What gift should I get for my wife?
August 7, 2014 7:59 AM   Subscribe

I'll be spending a few days in the San Francisco Bay Area this coming weekend. My wife will be remaining at home. What gift should I get for her?

Ideally, I'd like to get something that is not easily obtainable outside the Bay Area and is small enough to pack into an airplane carry-on bag (I won't be checking any luggage). My wife is in her 40s and likes vegan foods, cooking, photography, chocolate, wine, beer, and animals (particularly cats).
posted by alex1965 to Shopping (23 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
My college-aged daughter was there this summer, and sent me strange candies from Chinatown, because she knows me well and loves me. I live in DC, where there's no shortage of Asian grocery stores, but it was special to get an assortment of things I might not have seen before, or things I might've been afraid to try.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:04 AM on August 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Go to the Ferry building, get some fun things:
- amazing heirloom beans from Rancho Gordo, some of their Mexican oregano and their bean cookbook if it's available. Really phenomenal beans, I swear. Nothing like the dried out beans from the grocery store!
- Tcho chocolate and other fun things from one of the markets (La Cocina or Village Market)
- cheese from Cowgirl Creamery if she eats cheese
- one small perfect Heath vase and a printed tea towel if you desire
- maybe a pound of coffee from Blue Bottle
- other snacks or gifts that strike your fancy. They have tons of great local options there - wood platters, little planters for air plants (including the plants), delicious hipster popcorn in sealed containers, and many other little bits that make excellent gifts!
posted by barnone at 8:11 AM on August 7, 2014 [13 favorites]

Not too far from the Ferry Building, the Exploratorium has a museum store with all kinds of weird and wonderful things, including items by local artists and artisans.
posted by moonmilk at 8:14 AM on August 7, 2014

I was with my husband when he bought me some Alcatraz prison-striped pajamas during our first visit to San Francisco (google suggest we bought them at the Alcatraz gift shop at Pier 39) some ten years ago: I still love wearing them in winter.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 8:15 AM on August 7, 2014

Sourdough Bread. There's a Boudin outlet at SFO. Just buy as you board.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:22 AM on August 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Haw Flakes in Chinatown. Grab me some while you're at it.
posted by Sassyfras at 8:26 AM on August 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

Haw Flakes are great, and you can get them at the candy store next to Portsmouth Square. I haven't seen them at 99 Ranch for years. I'm not sure how vegan they are, and I don't think anybody can say for sure regardless.

For the vegan side of things, certainly a trip to Rainbow Grocery is in order. Just get one of everything.
posted by rhizome at 8:37 AM on August 7, 2014

posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:49 AM on August 7, 2014

If you get one box of candy, it's got to be See's.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 9:35 AM on August 7, 2014

Seconding TCHO chocolate. Butterfly chocolate is also supposed to be good, though I haven't had it. Both are made in San Francisco, and are luxury luxury luxury deluxe.
posted by oceanjesse at 9:37 AM on August 7, 2014

The Ferry Building is perfect. But if you happen to run out of time for some reason and happen to be flying out of Terminal 2, check out Napa Farms Market, which also has a decent selection of local food (Acme Bread, etc etc).
posted by three_red_balloons at 10:03 AM on August 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

The commodities San Francisco is known for (I believe) are sourdough bread and Ghirardelli chocolate, both of which are available anywhere. The Ferry Building has a lot of cute, local shops so I agree you might be able to find something there. That's probably where I would go if I were looking to bring a loved one something.

If you go by Ghirardelli Square, there are a couple shops with San Francisco-based gifts and knick-knacks. I looked up the stores I remember seeing and I believe they are called Lola of North Beach and Jackson & Polk. They sell books, stationary, little cute things. Not sure that's what you had in mind.
posted by AppleTurnover at 10:37 AM on August 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yeah, if coffee, the Blue Bottle or Ritual. Or Sightglass.
posted by armoir from antproof case at 10:37 AM on August 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Husband got me a book at City Lights, which I thought was sweet.
posted by Brittanie at 10:48 AM on August 7, 2014

Recchiuti Confections in the Ferry Building has amazing chocolates. And I second the Rancho Gordo beans suggestion - so good!
posted by insectosaurus at 11:43 AM on August 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

Where are you staying?
It might help us to suggest specific shops for local things rather than send you all over the place.

The Tcho site says that all of their dark chocolate is vegan. Dandelion Chocolate is also local. Not sure what is vegan.
xoxtruffles in North Beach has vegan truffles that my vegan friends seem to enjoy.
posted by oneear at 11:56 AM on August 7, 2014

Forget Boudin. Go to one of the Arizmendi bakeries (see list at bottom of web page) in the area the day before you leave and get bread there - preferably the delicious, delicious wolverine bread. I brought some home with me on my last trip to SF and it felt like extending my vacation a day or two.

For me, San Francisco is bakeries.
posted by maryr at 12:16 PM on August 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

I strongly favor barnone's advice. If you happen to not go by the Ferry building and instead happen, as Apple Turnover suggests, to go by Ghirardelli Square, step into Elizabeth W and check out their fragrances. They are very local (their "factory") is on a residential street approximately 6 blocks from where I live, and they have some lovely and unusual scents. I'm a big fan of Neroli Chamomile.

Also, if you go to Arizmendi, get a Chocolate Thing or two. Or three.
posted by janey47 at 1:35 PM on August 7, 2014

I have no idea if they're vegan but last time I went to San Francisco, I bought back bags of fortune cookies from the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory and they were a hit.
posted by jabes at 4:37 PM on August 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks go out to everyone for the excellent suggestions. Someone asked where I will be staying. I'll be at the Point Montara Lighthouse Hostel, but I'll have a rental car and will be driving to Berkeley and Palo Alto -- and probably San Francisco, as well.

Thanks again.
posted by alex1965 at 5:58 PM on August 7, 2014

Chocolate you say? Recchiuti in the ferry building is fantastic. Charles Chocolates is in the Mission and is also amazing. If you're in Berkeley, and this might be easier to get to by car than the other SF places, you can get the same sort of thing at Alegio on Shattuck.

I personally do not like Tcho chocolate, YMMV.

Now if you do not have tons of money with which to buy precious teeny little truffles, consider Fog City News which has an amazing assortment of chocolate bars from every origin anywhere. They also have fun greeting cards.

If you happen to be in Palo Alto when it's open, the Chocolate Garage is a very bay area chocolate experience.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:15 PM on August 7, 2014

Another vote for sourdough! San Francisco sourdough is much better than elsewhere, in my humble opinion.
posted by fyrebelley at 9:30 PM on August 7, 2014

Response by poster: I'm back from my trip. I had very little free time, so I did a whirlwind tour through the Ferry Building (per the suggestions on this thread), and I found a bunch of cool stuff, including Tcho Chocolate and some kind of very funky popping corn from Rancho Gordo.

Thanks, AskMeFi!
posted by alex1965 at 8:12 AM on August 13, 2014

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