Products from Vermont and Essex figure into the New England Gift Box
Photo by Heidi Murphy/White Loft Studio
Attention local foodies: Maggie Battista has your dream job.
Battista is the founder of Lynnfield-based Eat Boutique, an online business that curates gift boxes containing creative and delicious handmade food products from independent artisans from around the country. The concept was borne out of Battista’s travels with her husband, during which she was always on the lookout for foods made in a special way or with some ancient technique.
“When I traveled somewhere, I would go a few extra miles, or down the block, or strange places to find things made by hand,” Battista says. Initially, she blogged about her culinary discoveries and experiences, but she wanted to take things a step further and eventually decided to package the items into expertly curated gift boxes. “I love this stuff so much,” she says. “I want to put it in gifts because these are the kinds of gifts that I want to get.”
Eat Boutique’s first set of gift boxes hit the market in 2009 and sold out immediately. Since then, the company has expanded to include a variety of themed gift boxes, custom corporate boxes, and items sold à la carte. Shoppers will find an ever-changing variety of products in each of the boxes. There might be goat milk chai caramels from Vermont’s Big Picture Farm and cookies from Essex-based Lark Fine Foods in the “New England Gift Box”; Didi Davis’s Rose Sugar from Salt Traders in Ipswich and Preserved Lemon Syrup from Brooklyn’s Morris Kitchen in the “Cocktails Gift Box”; and Soberdough Brew Bread from Nashville and Southern California-made Lemonbird Padron Peppers in the “Everything But The Cheese Gift Box.”
Seven years into her venture, Battista savors working with not only the food but also the people who craft it, hosting Eat Boutique market and dining events that allow attendees to meet the makers and sample their wares. Battista is also deep in the trenches of writing her own book about food gifts, titled Food Gift Love. Due out in October 2015, Food Gift Love will feature more than 100 recipes that teach readers how to make, wrap, and share homemade food gifts with loved ones, from potluck-style dinners to the fortified French orange apéritif wine, vin d’orange.
“I think when people think of food gifts they think of a jar of jam or a jar of pickles... What I’m trying to do with the book is stretch people’s understanding of what a food gift is,” Battista says, “to bring out the food gifter that’s already inside of you.” eatboutique.com