9 delicious Christmas gifts that support local businesses: Mimi’s Picks
Give the gift of giving back to community merchants by shopping locally in these neighborhood gems.
Freshly roasted coffee beans and loose teas, handmade chocolates and decorative bars, jams and chutneys, clove-flavored cinnamon and vanilla marshmallows and provenance spices and blends world are just a few of the enticing finds on this list.
Clean and sanitized, these merchants have complied with CDC pandemic guidelines. So hide yourself and get started, these local stores are ready for your business.
Brittle bark: 33 W. Main Street, Mechanicsburg, 717-697-6950
Hand-crafted and gourmet Breton chocolates
“What will last forever?” thought Diane Krulac in 1992 while trying to propose a pastry for the nursery school of her daughter. “I needed something that would last. I thought of the candy. she said.
She borrowed her neighbor’s candy thermometer and, through trial and error, produced the first batch of what would later be known as Poppin ‘Time Brittle Bark. This light and creamy peanut crunch recipe has a unique flavor and crunchy texture from pockets of peanuts, popcorn and pretzels. “Later, I poured dark chocolate over the pieces. People loved it, ”Krulac said. You too, and everything else in this candy-filled store.
Cocoa Creek Chocolates: 18 S. 18th St., Camp Hill, 717-697-6950
If anyone can open a business during the pandemic and keep it running, it’s Diane Krulac. In addition to running Brittle Bark in Mechanicsburg, she recently opened Cocoa Creek Chocolates. This tiny boutique features shelves of artistically detailed chocolates and confectionery, from truffles and creams to bar collections. “Each chocolate tells a story.” Is the motto here.
Fine chocolate sourced from around the world is the key to micro-lots of exceptionally beautiful and uniquely tasting chocolates and bars. For a little something extra added to your wine or champagne gift, purchase the Four Piece Truffle Bottle Hanger ($ 8). It is a box of chocolates intended to hang from the neck of the bottle. The “warm up to the holidays” collection is based on hot drinks with individual flavors of truffle chocolates: hot chocolate, hot buttered rum, hot cider and hot toddy.
A good woman: 1801 Market Street, Camp Hill, 717-975-8101
For the cook who has it all, there is even more to eat, drink, sniff and savor here. Freshly roasted world-sourced coffee beans, a back wall filled with jars of loose aromatic teas, shelves overflowing with gourmet jams and lemon curd, chutneys and mustards are just the beginning of the items to choose from in this well packed but well organized shop.
The latest featured item is “dinner to go,” an assembly of packaged items that make up a homemade meal like pasta, gravy, cheddar cheese and chive scone mix, gouda, and Italian olives. Queen size garlic. Start the meal with a small pot of Samatha bone soup and broth. Don’t miss out on Short & Sweet’s homemade peppermint rind brownie, available by checkout.
Chocolates by Tina Marie: 16 rue S. Rosanna, Hummelstown, 717-903-5233
Extended hours on public holidays: December 17 to 21, Tuesday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. December 23, 10 am-5pm; December 24 is 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Tina Marie Lerch grew up in Hershey surrounded by the scent of chocolate. She continues to bask in the cocoa-infused air of her own artisan chocolate-making business. Tina Marie’s Chocolates feature beautifully wrapped products ranging from artisan chocolates, chocolate-covered pretzels, nuts and fruit to an assortment of retro candies, gummy candies and holiday specialty items such as bark. Peppermint always popular.
Seventy percent of the chocolates sold – including gluten-free and sugar-free – are made in-house. The quaint boutique is located along a quiet side street in downtown Hummelstown. “We call it our mini Lititz,” Lerch said. Not only does the place have the feel of mini Lititz, but the chocolates have the flavor of Wilbur Chocolate Company. Melted peanut butter is one of the first recipes created by Tina and one of the most requested flavors. They are an intense, creamy peanut butter candy that literally melts in your mouth.
