When it comes to holiday gifting, booze is a sure crowd pleaser. Sure, beer, wine and champagne will make most mouths smile, but for something a little more sophisticated, give Osborne Pedro Ximenez Sherry, also called "PX" for short. It's rich and viscous like chocolate sauce and is a super-sensual ice cream topping or a decadent sipping spirit on its own. And unlike wine, PX keeps for weeks and months after opening -- a gift that keeps on giving that warm and fuzzy feeling. - CP
$14 at San Francisco Wine Trading Co., 250 Taraval St.; 731-6222, www.sfwtc.com (overnight shipping is available).
If you don't think that signing up for a class at City College says "Happy Holidays" with quite the same charm as clinking glasses of eggnog or smooching under the mistletoe, you're probably not alone. Nonetheless, some of the school's affordable, well-taught Continuing Education classes make great gifts and just might instill a bit more wintertime cheer than many of our more common affectations (panhandling Santas and glowing plastic reindeer come instantly to mind). For example, at the school's cooking workshops professional chefs moonlight to share the tricks of their trade for everything from pommes dauphinoise to pho to jelly-filled donuts. The classes are cheap ($45 for one session or $120 for three), and promise to turn even the biggest culinary bumbler into Thomas Keller for a night. - MN
Call the Continuing Education Department at 561-1860 for more information.
When only the very best will do, Planet Organics is just a call away for fresh, healthful, organic home grocery deliveries. Luscious weekly deliveries are fully customizable, vegetarian- or carnivore-friendly, and feature locally farmed foods whenever possible, including Niman Ranch meats, Organic Wine Company wines, Clover Stornetta organic milk, and Petaluma Poultry organic chicken. Yum. Door-to-door delivery is a great gift for your employees (snacks make people happy), the health-conscious family with too little time to shop, or your budding foodie friends. - CP
Starting $28. Call (800) 956-5855 or check out www.planetorganics.com.
Even the crème de la crème needs an image overhaul from time to time. Staying rich, delicious, and easy on the eyes is hardly an easy task. Well, the gilded goddess of chocolate got a major makeover and she's now sitting ever so chic and pretty in her sleek lime green-and-cocoa packaging. Godiva's sophisticated new look, The G Collection, is the perfect one-size-fits-all holiday gift. The new look is luxe and the flavors are nothing short of epicurean eroticism -- key lime pie, Vermont maple walnut, peanut butter and jam, salted caramel, Tasmanian honey, and passion orange to name a few. If you really want to splurge, a keepsake rare East African wenge wood box featuring 30 delectable pieces retails for $350. - CP
$75 for 30-piece assortment; available at Godiva Boutiques, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Neiman Marcus, www.godiva. com.
Can't tell the difference between Cheez Whiz and chèvre? Enroll yourself and a friend in cheese-tasting classes at Leonard's 2001 specialty foods store, where you'll learn about the history of cheese-making, compare up to 60 different cheeses, and vow never to eat parmesan out of a green cardboard cylinder again. The classes are led by lifelong turophile Judy Creighton, former owner of the 6th Avenue Cheese Shop and Creighton's Cheeses and Fine Foods, and feature everything from classics such as Reggiano and cheddar to exotics like sheep's milk and washed-rind cheeses. The basic series takes place over three consecutive Tuesdays in January and costs $100/person; country-specific classes at $45 a pop are offered once a month from February through May. - MN
Call 921-2001 to enroll or purchase a gift certificate.
Unless you've got a plan, shopping at the Ferry Building Marketplace can be overwhelming. Here's your plan: Plow through the crowds until you get to Capay Fruits & Vegetables. Out front is an old ice-cream cart. Someone will reach in and pull out a sample of what's inside, which is toffee, but not ordinary toffee. This is Trinity O's organic fruit-flavored toffee, spiked with lemon, lime, orange, mint, and black cherry flavors. And it's delicious. Buy some in a stylishly wrapped box and you've got a holiday house-warming gift that cannot be beat. - ML
$12.95-$21.95, at the Capay Fruits & Vegetables stall in the Ferry Building, 391-2223, or visit www.trinityo.com.
Stephanie Rush has a big secret: It's her grandmother's remarkable recipe for English toffee. And she's not telling anyone. After all, Grandma Burns kept a tight lip on "The Toffee Recipe" for nearly 25 years, teaching her process only to Stephanie's aunt just one year prior to her death. A smart lady who recognized a fellow sweet tooth hound in Stephanie, that aunt passed the highly coveted recipe onto her. And although Stephanie isn't about to give up the goods on the "Recipe," you can get your hands on her goods in the form of buttery, chocolate-laced goodness in three delicious varieties -- English toffee with almonds, espresso toffee with almonds, and milk and dark chocolate toffee clusters -- that she whips up in the comfort of her Mission-District kitchen. Order online or give her a ring--I promise that after one crunchy, melt-in-your-mouth bite, you'll be hooked. - CP
$8.50-$26.00; 647-7902 or www.rushburn.com.
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