Gifts to represent ten cities for an anniversary.
February 23, 2009 8:22 AM   Subscribe

Help me distill these ten cities/regions into a giftable essence: Boston, Maui, San Francisco, New Orleans, NYC/Hoboken, Ann Arbor, Toronto, Outer Banks NC, Central PA (Dutch Country), Columbus OH.

This year marks our tenth wedding anniversary, and I would like to give my husband something that represents the ten cities/regions that mean the most to our relationship (other than where we make our home).

If you were to give one gift representing one of those regions, what would it be? If you are from one of those areas, what is it that you crave the most when you "think of home"? I'm looking for something meaningful as a gift, not just a symbol of the area (so for New Orleans, I'd lean more towards a good gumbo cookbook than I would some plastic Mardi Gras beads).

I have some ideas, but in some cases we spent only a memorable week there, no more, so I might be missing something really stellar and neat that shouldn't be missed, gift-wise. We lean more to locally owned companies than large well known chains, indie book and music stores more than sports teams, museums more than beaches, and are big foodies. We live in Pittsburgh, so items must be able to be purchased online and shipped within a 2 month period. I'd really like these to be symbols of ten great years with an amazing man, so I don't want to be shortsighted on ideas. I look forward to your suggestions! Thanks!
posted by librarianamy to Travel & Transportation (32 answers total)
Can you tell us when you were in these cities and for how long?
posted by radioamy at 8:30 AM on February 23, 2009

Best answer: If you're a big foodie and it needs to be shippable, the Ann Arbor representation has to be something from Zingerman's. Pricey, but ridiculously tasty.
posted by joyceanmachine at 8:31 AM on February 23, 2009

PA Dutch- Hex sign. Safer than scrapple.
posted by mkultra at 8:31 AM on February 23, 2009

Toronto: Soma Chocolate
posted by kittyprecious at 8:36 AM on February 23, 2009

An excellent idea.

For Central PA there are lots of potential food items. Hershey's chocolate should come in high on that list. But beer and snack foods are also possibilities, though I'm not sure how many of those are available online. The best pretzels in the world are sold in Lebanon, but they're only available on Saturday mornings and only until they're gone, so that's not likely to work.

Consider getting a quilt. They're expensive, but they last forever. As in my family still has quits made by my great-grandmother. You can use them as bedding or as a wall hanging.
posted by valkyryn at 8:49 AM on February 23, 2009

The Citgo Sign in Boston.
posted by Mizu at 8:49 AM on February 23, 2009

The best mushrooms I ever had were grown in a science lab in a little school in Ann Arbor.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:55 AM on February 23, 2009

boston=baked beans? romantic, i know :P
posted by fancyoats at 9:05 AM on February 23, 2009

Boston=Red Socks.
posted by bitterpants at 9:08 AM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

When I read Central PA/Dutch Country, I thought "quilt", too. There's a quilt pattern called an Ohio Star, so that could be two gifts with one stone? I'm sure you could find an Etsy seller who would do a lap quilt or wall hanging, if you didn't want to spring for a big one (they can be really expensive).

Generally, can I just say that your idea is wicked cool and ambitious - I love it! Were it me, my head would be spinning with possibilities until I picked something to focus on - food, art, whatever. Do you have your own photographs that you could frame in a gallery-wall kind of setup? Or you could purchase photographs and frame them. Or maps? I would love a wall of framed maps with our favorite locales marked on them. Good luck, and let us know how it works out!
posted by ersatzkat at 9:08 AM on February 23, 2009

Buckeye candies for Columbus.
posted by downing street memo at 9:15 AM on February 23, 2009

posted by phunniemee at 9:17 AM on February 23, 2009

For Maui, maybe a Koa wood bowl, some locally-grown coffee, surfing goat cheese, or chocolate covered macadamia nuts.
posted by harrumph at 9:21 AM on February 23, 2009

Best answer: For Columbus, Ohio:

Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream - they ship, for pretty reasonable prices considering how difficult ice cream is to ship and the incredibly quality of their frozen confections

Columbus Brewing Company Beer - I'm rather fond of the Ohio Honey Wheat, myself. You might be able to find it at specialty beer/wine shops.

The Wexner Center Shop - They have a few Ohio-themed t-shirts/hoodies that are pretty fly. The C-BUS shirt with a bus is classic to the point of cliche, though I am pretty sure it'd be cooler if you didn't you know, actually live here.
posted by Juliet Banana at 9:21 AM on February 23, 2009

For Columbus: Graeter's. Best damn ice cream I've ever eaten, plus they deliver. (Packed in dry ice and shipped. I'm not going to lie; it's not cheap. But it's amazingly delicious.)
posted by MeghanC at 9:32 AM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite] has gift baskets of coffee and beignet mix from New Orleans. I don't use cookbooks, but this one is a classic.
posted by artychoke at 9:34 AM on February 23, 2009

Best answer: Hoboken Eddie's makes some delicious barbecue/hot sauces.
posted by thejoshu at 9:35 AM on February 23, 2009

For San Francisco: a rainbow flag!
posted by rtha at 9:36 AM on February 23, 2009

Best answer: Oooh, for New Orleans I'll give a plug for my favorite band of buskers, the Loose Marbles (New Yorker profile here). They play traditional Dixieland jazz on Royal Street in the French Quarter and you can order their CDs via their Facebook page. I have 2 and the quality (of recording and musicianship) is very good. Here's a sample YT video.

