As published in Ojai Quarterly magazine, Winter 2013
Shop Local for Gourmet Gifts
Let’s face it, some people are impossible to shop for. I’m not very creative when it comes to gift giving, but one thing I know for sure is that tasty gifts are always welcome. What better way to celebrate Ojai’s bounty than to share it with friends and relatives. And you’ll be shopping local, too, which is great way to give back to our community. Here are a few delicious ideas:
218 E. Ojai Avenue
Established in 1914, Rains is Ojai’s answer to the department store, with clothes, shoes, jewelry, housewares and hardware. The gourmet kitchen section has fully-stocked shelves of their own private-label sauces, dressings, salsas and mixes. Their featured local product offering includes the full line of Ojai Olive Oil’s locally-grown and processed extra virgin olive oils and aged balsamic vinegars bottled in gorgeous cobalt blue glass. An added bonus: Rains offers complimentary gift wrapping while you wait.
211 East Matilija Street
Tucked behind the downtown arcade, Rainbow Bridge is a natural foods grocery market with an extensive selection of produce, meats, dry goods and an apothecary. A wide range of local edible gifts include Ojai’s own Zhena’s Gypsy Teas package in colorful tin canisters, Ojai Cook’s Lemonaise lemon mayonnaise, Bee the Bee Apiaries’ raw wildflower honey and Ojai Chocolat’s raw, organic dairy-free and sugar-free confections.
Made in Ojai
323 E. Matilija Street
A few doors down from Rainbow Bridge, this artisan mercantile, as the name indicates, sells only locally-made products, include original works of art, books, jewelry and edibles. Their food section includes Lori’s Original Lemonades in ginger and lavender flavors, Ojai Jalapeno and Habanero Jelly and Highway 33 Foods’ hot sauces. Cards designed by local artists will add a personalized touch to your gift.
Ojai Beverage Company
655 E. Ojai Avenue
With over a thousand bottles from all over the world, the OBC has an impressive selection of local wines, including Casa Barranca, Ojai Vineyard, Old Creek Ranch, Vino V, Ojai Ridge, Noble Oaks and Boccali’s. Sip while you shop; they have 20 beers on tap, wines by the glass, spirits tastings and a full menu.
Ojai Coffee Roasting Co.
337 E. Ojai Avenue
This coffee shop and café is a true local hang-out best known for their freshly-roasted coffee. Though the beans are not locally-grown, the café’s own roastmaster custom roasts the world’s best beans in small batches and packages them either whole or ground in half and one-pound bags. Gift cards and shipping are also available.
Whether you’re shopping for holiday or hostess gifts, Ojai’s got you covered with some of the tastiest treats that deserve to be boxed and bowed. To be honest, though, many of these items are staples in my pantry at home. I’m guessing they will soon be in yours, too.