International Holiday Treats Around Town

picapica_Hallaca.jpg

Hallaca photo from Pica Pica’s blog.

When these holiday treats are available only once a year, you just can’t get enough of them. Here’s a smattering of international holiday treats available around town—perfect to bring to a holiday party, or to enjoy at home with your nearest and dearest.

‘Til the end of December, Pica Pica Maize Kitchen is offering hallacas, a traditional Venezuelan holiday food that’s “a close cousin to the tamal” and is made from “a corn-based dough, filled with a three meat stew, wrapped in a plantain leaf and steamed.” Get your holiday hallacas in-store at their SF and Napa locations, or order online and have them delivered (they’ll be frozen and shipped in a styrofoam cooler).

The Arizmendi family of bakeries are making lots of the festive holiday treats. Over at the Sunset location, special items on the holiday menu (available through Christmas Eve) include fruitcake, marzipan stollen, apple pie, Bûche de Noël, festive cookies, and even a pumpkin tea bread made of gluten-free ingredients. Pre-order in-store (1331 9th Ave. at Irving) or by phone (415-566-3117). On Valencia Street, holiday specials include brioche bread pudding, gâteau Basque, apple honey cake, ginger tea cake, pecan pie, and more. Pre-orders: 1268 Valencia St. at 24th St., 415-826-9218.

Great for delicious food gifts are panettone and pandoro. Emporio Rulli has three types of panettone on offer—Genovese, Milanese, and Paradiso—as well as pandoro, and the mylar gold wrap from Italy makes them all gift-ready ($18.50-$34.95). For a twist on the typical panettone, check out the fig and chocolate panettone from Rustichella d’Abruzzo ($34) that’s available from Rockridge’s Market Hall Foods: rich, moist, and filled with sweet figs and shards of chocolate, all wrapped and ready to go.

Going to a party? Why bring a bottle of wine when you can bring a pint or two of ice cream instead? Dessert café DeLise has organic eggnog ice cream ($7.50/pint); see more of their flavors here, plus all their other sweet treats (327 Bay St. at Powell, 415-399-9694). Mitchell’s seasonal ice creams are another great choice, with flavors like cinnamon snap, eggnog, peppermint candy, and pumpkin. 688 San Jose Ave. at 29th St., 415-648-2300.