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About The Author


Susan Axelrod

Susan Axelrod's food writing career began in the kitchen; she owned a restaurant and catering business for 15 years before turning to journalism. By day, she is the social media editor for Portland Press Herald. To relax, she bakes, gardens and hikes with her husband and their two dogs, preferably followed by a cocktail or a Maine beer. Susan can be contacted at 791-6310 or On Twitter: @susansaxelrod

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Posted: December 19, 2013

Shop in Portland for last-minute food & drink Christmas gifts

Written by: Susan Axelrod

Food and drink always makes a great gift, appreciated especially by desperate, last minute shoppers (or when the giftee is one of those annoying hard-to-buy for people). If you’re a baker, own a brewery, or are one of those clever types who make jam, mustard or cheese, well, it’s not clear how and why you ended up on this page.

For everyone else, those who wander aimlessly around specialty food shops and grocery stores scratching their heads: you’ve indeed come to the right place.  These six easy-to-assemble, reasonably priced gifts from friendly neighborhood shops in Portland are a fresh take on the usual bottle of booze or box of chocolates. No complicated wrapping is necessary; they can each be presented popped into a gift bag or for just a little more effort, swaddled in clear cellophane (find it at a party or craft store) and tied with a ribbon.

Best of all, they will demonstrate to the recipient that you can be clever, too. Even if you don’t make cheese.

For the locavore

Photo by Susan Axelrod

You’ll get “buy local” cred for not just the shop, but the products, too — this goat cheese and honey are made right here in Maine.

Both from Rosemont Market

York Hill Farm chevre with ash | $9.99

Red Shed honey | $11.99

For the beer geek

Photo by Susan Axelrod

A festively labeled, large bottle “winter warmer” delivers seasonal good cheer  and while you could go for pretzels, herb-flecked popcorn is infinitely more fun.

Corsendonk Christmas Ale | Bier Cellar | $9.99

Little Lads Herbal Popcorn | Whole Foods | $4.39

For the bookworm

Photo by Susan Axelrod

She has more tea, coffee and hot chocolate than she can drink in her lifetime, but what might surprise her is a chunky red mug, peppermint sticks to stir hot cocoa and the world’s most romantic cookie — Italian amaretti.

All from LeRoux Kitchen

Tin-look ceramic mug |$9.99

Peppermint cocoa stirrers | $7.99

Amaretti | .99 each

For the sports fan

Photo by Susan Axelrod

Give their game day-snacking habits an upgrade with good-for-you pistachios and a bowl that’s just the right size to nestle in a lap. So they don’t have to share.

Wonderful pistachios | Hannaford | $9.99

Ceramic bowl | Reny’s | $2.99

For the wine aficionado

Photo by Susan Axelrod

Port is to wine what milk chocolate is to dark, so what better port pairing than … dark chocolate with fruit and nuts. Some ports are pricey, but not this one.

Porto Kopke Fine Ruby Port | Old Port Wine Merchants | $14.99

Divine Fruit & Nut dark chocolate bar | LeRoux Kitchen | $4.99

For the kitchen wizard

Photo by Susan Axelrod

The best cook you know may every gadget and spice on the planet, but it’s a good bet this duo will be a unexpected and welcome addition to their well-stocked pantry.

Cranberry-Pear white balsamic vinegar and Blood Orange-infused 0live oil | LeRoux Kitchen | $15.99 each

More fabulous food gifts

Cranberry gin, artisanal flatbread crisps and seasoned pistachios are a few of the Maine-made gift ideas on Meredith Goad’s annual round-up for the Portland Press Herald:

Soup to Nuts: Local gift ideas for the foodie on your list

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