A Few Fun Gifting Ideas, From Hot Sauces to a Matcha Maker

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The new Hot Sloth CBD sauce from chef Mike Bagale and Kat Odell with Pot d’Huile. Photo via PDH.

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The Cuzen Matcha Holiday Starter Kit. Photo via Cuzen Matcha.

If there was ever a season to shop local and support our makers, this is it. I have thrown together a few quick gift ideas here, more to come!

I am a complete hot sauce fanatic—I have upwards of 15 kinds of hot sauces and oils and chile crunches at home, maybe 20. I know, crazy lady. I want to point you to the line of hot sauces, Side Hustle Condiments, from Sean Thomas, a talented local chef you may remember from Blue Plate. He makes Sichuan Sizzle Crunch, Peanut Vadouvan Crunch (North African curry-ish; medium spicy), and Hot Fire Calypso Crunch (Caribbean/Jerk spices—real hot!). He pops up around town, and you can order here.

Our friends at Mister Jiu’s have a new chili garlic crisp oil in partnership with Williams Sonoma—it’s more of an oil than a chile crisp, and it’s great to drizzle on pretty much everything since it isn’t too assertive. Love it on dumplings.

Earlier this year, I worked with local Pot d’Huile on writing copy for their website, featuring their line of hemp CBD-infused olive oil and chef collaborative hot sauces (their THC line is coming soon!). Their line of CBD olive oil is top-notch, with excellent sourcing, and their fruity Hot Sloth hot sauce with chef Mike Bagale and Kat Odell is unlike any hot sauce I previously had in my stash—I can’t eat fried chicken without it. There’s also Loud Grandma CBD chili crisp oil, which is keeping my dumplings and burgers and fried rice bowls company.

Now, here are a couple ideas from afar. First, my fellow Italophile Coral Sisk of Curious Appetite Travel is offering a few food boxes full of Italian gourmet specialties, check them out here! (There are awesome online classes, too!) Coral is currently located in Italy, and doing the culinary souvenir shopping for us! (Your purchase also helps local and artisan businesses who are suffering from the downturn in business.)

A couple weeks ago, I was given an in-person demo of the new Cuzen Matcha machine from co-founder Eijiro Tsukada, and I know many people who would be thrilled to have this chic machine in their kitchen or office (or home office, who are we kidding?). And…it was just named on TIME’s list of the 100 Best Inventions of 2020, after launching a month ago! Off to the races.

Instead of using pre-ground matcha that you whisk up yourself, this brilliant system mimics the qualities of a traditional stone mill but uses a compact ceramic mill instead. You just load the hopper with Cuzen’s organic, shade-grown, matcha tea leaves (from their partnership with sustainable farms in Kagoshima prefecture on Japan’s Kyushu Island). It will grind the entire leaf into a fine powder into the spinning glass container below (from a rotating magnet base) that you fill with room temp water (you get more umami and less bitterness if the water isn’t hot). Check out the video on their site to see it in action!

You can easily decide the quantity/potency, and then pour the beautifully blended matcha into a glass of sparkling water, or over ice, or drink it straight, or make an Americano with hot water, or steam some milk to make a matcha latte. Cuzen has some mocktail and drink recipes on their site. It’s also good for smoothies, or adding to dough!

There are two grades of matcha you can order with your Cuzen machine that are specially prepared to fit the ceramic mill: premium (considered “ceremonial grade”) from a spring harvest, and the signature, which is from spring and summer harvest and best for milk drinks. The flavor is so fresh and balanced, and it’s lightly energizing—perfect for a gentle start to the day, or an afternoon pick-me-up. What a cool thing to offer anyone who comes to visit, and it’s now in-room at Single Thread’s inn!

Cuzen is offering a limited-edition, Holiday Starter Kit, with guaranteed arrival in time for the holidays if ordered by 12/10 ($369). The Cuzen Matcha Maker comes in a gift bag, along with a holiday mocktail recipe card, one 20-gram packet of Premium Matcha Leaf and two 20-gram packets of Signature Matcha Leaf, enough for up to 60 cups of matcha. To your health!