Grab your mittens and scarves — Thursday is Snow Night during the Downtown Farmers’ Market in San Luis Obispo. And if you haven’t already completed your holiday shopping, well — that snow might be a brisk reminder that time is running out.
Luckily, there are plenty of great stocking stuffer-type gifts you can pick up from your favorite farmers’ market vendors before you and the kids hit the slopes of downtown SLO. Here are a few palate-pleasing suggestions from the produce side of the market:
- Meaty Christmas. Antonio Varia, who owns the Buona Tavola restaurants in San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles, brought his inventive Italian cuisine to the farmers’ market with his Alle-Pia booth (named after his mother, by the way.) You can get gift packages through Alle-Pia or individual sausages for a holiday stocking or basket.
- A Nutty Holiday. Close your eyes and imagine Nat King Cole singing “The Christmas Song.” What’s the first thing that comes to your head? Nuts, right? Avila & Sons Farms offers plenty of nuts — including roasted ones — that fit easily into a stocking. Some of their nuts include almonds, pecans and pistachios. They also offer dried fruits that would work well in a stocking.
- A Cheesy Gift idea. You’re gonna need something to snack on while waiting for that big Christmas ham, right? There are a couple of different cheese options at the farmers’ market, including the rich, organic sheep cheese from Chateau Fresno Organics. Don’t be sheepish about digging into the holiday basket early for this one.
- Bee Merry. Do you have any idea how much work bees put into making honey? We’d tell you, but it might take a while, so just check out “Bee Movie.” And if you want to share the fruit of those bees’ hard labor, pick up a bottle of honey from the California Bee Company.
- Olive the Other Reindeer. Mari Lenci’s great-grandfather farmed an olive orchard in Tuscany, so you might say Lenci has olive oil in her blood. She doesn’t, but she does have plenty of Oliveto Ranch extra virgin olive oil that comes in handsome gift-friendly bottles. On Christmas day, you can pop open one of those bottles and spread the olive oil on bread, pasta, rice or salad.
- Berry Christmas! South County resident Lori Heal launched her popular Mama’s Preserves with two flavors: raspberry and olallieberry. Now she has more than 20 flavors, which go well with meats, cheeses, ice-cream or, of course, bread.
- Can Do Christmas. If you want to add your own special touch to a stocking stuffer, you might want to can your own fruits and vegetables and present them as gifts. There are plenty of fruits and vegetables in season and readily available at the downtown farmers’ market. Once you buy the produce, get a quick tutorial on canning, and you’re set.
San Luis Obispo County Farmers’ Market Association will be open for business the weeks of Christmas and New Year’s, culminating with the Saturday morning farmers’ market in San Luis Obispo (World Market parking lot, 8-10:45 a.m.), which will be open on both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.