The Pantry - Winter 2016

December 05, 2016
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Emily Wiswesser knows a thing or two about picking out gifts made in Alaska. We asked her to put together a selection of gifts for this issue’s Pantry to help keep your holiday shopping local!

My husband and I started Alaska Artisanal to provide Alaskans with an easy way to send delicious, small batch food items from around the state to friends and family near and far. In the process, I have tasted, tested, and worked with hundreds of delicious items; a handful of my favorites I am recommending here for holiday gifts. While we don’t offer all the choices below through Alaska Artisanal, I think they make great gifts year-round.


My family tradition growing up was pancakes on Christmas morning after presents were ripped open. Now as an adult I prefer to eat first, but I still crave the simple, humble pancake next to the glow of the tree. Alaska Flour Company has a heavenly, foolproof pancake mix featuring barley flour grown and milled on their farm in Delta Junction. The result is fluffy pancakes with a rich, nutty taste from the barley. They also have delicious brownie and cookie mixes.

Available at various grocery stores including Three Bears (Chugiak, Kenai, Palmer, Wasilla, Tok), Natural Pantry (Anchorage), Fairbanks Co-op Market (Fairbanks), and online at


Wines from Alaska Berries are made from 100% Alaskan grown berries straight from their five-acre farm in Soldotna. While berry wines are naturally sweet, Alaska Berries developed theirs to display a well-rounded taste and flavor. My favorite is their Haskap wine made from the haskap berry, a sort of smash-up in flavor of a strawberry, blueberry and acai berry. While I enjoy the wine anytime, it’s naturally suited to pair with a cheese plate or dessert at the end of a holiday meal.

Available at Alaska Berries (48660 West Poppy Lane, Soldotna) where they also provide tastings of a selection of their wines. Three Bears (Chugiak, Kenai, Palmer, Wasilla, Tok) also carries their wines. Learn more at


As much as I love winter, sometimes I miss the lively aroma of summer. Enter Alaska Botanicals teas. Owner Toni Barrowcliff forages herbs and berries around Homer and Kachemak Bay, then creates tea blends with her finds. The result is a cup that takes me back to the dog days of summer and the smell of hikes to blueberry patches. I particularly love the tea’s summer warmth after a day out skiing, and it’s a wonderful gift for friends and family Outside to get a taste of Alaska’s natural bounty.

Available at various shops including Two Sisters Bakery (233 East Bunnell Ave, Homer) and the Sundry Shop at Alyeska Resort (1000 Arlberg, Girdwood), and online at


To me, the holidays are all about food, with so much of the season spent grazing throughout the day. The perfect solution for snack trays and antipasto platters during this time of year is Butcher Block #9. Applying old world techniques to Alaskan grown beef and pork, Butcher Block #9 (the sister store to Mat Valley Meats in Wasilla) is upping the cured meat game in the state. Their focus on high quality dry cured meats brings tasty sophistication to even the simplest of holiday get-togethers.

Located at 11108 Old Seward Hwy, Anchorage


I spent a year living in Paris, and one of my favorite French traditions is oysters and champagne at Christmastime. Jakolof Bay Oysters, grown by a French family who relocated to Kachemak Bay, are my favorite Alaska oysters. Their oysters are plump and incredibly fresh tasting with a soft sea flavor and getting a dozen is always a huge treat for me. Sharing during holiday celebrations makes it all the better.

Available most weeks in winter at their Oyster Shuck Shack-teau (1411 Lake Shore Dr, Homer). For information on holiday sales, pop-up shops, and shipping visit and sign up for their harvest updates.


These cutting boards are truly works of art. Hand carved, sanded, and oiled by owners Chris and Cassia in Fairbanks, the quality of their work is apparent in every detail. The designs are modern yet timeless, making these a great gift for the home cook or frequent entertainer. I have a few of their items on my own Christmas wish list! In addition to cutting boards, they also have a variety of other kitchen items, including spoons and salt and pepper shakers.

Available at The Shop in Venue (514 2nd Ave, Fairbanks) and online at


With all the excess of the holidays, Kat’s Trail Bites get me back on track with my annual New Year’s healthy-eating goals. Her tasty treats have whey protein for a pre- or post-workout boost (or for a shopping trip to Costco), and are perfect stocking stuffers, especially when paired with a local gym membership. She also has special holiday flavors available in December for a healthy alternative to the office cookie trays.

Available at various Kaladi Brothers Coffee locations and online at


Vodka made from Alaska grown barley? Yes, please! Distilled in Fairbanks, this vodka has a sweet, roasted nut aroma and a smooth taste. Vodka is not my go-to liquor, but this is so good I can sip it on the rocks, which mellows out the alcohol bite and allows the complexity of flavors to really shine.

Available at their distillery (2922 Parks Highway, Fairbanks), various Fairbanks liquor stores, and at Ted Stevens International Airport in Anchorage past security (buy it there to bring with you on the plane when visiting friends and family).


Fair warning from my own first hand experience, Sweet Caribou’s macarons are highly addictive. Made in the traditional French sandwich-cookie style, these tasty little treats come in a variety of flavors to suit any preference. A few are even dairy-free. Their packaging is gorgeous and well-suited as gifts for co-workers, your kid’s teachers, and so on, and they also make beautiful macaron towers for that holiday cookie swap you forgot to make something for.

Available at their storefront (701 West 36th Ave #19, Anchorage) and some items available online at


I’ve loved the Salmon Sisters from the get-go, and find their style so approachable and universal. That makes their wares the perfect go-to gift, suitable for my neighbor or my mother-in-law and everyone in between. I enjoy giving practical gifts, which is why a tea towel with a whimsical design is functional yet fun. They also have started selling oversized enamel mugs, a pretty addition to a camper’s arsenal.

Available at Dos Manos (1317 West Northern Lights Blvd, Suite 3, Anchorage) and online at


I love incorporating the outdoors inside my home, especially when the weather turns cold and bleak around winter solstice. Alaska Rug Company, based at the Port Bailey Cannery on Kodiak, up-cycles fishing line and rope into beautiful knotted trivets, a reminder of boats, sun, and fish on even the darkest days. An especially thoughtful gift for the avid fisherperson in your life, these conversation pieces come in a variety of colors to match any kitchen space.

Available at Monk’s Rock Coffee House and Bookstore (202 East Rezanof Dr, Kodiak) and online at



Alaska Artisanal has a variety of different gift baskets filled with Alaskan made goodies that ship free to anywhere in the US, APOs/FPOs, and select international locations. We want to make gift giving easy and efficient, because who needs more stress around the holidays? Find out more about what we do by visiting us online at


Article from Edible Alaska at
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