10 Essential Christmas Larder Liners

Christmas is only eight days away, which means you’ve got to line your larder, and fast. Perhaps you haven’t even thought about where your goose, sugar plums, personal snacking ham, golden quince liqueur, 15-lb pasta ball, local chocolate-filled organic bamboo gift basket, and Super Dooper Reindeer Pooper are coming from. Hopefully, this (mostly) edible holiday essentials guide will help. That’s what I’m here for.

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DV123758The Christmas Goose
If you forgot to take your geese bait and super big purse to the waterfront park this summer, you’re probably going to have to buy a goose if you want Dickens’ “feathered phenomenon” on the Christmas table. New Seasons Market can help you bag one the easy way–just call and special order it. Their free-range geese were raised in California, weigh in at around 8-9 pounds, and are $5.99/lb. Or, if you want an Oregon-bred farm fresh goose, check out Clatskanie-based Barefoot Farm & Flowers, which is fattening 10 free-range, hormone-free Embden geese for your roasting pleasure ($6/lb). Geese come butchered, cleaned and oven-ready, can be ordered by emailing caterpillarcircu@netscape.net, and can be retrieved at Barefoot Farm’s Hillsboro pick-up spot.

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xmashamwholeThe Christmas Ham
The Christmas ham should be an extraordinary ham, and you can find extraordinary hams at Olympic Provisions, where Salumist Elias Cairo has stocked the deli case with his juicy brined holiday hams, which weigh in at about 2 pounds ($11/lb), the perfect size for one hungry food blogger, who may or may not have eaten an entire one of these luscious mini-hams last Sunday, over the course of three meals and two snacks. Laurelhurst Market‘s butcher shop is also selling both bone-in ($8/lb.) or boneless ($10/lb.) hams made from Carlton Farms legs, available by the whole (12-14 lbs) or half. If you’re also in the market for The Christmas Turkey and The Christmas Prime Rib, Laurelhurst has those too.

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decogingerrumThe Christmas Booze

Last weekend was very merry on Distillery Row (an excellent place to kill a few hours with your visiting relatives next week, BTW), as residents New Deal Distillery and House Spirits Distillery hosted their popular annual holiday boozefests. While we sampled many, many excellent tipples, the longest line we waited in (and we were glad we did) was for Deco Distillery‘s delightfully-spicy handcrafted Deco Ginger Rum blended with apple cider. Sweeten to taste with simple syrup (or not at all), and keep this happy holiday hooch warming in the crock pot, cauldron, or canteen for all day long Christmas sipping. Speaking of interesting local liquor, this Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 17 & 18, Stone Barn Brandyworks will be sampling and selling their brand-new Golden Quince Liqueur at their Southeast Portland tasting room, which just sounds utterly festive.

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kellyswensonschristmaspunchThe Christmas Punch

While we’re talking booze, I might as well address that old holiday favorite–the Christmas punch. If you have a favorite family punch recipe, scrap it, and if you don’t already have a family punch recipe, rejoice, because June bartender Kelley Swenson‘s Winter Cranberry Punch, made with Oregon’s own Vincent Farm cranberry juice, fresh cranberries and a spiced simple syrup, and adorned with beautiful fresh cranberries and glossy Kaffir lime leaves, is your new go-to holiday sipper. See full recipe here>>

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The Christmas Reindeer
If you’ve always secretly wondered what Rudolph tastes like and want to give the visiting family members a downtown food cart experience, march everyone to Beez Neez Gourmet Sausage cart on SW 3rd & Washington for an authentic Alaskan Reindeer Sausage ($4.75), which owner/ former Alaskan Bryan Veal has flown in several times a month from his Alaskan reindeer sausage sources. Mild and slightly gamey, these sausages are delicious with just grilled onions and mustard, or kicked up a notch with one of Veal’s special sauces, like the honey chipotle aioli, Smoky Garlicky Goodness, or chile de arbol, garlic and guajillo hot sauce.

sdrpHey, speaking of reindeer, remember when you would go hiking in the Alaskan tundra during family summer vacations, and your brothers would dare you to eat reindeer poop, telling you that it tasted like chocolate jellybeans? Yeah, I bet you were too smart to fall for that one. But now, reindeer poop really does taste like jellybeans! Behold, the super duper fantastic Super Dooper Reindeer Pooper, this season’s must-have desk accessory/stocking stuffer. Find them at the front counter of Paper Source on Northwest 23rd ($6.95). I for one have five wrapped and ready to go for last minute “Holy reindeer poop, I forgot about you!” gifts.

