Wine Gift Baskets
Terroir is an important concept in wine. I believe it also translates to food. Here is a good definition of Terroir from the Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil:
“This French word means the total impact of any given site: soil, slope, orientation to the sun, and elevation, plus every nuance of climate including rainfall, wind velocity, frequency of fog, cumulative hours of sunshine, average high temperature, and so forth. There is no single word in English that means quite the same thing. Generally viticulturists believe that soil indirectly bestows flavor (and relative quality) only insofar as it is one of the voices in the chorus of terroir.”
Wines from different vineyards, coffees from different plantations, cheeses from different regions, indeed all real foods everywhere exhibit the effects of their terroir. This is one of the things which makes the foods we carry in our shop so interesting.
It doesn’t matter what you are eating, whether it is a hamburger and fries or foie gras and champagne – it is the ingredients used that make each one marvelous or mediocre. At Fancifull that is what I look for when choosing what goes into our gift baskets. Fresh natural ingredients, organic, no odd chemical fillers. Because you want to taste the food, not the chemicals. I’ve tried cookies where the butter leaps out at you because it is so fresh, and then I’ve tried ones – in beautiful tempting packaging – that taste like cardboard. For example: Americans have a style of chocolate, as do the Europeans. Both have great chocolates. I can’t argue that a fresh truffle is better than a perfect peanut butter cup if both are made with good ingredients. And why argue anyway? Eat them both and enjoy. We will always be searching, tasting, and finding the best ingredients the world has to offer so you can send the best gourmet gift baskets.
Genuine, real, not fake. I like to travel because I like to experience authenticity in the world at large. For instance, I love being in the countryside of Italy and eating what is grown locally. I want to smell the air, meet the people, find out how they have been making this food for hundreds of years and why it is so good. This is true of anywhere I go, whether it be close to home or in far away lands. Even more so, I love to bring these experiences back to share with friends and family. I cook meals similar to those I’ve had on my culinary voyages and bring back jars of ingredients to taste. I find this is a better snapshot of a country than a photo. My joy in Fancifull is that I get to delight you with the pleasures I have found. I get to stock my shelves with the foods and wines I’ve tried and share them with you and your friends. Welcome to the family.
Gourmet gift baskets and wine gift baskets containing genuine artisanal wines and foods can be purchased online at www.fancifullgiftbaskets.com, in our store at 5617 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038, or by phone at 800.350.4437.
Terry and I spent this last weekend at Raleigh Studios as part of the LA Wine Fest. Guess what we weren’t serving? Wine!
With over 50 wineries participating, we decided we would provide much needed relief by offering artisanal cheeses and the world’s best salami. We were right; we were swamped.
The Tumelo Classico Gouda style goat cheese sold out the first day. Next to go was the Point Reyes Toma. Then the Soledad Goat Cheese with Honey and Lavender. We were also sampling and selling Beechers Cheddar, Vella Cheese and Beehive (Seahive Cheddar). In the end we had almost nothing left.
The story was the same with the salami. The Fra’ Mani salami is incredible. If you’ve never tasted it, call us and order some. It’s made by Paul Bertolli, famous as the chef at Olivetto and Chez Panisse, and it is the best salami I have ever tasted. Other favorites were the Olli Calabrese and a Wild Boar salami from Creminelli.
We are very proud that all of these products are hand crafted in the United States. We feel that a food renaissance is happening here and we’re happy to be a part of it.
All this talk about food is making me hungry. so I’m going to go have some cheese and salami right now. Of course, any of these things can be included in our gourmet gift baskets and wine gift baskets. But you really should take advantage and order some for yourself. If you’re in Los Angeles, stop in. You never know what we might be sampling.
A couple of weeks ago we received a surprise visit from Hervé Gantier, owner of Domaine Sainte-Eugénie in the Corbières region of Southern France. It’s always special when a wine maker seeks us out, and even more so when they have come all the way from Italy or France to visit a gift basket company in Los Angeles.
Corbières is located on the Mediterranean just north of Spain. Common grape varieties there are Grenache, Carignan, Mourvedre and Syrah. But here was Hervé offering us a wine that was 45% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. Something along the line of a Bordeaux but with the added structure of the Carignan and the light fruit tones of the Grenache. Elegant, well balanced and bargain priced. Hervé was pleased with our reaction – we bought it! We featured it at a recent wine tasting here in our shop and our guests bought it, too. Boy, do we have fun here or what?
