It’s not too late to get holiday gifts for friends, family and colleagues. Given the surge in Covid-19 positivity rates, we suspect we’ll be playing catchup for some time in the days and weeks to come. Here’s a peek at some of the gifts we’ve given and received this season. Most are sourced from businesses that are Black, Brown, small, local and socially conscious. Special thanks to Lockwood in Jackson Heights and Astoria for guiding us on some of these choices and carrying such cool stuff. Enjoy!
Umbrellas from Harlem
Harlem designer Sheila Bridges makes prints inspired by French motifs of the 1700s, that celebrate the culture and history of African-American communities. Many of them adorn wallpaper or home decor, but they look great on these umbrellas we gifted to Epicenter staff. $30. Sheila Bridges Design.
A quarter of profits of BLQK, a Black-owned coffee company, go to social-justice organizations. Check out the all-African blend (ground or beans, roasted in Los Angeles), the starter kits, coffee gear (hoodies!) and accessories, as well as a monthly subscription program. (A former colleague once gifted me monthly coffee delivery when I left the organization and it was a great reminder of our friendship.) BLQK.
This chain of coffee shops across New York City also sells coffee for gifting and donates proceeds to charities of its employees’ choice. It details its methods of minimizing environmental impact and responsibly sourcing coffee. A ground 12oz Think Coffee Union Blend costs $18.95. Think.
Browny Coffee Roasters
Queens-based organic coffee? Look no further. This company also offers subscriptions and a variety of coffees. Browny Coffee Roasters’s 12oz Whole Bean retails for $18.95 Browny.
HOT SAUCES FROM ALL FIVE BOROUGHS
What’s more New York than hot sauce? Here’s a sampling of the many tastes of our city, borough by borough. (Prices per bottle)
We have long been fans of this sweets shop and Indian catering outlet. During the pandemic, chef Surbhi Sahni and her team criss-crossed the city making deliveries and we’re forever grateful (we sent them to the doorsteps of families diagnosed with Covid-19 and others just needing a pick-me-up). This past fall, Tagmo debuted its restaurant in South Street Seaport to great acclaim. It’s always a good sign when food we love (and gift to others) boomerangs back around to us. We’ve been thrilled to be recipients of some of Tagmo’s beautifully packaged sweets both at Diwali and, more recently, for the holidays. The seasonal collection starts at $26.99, plus extra for personalized cards and delivery. Tagmo.
The spices from Greenpoint Trading are a mix of the basics and the whimsical. Guided by our friends at Lockwood, we chose the Jamaican jerk seasoning for our holiday boxes. Greenpoint Trading.
Finally, my favorite go-to gift this holiday season has a bittersweet back story. Floyd Cardoz was the first person I knew who died of Covid-19. This celebrity chef’s death shocked the restaurant world but also the Indian community who had been tracking his phenomenal rise since the early days when he opened his Manhattan restaurant Tabla. Floyd truly was a pioneer in the global phenomenon of fine Indian dining. I remember Floyd though as so down-to-earth, a restaurateur who made space for me at tasting tables but who also could hang as we ate West Indian food in Brooklyn. After he died, I became Facebook friends with his wife Barkha who shared pictures of meals and cocktails in his memory. Recently, she launched a line of spices, the Floyd Cardoz Masalas, and you can buy them individually ($11.99) or a six-pack ($66.99). Burlap & Barrel.
As you know, we had literally hundreds of volunteers who helped Epicenter-NYC book New Yorkers for their vaccines over this past year. They have been busy once again in this latest resurgence of Covid-19, helping neighbors navigate testing, boosters or pediatric vaccines. We gifted the staff and our volunteers Floyd’s spices, to thank them … and to remember all we’ve lost.
— S. Mitra Kalita