By Annie Baker

If you have a hard time finding the perfect holiday gifts for friends, remember that the ideal place to shop is at the Napa Farmers Market. Think about it. Everything is local. Everything is handmade. Everything is awesome.

Food-themed gifts are a fun idea. There are so many yummy treats at the market. Think of all the unique gift baskets you can assemble from different market stalls.  Make a basket with coffee from Ohm Coffee Roasters or Dali Coffee and sweet treats from Sweet Linda Lou’s, Monday Bakery and Sweet Pea Bake Shop. For a tea lover, build a basket with tea from Napa Valley Tea Co and baked goods from Sweet Somethings, Lo Strano Gatto, Rollz Baking Company or even gluten-free items from Flour Chylde Bakery. For an Anglophile, you can create a basket full of English treats from Bailey’s Best English Sausage Rolls & Savory Pies.

For someone who loves Italian food, consider composing a basket with handmade pasta from Pasta Poetry, aromatic olive oil from Atlas Peak Olive Oil and some bacon from Contimo Provisions. You might even want to clip the recipe below for pasta carbonara to add to this basket. Get fancy and add some cheese from Achadinha Cheese Company or Dacheva Son’s Cheese Company. Now throw in some dried mushrooms from Far West Fungi.

A dog-treat basket for that dog lover on your list might include Sonoma Mountain Beef Company beef bones and some of the beautifully hand-decorated dog treats from Drool Dog.

Nut butter fans would enjoy a basket of Handsome Carver nut butter and some yummy honey from Henry’s Bullfrog Bees & Pure Honey or local honey from Salami Lady Cash & Carry. Or create a basket full of different types of granola from Way to Life Foods for that health nut in your life. And don’t forget your friends who love Mediterranean food. They would appreciate a basket filled with different types of hummus and pita chips from the Hummus Guy or the amazing hummus and fresh pita from JuJu’s Kitchen.

The handmade crafts at the market make welcome holiday gifts, too. Pamper a stressed-out friend with bath salts, body lotions or hand and foot creams from Napa Valley Au Naturel, My Two Scents or Simply Natural Madagascar. Tuck in some scented candles from The Paris Apartment for your friend to enjoy while soaking in the tub. And maybe some art pieces from In the Moment Wine Country Creative or Dandelion Designs.

As for your fashion-forward friends, you can find some great leather belts and bags at Napa Valley Leathercraft and Milosc Designs. Cruz Designs, Made in the USA and I’m Sew Sure have handmade aprons and bags. And at Stuck on Napa, you’ll find great gifts for your friends who live somewhere else. Everybody enjoys keepsakes from the Napa Valley.

Think about creating a unique gift by adding some candy or heirloom apples to handmade pottery bowls from Flower Farm Pottery or Cynthia J. Hipkiss ceramics. Art Barrel Creations has terrific gift items made from recycled wine barrels.  Also check out the wonderful metal pieces from Straight Line Forge and Ramirez Metal Art.

You probably have a jewelry lover on your holiday gift list. There are so many amazing hand-crafted necklaces and earrings at the market.  Check out Sherri Gallagher Beadwork, Sharon Hedlund Designs, Nancy’s Necklace, Pearls Roxanna and Robert Redus Art for some truly unique designs.

Pasta Carbonara

This recipe is from the Bon Appétit Test Kitchen.


1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

6 ounces pancetta or bacon, chopped

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 large eggs

6 ounces finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 1½ cups)

12 ounces perciatelli, bucatini or spaghetti

Kosher salt


In a large heavy skillet over medium heat, combine the oil and pancetta and sauté until the pancetta is crisp and golden. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to paper towels. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of rendered fat from the pan. Add the pepper, stir, and pour into a large bowl; let cool slightly. Add the eggs to the bowl and whisk to combine. Mix in the pancetta and parmesan until creamy; set aside.

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to the bite. Drain the pasta, reserving 2 cups of pasta cooking water.

Add the drained pasta to the bowl and toss vigorously with tongs to coat. Add 1/2 cup reserved pasta cooking water and toss to combine. Continue adding more pasta cooking water, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, until the sauce thickens and coats the pasta. Transfer the pasta to warmed bowls and serve.

Serves 4

Annie (the) Baker is a board member of the Napa Farmers’ Market and a cookie vendor at the market.