This wine can be selected as an upgrade in many of the wine gift baskets on our website.
We also have some of his Reserve! But more about that one later.
It takes a certain amount of courage to have integrity in this world. You have to stand by your principles as the crowd tells you to step down. You know what is right, but darn, you are so tired – can’t you just take the easy way out this time? But you can’t.
Cowgirl Creamery in California
When I talk to the people behind the handcrafted food we carry I am always a bit in awe. These people aren’t in it just for the money. Yes, they want to survive, and survive well. But to go through the work they do you have to have passion. Passion for your product, for the methods that work, for putting in the long hours and attention it requires to make it come out perfect every time.
I talk to cheesemakers who won’t make their cheese if they don’t feel their milk is good enough that year. They sell the milk instead. The better vignerons prune back their vines to get a low yield thus more flavor to the grapes. Yes they could let the grapes just grow wild and make a lot more wine. But that would mean making mediocre wine. So they can’t – it isn’t in their blood. In a world where the operating procedure is more and more for less and less no matter what the cost in quality, this is a refreshing change.
in Montpeyroux, France
There is nuance in food that comes from the land and the skill of the producer, but it takes someone who understands that to bring it out. You raise the animals well so you get the most flavor while preserving the earth, you grow organically, you keep testing until you get it exactly right – this is where passion comes in. Besides passion they also have pride. Get them talking about their handicraft and you’ll hear Rashida from Cast Iron Gourmet talk about perfecting the recipe for her Bacon Chutney, or Sylvain Fadat explain in his heavily French accented English how he dynamited this old lake bed because he knew it would have the soil for the grapes he wanted to grow. La Bonita California will expound on the local farmers they get their fruit from and why. And you taste that passion and pride in each slurp, sip and bite.
They watch you taste their product and beam like a mom with her child. And when you get it, when you get how good it is and acknowledge their job well done, you see the sense of satisfaction in their face, the smile, the light in their eyes. And that is why I love to carry artisan food. I could say these people need our support, that’s true. But it is so much bigger than that. We need their food. It’s wholesome, delicious, nourishing and one of the great joys of life. So we need to support them so they can support us with this vast array of wonderful food that has the stamp of the artist. Otherwise we’ll be left with nothing but the cheap bland genetically modified nutrient-lacking mega-corporation foods that are flooding our supermarkets today. This is a worthwhile venture, and a tasty one. Support your local artisans and they will support you. For life.
The Fancifull Pavilion as it appeared in
the movie No Strings Attached
Farmers Markets, in my opinion, are playing a vital part in bringing real food back to the table in the US. I’m sure there are millions of Americans who think of Kraft American slices when they hear the word cheese! I love seeing the expression on a persons face when they experience one of our California artisanal cheeses for the first time. The shock. The joy!
We’ve been including more and more artisanal foods in our gift baskets so that we can share our joy in really good foods with as many people as possible. Most people don’t know that we’ve also been participating in several local Farmers Markets. We love that people are getting excited about the cheeses, salamis, crostini and other great natural products we have discovered since starting our little company in 1987.
If you’re in the Los Angeles area you can now sample (and buy) some of our fine foods not only in our shop, but also at these Farmers Markets:
Century City – Thursdays, 10 – 2
Bank of America Plaza – Fridays, 10 – 2
Melrose Place (at La Cienega) – Sundays, 9 – 2
So stop by and experience for yourself the joy of Toma cheese, Fra Mani salami, Vella cheese, Rustic Bakery crostini and other fine products that we carry in our store – it’s going to be love at first bite! Want some for yourself but can’t visit our store? Just call us and we’ll prepare a box full of delight just for you!
Of course you can also send these out in one of our gourmet gift baskets or wine gift baskets.
Please call with any special requests.
Wally & Terry holding the Muppets bag
Being in Hollywood, we send a lot of gift baskets to celebrities in movies and TV shows. Over the last couple of months we have been called upon to provide gourmet gift baskets and wine gift baskets for the cast of the new Muppet Movie being made by Disney. First of all, it’s just exciting that there is going to be a new Muppet Movie. Secondly, it’s so cool that we got to participate in some way.
But recently we received a surprise gift from The Muppets thanking us for all the work we did for them. So here are Terry and I (Wally) holding our Muppets Messenger Bag in our shop on Melrose. It will be a great new travel home for my laptop.
