Thursday was the biggest eating day of the year, what with the mash-up of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah, so food likely is the last thing you want to think about right now when it comes to gift-giving. And yet, you should absolutely consider edibles, because unlike that Side Socket you received last year (and never plugged sideways into a wall to hide all of your electrical wires), food makes a great gift. Here are a few local offerings to consider:
1. Chances are, you have a beer nerd in your life who craves craft suds. Few things say Enormous, “Star Trek”-Sized Tampa Brew Geek more than wearing a T-shirt bearing the most sought-after local craft beer: Cigar City Brewing’s Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout. (Don’t ask. Just take our word.) Hundreds of thirsty disciples wait in line once a year for the limited-edition beer. You can buy the mustard yellow Hunahpu’s shirt for $20 at their Spruce Street tasting room as well as through their online store at cigarcitybrewing.com.
2. If you believe, as Reformation leader Martin Luther did, that “Beer is made by men, wine by God,” then you want only the best grapes to touch the taste buds of those you love. If you’re gonna go big, go for a bottle of 2005 vintage Chateau Mouton Rothschild Pauillac. Robert Parker of Wine Advocate gave the Bordeaux Cabernet Sauvignon a score of 96. We give it a credit score of “Oh my, goodness!” since each bottle runs about $1,095 at Bern’s Fine Wine & Spirits on South Howard Avenue in Tampa; (813) 250-9463.
3. You might have noticed, we’re almost surrounded by water. (Thank you, skyrocketing flood insurance rates!) The Yacht StarShip takes advantage of the picturesque aspects of our coastal environment by offering River of Lights Christmas Cruises throughout December (including Dec. 27 to 29). Not only does the lavishly festooned boat serve a delicious dinner buffet, it floats passengers up the Hillsborough River to see beautifully lighted bridges and the holiday decorations along Tampa Harbor. The cruise finishes with a visit from Santa, hot chocolate and holiday cookies. Prices, not including tax, port fee or gratuity: $49.95 for adults, $29.95 for children. For reservations: (813) 223-7999.
4. You shouldn’t want to give a scrumptious box of Toffee to Go because Oprah just named it one of her favorite things of 2013. But it can’t hurt the gifter to brag about such things when it comes to impressing a giftee. The Tampa snack maker sells assortments of milk chocolate, milk chocolate almond, dark chocolate pecan and white chocolate macadamia nut toffee in a variety of sizes. Gift boxes start at $10 for a small assortment. Available at toffeetogo.com as well as at their store at 3251 W. Bay to Bay Blvd., Tampa.
5. The premier food festival in the country is just a four-hour car ride south at the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival, which takes place Feb. 20 to 23 in Miami Beach. This annual spring break for chefs attracts every Food Network bigwig to swanky parties like The Q, which mixes barbecue and champagne on the sand a few hundred yards from the Atlantic Ocean. Food stars from Jose Andres to Andrew Zimmern will make appearances at dozens of food and booze-filled events. For info and tickets — they sell out fast! — go online to www.sobefest.com.