gallery Monica’s Favorite Things: 2018 Holiday Food Guide

I’m rolling out my 2018 Holiday Guides in batches and will update links as each one is launched. This guide is all about food. I love to build themed baskets for gift giving or choosing an item that will “wow” everyone at a party. I’ve purchased products, some were sent to me to try, and I’ve tried some at special events. I have not been compensated for any product appearing on this list.

My holiday beverage guide can be found here.

Nutty Squirrel Gelato: Panettoncino

As you know, Nutty Squirrel recently started showcasing baked goods. My Seattle Foodie Podcast co-host Nelson Lau and I had a chance to try this gorgeous chocolate panettoncino with a scoop of chocolate fondente gelato, made from a single origin Columbian chocolate and topped with more chocolate. Well known as a holiday treat, these lovelies make a great gift to give or for entertaining.


The Box: Toasted Sesame Dressing

You may have heard me rave about The Box & Burgers Eatery, which also runs The Box food truck. In addition to unique Asian fusion cuisine, The Box is one of the few places that I’ll order a salad. That’s right people! I said SALAD! This toasted sesame dressing is served on my favorite salad of all time, which you can get at the restaurant or the food truck. Order the chop chop salad and tell me that I’m wrong.


Gift Idea: Buy a salad bowl and fill it with salad tongs, croutons, bacon bits, The Box Creamy Sesame Dressing, and SeaBear Ready-to-Eat Wild King Smoked Salmon.

Price: $8 at the restaurant (requires refrigeration). 

Pike Brewing: Pike Kilt Lifter BBQ Sauce

If you’ve listened to Seattle Foodie Podcast, where my co-host Nelson Lau and I talk about the Seattle food scene, then you’ve heard me talk about Pike Brewing’s Kilt Lifter scotch ale. Well, there’s a BBQ sauce to go along with it! The peated malt in the ale has a nice smokiness, which is balanced by tomatoes. This is not a spicy sauce, but a flavorful one where the chilies compliment the flavors rather than work against it. The sauce was originally created at The Pike Pub for ribs, which is exactly what I did with my bottle of sauce. I also tried the sauce on tri-tip and it worked really well. I’m looking forward to trying it on other food like burgers and shrimp.


Gift Idea: Buy BBQ grill tools, apron, oven mitt and Pike Brewing’s Kilt Lifter BBQ sauce.

Price: $7 available online (order by Dec. 13th for delivery before Dec. 25th). 

Ballyhoo Hot Sauce Co.: Ala Ga Zam Chili Arbol Sauce

Ballyhoo Hot Sauce Co. is an offshoot of popular Seattle food truck Bread and Circuses. I always keep a bottle of Ala Ga Zam Chili Arbol in my house to use on anything – steak, tacos, seafood, eggs, whatever needs a little spice, this sauce has you covered!

James Barrington of Ballyhoo Hot Sauce Co.

Gift Idea: Gather products made by food truck owners (branded merchandise, food gifts, mugs, etc.) for a themed swag collection with Ballyhoo’s Ala Ga Zam Chili Arbol Sauce.

Price: $8 online or at special retailers like Chuck’s Hop Shop and DeLaurenti Specialty Food and Wine

Snout & Co.: Smoked Serrano Mango Sauce

Everyone knows I’m a lover of food trucks and I’ve been seeing Snout & Co. since they hit the streets of Seattle back in the day. I’m a lover of hot sauce and have a lot of like-minded friends and family so I’m always buying them as gifts. Snout’s sauce is a staple in my kitchen. It has two of my favorite peppers in it – serrano and habanero. The serranos add good texture and flavor without being overly hot. Habaneros are hotter but both are well balanced with the mango. My favorite way to eat this sauce is on roasted pork, which I make a lot. I use the leftover pork roast to make tacos which I top with this sauce, fresh mangoes, cilantro, and whatever else I have in my fridge.


Gift Idea: Gift certificate to a butcher shop to buy a nice cut of meat, crock pot, liquid smoke, and Snout’s Smoked Serrano Mango Sauce.

Price: $7 on the food truck. 

Seattle Pickle Co.: Fresh Dill Pickles

I’ve been a fan of Seattle Pickle Co. since they started popping up at Fremont Sunday Market years ago. I’m not a pickle lover but these have made me a believer! They’re hand packed to preserve freshness and the brine really gets me.

Photo Credit: Chris C. (

Gift Idea: Seattle Pickle Co.’s Fresh Dill Pickles and Smitty’s Bloody Mary Mix, vodka, and pickled vegetables for the cocktail lover in your life!

Price: $15 on the street or at retailers like Ken’s Market and Central Co-Op. Free shipping available for online orders!

SeaBear Wild Salmon: Ready-to-Eat Wild Salmon

As you know, I’ve been getting to know SeaBear Wild Salmon better over the last few months. Ready-to-Eat Wild Salmon blew my mind! It comes in an easy open bag, has no skin or bones, and is portable (no refrigeration required until it’s opened). The salmon has a shelf life of about four years and tastes delicious out of the bag or in your favorite recipes!


Gift Idea: Build a hiking kit with a backpack, compass, first aid supplies, water bottle, and food like Ready-to-Eat Wild King Salmon.

Price: $10 for a 3.5 ounce bag available at Made In Washington Stores or online from SeaBear.


This concludes the first round of my 2018 Holiday Food Guide! Check back often for new additions. If you’re struggling for gift ideas, I recommend heading to your favorite market to browse around. There are always new products being launched as well as favorites for holiday gift giving!

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