A handful of imaginative Buffalonians help you navigate the holiday season’s last call…
Chef at The Black Sheep
If I was presenting a thoughtful gift to a friend, I would personally start with giving them a pork fat candle that we started making at the Sheep this year and a loaf of Ellen’s bread, but that’s legit a gift for the OGs in my life, more specifically my immediate family, maybe about five or so chefs I really respect, and my kitchen crew as well as a few bar ninjas who facilitate my functional alcoholism. For a bit out of the circle, something real thoughtful would be a cheesemaking class at my sister Jill’s cheese shop. I’ve never personally attended one, but I know Jill is very charismatic and everyone I know who has gone through that program sings praise about how they enjoyed the hands-on experience and knowledge that you receive from it.
Due to the nature of my profession, most of my suggestions are going to revolve around food and beverage. I walk it like I talk so…
437 Ellicott St. Buffalo / 716.342.2901
A great gift idea would also be to find out someone’s favorite restaurant, call, talk to the chef/owner, and set up an open date, personalized tasting menu, and get your people’s butt cheeks in those seats. Surprise! James Roberts from Toutant is rolling out some next-level Southern/ramen fusion that no one else can access because you had the wherewithal to give your friend(s) the gift of exclusivity. (Sorry, Jimmy Jam. Your boy Steve just put you on the spot. Because I know you love this shit.)
220 Lexington Ave. Buffalo / 716.551.6262
I also just went to Vera five minutes ago for the first time in many moons, and was reminded about their cocktail passport program. As far as I can understand it (please don’t take it as gospel, I just gassed down a bunch of rum), you put down $75 shmolelians, you get a book of 100 cocktails you are supposed to work through, a Vera pin to put on your acid-washed jean jacket or use as a pick for your man bun, possibly a chain repair piece for your fixie…but I digress. Monday and Tuesday, all of the cocktails in the book are $8. You learn cocktails, Jay or Cam loves you, everyone wins. No one in town is doing that. It’s brilliant, in my humble opinion.
435 Rhode Island St. Buffalo / 716.322.5396
If you are over the whole cocktail thing, sign your pal up for Paradise Wine’s wine club. Paula is offering some really interesting wine for “drink wine every day” money. I will put my back hair on the table as a guarantee that Paula can turn anyone into an oenophile given enough exposure. (My back hair is important to me, as I am predominantly Hungarian, so don’t judge. You ever see a Mangalitsa pig? Nuff said.)
If I’m going to a party—which I’m probably not because I work too much and I usually don’t get invited because I competition-level eat and drink on top of being a total piece of shit with the “I’m not in a kitchen, I’m around ‘Normals’ ” thing I base my life off of, but if theoretically I was—I would bring some food item to share. To get me to cook for anyone besides my wife outside of work? If you don’t understand how much that kind of love means from me, you’re getting Chipotle diarrhea burritos next year. Or maybe just a stale bag of Super Duper generic cheese puffs. (I still have a bag from 1989 waiting for your ass if you play with my emotions.)
I suppose the whole point is if you’re going to actually give someone a gift, make it personal and thoughtful, and either make it yourself, buy it from some locally owned business, and just make it mean something. You may just actually make a connection, instead of fighting about whether Carl Weathers or Sylvester Stallone would make a better president on Facebook. Get together. Eat. Drink. Fuck arguing. Let’s be people together and enjoy ourselves because we are fortunate to do so. Right?
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