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Jeff Houck

The Tampa Tribune’s food writer since 2005, Jeff Houck covers the way people live through their food. He also hosts the Table Conversations food podcast and believes that everything crunchy is good.

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Food Gifts For Food Lovers [Gifts For People With Taste… Buds]

Posted Nov 22, 2012 by Jeff Houck

Updated Nov 22, 2012 at 08:58 AM

Today is the biggest food day of the year. If you’re fortunate to have a full belly and money in your wallet, food perhaps is the last thing you want to think about right now.

And yet, you should, because unlike that Snuggie you received last year (which is still in the box), food makes an outstanding gift. At least to those without allergies.

Here are a few local offerings to consider:

Mote Marine Caviar

1.) In case you didn’t know, Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium in Sarasota makes farm-raised Siberian sturgeon caviar at Mote Aquaculture Park. sells a 1-ounce container for $65, but Whole Foods Markets and Costco stores also stock the precious, salty delicacy.

Toffee To Go

2.) Do you know Harry & David? Williams or Sonoma? No, you do not.

But you can get to know Lisa and Jim.

The Schalks, owners of the Tampa snack food gift haven Toffee to Go on Bay to Bay Boulevard, sell assortments of milk chocolate, milk chocolate almond, dark chocolate pecan and white chocolate macadamia nut toffees in a variety of sizes.

Gift boxes start at just $10 for a quarter-pound box, but their Toffee To Go Towers range from $54 for a small assortment to $99 for the largest. Also available at

Tasty Cotton

3.) No chef worth his or her tattoos would be caught dead without an ironic T-shirt. Tampa-based Tasty Cotton creates fun, sarcastic and inside-joke threads that stand up to the most rigorous night on the line under a chef coat. How cool are shirts that read, “NACL?” (The chemical composition of salt.) Almost as cool as the ones that say “LN2.” That stands for liquid nitrogen, best friend of “Top Chef” star (and Tasty Cotton endorser) Richard Blais. Shirts are $24.99 for small to extra-large sizes and $26.99 for double-extra-large. Available at

Rolling Pin Kitchen Emporium

4.) If you love people on your shopping list enough to buy them a set of kitchen knives, they should learn how to use them properly, for their sake and yours. Rolling Pin Kitchen Emporium in Brandon teaches classes in this and many other topics. (Learn how to make your own pasta. It’s a snap!) Students love the classes there so much, they volunteer to help clean and prep for other demonstrations so they can earn more class time and get cool kitchen swag. For more information on class times, prices and gift cards, go online to or call (813) 653-2418.

William Dean Chocolates

5.) Imagine handing your beloved a gift of gourmet chocolate and having the chance to say, “I saw these in ‘The Hunger Games.’ I thought you would enjoy them.” Belleair Bluffs’ own William Dean Chocolates last year made a splash in the biggest non-vampire, non-superhero movie of 2012. The delicious chocolates also were featured on “The View.” (Whoopi is a fan.) Holiday flavors this year include pumpkin pie, gingerbread, eggnog, hot chocolate and Mandarin balsamic. Prices for assortments range from $5 to $85. Available at, or call (727) 593-0656.

Reader Comments

Por (JulieD) on November 22, 2012 (Suggest removal)

Woah! I need that t-shirt in my life. Thanks, Jeff!!

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Por (James D. Collins) on December 19, 2012 (Suggest removal)


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