Running behind? Out of ideas? Peninsula artists and artisans have a lot to offer.
By Laura Ness
The third week in December can have the holiday clock looming over you like sugar plum fairies with a disapproving gaze. Yes, it is crunch time for gift buying this holiday season, but fear not, we have compiled an eclectic guide to last-minute presents, which will not only meet the difficult standards of your mother-in-law, but support local businesses in the process.
Luckily, we are blessed with a lot of artisan talent here in the 6-5-0, and a quick look at the many fun shops in the region reveals a wonderful bounty of locally-made goods and crafts
So here are 8 great gift ideas, good for the holidays, or just any occasion worth celebrating.
What: Handmade crafts and jewelry
Where: Shady Lane at Sharon Heights
Why: Over two dozen local artisans are represented at Shady Lane, where you will find a treasure trove of amazing creations and custom work, from hand-blown glass to original photographic prints. Whether it’s a unique piece of jewelry for your special someone or a handsome leather-bound journal for your melodramatic teen niece, Shady Lane works as a one-shop-stop for a wide array of different gifts.
Sharon Heights Shopping Center, 325 Sharon Park Drive, Menlo Park
(650) 321–1099 www.shadylanegallery.com
What: Master Chefs of France: The Cookbook
Why: This one-of-a-kind cookbook by 60 French Master Chefs has many local ties, including Executive Chef of the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay, Xavier Solomon (who was the 2017 winner of the “French Master Chef of the Year” Award) and nine Bay Area chefs. Maîtres Cuisiniers de France is the most envied title that chefs aspire to have. Its motto is “to preserve and spread the French culinary arts, encourage training in cuisine, and assist professional development.”
The beautifully presented tome of culinary mastery will inspire any gourmand who seeks a deeper understanding of classic French cuisine with a modern spin. Ask Chef Xavier to autograph the page with his recipe for Pumpkin Lobster Bisque.
Where: The Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay, One Miramontes Point Road Half Moon Bay. (650) 712–7000
What: Wooden handcrafts
Where: Cottage Industries, Half Moon Bay
Why: Sick of your Ikea furniture falling apart one dresser drawer at a time? Cottage Industries in Half Moon Bay creates timeless furniture and decor one piece at a time, ensuring both style and longevity. Beyond big furniture purchases, Cottage Industries offers a wider range of smaller gifts, from kitchen serving boards (made of beautiful walnut) to mini rolling pins (crafted from cherry). Holiday decorations are available as well, offering a subtle and stylish contrast to your glass ornaments and colorful lights.
Cottage Industries, 621 Main Street, Half Moon Bay. (650) 712–8078 www.myhandmadehome.com
What: Authentic German baked goods
Where: Esther’s German Bakery, Los Altos
Why: Esther’s takes pride in baking healthy breads, like Russian Rye, Mountain bread (Alpenleib) and Steinerbrot (studded with sunflower seeds), using nothing but organic flour from the best grains. Pastries like poppy cherry strudel and almond horns will vanquish even the most ardent desert-denier. Sink your teeth into one of Esther’s German seeded pretzels and you’ll know why people twist themselves into knots to get these things. Or order the Sonnenblume, a joyous variety of rolls combined into a fetching centerpiece for a dazzling holiday table.
Esther’s German Bakery, 987 N. San Antonio Road, Los Altos. (650)941–4463
What: Custom glassware and panels
Where: A. Cain Warm Glass, Moss Beach
Why: Aileen Cain’s background as a watercolor and ceramic artist informs her unique bursting-with-color fused glass pieces. She crafts jewelry, platters, bowls and panels of many sizes and shapes from clear, colored, iridized and dichroic glass. She first fuses the many layers in a kiln, creating a single flat piece of glass that can then be returned to the kiln in shaped molds to yield bowls and serving ware. Need a new front door? She can design a fresh bold entryway that will make you proud.
A. Cain Warm Glass, Moss Beach. (650) 728–9591 www.acainwarmglass.com
What: Felted vests, scarves and purses
Where: Silk and Stone, Half Moon Bay
Why: Famous silk artist, Natasha Foucault, and expert buyer, Sasha Gerling, make and source an eclectic mix of original and locally hand-made felted wool-and-silk garments in vivid colors, along with cozy felted slippers, purses and whimsical hats. Natasha’s luxurious silk scarves, capes, long vests and ponchos are elegant works of art, and she makes notecards and prints from her paintings. This is a great place to shop for someone with a fun sense of fashion and design.
Silk and Stone, 431 Main Street, Half Moon Bay (650) 636–3309 www.silkandstonehmb.com
What: Art jewelry
Where: Elizabeth Lynn Moon Designs, Palo Alto.
Why: Elizabeth Lynn channels an eye for beauty and a feel for harmony from her 17 years of harmonious choral expression (she worked with founder George Winston of Windham Hill) into her wearable art jewelry. Each piece tells a story, and she articulates that story in a poem that accompanies each creation. Whether you see something that catches your fancy on her website or have a story you want her to craft for you, the outcome will surely delight.
What: Practical recycled art furniture
Where: One of Designs, Burlingame
Why: Nancy Woods declares her motto to be: Recycle, Reuse, Reimagine and Reinvent. She takes one man’s trash and turns it into a treasure for someone else. Her rockers, stools, tables and benches are delightfully whimsical, yet totally practical. Any old wooden furniture can be reinvented into something completely amazing: all it takes is a little imagination and a lot of elbow grease.
One of Designs 1777 California Drive Studio #12, Burlingame. (650) 799–4841