Rather not risk getting jostled with the mall herd? Or just looking to mix up your holiday gifts this year? Memphis is full of locally produced foods, from coffees and sauces to baked goods and grits. Consider making a basket of local treats for your friends and loved ones.
One of the newer treats on the market this season comes from MoJo Cookies: a monstrous six-ounce cookie with dark chocolate and walnuts.
Jolene DePete and her mother Colleen run their growing cookie business out of River Oaks restaurant, where Colleen is general manager and wife of head chef José Gutierrez. The mother-and-daughter pair began MoJo Cookies after Jolene's brother passed away in 2006. Joseph "JoJo" DePete was only 16 years old.
"We used to bake cookies with him all the time, so that was kind of the start of the project," Jolene DePete says. "And my little brother used to say 'Enjoy yoself' all the time, so that's kind of our slogan."
The DePetes have perfected their recipe for a signature cookie (dark chocolate chip walnut), but Jolene says she's working on recipes for a double-chocolate cookie, a dark chocolate peanut butter cookie, and eventually an oatmeal cookie. How long it will take to get the new flavors to market depends on the availability of ingredients.
"We're really particular about our ingredients," Jolene says. "We're big on using everything organic, and we've been ordering the chocolate through the restaurant — this Callebaut dark Belgian chocolate, which is just the most incredible chocolate you could use for baking."
MoJo has started to take holiday orders, with a special buy-four/get-one-free offer. Each cookie is $5, but it can feed two to three people. To place your holiday order, call River Oaks at 683-9305 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also check them out at facebook.com/mojocookies.
For the baker in your life, consider stopping by Trolley Stop Market to pick up War Eagle Mill baking mixes, including a hot roll mix, pancake mix, biscuit mix, and a honey nut bread mix. Each kit comes in a quaint cloth bag, which is sweet relief for the wrapping-paper-challenged among us. Also available are a number of packets for homemade desserts by Backdoor Herbs in Blytheville: easy peach cobbler mix, fudge pie mix, and a mix for chocolate chip cream cheese balls.
The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Memphis' Technical Training Center offers holiday shoppers an even better way to double your buying power by purchasing holiday treats and supporting workforce development. Of particular note is their rosemary lemon olive oil sweet bread available at Miss Cordelia's and red velvet cookies, assorted holiday cookies, and gingerbread-man cookies, all available for order by phone at 774-3074.
If your holiday wouldn't be complete without candy, Frantic Chocolates in Midtown offers bourbon truffles, raspberry truffles, and a number of candy barks. You can call and order directly at 270-7832, or pick up a last-minute gift at Trolley Stop Market. Delta Pecans also makes a perfect seasonal and regional gift. Make a sampler of the variety of pecan flavors, including dark and milk chocolate and a spicy honey chipotle, and their Delta Dollars, pecan turtles in white and milk chocolate. Most of these items are available at Trolley Stop Market, Miss Cordelia's, and the Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market, or you can order from a larger selection online at deltapecan.com.
Other holiday favorites include Aunt Lizzie's cheese straws in regular and jalapeno and the beautifully simple design of a TruBee honey jar from just south of Nashville — both available at Miss Cordelia's. Memphis also lays claim to some excellent coffee, from McCarter Coffee (mccartercoffee.com) in Millington to Ugly Mug Coffee (uglymugcoffee.com) roasted here in Memphis. A local coffee that has heretofore flown under the radar is J. Brooks Coffee (jbrookscoffeeroasters.com) made by the two guys who started Ugly Mug, sold the company, and then returned to the coffee business in 2010.
We recommend you shop around for a good variety of tasty Mid-South eats. If you aren't an internet shopper, many grocery stores have begun to carry local products, and the winter farmers markets (Tsunami and Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market, Urban Farms) offer a number of options as well.