The best consumer goods are goods that can be consumed. Sure, there are those national fruit-basket outfits, but stay local and treat your friends with edible goodies that come from the same place you do. That's terroir in action.
1. Quince and Apple (608-217-9448)
Luscious small-batch preserves made by Clare and Matt Stoner Fehsenfeld of Madison. When possible, the preserves are locally sourced with organic and even heirloom ingredients. Try the intense fig and tea or the tangy pear with and ginger preserves. ($6.)
2. Christine's Gourmet Toffee (608-345-6565)
These hefty bars come in four flavors: butter toffee, pecan, pistachio and cashew. But it's the toffee that's the star of the show. Best of all, these handmade sweets are topped with French sea salt. ($7-8.)
3. LaClare Farm Evalon Cheese from Saxon Homestead Creamery (920-547-4108)
Obviously there are a lot of cheeses to choose from in Wisconsin, but over the last six months, this one won my heart. A mellow, amenable raw goat milk cheese, Evalon is reasonably priced and very mildly goaty; aged over 70 days. (About $16/lb.)
4. Potter's Crackers (608-663-5005)
When you have good Wisconsin cheese, you need a good Wisconsin cracker to go with it. ($5)
5. Fat Squirrel Nut Brown Ale from New Glarus Brewing (608-527-5850)
What can you say about a brewery whose product entices FIBs to drive north of the border just to buy a case? Fat Squirrel Nut Brown ups the local ante by using six different types of all-Wisconsin malts. ($8.50)
6. Babcock Hall Ice Cream (608-262-3045)
Mmm, Babcock. It's the most Badgery gift and you can give to someone far away, thanks to WisconsinMade.com. Six pints in a choice of Wisco flavors are shipped in a styrofoam cooler with dry ice. On, Wisconsin. ($47)
7. Hawkwind Heat Mustard (608-356-2926)
Baraboo's mustard makers feature this stone ground rustic mustard that goes well in a Swiss cheese on rye sandwich. ($4.)
8. Clem's Hot Pepper Relish (608-356-2926)
This will gourmet-ize any sandwich in one slather. A colorful hot/sweet relish made from red peppers and onions; also from the folks at Hawkwind. ($4).
9. Three Hot Nuts chocolate bar from Gail Ambrosius (608-249-3500)
A chocolate bar for the people from the Atwood Avenue chocolatier. The heat comes from cayenne and chipotle; the nuts are pine nuts, pistachios and pepitas. And it's topped with a chili verde salt. ($4.75)
Online ordering is usually available; plus, most listed items are available at a handful of stores around town, including Jenifer Street Market, Willy Street Co-op, Fromagination, and Orange Tree Imports.