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The Best Of New England’s Artisanal Foods

My mother isn’t thrilled about this, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve tried to wean my family off of giving and receiving Christmas presents. I figure we have almost everything we need, so why do we need anything more? My little campaign has been only minimally successful, but I have gotten my family used to getting food gifts that are quickly devoured rather than stuff from stores that just clutters up your house.

Since it’s the gift-giving season, Radio Boston wanted ideas for locally made foods that not only taste great but could make nice holiday presents. So WBUR’s Sacha Pfeiffer is joined in the studio by two of the show’s food-loving regular guests for a sampling session of some of the best specialty foods New England has to offer.

Guests

Amy Traverso, senior lifestyle editor at Yankee Magazine and author of “The Apple Lover’s Cookbook.” See Amy Traverso discuss Yankee Magazine’s 2013 Editor’s Choice Food Award winners here.

Andy Husbands, chef, author and owner of Tremont 647 and Sister Sorel.

Island Creek Oyster Mignonette Sauce

By Chef Jeremy Sewall (makes about 1 ½ cups)

1/2 cup champagne vinegar

1/2 cup white wine (like savignon blanc)

1/4 cup minced shallot

Grind a little black pepper over it before using it (about 1 tsp).

Amy Traverso’s Suggestions

  • EH Chocolatiers: An independently owned artisan chocolate and confection company in Somerville.
  • Jan’s Farmhouse Crisps: Jan Gorham, a mother of three boys living in Stowe, Vt., started this specialty food business two years ago.
  • Salty Oats Cookies: In 1997, Terri Horn left her career as a pastry chef and began baking Salty Oats cookies full-time. She founded the company in Washington D.C. and later moved it to Hyannis.
  • Big Picture Farm Caramels: This Townshend, Vt.-based company makes caramel by using fresh goat milk from its own herd.
  • Ruggles Hill Creamery Cheese: Ruggles has been making cheese commercially since the summer of 2005. The Hardwick-based company has 16 does participating in the dairy.
  • Jasper Hill Harbison Cheese: This is a small-format washed-rind — a pudgy, buttery, nutty disc.
  • Von Trapp Farmstead Oma Cheese: Oma is a washed-rind cheese that balances pungent and sweet flavors. The paste is soft, buttery and almost pudding-like, but never runny. The rind is thin and mild for the style.
  • Formaggio Kitchen Chicken Liver Mousse: Made in Formaggio’s Cambridge kitchen with chicken livers, butter, duck fat, brandy, cream, eggs, corn starch, shallots, white pepper, thyme and topped with a madeira aspic.

Andy Husbands’ Suggestions

  • La Nina Tortilla Chips: This husband and wife operation opened in 2011 and is the first tortilla bakery in New England to produce authentic tortillas and tortilla chips. They use the same technique from the Aztec period and use only white corn, water and lime. They use 100 percent non-GMO white corn and purchase their corn from a family farm. They are located in Everett and sold at Whole Foods and Formaggio Kitchen. They’re available wholesale online.
  • Meggie’s Farm: Meggie’s Farm was founded in 2008 by John Maguire. It’s an organic farm in Rehoboth. They specialize in ground paprika and cayenne, as well as growing special varieties of tomatoes, peppers, asparagus and celery. Products can be found at Formaggio Kitchen.
  • Twig Farm: Located in West Cornwall, Vt., Twig Farm is a small goat dairy and cheese-making business founded in 2005. Cheeses are made by hand using traditional techniques and aged in a temperature-controlled cellar. Products can be purchased at Formaggio Kitchen.
  • Run Dog Run Farm: A small family farm located in Westport specializing in natural eggs, honey, chicken, turkey, pork and vegetables. They also have a petting zoo on their property. Products can be found at local farmer’s markets and health food stores.
  • Island Creek Oysters: Located in Duxbury, Island Creek was started in 1992 by Skip Bennett. There are a total of ten Island Creek Oyster farms. The oysters sell from Canada to the Caribbean and can be found at restaurants all over the East Coast. They have even been served at the White House.

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