Food, music, art: In New Orleans, these are year-round gifts. But at the holidays, they’re also a way to show our appreciation for the city and each other. The New Orleans Advocate Features staff pulled together a few ideas for Crescent City Santas.
St. James Cheese Co.’s Southern Cheese Collection ($69.99)
More artisanal domestic cheeses are hitting the market, and this Uptown cheese emporium has made them a real specialty. For this gift collection, the cheese mongers picked three cheeses from the South — Sweetgrass Dairy Green Hill, Cherokee Rose and Belle Chevre Southern Belle — and added other regional flavors like cheese straws and Bathtub Gin French 75 Marmalade. 5004 Prytania St., (504) 899-4737; www.stjamescheese.com
Saint Claude’s Oyster Shell Pendant (silver, $210; bronze $98)
Local emblems and icons — including the city’s oyster obsession with this two-inch pendant — inspire many of the designs for the New Orleans-made jewelry line Saint Claude. Crawfish claws and okra pods are other food themes in this striking collection. The line is carried at GOGO Jewelry (2036 Magazine St), Söpö (629 N. Carrollton Ave.), Hattie Sparks (714 Adams St.) and Frances & Finch (4601 Dryades St.). It’s also available at www.saintclaudenola.com.
Atelier Vie’s Toulouse Red and Toulouse Green Absinthe (prices vary by location)
Shrouded in intrigue and prohibited by law for generations, absinthe is making a comeback now that it’s street legal again. The Mid-City based micro distiller Atelier Vie makes two varieties — red and green — ready for sipping or to be used in cocktails for a special kick. Find retail locations at www.ateliervie.com.
Persimmon tree ($24.95 and up)
Ripe persimmons are delicious and they flourish here, but at $2 apiece at the grocery store, who can afford them? Better to plant a tree and get the whole harvest to yourself! According to the LSU AgCenter, there are two varieties of persimmons that can usually be found in local garden centers: Tanenashi (pointy fruit that is astringent if not fully ripe) and Hana Fuyu (rounded fruit that is not astringent). www.willisorchards.com
Glass Audubon-Print Tray ($118 or $172)
Based on an Audubon print, this reverse decoupage Blue Heron glass tray was designed by actor, singer and New Orleanian Bryan Batt with Shelly Venema. Hosts can serve guests elegantly — it’s food-safe — or display it. The heron is one of 15 designs in the New Orleans-themed collection handcrafted in the United States using 14k gold leaf. Two sizes. Available at Hazelnut, 5515 Magazine St. or www.hazelnutneworleans.com.
Dessert in a Box ($25 and $30)
The NOCCA Marketplace’s gifts — all made by Culinary Arts students at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts — are the perfect choice when you want to treat family, friends, clients, or (heck) yourself to a taste of New Orleans this holiday season. This year’s selection includes “Chef Frank Brigtsen’s Pecan Pie in a Box” ($30) with everything needed to make the world-famous dessert, and a “NOLA A La Mode Box,” ($25) featuring three decadent New Orleans ice cream toppings. Shipping is available. The sweetest part of all? Proceeds support programs for students, faculty and the community. Go to www.shop.NOCCAInstitute.com or call (504) 940-2808; orders taken through Wednesday, Dec. 17.
Irvin Mayfield: “A New Orleans Creole Christmas” ($15)
On “A New Orleans Creole Christmas,” Irvin Mayfield and the Jazz Playhouse Revue give standards elegance while rooting them in the city’s musical traditions. The rolling piano keeps “Winter Wonderland” moving as his trumpet plays the melody, and the version of “O Tannenbaum” would be at home in Preservation Hall. Go to www.basinstreetrecords.com.