Firsthand Foodies 2021 Gift Guide

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Eating local is so integral to our mission that it’s built right into our company’s name. “Firsthand” means “coming from the original source,” and that’s exactly where our pasture-raised meats come from—straight from the hands of North Carolina farmers. We believe passionately in sourcing meat locally as a means of building a more sustainable and eco-friendly food system. For the Firsthand Foods team, that belief extends beyond meat to all of the other foods in our pantries and refrigerators: produce, coffee, baked goods, sweet treats, and more. It’s not just local, sustainable sourcing we stand behind, it’s the people who make these products, too: our fellow foodie neighbors.

So, this holiday season, the Firsthand Foods team put together a list of our very favorite foodie gift items, all of them sourced right here in North Carolina. There’s something on this list for every one of your favorite foodies!

Lusty Monk Mustard Gift Box

Based in Asheville, the Lusty Monk Mustard crew makes some of the best mustards we’ve ever had the pleasure to enjoy.

This delicious and delightfully irreverent gift set is perfect for the gourmand in your life, as it comes with all three of Lusty Monk’s signature flavors: “Original Sin,” “Burn in Hell” Chipotle, and “Temptation” Honey Mustard. It also includes a “Spread the Lust” bumper sticker and two mini-bags of pretzels so the giftee can dig right in. Shipping is included in the price!

Pair Lusty Monk Mustards with Firsthand Foods Bratwurst for savory flavors with a saucy kick!

Visit Lusty Monk

Heath’s Cheese Straws Gift Tin by Ritchie Hill Bakery

The folks at Ritchie Hill Bakery in Concord, North Carolina take the Southern cheese straw tradition to a whole new level. Their secret family recipe has passed from generation to generation for over 100 years!

The original recipe Heath’s Cheddar Cheese Straw Gift Tin includes approximately 16 dozen, two-inch traditional Southern cheese straws. The cheese straws are carefully nestled in a reusable silver gift tin and tied with a lovely ribbon. 

Pair Heath’s cheese straws with a smokey sausage like Firsthand Foods Kielbasa for a crowd-pleasing appetizer tray.

The Joe Van Gogh Cheer Box

If you live in the Triangle and haven’t yet visited Joe Van Gogh, it’s time to meet your favorite cup of coffee. They opened their first coffeehouse in 1991 and have expanded to include four café locations, a full menu of breakfast items, and their own locally-roasted blends.

The Joe Van Gogh Cheer Box really is a box of cheerful goodness: two 6oz bags of Home for the Holidays blend, and two Twenty-Four Blackbirds single-origin chocolate covered espresso beans. All of this is packed in a beautiful printed wooden box.

Pair with Firsthand Foods Canadian Bacon or Pinky Links (+ a few fluffy biscuits & scrambled eggs!) for the perfect breakfast. 

The NC Good Food Awards Collection by Boxcarr Cheese

Siblings and Boxcarr Co-Founders Samantha & Austin Genke opened Boxcarr Farms in 2009 with the dream of working together to turn “their slice of Southern red clay” in Cedar Grove, North Carolina into something “wonderful, meaningful, and delicious.” We think they’ve succeeded! Their handmade cheese is—in a word—divine.

This collection of North Carolina Good Food Award winners includes Accidental Baker Sea Salt Crackers, Fiddlehead Farm Roasted Strawberry Preserves, & three handmade Boxcarr cheeses: Rocket’s Robiola, Campo, & Cottonseed.

Pair any flavor of Boxcarr with our City Ham for the ultimate ham & cheese sandwich. 

Videri’s Evergreen Holiday Gift Box

The Triangle is pretty lucky to have its own “bean to bar” chocolate factory right in downtown Raleigh. Every Videri chocolate is a handcrafted, artisan delight. Even better, their factory is peanut and tree nut free (great news for folks with food allergies!).

The beautiful Evergreen Gift Box includes a 6 oz Hot Chocolate Mix, a 70% Classic Dark Chocolate Bar, a 70% Sea Salt Dark Chocolate Bar, a 70% Dark Chocolate Peppermint Bar, a 55% Dark Milk Chocolate Bar, and Videri’s seasonal 8pc Jinglebell Caramels. Give this to the most hard-to-please person on your list, because it’s impossible not to be delighted by this gift!

If you’d like to pair this with a Firsthand Foods product, we’ll offer the simple reminder that pretty much everything goes well with bacon

Vivian Howard’s This Will Make It Taste Good

Vivian Howard of Deep Run, North Carolina has earned a whole host of foodie accolades: award-winning cookbook author, tv personality, chef, and restaurateur. Kinston’s Chef & The Farmer is one of her restaurants, and the experience of dining there is well worth the drive from the Triangle.

Of her most recent cookbook, Howard says, “I wrote This Will Make It Taste Good to inspire you, and I promise it will change the way you cook, the way you think about what’s in your fridge, the way you see yourself in an apron.” The recipes are simple but deeply flavorful. It’s a Firsthand Foods team favorite for go-to recipes. The cookbook is available at Durham’s Regulator bookshop (in-store or through easy online ordering, link below!).

Grab a Firsthand Foods Pork Shoulder and whip up some Cheaters Only BBQ Pork (recipe included in the book!)—all the flavor of Eastern NC BBQ without the effort of cooking a whole hog. 

