If you're lucky enough to escape for a weekend this fall, be kind and bring back a little token of your travels for those you left behind. Here are five culinary gifts from cities around the country — salt from Portland, chocolate from Boston, and more. Each one is small — you can fit it into your suitcase, and each will be a small taste of your escape for those back home.
Where does salt come from? If you're buying it from Ben Jacobsen of Portland's Jacobsen Salt, then it comes directly from the Oregon coast, where Jacobsen harvests and processes it himself. Transformed from sea water to flaky finishing salt, this is the ultimate expression of a local place to bring home! Take it over the top with Jacobsen's truffle salt, made with Oregon-foraged truffles. That stuff is amazing on popcorn!
Gene's Sausage Shop is a fresh addition to a location where a classic Chicago shop, Meyer Delicatessen, closed down a few years ago. Gene's Sausage Shop moved in and opened a two-story shrine to sausage in Chicago's Lincoln Square neighborhood. Pick up a string of sausages here to tote home, like their Swedish potato sausage, or classic crackling Knackwurst.
Taza Chocolate in Somerville, Massachusetts, is a bean-to-bar operation, bringing in beans directly from growers and processing them into rich, dark, gritty and delightfully bitter discs of organic chocolate. This chocolate is unique because Taza uses Mexican chocolate-making traditions and granite stone mills for the grinding process. A heavy chunk of Taza chocolate is a true treat, and one that's easy to carry back in your suitcase.
Bourbon Brown Sugar Peach Preserves from Confituras • Austin, TX
Stephanie McClenny, the maker of the delicious jams from Confituras in Austin, Texas, cooks up her preserves in very small batches — never more than 10 pounds at a time. She cooks the jams in her 19th-century-style Mauviel copper pot. The jams reflect Texas and Southwest flavors, with varieties like Texas Fig Preserves and Apple Hatch Chile Chutney. But one of her most popular is the Bourbon Brown Sugar Peach Preserves — so sweet and saucy.
Tucked away in a little shopping plaza in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles, Spice Station is a cozy and colorful quiet corner, filled with good smells and the bright hues of teas, spices, salts, and sugars. It's the perfect spot to pick up some exotic spices, chili powder, or some whole peppers from their large collection of Asian and Mexican varieties ranging from Arbol to Cascabel, Habanero, Japones, Morita, Negro, Pequin, Pulla, and Tepin!
(Images: Leela Cyd Ross; Joanna Miller; Emma Christensen; Chris Perez; Emily Ho)