For New York, a city near and dear to my heart too, I'd recommend The New York Cookbook by Molly O'Neill. There are lots of wonderful recipes reflecting the ethnic diversity of that helluva town, and wonderful anecdotes about New York history. Seriously, these are great recipes even without the added bonus of NYC lore.

I live in San Francisco but I'm drawing a blank here, oddly. If you're into baking bread, a sourdough culture might be cool - San Francisco sourdough is the result of a symbiotic culture of wild yeast and lactobacillus which resists contamination by other micro-organisms and makes a delicious bread to boot. But it's kind of like having a pet - you have to feed it regularly, so if you don't bake frequently it might be more of a pain than it's worth. You can order the culture from the company in that link.

Love your idea, by the way!
posted by Quietgal at 9:43 AM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

For a one-shot gift, how about a map of all the places you have been like this one:

Instead of using the thread, I would use pushpins. Maybe pushpins that represent each place that you've been.
posted by alice ayres at 10:04 AM on February 23, 2009

Boston = lobster gram. Yum!
posted by mandapanda at 10:11 AM on February 23, 2009

Technically Graeter's is a Cincinnati company that has expanded to Columbus but it does have a production facility there that offers tours. With that said, the ice cream is tremendous and if that was something you enjoyed while in Columbus then by all means have some packed in dry ice and shipped to you (bonus gift points because you then can play with dry ice).
posted by mmascolino at 10:12 AM on February 23, 2009

What did you do on the Outer Banks? My immediate memories of the place are kite flying in Kitty Hawk, history of flight, and the light houses. I would go with a kite or maybe a model of an old airplane, but your memories of what you did might be a better guide.
posted by jocozo3 at 10:32 AM on February 23, 2009

Best answer: Toronto here:
- Maple syrup. (Seriously. Coffee with maple syrup is something I have daily - it is awesome. Baking, pancakes, cooking, yum.) Order online in variety of places, mefi mail if you can't find any and I can help!
- TTC (buses, subways) is very representative of Toronto: (Mefi mail me, I have all of them and don't mind at all sharing one or two if that's all you want! :-) )

I'll keep thinking. This is an awesome, wonderful idea.
posted by olya at 10:37 AM on February 23, 2009

Oh yes, the Spacing buttons would be excellent (I always get a kick out of seeing David Miller (our mayor) on the TTC wearing his).

If you're foodies, some of these cookbooks would be nice. I'd recommend Stadtlander's first, followed by Kennedy and Susur, in that order. Stadtlander is originally German, cooked here for a while, now has a farm up north. Kennedy is Toronto born and bred (and my food theory instructor also taught him, which is cool for me), and Susur is an immigrant but has been here for quite some time.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:57 AM on February 23, 2009

Fastnachts would be good for Central PA, but you'll have a hard time finding them after tomorrow.
posted by MegoSteve at 10:59 AM on February 23, 2009

Sounds wacky, but Good's Potato Chips are from Lancaster County, PA, and are to die for.
posted by gudrun at 11:28 AM on February 23, 2009

God, I'm sorry to say this, but Zingerman's is likely the best gift from Ann Arbor proper. I mean, there are a whole bunch of fantastic albums that came out of Ann Arbor, but without knowing your taste in music, I'd find it hard to recommend any (well, no, since everyone should own Dabenport's first album, one of the most absolutely in-love albums I've ever heard, just incredible and beautiful and timeless, but aside from them, it's hard to recommend).

A lot of what I liked about Ann Arbor is kind of impossible to give, at least at distance—Hanging out in the Arb, puttering around Encore and Wazoo Records, drinking Arbor Brewing beer. What else? I mean, a Borders gift card? U-M merch? Anything from that shitfarm of an Art Fair?

Are you sure you didn't actually live in Ypsi? There's a whole lot of great stuff from Ypsi, from Ypsipanties to books about the nurse serial killer. You could even track down Mark Maynard (at and ask him about his Shadow Art Fair, which has all sorts of amazing stuff.

Oh, last thoughts—The Found book by Davy Rothbart, and uh… Feast of Love by Charles Baxter. The movie was moved to Portland, but the book is all about Ann Arbor. I have to say that I've never read it, but I remember our fiction editor creaming her jeans over it, and it's apparently chockablock with Ann Arbor nostalgia.
posted by klangklangston at 3:14 PM on February 23, 2009

Even if he is not a Buckeyes fan, the Columbus one MUST include something OSU-related. It's a state law. Really.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 5:47 PM on February 23, 2009

For Toronto
posted by limon at 8:47 PM on February 23, 2009

Response by poster: Just as a follow up here's what I'm leaning towards right now:

* Boston (technically Cambridge) –, plus I have commissioned a friend to do a piece with an old subway token
* Maui –
* San Francisco – The San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market Cookbook, and some sour dough bread
* New Orleans - The New Orleans School of Cooking Cookbook
* NYC/Hoboken – and something from here
* Ann Arbor – cheese from the Zingerman’s Creamery, and something from
* Toronto – (and I might try my hand at making some nanaimo bars, since our Toronto trip was our first introduction to them)
* Outer Banks NC – I’m still sort of stumped on, but am leaning towards commissioning something from here -
* Central PA (Dutch Country) – We have a very small collection of scherenschnitte, so I’m leaning towards contacting the museum for a new piece, plus
* Columbus OH -
posted by librarianamy at 6:27 AM on February 26, 2009

For New Orleans you should (and can easily) find an art shop that sells on the theme of the manhole cover - there are glass blowers, artistans, that all produce these.
posted by RajahKing at 9:39 AM on February 26, 2009

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