Other recent movie and TV projects we’ve been involved in include our appearance in No Strings Attached and providing gift baskets for Exit Strategy (made for TV starring Ethan Hawke) and The Game of Life, among others. We are currently working on a large project for TV Guide.
St. Patrick’s Day may be the impetus for focusing on the two artisan Irish Cheeses we are featuring here, but we are happy for any reason to showcase stellar cheesemaking.
Ireland is renowned for its lush green fields and clean air. This makes it the perfect environment to produce the top quality milk needed to make great cheese. The cheeses pictured here, Darú and Cahill’s Porter, come from well-tended farms that combine creativity and innovation with respect for traditional craft and simplicity.
Darú is a beautifully balanced handcrafted farmstead cheese with a natural rind and long finish. It is a semi hard cheese made with pasteurized cow’s milk from the herd of the Maher family in the heart of Tipperary where the pastures are fresh and green as the Emerald Isle. Vegetarian rennet is used in the production of this cheese and therefore it is suitable for vegetarians.
To learn more of the Cooleeney Cheesemakers and their farms, visit http://www.cooleeney.com/on_the_farm.php
Cahill’s Porter is Irish Cheddar flavored with Cahill’s own farm-made Irish Porter (a dark beer). The cheese is made from pasteurized cow’s milk. All of their cheeses are handcrafted and individually blended and have no artificial ingredients. Cahill Farms, too, uses vegetable rennet in their cheese production.
These cheeses pair well with beer or stout and are equally friendly with a red wine such as our Marimar Pinot Noir. You may request either of these cheeses in one of our Wine Gift Baskets or Gourmet Gift Baskets. Put your request in the Other Info box on the order form and we’ll replace the regular cheese with the one you specify. There will be a $3.50 charge added to your order for either of these premium cheeses. The additional amount will not show on your online order but will be included on your invoice.
These cheeses are, of course, available for purchase in our store. You can also call Fancifull at 800.350.4437 to order these and other products for yourself or to have us create a custom gift basket for you.
I can’t recall exactly when we first became acquainted with the Marimar wines, but I certainly remember our meeting with Marimar Torres at her winery about a year and a half ago.
We sat alone with her and her sales rep in her large tasting and dining room at the winery in Sebastopol, California. It was a beautiful spring day, sun shining, leafy green vineyards all around, a parade of elegant wines on the table and a gracious and passionate hostess telling us about her life’s work. We were captivated.
We have been selling her wines ever since. She grows only Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, just like they do in Burgundy. Her wines are sophisticated, deep and balanced – wonderful by themselves and outstanding with food. They are exactly the kinds of wines Terry and I treasure both for ourselves and our gift baskets.
A member of her staff dropped in to see us the other day and we were blown away by the wines again. And we bought a lot. We think the La Masia Pinot Noir, from the Don Miguel vineyard (named after her father), is an incredible wine for the price and we are featuring it in many of our wine gift baskets. Treat yourself to some as well. You’ll be very happy you did when you’ve got a glass of this wonderful wine in your hand.
Being an elf is not a job for the weak. For weeks now, Terry has been in the midst of designing holiday gift baskets for an array of clients.
Once again we are designing a whole holiday catalog for Universal Studios, a variety of baskets in all shapes, sizes and price points.
The wine gift basket pictured here features two Universal branded wines and great foods in a striking basket made from barrel staves.
Barnes & Nobles has just brought us an exciting opportunity to package their Nook electronic reader for the corporate market. Ususally when we design a corporate gift basket such as this it’s for promotional use by the company we’re designing for. But placing the incredibly user friendly Nook, with its various accoutrements, in an attractive container with coffee, tea, possibly wine and such makes a fantastic gift basket good for the holidays, a birthday or a get well gift basket. We look forward to offering this to our clients this holiday season.
There are other projects afoot as well, including one for Heineken that will involve clear ice buckets and fake ice… Exciting! What can we design for you?
A wine tasting tip that is often overlooked is to smell your glass before you pour any wine in it. Sometimes it can have residue that will affect the taste and smell of the wine. A glass in a restaurant might smell like ammonia if it wasn’t rinsed properly. Not a pleasant taste to add to wine!
We were recently in Barolo (researching wines for our gift baskets) and one of the wine makers we were visiting took glasses from her wood cupboard and rinsed them with a little wine before we tasted. She said the wood gave the glasses a woody smell so she always rinsed the glasses with wine first.
So smell your glass first! Your wouldn’t want to spoil the aroma of a lovely wine like the ones we put in our wine gift baskets, would you?