I love giving and receiving gifts, but there’s always this middle ground of friends, family, or colleagues who are so hard to shop for.
In the face of gifting mental block, I say get them something good to eat. Literally no one is mad to receive a bottle of nice olive oil, or an array of Japanese candy.
In that spirit, here are a sled-full of locally-owned small shops that offer high-quality, non-perishable goods that are perfect to put under anyone’s tree.
Well Spent Market
I adore Well Spent Market, run by former food writer Jim Dixon. It’s got fancy tortillas made locally with duck fat, a refillable olive oil shelf, and is the only place I can reliably say carries the big size jar of Duke’s Mayonnaise.
There’s a small section of Japanese sake, snacks, and other treats curated by Fulamingo (see below), and a small section of smallwares and art thatc can really round out your gift hunting experience.
To gift: A tin of Tiny Fish Co. Black Cod in Soy; the cutest screen-printed radicchio tea towels; Tiffin Asha Tomato Pickle Ginger chutney; Raincoast fig and olive crisp crackers. Shopping treat for you: A Lauretta Jean’s chocolate chip cookie from the jar by the register.
935 NE Couch; daily 10 am to 7 pm; wellspentmarket.com
Fulamingo, run by Kana Hinohara Hanson and her husband Erik, is reliably one of the best curated Japanese snack and essential stops I’ve found. And if you live in Portland, there’s delivery available. On the website, Kana editorializes about why she’s hand selected an item for her shop. I’ve been converted to the $4.75 a pack Nissin Ya Oh ramen after she described them this way: “Honestly, once you throw your favorite toppings on top, you could just as easily be tucked inside a tiny ramen shop at a subway station in Tokyo as you could be eating instant noodles at home.”
To gift: Nissin Ra Oh instant ramen; Kuze Fuku & Sons Matcha Anko Butter spread; Norimaki arare; gluten free seaweed wrapped rice crackers; Joto “The Blue One” Nigori sake. Shopping treat for you: A $2.50 box of delicious Alfort mini chocolate bitter cookies.
Cargo Inc., 81 SE Yamhill, Wellspent Market, 935 NE Couch, fulamingo.com
Barbur World Foods
I live tragically far from Barbur World Foods, tucked down on the Tigard border. But that makes the visits all the more epic, especially because this is a place where you could easily secure gifts for just about anyone who eats good food. Got a Brit? There’s clotted cream and HP Sauce. But the true focus is Middle Eastern fare, which makes sense as the owners of World Foods also own Ya Hala. There are all sorts of olive oils, more varieties of Harissa than you can hope to eat in a calendar year, gorgeous flatbreads, and a massive wine section.
To gift: Kinder Holiday mix advent calendar; seasonal santa Jafa cakes; Castillo de Canena oak smoked olive oil; a variety pack of Persian cookies. Shopping treat for you: A $12 lamb shawarma with all the fixings.
9845 SW Barbur, daily 8 am to 10 pm, worldfoodsportland.com
Providore Fine Foods
If you like to grocery shop for fun, there are few better places to turn. Honestly, if you can make an edible arrangement with the gorgeous produce from Rubinette, for a veggie lover, that’s your move. But if you’re shopping ahead of time and have $85 or more, Providore’s website also features premade gift baskets featuring themes like pantry essentials, Oregon made goods, or Italian yummies. But honestly, just have fun walking the shelves and pulling what seems good.
To gift: A fancy dried pasta that costs $10 a box; a jar of capers in olive oil; anything they recommend in the wine shop. Shopping treat for you: A slab of any of the fresh focaccias at the Little T Bakery.
2340 NE Sandy Blvd; daily 10 am to 7 pm; providorefinefoods.com
House of Flavor
This Williams Avenue shop is the market arm of the beloved Akadi restaurant, and is stacked with West African and Caribbean essentials, including dried oporo shrimp and Star beer. There’s less on the shelves than at Mama Pauline’s, but this is an easy stop to score Akadi’s beloved sauces.
To gift: Akadi spicy sauce; a big, cheap bottle of Jollof rice seasoning; a bar of Dudu-Osuon black soap. Shopping treat for you: St. Mary’s Banana Chip and one of the Caribbean sodas that catch your eye.
3901 N Williams Ave Suite C; Tuesday-Saturday, 10 am to 9 pm, Sundays, 10 am to 8 pm, Mondays 1 pm to 9 pm
Going to Coquine Market gives me big “Belle goes shopping in Beauty and the Beast“ vibes. Put a nice baguette and good eggs into your basket, along with bonkers good goat cheese and a bottle of wine. But there are lots of treats that can be wrapped and tucked away until the holiday party, too.
To gift: Fancy Okinawan brown sugar; a nice bag of coffee; Cloudforest Magic Spread; the Japanese and Mexican cookbooks are gorgeous. Shopping treat for you: A Coquine cookie and coffee on your way out.
6839 SE Belmont; daily 8 am to 2:30 pm; coquinepdx.com/market
Sibeiho and The Minnow
Local shops Sibeiho and The Minnow have joined forces in this Northwest 23rd spot, making it easy to cover gift giving ground. Sibeiho owners Holly Ong and Pat Lau have put together a $35 sambal gift box in order to share a variety of their signature Singaporean relishes in one go. The Minnow has a variety of fresh produce and meats, along with uber healthy and locally-sourced meal deliveries.
To gift: Sambal gift pack; prepared meal delivery for your busiest friend; anything seasonal from either shop. Shopping treat for you: Fresh wild albacore tuna loin for your dinner later.
Goodies Snack Shop
Goodies, run by first-generation “snack enthusiasts” in Old Town/Chinatown, is such a delight. There’s a huge variety of snacks from all over Asia, but for me, I was most excited to buy some of the products I’m constantly seeing on Instagram without having to buy a bunch in order to get free shipping. That squeeze bottle olive oil? Don’t mind if I do! David Chang’s new instant noodle line? Yes, please! You know your fellow online food fans will be jazzed to try it.
To gift: Fly By Jing chili crisp; Graza olive oil; Momofuku soy and scallion noodles. Shopping treat for you: Popstar bar: a vegan milk chocolate bar with crispy rice balls inside.
139 NW 2nd; Tues to Fri, 11 am-6 pm, Sat, 11 am to 4 pm; goodiessnackshop.com