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Artvoice Weekly Edition » Issue v10n50 (12/14/2011) » Last Minute Gift Guide

Season's Eatings

Sugar, spice, and everything nice: great gifts for food lovers and for yourself


Chow Chocolat (715 Elmwood Avenue)

While lollipops and gumdrops may be the sugar that the little ones crave this time of year, adults can satisfy a sweet tooth in a much more sexy way.

Situated in the hustle and bustle that is the Elmwood Village, Chow Chocolat is wrapping up perfectly appointed and wonderfully ribboned boxes of pure decadence.

Jaclyn Wisz, one of the artisan chocolatiers at Chow Chocolat, speaks passionately about the hand-dipped and hand-decorated delicacies that adorn the various display cases in her chocolate shop.

Wisz creates both sweet and savory chocolates that look more like art and less like candy treats. During the holiday season they proudly craft limited edition chocolates that are only available while the flakes fly in December. Peppermint Bark, Chocolate Trees with edible snow, and Peppermint Caramels make an all-too-brief appearance.

The chocolate shop has a variety of gift boxes ready to go with prices starting at under $10. For those wishing to create that special selection, the staff is happy to help you choose chocolates that will make even the pickiest person on your list smile.

While you contemplate the wide array of elegant chocolates, feel free to sit back on their deeply hued plush chairs and sip on one of their signature, homemade hot cocoas. Wisz recommends the salted caramel variation but notes that many other delicious concoctions are available including a vegan option.

Putting up your feet while drinking a warm hot cocoa and watching your incredible gifts be packaged before your eyes is a experience worthy of turning into a holiday tradition.

Chow Chocolat is open seven days a week and will be keeping their doors open on Christmas Eve as well. Stop in for a last-minute gift of pure chocolate love and treat yourself to a bite as well.


Penzey’s Spices (783 Elmwood Avenue)

Roasted chestnuts, apple pie, cinnamon sticks, and nutmeg shaved over creamy eggnog are familiar aromatics of the season. The blessing of smell is a wonderfully powerful one and can evoke deep and dramatic memories with just a sniff.

Penzey’s Spices has been grinding up gourmet spices for years and the first step through their door opens up a world of nose-tickling sensations.

This year Penzey’s has perfectly packaged selections of their most popular spices and placed them in a boxes perfect for gift-giving.

The cute jars filled with a vast and nearly unlimited variety of seasonings, sugars, salts, and herbs have been paired together and placed in themed orientated gift boxes. There is truly a spice to please everyone’s palate.

Their box entitled “Kind” offers an eclectic mix of rubs and seasonings to flavor the holidays.

Gifts box sets starts for under eight bucks and cater to grill lovers, hot cocoa fanatices, and taco connoisseurs alike. Larger selections and full-blown gift baskets can be had for those with a little extra cash left over.

Penzey’s is open seven days a week and will be open on the ultimate procrastinators day of December 24th. To make trip even quicker, peruse the pre-packaged items available at and pick out your gift before you even open their doors.

An extra layer of wrapping paper is highly recommended. Those wonderful smells are sure to waft through you average gift-wrap and bow.

…And Everything Nice

D’Avolio Olive Oils and Vinegars and The Chair Massage Pit Stop @ The Neighborhood Collective (810 Elmwood Avenue)

As the days tick away and the inevitable looms on the snowy horizon, stress can take over, causing ill-planned gifts and grumpy gift-givers. No one really needs another Christmas tree ornament, and there is only so much room left in the sock drawer.

A quick trip down the Elmwood strip can do both your body and your holiday gift list well. A tasting of a cloyingly sweet 18-year-old balsamic vinegar accompanied by a complimentary world-class espresso followed by a free, deep-tissue chair massage sounds too good to be true. Finishing your holiday shopping while enjoying this heavenly respite is an adult’s Christmas Eve dream.

The Neighborhood Collective is home to both D’Avolio Olive Oils and Vinegars and The Chair Massage Pit Stop, and this is where all of your dreams can come true.

D’Avolio has been operating a sleek and slick olive oil store for more than six months in the current location. Stepping through the doors brings frantic shoppers into a sophisticated store with sparkly steel vats standing at the ready to offer tastings of all of the varietals offered. When it comes to a harissa oil or a gourmet white truffle oil, D’Avolio believes that consumers should take a test drive through various countries and regions that their oils and vinegars represent.

In addition to their ode to oil, the shop also offers a treasure trove of artisanal salts, pastas, and jarred olives. The ingredients are at your fingertips, and Joey Quigliano, a store employee and an olive oil expert, is ready to create a basket to suit both your taste and budget. D’Avolio does offer pre-packaged gifts that can be grabbed to go, but what fun is that?

While Quigliano works his holiday magic on packaging your gifts, sip a free espresso offered in the store and make your way to The Chair Massage Pit Shop and work out those holiday kinks. Jason Jones, owner of the massage shop and a licensed massage therapist for the last seven years, is waiting nearby to help you relax with a complimentary five-minute massage. With your clothes on and without the use of oil, this quick trip to his comfy chair is a no-brainer.

If sampling liquid gold, energizing with a shot of caffeine, and relaxing with a masterful massage isn’t enough, Jones can help you stuff your stocking as well. He offers gift certificates ranging in price from five to 30 bucks, depending on the massage length.

Both Jones and Quigliano will be waiting for you throughout the season. D’Avolio is open seven days a week, and the hours can be found on their website: Jones’s magic hands are ready for action Tuesday through Friday from noon until 6pm, and on Saturday from 11am until 2pm. He also is available by appointment and can be reached at 578-9470.

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