Negranti Creamery in Paso Robles

Several tubs of pink colored blackberry ice cream made from sheep milk.

Ice cream from sheep’s milk has been called creamier, and it most certainly has less fat and more vitamins and minerals. In fact you could call it healthy! The adventure began in 2011 when owner Alexis milked her first ewe, and husband Wade made the ultimate man-sacrifice by taste testing all the new flavors! Using Central California wine country’s local, in-season ingredients and imagination, this artisan ice cream is made daily for freshness and flavor. Only natural ingredients are used; you will be able to pronounce every one on the short list. Found frozen (duh) in local markets. You can reserve their mobile Ice Cream truck for large parties, weddings or even wine events. It sits at the SLO farmers market weekly, aiming to please all hungry customers.

Negranti Creamery    Website    Facebook

Pantry House in Santa Cruz

 A duo of photos showing gourmet mustard jars and a jar of jam with bread.

Pantry House takes prides in incorporating only the finest local, organic ingredients into artisan jams, butters and mustards.  Always hand made in small batches to ensure quality and maintain the robust flavors, these spreads capture the essence of California’s central coast and the bounty it produces. Jams and butters are created in both fruity or savory, and make a flavorful addition to warm toast, hot cereals and even ice cream. The mustards are flavorful and add a powerful kick to your foods. Spread on pretzels, meats, and sandwiches of all kinds. Find these condiments at local grocers, farmers markets and online.  Spread it on thick and enjoy!

Pantry House    Website     Facebook

Sweetie Bells in San Diego

 A chocolate chip cookie sitting next to fresh raspberries and a white flower.

So… 6 cookies at a time is a lot? Not when you have a plate full of Sweetie Bells gourmet cookies in front of you. Made from only the finest ingredients (no cheating allowed in this establishment) and baked with family love. Because hungry, well… demanding friends begged for more, owner and cancer survivor Renee and her grown twins began baking these hand held favorites in earnest. Their cookies have a soft cake-like core and a thin crunchy crust for the perfect bite and milk dip-ability. Mouth watering flavors include Pistachio Amaretto, Pumpkin Rumpkin, and of course world famous Chocolate Chip. Right now they specialize in cookies only, but we hear some new baked goodies are on the horizon. Look for them soon. Available at farmers markets listed on their website or via the online store.

Sweetie Bells    Website     Facebook

Prager Brothers Artisan Bread in Carlsbad

 A round of fresh baked bread, sliced and sitting on a red and white checked table cloth.

Prager Brothers uses traditional, old fashioned methods to make modern, crusty, healthy breads that earn rave reviews. These small batch artisan breads are leavened naturally, without commercial yeast. Instead, the starter, also known as sourdough culture, is loaded with healthy bacteria and naturally occuring yeasts. The bread dough is always hand formed into loaves, and baked to golden perfection. Since production is purposefully small, these breads are available only at their own bakery and at select local farmers markets. Get a fresh loaf, grab some cheese and a bottle of wine, and have yourself a nice picnic. Does it get any better?

Prager Brothers Artisan Bread    Website    Facebook

San Miguel Olive Farm in San Miguel

 A hand holding a bottle of San Miguel Olive Farm Olive Oil.

From Central California olive groves comes healthy, robust olive oils. Like Italy, California’s Mediterranean climate is where olives do best. The plentiful fruits are hand harvested and the oils are allowed to “rest” before being bottled for the best taste. These award winning oils are certified by the California Olive Oil Council as Extra Virgin. Drizzle on vegetables and pasta, mix in marinades, you can even add to baked goods. It is a very healthy and flavorful alternative to butter. Recently San Miguel introduced a line of rich, olive oil lotions in several fragrances. The website even has a recipe for natural olive oil furniture polish. It’s the little green fruit that does it all! Since this is a small business, the yearly production sells out. Keep a watch out for future releases, or pre-order to ensure your delivery.

