I am a non-cooking foodie (and yes, I promise that is a real thing). I may not cook, but I love everything about food. How, what, where it is served. How it looks in print, on a kitchen towel or coaster. More than food, I love all bar accessories and cocktail accoutrements.
When I give gifts, I gravitate toward the perfect, unique foodie present: a funky and functional cooking accessory or unexpected tool to make life easier in the kitchen and behind the bar. When I find myself in the predicament of deciding where to shop, I usually turn to Stock on Hope St. This week, I gave the proprietor, Jan Faust Dane, a food-related gift challenge. As I met with her at the relaxed, artisanal storefront, we were joined by Beauford, a neighborhood basset hound who lumbered in for an afternoon biscuit and pat. Jan did not miss a beat, and welcomed him and his owner with a smile. It’s just that kind of store — comfortable, friendly and cool. Stock has been around for two and half years, and it features RI- and US-made products that are associated with food. It is obvious that Jan’s past job as a forager has served her well. Stock is an eclectic foodie’s dream that, unlike many other specialty stores similar to it, will not bring on cold sweats when you look at the price. I decided to stump Jan with five gift buying nightmares, and together, she and I found that meeting the challenge was a piece of cake.
1. You have been invited to a lottery winning friend’s new summer beach mansion and have to bring a gift. This one was easy for her — a horseshoe paperweight/bottle opener. Perfect. I could see myself tying a note that reads, “Don’t forget the little people,” and throwing it through the window because this invitation was a bit of stretch — even for my imagination.
2. You are in line for a promotion and are invited to the boss’ brat daughter’s gradation party. She went with a chocolate as a delicious and safe present that anyone sick of getting things they don’t actually want before college would love. Personally, I gravitated to the porcelain cow head cheese markers used to distinguish between cheeses on a serving platter (I would include Narragansett Creamery’s smelliest and some head cheese from Joe’s Meat Market). Let me tell you, passive aggression never felt so good.
3. A wedding present for your picky gay brother’s best friend’s wedding. She suggested the most awesome “Just Married” bar towel. I immediately pictured it wrapped around a 2012 Schramsberg Brut Rose and tied with matching vineyard vines bow ties, and BAM.
4. You are attending the reading of an eccentric uncle’s will where there is a Yankee swap to determine who gets last pick. The gift should be around $50. She gave me a choice between an adorable pig-shaped cutting board matched with a bacon press and the fixings for the perfect Old Fashioned, complete with Bittermilk mixer and sphere ice molds. Of course I went with the bring home the bacon choice.
5. You’re sending your visiting exchange student home with a little piece of RI (in hopes of getting a Europe invite). Realizing that it must travel well, she gravitated to either a tiny ceramic bowl by Michelle Phaneuf that features RI scenery or a bold, colorful Del’s print by Giraffes + Robots. Both very cool, but I say live dangerously and pick Dave’s coffee syrup.
I had so much fun exploring what Stock has to offer with Jan, but don’t just take my word for it. Go check it out and treat yourself, or if you’re so grateful for my insight that you’re looking to treat me — I now have eye on a wicked cool compressed paper muddler that I saw on my visit.