Holiday food and drink gifts from Atlanta and from the heart

Credit: Henri Hollis

Credit: Henri Hollis

If you tend to seek out gifts with interesting backstories, we’ve found a few products whose tales are as unique as the items themselves. From pasta born out of the pandemic to vino that commemorates a fallen figure from the local wine community, these five affordable food- and drink-related goods are all made from the heart. Stuff them in a stocking, pack them into a gift basket, or simply tie a bow around them. But, be sure to share the backstory, too.

A pandemic pasta collaboration

Regular patrons of Root Baking Co. at Ponce City Market and restaurant-turned-market Staplehouse in the Old Fourth Ward will appreciate a holiday gift that combines the talents of both businesses.

Root’s co-owner, Chris Wilkins, and Staplehouse chef and co-owner Ryan Smith split the cost of an extruder and began using organic durum wheat milled at Root to turn out fresh, whole-wheat pasta, including rigatoni, bucatini, ruffle-edged campanelle and long ribbons of mafaldine. An 8-ounce package is enough for two portions, and costs $6. The pasta is sold at both locations, and soon will be available online at the Staplehouse and Root Baking websites.

What started as a pandemic project to keep idle hands busy looks to become a fixture. “Right now, it’s a fun collaboration, but it will get its own name and branding,” Wilkins said. “It started as a fun way to make pasta. Now, it’s becoming a business.”

Root Baking Co., 675 Ponce de Leon Ave. NE, Atlanta. 470-639-8046,

Staplehouse, 541 Edgewood Ave. SE, Atlanta. 404-524-5005,

ExploreAtlanta Orders In: Pizza Jeans from the owners of Root Baking Co.

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

Legacy wine for a good cause

In 2017, Michael Bryan, founder of the Atlanta Wine School and Vino Venue wine bar in Dunwoody, died after a five-year battle with sarcoma. He poured his passion into wine, working at Vino Venue until his final days. Now, the first vintage of a special wine made in his honor has hit the market.

Made entirely from grechetto grapes planted in a vineyard named in Bryan’s honor, the white wine was produced by his Italian winemaker friend, Lorenzo Polegri, with son Tommaso Polegri of Casa Segreta in Umbria. The label, Pietra Fenice, translates to “Stone Phoenix.”

“He was like a rock to so many people,” explained Bryan’s widow, Lelia Bryan, who continues to run the family wine business. Bryan’s ashes were scattered at Casa Segreta. “That’s sort of the phoenix rising from the ashes,” she said.

Credit: handout

Credit: handout

Bryan described Pietra Fenice as highly aromatic, fresh and food-friendly, particularly with cheese.

Scheduled to arrive at Vino Venue Wednesday, the wine retails for $35, and can be ordered on the Vino Venue website. If you purchase a case, you receive a certificate good for an order of Michael’s Plate, a cheese and meat plate valued at $17. In addition, all proceeds from this limited-edition wine will benefit sarcoma research.

Vino Venue, 4478 Chamblee Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. 770-668-0435,

ExploreMade in Georgia food products

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Taste of Atlanta restaurant history

This year marks 75 years in business for beloved Southern restaurant Mary Mac’s Tea Room.

“Mary Mac’s Tea Room 75th Anniversary Cookbook” pays homage to the restaurant, which long has fed politicians, celebrities and anyone else looking for a taste of Southern comfort.

The book has 125 recipes, including customer favorites, such as fried chicken, pot roast, collards, sweet potato souffle and Georgia peach cobbler. Stories and photos chronicle the personalities that have shaped the place, from founder Mary MacKenzie to longtime server Ellen Fraley. The latter died this summer, and one of the restaurant’s dining rooms has been renamed in her honor.

Retailing for $27.99, and available on Amazon or at Mary Mac’s, it’s a gift that would be appreciated by home cooks and Atlanta history buffs, alike.

Mary Mac’s Tea Room. 224 Ponce de Leon Ave. NE, Atlanta. 404- 876-1800,

Credit: Chuck Evans

Credit: Chuck Evans

Handcrafted wooden kitchenware

Although Chuck Evans has been a hobby woodworker most of his life, the 65-year-old Kennesaw resident only got into the craft show business a few years ago. Using exotic woods, such as zebra, wenge and bloodwood, as well as domestics, including cherry, oak, maple and walnut, Evans turns out handcrafted designs, both small (who needs a chess board?) and large (how about a custom wood stovetop cover for instant extra counter space?).

“Anything that people want, I can build,” Evans said.

His kitchenware is perfect for holiday gifting, including cheese slicers, cutting boards, fiddle bow knives and bread boards (the latter two also are sold as a set), with prices ranging $35-$90.

Find Evans’ CE Woodesigns tent at Marietta Square Artisan Market, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays, or visit the market at Gabriel’s Restaurant and Bakery in Marietta, where you’ll find his products on consignment, along with other locally made kitchen items and prepared products.

CE Woodesigns, 470-337-2516,

Credit: Robert Hainer

Credit: Robert Hainer

Chopped chicken liver so good, you may fall in love

Whipping up a batch of chopped chicken liver with her mother was a regular part of Terri Hitzig-Bogartz’s upbringing. She never thought she would become the self-professed queen of chopped liver, until the day in 2016 when the divorcee brought it to a Jewish singles event as her potluck contribution.

“All the women were dying for it, telling me, ‘I want to marry you, Terri!’” she said. (She ended up marrying Bruce Bogartz, executive chef of the now-defunct Bogartz Food Artz in Sandy Springs.)

A year or so later, she began selling the silky-smooth spread, and it has become a staple item for her small food business, Terri’s Kitchen Table. Hitzig-Bogartz won’t divulge the recipe, passed down to her from her grandmother, or the secret ingredient.

Available in 1-pound containers, and sold for $16, it’s best eaten with her homemade sesame crackers, which accompany each order. Since it’s the holidays, go ahead and splurge, and also get her specialty baked goods, including mandelbrot (Jewish biscotti), shortbread cookies and bourbon cinnamon rolls.

Terri’s Kitchen Table, 404-452-2590,

ExploreMore gift guides for everyone in your life
ExploreMore must-buy food products
ExploreCookbook gifts for uncertain times
ExploreUnique holiday gifts for drinkers