Spicewalla 6 Pack Grill & Roast Collection

Asheville’s Meherwan Irani, James Beard nominated chef and restauranteur, is the founder of this fresh, small batch, hand processed spice company. Their flavor combinations are chef-driven and chef-trusted.

The Grill & Roast six-pack collection takes the guesswork out of marinades, rubs, and seasonings. From pork chops and grilled chicken to cauliflower steaks and grilled zucchini, this collection is ideal for that backyard chef who just can’t get enough time at the grill.

These spices pair beautifully with any of our pork, beef, or lamb products. Try the Carolina Pork Rub with our pork shoulder!

Michael’s English Muffins

Michael Annabelle Comisar, head baker and owner of Michael’s English Muffins, was inspired to start her business by her late father, a successful restauranteur. The flagship store in Raleigh boasts a simple but scrumptious menu of English Muffins, English Muffin sandwiches, and coffee. The English Muffins can also be found at farmers’ markets throughout the Triangle.

Comisar’s father’s motto (“attention to detail!”) helped her to create an English muffin recipe that is, frankly, out of this world. The Sweet Potato Cinnamon variety is to die for, and we highly recommend sending a few packages of them to friends near and far. These also make great host & hostess gifts!

Pair with our Country Breakfast Sausage Patties for a truly amazing breakfast sandwich. 

Crude Bitters Sample Set

Raleigh’s Crude Bitters concocts cocktail bitters and shrub syrup concentrates in small batches from 100% maceration in organic, non-GMO alcohol, with no glycerin, chemicals, or dyes. Glass pots or wood barrels are used exclusively in the storage and aging of their products.

This sample set contains five half-ounce bottles of Crude’s most popular bitters: “Rizzo” (rosemary, grapefruit, peppercorn),”Big Bear” (coffee and cocoa), “Bitterless Marriage” (hibiscus, lavender, oak), “Lindsay” (pecan, magnolia, habanero), and “Attawanhood 37” (cherry, clove, cinnamon).

Make one of the cocktails from the recipes included in the sample set and pair it with a nice steak!

Bee Charmer Six Pack Sampler

Asheville’s woman-owned Bee Charmer was “born out of a passion for honey, a curiosity for bees, a love of cooking, and a yearning for connection to community.” Owners Jillian and Kim aren’t just purveyors of honey, they’re also passionate about honey bee habitat protection.

This Bee Charmer Six Pack Sampler (six three-ounce jars) allows you to personalize your gift by selecting six flavors from a list of more than a dozen, including traditional Appalachian Sourwood and Ghost Pepper Infused!

If all you want to do is eat this honey straight out of the jar, we get it. But if you want to get creative with it, try our Honey Glazed Petite City Ham recipe!

Lindley Mills Breakfast Bundle

Lindley Mills is a 10th generation organic specialty flour mill and mix manufacturer based in Graham, North Carolina. They serve bakers, processors, distributors, and restaurants nation wide. Their flours are preferred by many professional bakers.
This fun Breakfast Bundle includes a Stoneground Organic Grits, Super Sprout™ Sprouted Pancakes, and Oat Bran Muffin Mix (they suggest adding orange juice, orange zest, and chocolate chips!) + a Lindley Mills tote.

Whip up a pot of cheddar grits and pair it with Firsthand Foods Country Breakfast Sausage!

Tonya’s Cookie Sampler

Tonya’s Cookies are made with love by third-generation baker Tonya Council in Chapel Hill. Tonya’s first baking inspiration was  trying to make a cookie that tasted like her grandmother’s pecan pies.

This sampler of one dozen cookies includes all of Tonya’s best recipes: Cranberry White Chocolate, Peanut Butter Cookie, Oatmeal Raisin, White Chocolate Macadamia, and Chocolate Chip. No one will be sad to open this gift tin. We promise.

Put these babies on a plate with eggs & bacon and call it breakfast!

Fair Game Flying Pepper Pickled Okra

Fair Game Beverage Co. is a producer of small batch, handcrafted spirits and a purveyor of North Carolina specialty food products. You can shop and sample their spirits & ciders in their tasting room in the Chatham Beverage District, at the end of Lorax Lane in Pittsboro.

Fair Game’s Flying Pepper Pickled Okra is produced by Andrea Davis at Valley Brook Farms in Durham. Not everyone loves pickled okra, but those who do really, really love it (and are probably big fans of traditional Southern cooking, too!).
Pair this pickled okra with a delicious pasture-raised pork chop.

In-Person Shopping Options

We love that all of our Firsthand Foodie Gift Guide picks have easy online ordering options, but if in-person shopping is more your jam, many of these items are available at brick and mortar locations throughout the Triangle.

Bulldega, LocoPops Sundry, Durham Coop Market, and Weaver Street Market carry many of the products above (they also carry our meats!). You can also find some of these local goods at their own retail locations, including Joe Van Gogh (in Durham, Chapel Hill, and Raleigh), Videri (you can tour their chocolate factory in Raleigh!), Tonya’s Cookies (Chapel Hill), Bee Charmer (Asheville), and Michael’s English Muffins (Raleigh).
However you do your holiday shopping, keep it festive, and keep it local!