sambals Sibeiho [Official]

Sibeiho Sambal

Singaporean expats Holly Ong and Pat Lau originally started Sibeiho as a supper club, but over the course of the pandemic, they started selling jars of their gently spicy, garlicky sambals, which have a variety of uses: The Boomz sambal pairs a hit of shrimp with sweet caramelized onions, great as a finishing touch on breakfast dishes, while the OMG, with its laundry list of alliums, is best stirred into soups or stir-fries. All three are based on family recipes with organic ingredients.

A triangle of sauces come with labels that read “HAB Sauce” HAB Sauce [Official]

HAB Spicy Sweet Soy Sauce

There are a number of buzzy Portland-made hot sauces — Marshall’s Haute Sauce, Secret Aardvark — that make it very hard to go wrong when picking out a bottle for a friend. While HAB Sauce hasn’t developed quite the ubiquity of others, that wave is probably about to rise. This particular sauce from the brand is distinctive and hard to replicate, with a flavor profile landing somewhere between Marie Sharp’s, sriracha, and kecap manis. It has serious spice for heat-seekers, but a lingering sweetness and umami that sets it apart from the rest.

A brown bag labeled “Zolfini Ayers Creek Farm Dry Beans” Wellspent Market [Official]

Ayers Creek Farm Zolfini Beans

Sure, you could go the Rancho Gordo route, but when it comes to Oregon-grown heirloom beans — and grains, fruit, and chiles, for that matter — Portland chefs all flock to this Gaston-area farm, name-dropping Ayers Creek polenta or Borlotto beans on menus. We like the farm’s Zolfini beans: creamy and small, they retain their structural integrity whether they land in a salad or soup, or simply dressed in olive oil and salt.

A lineup of olive oils from Durant Karlee Sisler Flores

Durant Olive Oil

Beyond the expected pinot noir grapes, Willamette Valley estate Durant Vineyards also grows rows and rows of olive trees, which the staff pick clean to press for oil. These olive oils range from olio nuovo, or fresh-pressed oils that taste as close to the grove as possible, to pristine extra-virgin Arbequina, with nutty, grassy notes great for salads. For those new to Durant, the extra virgin gift set is a nice sampler of what the estate has to offer.

Aesthete [Official]

Aesthete Tea’s La Vie En Rose

Briana Thornton collaborated with Willamette Valley winery Suzor Wines to develop this sweet, floral tea, a simple blend of rose petals, caraway, fennel, and tulsi. It’s gorgeous to watch steep, and the fennel and caraway add a nice savory touch to the holy basil and rose.

Straightaway’s holiday classic host set, which comes with six bottled cocktails in a white box Straightaway [Official]

Holiday Classic Host Set from Straightaway Cocktails

Based in Southeast Portland, Straightaway Cocktails mixes pre-batched cocktails for home bars, beyond standards like canned gin-and-tonics. Instead, Straightaway’s drinks, in many cases, are one-of-a-kind: an Old Fashioned made with the company’s own fir and hazelnut bitters, a citrusy gin cocktail with Filipino roots known as a lintik, a negroni made with not only Straightaway’s own vermouth, but its take on Campari. The host set gives newbies an opportunity to find their favorite before investing in a full-sized bottle.

A tea box comes with a strainer and two bags of Indian beverage starters, namely haldi and chai One Stripe Chai [Official]

At Home Blends Collection from One Stripe Chai

When sipping chai in Indian or Nepalese restaurants, the drink is often a far cry from the chai lattes spotted on cafe menus: Often sold in short cups, the drink is creamy, sweet, and very strong. One Stripe Chai founder Farah Jesani makes a peppery, green-cardamom-laden masala chai with instructions for those with little experience making this style of chai. The company’s At Home Blends collection pairs the masala chai with an earthy haldi base, made with ethically sourced turmeric.

A bottle of 2020 Heavy Water, which is decorated with a blue-and-red abstract design. Cutter Cascadia [Official]

Cutter Cascadia 2020 Heavy Water

When visiting other parts of the country, “Oregon wine” still generally means pinot noir; our new-wave of winemakers making things like müller thurgau and tannat are harder to find in bottle shops outside of the state. So instead of sending a bottle of Willamette Valley pinot to the East Coast family, opt for this Columbia Valley riesling with a trippy label and a cult following. This skin contact riesling relies on grapes grown in the Dalles, which lies on the border between the lush section of the Columbia River Gorge and the more arid side heading toward Eastern Oregon. The resulting wine is juicy and well-structured, fun for both wine nerds and casual drinkers.

A woman in a mask sets out bags of coffee, sauces, and bread on a table at Equitable Giving Circle’s Northeast Portland offices.
Equitable Giving Circle Executive Director AJ McCreary replenishes food supplies at the Thursday food pantry.
Molly J. Smith/EPDX

Donation to Equitable Giving Circle

This organization started with a cool idea: Buy food from BIPOC-owned farms and distribute that food for free to residents within the BIPOC community. It has since grown into a much larger reparations organization, providing care packages, plants, classes, and free events to the community at large. Those interested can donate to a specific program (like the CSA program), or to the overarching operational costs for the organization.

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