San Miguel Olive Farm    Website     Facebook

Recchiuti Confections in San Francisco

 Colorful square shaped candies on a white plate,

By now you all know I am a rabid fan of all master chocolatiers. Recchiuti Confections is exceptionally brilliant in creating their bon bons and candies. Artfully formed and decorated, each bite is an edible masterpiece. Dont’ let the beauty stop you: dig right in and revel in your dark chocolate bliss moment.  Plain bars for minimalists, sauces for pouring over whatever you want, pates de fruits (Oh my, so yummy good and not even a drop of chocolate!) and many seasonal themed goodies are born here.  Custom boxes and favors for corporate or private events are never a problem. There are simply too many products to try at once, but that of course is no problem. Buy a sampler box to savor slowly, or just come back for more another time.  Better yet: do both.

Recchiuti Confections       Website        Facebook

Jem Sweets in Santa Monica


crumbles on a short stack of pancakes with syrup - jem sweetsespresso crumble on ice cream - jem sweets

I always thought it would be a really fantastic idea to have a tub full of just the “marshmallow charms” of that famous breakfast cereal to sprinkle on other foods.  Along comes Crumble, Jem Sweet’s mix of crunchy cookie, salty-sweet toffee and rich chocolate pearls and nuts. It’s all the goodies rolled into one, all available in an easy access jar to jazz up whatever food you want. Think about it: a tasty topping for cupcakes, pancakes, fruit, oatmeal, whatever! Be creative. It’s my dream come true!  Available in chocolate, banana, and espresso at their online store.  Lucky the Leprechaun would be proud.

Jem Sweets   website

Chaparral Gardens Artisan Vinegars in Atascadero

 Four bottles of Chapparal Gardens vinegars in colorful, fruity flavors.

What started out as a holiday gift of raspberry vinegar turned into a thriving venture for this central California organic farm. Herbs, vegetables, and fruits are infused into a Kosher vinegar base, along with a dose of their own super secret magic. The balsamic vinegars include such award winning flavors as Blackberry and Plum Basil. The fruity vinegars sound like a cocktail hour menu: Champagne Mimosa and Fuzzy Navel Peach are among the favorites. There are several flavor infused oils as well. There is no reason to skimp: order a gift pack to cover all the bases. One of my favorite ways to enjoy balsamic vinegar is as a dipper for crusty bread, but if you prefer something else there are recipes on the website to inspire you.

Chaparral Gardens Artisan Vinegars    Website    Facebook

Tiber Canyon Ranch in San Luis Obispo

 Tall thin bottles of Tiber olive oil in many flavors.

Nestled between the Pacific Coast and Central California’s Edna Valley rests a plot of land with healthy, prolific olive groves. Natually suited to the Mediterranean climate, these trees are lovingly harvested of their fruit once a year. The olives are picked and sent off to be crushed within 24 hours to ensure complete freshness. The oils are a blend of the many olive varieties; citrus flavors are produced by crushing oil-rich peels with the olives at the beginning of the process so the marriage of the flavors is complete.  Olives and their oils are an essential part of the acclaimed, healthy Mediterranean style diet. Drizzle Tiber oils on salads, add to meat marinades, pour over potatoes for a change of pace. Wedding favor bottles can be customized with personalized labels to match your event. Visitors are welcomed; Call first to make sure they are around, or to make an appointment.

Tiber Canyon Ranch    Website

Fish Princess Farms in Bonny Doon

 A round wheel of goat milk soap scented with raspberry.

The word artisan usually brings forth notions of hand crafted, healthy foods. But sometimes artisan products are something else entirely. Products like cheeses and yogurts are not the only thing you can make from goat milk. Fish Princess Farms raises happy Alpine goats for their milk to process into decadent soaps, body butters and lotions. Natural herbs and botanicals add invigorating or relaxing scents. Other organic additions hydrate or exfoliate; the sea salt soap helps scrub you clean. These natural products are hand made in the hills above Santa Cruz. They and are sold online and at local retailers listed on the website.

Fish Princess Farms    Website    Facebook