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ipltimpanoThe Christmas Hot Mess

However you feel about eating pasta dough balls the size of André the Giant’s head, you have to admit, there is something mesmerizing about Montavilla specialty grocery Immortal Pie and Larder‘s anthill-sized Timpano, a 15 (or so) pound mound of (I’m going to let IPL’s Morgan Ennis take it from here) “layers of penne pasta, the first in Bechamel sauce topped with meatballs, salami, fontina cheese, and eggs then another layer of penne this time in a bolognese-style sauce and topped again with the meatballs, salami and fontina all encased completely in a dough that’s part bread part pie and all good.” Morgan is only making 10 of these meaty babies, which serve roughly 6-8 people, so order with haste if you want an unusual Christmas feast centerpiece this year.

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giveportlandgbThe Christmas Gift Basket

I used to be a teacher, and sometimes, when people don’t know exactly what to get their kid’s teacher, they resort to a generic holiday gift basket filled with all manner of allegedly-edible vulgarities. Thusly, I have a bit of a complex about gift baskets. However, if I could sit Santa down and have a heart-to-heart about exactly what I wanted in a basket, new Give Portland artisan gift baskets are exactly the sort of organic bamboo basket-contained collection of local goodies I’d dream up. Take for example, the Sweet Life, which is packed with local chocolate-related goodness like a quartet of Xocolatl de David‘s chocolates, Miss Zumstein’s chocolate cocao nibs shortbread, Wingnut Confections marionberry truffles, Stirs The Soul raw dark chocolate bar, Bees & Beans honey candy bar, and Cherry Country‘s chocolate-covered cherries. Perfection! Who wouldn’t weep like a winning/losing beauty queen upon receiving this? Good host(ess) that you are, I’m sure you’ll order these beautiful baskets up for all your visiting relatives, and have them perched on the side table next to the ancient basement sofa bed upon their arrival.

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sugarplumsThe Christmas Sugar Plums

Northwest Sweets owner/confectioner Steve Gazda has turned his NW 23rd Avenue candy shop into a veritable Santa’s workshop of holiday sweet treats, as he works late into the night crafting his sacchariferous stock. Amidst the peppermint bark, buttered rum caramels, brightly-colored lollipops, and bacon butter crunch (a supreme stocking stuffer), are the sugar plums ($6 for a bag of three). I have to admit, traditionally, when visions of sugar plums danced in my head, I honestly pictured whole plums merrily rolling around in sugar while an indulgent fairy looked on. This is an inaccurate vision. Although they somewhat resemble a plum rolled in sugar, these confections of poetic lore are actually an orb of chopped dried plums, figs, cranberries, dates, golden raisins, currants and candied ginger, which Steve combines with chestnut honey, rum, and sugar ‘n spice, then rolls in coarse turbinado sugar for a sandy-sweet finish. You can eat these sugar plums whole, crumble them atop oatmeal or an apple pie, mix them into bread puddings, or throw them at each other in lieu of snowballs, among their many uses.

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PFM_logoThe Christmas Veggies

I’m not writing this with the intention of making you cry, but you might when you realize that this Saturday marks the final PSU Portland Farmers Market of 2010. Yes, yet another glorious farmers market season has passed. Kind of makes you feel sad, and alone, and hungry, and old, right? Don’t dwell on it, just get to Portland State Saturday between 9am and 2pm and support the vendors who’ve seen you through to the bitter, rainy, wet, and cold end.

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mistletoeThe Christmas Mistletoe

I’m going to digress from the edibles theme for a moment here, because it’s a really bad idea to eat mistletoe, but if you want any kitchen kissing to get done around the holidays, you should probably hang a few festive fronds over the stove and in the pantry (always an excellent secret makeout spot). Old Town Florist carries mistletoe in their Pearl District shop, and on your way to pick some up you can pop into neighboring Nuvrei and pick up a box of berry brioche for Christmas morning (just a thought), while Emerald Petals on N. Mississippi can order you some for next day pickup.