Golden Door Oil and Vinegar Faucet Room: 9 E. High St., Carlisle, 717-409-5036
Pass through the golden double doors and enter the creaky hall of this old-fashioned Victorian house and you’ll find all kinds of interesting packaged food. Resting bottles of high-quality olive oils line shelves like aged wines. A myriad of assorted vinegars distract the eyes en route to the back room, where Stoney Creek Valley Farm’s preserves and sauces, homemade noodles, jams and lemonade mixes are packed into the compact space.
I highly recommend the intense and fruity Chilean extra virgin olive oil, the large bottle ($ 15) and the blackberry balsamic vinegar. When boiled, the vinegar makes a nice frosting for chicken or bruschetta. If children are in the trailer, enter the neighboring business, Create-A-Paloozaand spend the rest of the afternoon painting your own pottery for gift giving.
Mummert chocolates: 21 rue W. Pomfret, Carlisle, 717-258-9341
This charming chocolate shop is family owned and operated. The collections of gourmet chocolates and wrapped gifts are easy to navigate. The sweet smell of luscious chocolate permeates the entire space. All of the assorted chocolates, from caramel-filled cream and milk pecan turtles to beloved peanut butter chocolates, are made on site with the finest Swiss chocolate. Locals know to take refuge in a bag or two of the pretzels covered in white chocolate dust, available only during the holiday season.
Calicutts Spice Co.: 130 W. Chocolate Ave., Hershey, 717-297-0598
Stepping into this modern and chic retail store is as close as you’ll get on cloud nine. Satisfied customers are enveloped in the aromatic scents of cloves, cumin, cardamom and fenugreek, chili powder, curry and vanilla. Handcrafted batches of these spices from around the world are roasted and ground at the bottom of the room. Take your time to browse through single and mixed spices for both sweet and savory uses. Don’t leave without a small bag of spicy plush toys ($ 6). These are locally made, spice-based marshmallows, intensely flavored with cloves, ginger, vanilla and nutmeg. On that note, you’ll need a jar of spiced cinnamon and cayenne pepper cocoa to accompany the marshmallows.
Tastealotta Destination olive oil and vinegar tasting room, State Street Plaza, 829 State St., Lemoyne, 717-731-9900
This small retail store is tucked away at the back of State Street Plaza. It may be small, but there are great discoveries. They have one of the best selections of world-sourced olive oils and vinegars. You can taste any of the choices of flavored oil and vinegar from shiny taps neatly placed in rows above the bottles. Examples include cilantro and red onion ($ 16.95), infused chipotle ($ 16.95), infused blood orange ($ 17.95), and butternut squash seeds ($ 15.95) The world’s olive oils cost between $ 15.95 and the most expensive truffle oil at $ 33.95. There’s also hand-made pasta, homemade slow-cooker soups, gourmet flavored salts (espresso-flavored black sea salt costs $ 11.95 for 4.0 oz. alder wood costs $ 12.95) and rubs. During the month of December, a 20% discount is available on all purchases over $ 40.
Exquisite Carlisle Chocolates: 35 S. Hanover Street, Carlisle, 717-220-7081
Take the time to look around this well-organized and diverse boutique. Yes, there is chocolate, but there are collections of all kinds of food and gift products from all over the world. Chilled, beautifully sculpted desserts from chocolatier Ghyslain are individually wrapped and ready to take home, and there’s an ice cream bar set up at the back of the room with artisan Villa Dolce gelato Italiano.
There’s also hot Moonstruck coconuts from Portland, Oregon, organic green tea, and herbs like Match Ginger Buzz from Rishi Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Reading Craft Sodas, Cervantes Coffee Roasters in Virginia, and Millie’s (from Washington state). vegan, gluten free and all natural plant. sipping broth in orientable bags are grouped in the room.
The front and central glass display case in front of the entrance pays homage to the famous Neuhaus Belgian chocolate collections with creams, caramels, truffles, ganache, manons, pralines and miniature cones filled with rosettes. The elegant tapered chocolates that come in wrapped sleeves pair well with wine. Praline chocolates in simple, earthy tones are less sweet and pair very well with white wine. The fruit-flavored versions of these oval-shaped candies stand well alongside bold Merlots or nuanced Cabernets.