Oprah Winfrey shares her collection of great gifts with the world – and treats from three California grocery stores have made it onto the coveted list for 2021.
“What started as an organic extension of the desire to pamper people with some of the things I really loved has grown into an annual list that a team has to curate,” says Winfrey, explaining the Oprah Favorite Stuff process. “I then go through each article, pick my favorites, and narrow down to my own.
“It’s important to me to stay as true to my original inspiration as possible. My guiding principle: Do I really like it enough to keep it myself? “
Three Culinary Gifts Oprah Would Like To Get From California, And All Of These Are Women’s Owned:
Elegant brie en croute
Sisters Leslie Bowers and Linda Olander have been making their Elegant Brie appetizers for a dozen years. (Courtesy Photo of Elegant Brie)
The curators of Winfrey have finally discovered this long-time Bay Area favorite, the baked brie appetizer made by the sister team of Pleasanton’s Elegant Brie Company, Linda Olander and Leslie Bowers. You start with a pound of brie, then add fillings – think pecan cranberry for the holidays – wrap in pastries and freeze. They bake and serve.
“What a reward for all your hard work!” Bowers said the day the list came out. “It’s been a long 12 years.”
The San Jose-born sisters began selling their entrees first at the Los Gatos farmers market, she said, and then expanded to the markets in San Ramon, Danville, and Pleasanton.
“Seeing Oprah eat our brie makes my throat lump. That is so confirming. “
Oprah writes: “I have a word for you: Yum. This brie wrapped in puff pastry is heavenly. The garlic, basil and pine nut version is great and the truffle option is more than fantastic. Plus, it’s such a simple party aperitif: you just put it in the oven and it comes out to be devoured in all of its ooey-gooey glory. “
Details: Although the sisters no longer participate in the farmers market, they are still selling at Draeger’s Markets (San Mateo, Blackhawk, Menlo Park, Los Altos) and will have a booth at the San Mateo Harvest Festival from November 12-14. Buy online for $ 59 at www.elegantbrie.com or from Harry & David, FTD, or Williams Sonoma.
Model Bakery English muffins and jams
The English muffins from the Model Bakery of St. Helena are long-time favorites of Oprah Winfrey. (Courtesy Photo of Model Bakery)
Winfrey’s favorite English muffins from Model Bakery in Napa Valley are on the list as an encore – this time with jam.
To prepare these breakfast beauties, Karen Mitchell and daughter Sarah Mitchell Hansen start with their focaccia batter, then dust the muffins with cornmeal and grill them in clarified butter. They say this is the secret to achieving a crispy exterior while keeping the inside light and fluffy.
Oprah writes: “I challenge you to find better English muffins than this one! I’ve sent them to pretty much everyone I know; I even travel with them. The crispy but fluffy muffins were earlier on my list, but now they come with homemade strawberry jam. “
Details: Buy English muffins in person for $ 2.50 (six for $ 14) at the flagship bakery in St. Helena, the Oxbow Market in Napa, or the Mini Model in Yountville. Or the gift set with a dozen muffins and jams is available online for shipping; originally 59 US dollars, now 20 percent discount with the code “oprah” on www.themodelbakery.com.
Wild mustard quartet
Another addition from Oprah is Wilder Condiments, a small batch company in Santa Monica that makes organic, vegan mustard. Wilder was founded by chef Isabel Freed, who trained at Le Cordon Bleu in San Francisco and studied food systems at UC Santa Cruz. She too began to sell her products at farmers’ markets.
Oprah writes: “Simple mustard? No thank you. This quartet – including truffles, horseradish, Dijonish, and jalapeño mustard – adds a touch of flavor to anything you spread it on. We are a household with hot sauce and mustard, and Stedman put his stamp on them. “
Details: $ 35 online at www.wildercondiments.com for the gift assortment of four 2-ounce glasses small enough for your next flight or picnic, according to Oprah’s team notes. Or $ 7 per mustard jar for other flavors online. Some retailers – New Leaf, Bi Rite Markets – also carry Wilder products.