Although my initial intention was to just pick up a few holiday decor items Holiday Mart has now become one of my favorite places to pick up gourmet specialty foods.
Last year I toted home some killer toffee and this year, I really loaded up on the goods.
The Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri organizes Holiday Mart and crafters and knitted sweater lovers have been making it an event for over two decades. I’ve noticed more and more food items creeping in over the years and it is a pleasant surprise. For me, much of the offerings might appeal a little more to my grandmother than fit in with my minimalist taste.
That said, hunting for those few really great pieces has become half the fun.
This year I found some great retro sputnik stars that will feel right at home with my 1950’s aluminum tree. After I checked decor off my list, it was time to sample some treats. The cool part about Holiday Mart is that you not only sample the food, but it is usually the owner/chef that serves it to you.
Meeting the Jerky Cowboy (OK that’s the nickname I gave him) was fascinating. His take it or leave it demeanor made me really want jerky, or was that my hangover talking? Either way, I walked away with a bag of the Hot Pepper Beef Stick that lit my mouth on fire for the rest of the day.
I returned to a booth I loved last year, called Rand Hill Farms. They sell powdered mixes you turn into soups and dips. I didn’t return so much for the product, but for the charming old guy that sports a wacky holiday hat every year. Three soup mixes later, I am buying up peanut brittle. I’m almost done when I walk by a booth that seems slow. The owner and creator, Chris Johnson is in town from Denver. His entire company is built on one buttery lace cookie that was created by his great aunt Minnie Beasley.
Chris and his 8 employees work in a commercial kitchen creating confections that he hopes to parlay into some rather important collaborations. Chris wants to see his cookies in Ben & Jerry Ice Cream and is working on a gluten free version that will make Whole Foods take notice. He sends me off with my very own tin of cookies that I will be serving for Thanksgiving.