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‘Tis the season to be partisan to the artisan

By Paul Viau | Dec 04, 2013
Photo by: Paul Viau A REAL BASKET CASE — Amy Bennington of Mountain Favors makes a good case for buying local, artisan gifts for Christmas.

In my last column, I promised a few suggestions for shopping local. Great gift ideas abound in Haywood County — just keep your eyes open. It also helps to keep your focus small, as in “Shop Small.”

Did you know? — If a store name contains the word “mega,” “mart,” or both, it’s not a spot for shopping small, no matter how little a gift you buy.

On the other hand, if the store is privately owned, selling products made on the premises, this is about as small as you can get — your purchases directly benefit the storeowner, his/her family — as well as the local community.

These artisan stores are all around us.

For example, suppose you are driving home on Pigeon Street. Just a few blocks from downtown Waynesville, you’ll find a couple great artisan food makers that will satisfy your cravings for both sweet and savory.

First up, is one of the winners of the 2012 Haywood County Chamber of Commerce Startup Business Competition — Copper Pot & Wooden Spoon. There you will find owner and chef Jessica DeMarco turning locally grown seasonal produce into award-winning pickles and preserves.

In the process, she is also preserving tradition — making preserves the way it has been done for centuries. Copper Pot and Wooden Spoon is as local as you can get, but accolades are pouring in about its artisan foods as fast as they can pour jam into a jar.

In 2012, DeMarco won national honors when selected one of the top 100 “American Made” food vendors by readers of MarthaStewart.com. Sweet! This year the editors of Food & Wine magazine chose Copper Pot & Wooden Spoon’s Roasted Red Pepper and Peach Jam for its “Top Ten List” in September.

Pick up this award-winning jam and other great artisan foods at 449-A Pigeon St., in Waynesville. The CP&WS storefront is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays.

Just a couple blocks down Pigeon Street is another sweet local success story — Steeplechase Olde English Toffee. Owner, Barbara Joyce, has been turning out sweet treats from a copper kettle for more than 14 years. Her secret recipe as about as good as it gets, and she also offers free samples to get your mouth watering. Stop by the store at 245 Pigeon St.

One more suggestion for local artisan gift giving is Hazelwood Soap Company. I know this is not a food product, but I remember having my mouth washed out with soap several times when I was a youngster. I guess I never lost my taste for it.

Hazelwood Soap Company is another family owned business specializing in artisanal bath, body and home products. Their wares were included in gift bags distributed at the Emmy Awards, which certainly makes them good enough for your gift bags and baskets, too. You’ll fine Hazelwood Soap Company at (not surprisingly) 452 Hazelwood Ave.

And speaking of baskets, I have one final artisan gift source to suggest — Mountain Favors, neatly hidden in the basement of Twigs & Leaves on Waynesville’s Main Street.

This wonderful business takes the fuss out of shopping for local artisan fare. From bath and body products to hand-made baby bibs, coffee to chocolates, pottery to a wide variety of copper pot creations — Mountain Favors is a “one-stop shop.”

Pick and choose from local artisanal products, add your own touches and “tisket, a tasket,” they’ll put it in a basket. Even better, Mountain Favors can do you the favor of wrapping and shipping of your Christmas goodies, too.

So happy Christmas shopping, y’all. Make it seasonal to be artisanal.