Foodie gifts from the mid-valley

Is there someone on your Christmas gift list who gets giddy about new restaurants, can't wait  for the farmers' market, and refuses to eat things that come out of a can? 

You're in luck, because the Willamette Valley is home to a food culture like no other–we're fiercely local and unashamedly proud of the great food and drink that's produced right here in Oregon. If you're looking for foodie gift this holiday season, here are a few ideas for the locavores on your list.

Albany Nosh Tour

Nosh Tour tickets. Give your loved one the gift of a memorable food experience. The Albany Nosh Tour invites visitors to step onto a trolley and take a food tour through historic downtown Albany. With half-a-dozen surprise stops on each tour, you're guaranteed to have a mouthwatering evening. Past Nosh Tour itineraries have included Sybaris Bistro, home to James Beard-honored chef Matt Bennett; award-winning microbrewery the Calapooia Brew Pub, and Novak's Hungarian Restaurant, one of only two authentic Hungarian restaurants in the United States.

You can buy tickets for a specific Nosh Tour or a gift certificate redeemable for any 2013-14 Nosh Tour, and you'll be sure to please any food-loving friends and family.

Buy tickets to upcoming Nosh Tours:

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  • October 2014 (exact date TBA) Halloween Nosh Tour
  • December 2014 (exact date TBA) Holiday Nosh Tour 

Or buy a gift certificate your loved ones can use toward the purchase of any 2013 or 2014 Nosh Tour tickets.

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Cookbooks and cooking classes. Interested in enjoying some good home cooking? Consider buying your loved one a "Taste of Italy" cookbook from Albany chef Ruby Lewis. Lewis travels to Italy regularly to sample the cuisine and gather new recipes. She was first in her class while studying at Academia Barilla in Parma, Italy. You can also learn directly from the chef at Lewis's Italian cooking classes; purchase your sweetie a spot in an upcoming class and enjoy mastering Italian cooking together.

World-class wine. Nothing goes better with a great meal than high-quality wine, and the Willamette Valley (named the 2013 wine region of the year) is known for having some of the best wine in the world. If you're looking for red wine, try an award-winning Pinot Noir from Springhill Cellars; they've been winning awards with their Pinot since 1988. If a sweeter wine is your style, try a Riesling or Gewurtzaminer from Marks Ridge Winery; these white wines pair well with dessert and lighter meals. 

Locally-grown nuts. The famous Christmas song may talk about chestnuts roasting over an open fire, but if the songwriter had ever visited Oregon, he'd likely have changed his tune. Oregon is famous for its hazelnuts–also known as filberts. Ninety percent of all hazelnuts in the United States are grown right here, in the Willamette Valley's fertile orchards. Hazelnut Hill sells hazelnuts raw, roasted and candied–a great and uniquely Oregon-inspired treat.

Sweet and Spicy Cider. Take a sip of one of  2Towns Ciderhouse's hard ciders and you'll taste the why they've gained a devoted following in a short time; each batch is custom-crafted from locally-sourced apples, pears, and berries. The brewers at 2Towns feature specialty seasonal releases like the Nice & Naughty, a warm and cinnamon-spiced cider for winter sipping. If a someone on your list would enjoy being the first to sample a special-release cider, buy them a membership in 2Towns Ciderhouse's Cider Supporters club; it's only $30 for a lifetime membership and includes early samplings of all special releases and 15% discount on all cider purchases.

To find out more about great Willamette Valley restaurants, wineries, breweries and farms, stop in at the Albany Visitors Association (110 3rd Ave SE, Albany;) call us at 541-928-0911; or e-mail us at We'll happily talk up our favorite local food and help you pick out the perfect tasty Oregon treat for your loved ones.

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