In gift idea limbo for your Valentine? Birthday gift for Mom on the agenda? Here’s a great idea for your foodie friends…or your family, or, come to think of it, yourself. Give an Italian food inspired gift basket.
First, the term “basket” is used loosely; it is merely a suggestion. Take it literally, or be broader and consider filling a collander or a stock pot, depending on your budget. Line it with a red, green, and white dish towel, the colors of the Italian flag as well as the Christmas season!
- Rao’s Arrabiata Sauce. The best jarred sauce, ever. You can get it at Micucci’s, but call ahead. They can order it for you if they don’t have it on hand.
- Italian Tuna, packed in oil. You know, the kind you turned your nose up at when you were a kid and your grandmother served it? “You don’t know what’s good!” she said to you. She was right. Cento is good, or splurge for the jarred tuna (can you say, “impressive”?). It’s nice to put an everyday item in a gift basket that is in a version that most people don’t usually buy.
- Balsamic Vinegar. Ariston can be found at Terra Cotta Pasta Company in Kittery and South Portland (see the website for special offers). This is so good you can use it straight on salads, soups, strawberries.
- Pasta, penne or spaghetti is fairly universally adored. As for brands, there are plenty of Italian brands from which to choose.
- A block of Parmigianno-Regianno…maybe a microplane grater to go with it? Shop for gadgets at Leroux Kitchen on Commercial Street and the cheese at Micucci’s, both in Portland.
You might also copy a favorite Italian recipe and include the (non-perishable) ingredients in your gift basket.
Maybe tuck in a small pot of basil or oregano, or a packet of seeds (for spring planting!).