12304811080?profile=RESIZE_710x12304811687?profile=RESIZE_400xHouse-made chicken gyoza, Nanban chicken and spicy cauliflower highlight the menu at Ramen Lab during one variation of the Craft Food Tours in Delray Beach. BELOLW RIGHT: Anthony Guzman and Matt Guidice, the company's co-founders. Photos provided

By Jan Norris

Choosing that great gift can be a conundrum. For a food lover, it might be easier if you consider a few experiences.

Try a cooking class that benefits a top hunger-relief organization in South Florida. Feeding South Florida is offering cooking classes at its warehouse kitchen in Boynton Beach.

Choose from two classes stretching into next year: Beef (Beet) Wellington class, where students learn to prepare a cranberry feta dip with pistachios as an appetizer, then a beef Wellington (or the beet version for vegetarians) as an entree for a holiday meal; or the Homemade Pasta class, where participants make pasta dough, then roll and cut it by hand into fettuccini noodles. It will be paired with a pistachio pesto sauce.

The instructor is Susan Taves, director of culinary services for Feeding South Florida.

The Beef Wellington class is 6:30-7:30 p.m. Dec. 12. The Homemade Pasta class is 6:30-7:30 p.m. Jan. 17.

Participants must be at least 18 years old, and cost for each class is $60. A portion of the money supports FSF’s programs to end hunger in South Florida.

Classes are at the Feeding South Florida Community Kitchen, Palm Beach County Warehouse, 4925 Park Ridge Blvd., Boynton Beach. To sign up, go to feedingsouthflorida.org/events/

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Sur La Table offers cooking classes in its Mizner Park store for adults and kids. The cooking equipment retailer has group lessons throughout the year.

Upcoming for the holidays are classes on Holiday Paella (Dec. 5); Family Fun: Baking Together (Dec. 7); Build and Take: Bouche de Noel (Dec. 10), and Holiday Entertaining: Hors D’Oeuvres (Dec. 19).

A gift-and-class idea? Buy a chef’s knife from the store, and take a class in knife skills (Dec. 9). Date night classes for couples include An Evening in Thailand (Dec. 7).

For a full schedule and prices, click on the calendar of classes for Boca Raton at surlatable.com/in-store-cooking-classes/ or call 561-953-7638.

Eat, walk, learn
Maybe there’s a newcomer to South Florida on your list. Consider giving a food/history tour.

Through Craft Food Tours, you have choice of a food and drinks tour or a dinner and drinks tour. Discover some off-the-beaten-path eateries on the lunchtime three-hour walk around Delray Beach's Pineapple Grove area, about a mile in all.

It kicks off at El Camino restaurant, and the group visits places offering Mexican, Asian and other street foods. Any age is welcome. A history of the “Village by the Sea” that’s become the “Most Fun Small Town in America” is given in the walk-along lecture.

The Night Out in Delray Dinner and Drinks tour provides samples of eight foods and four craft beverages, with demos along the way. It’s approximately a 1-mile stroll along Atlantic Avenue, rain or shine. Your meet-up restaurant is given on the ticket.

Tours are unique, with restaurant visits rotating based on availability. Dietary restrictions or allergies can usually be accommodated; post them on the registration form. Groups are limited to 14 people, ages 13 and older, though private tours and corporate events are available.

Cost is $99 per person, and gift cards never expire.

For more information, go to craftfoodtours.com and click on the tours drop-down.

Eat, drink and be merry
If a food gift is on your list, several specialty shops have unique items for the holidays.

Palm Beach Bakery & Café in Lantana bakes up Finnish and Scandinavian traditional foods for the holidays. One of our favorites is the cardamom, raisin and almond loaf.

But other traditional foods are available, popular among Scandinavian friends, including rye breads, Danish pastries and the runeberg torte — a rum and almond torte with a ring of raspberry atop. The Karelian rice pies also are favorites (served with egg butter) and hard to find.

A number of imported foods are available, too.

The café is at 206 E. Ocean Ave., Lantana. 561-585-0222 or palmbeachbakeryandcafe.com

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Find solid chocolate Santas, cats, dogs, sea shells, and our favorites — little alligators — hand-dipped at Scheurer’s Chocolate in Boynton Beach. These make fun stocking stuffers.

For host gifts, check out a box of mini Yule logs made from chocolate-coated marshmallows. A number of petit cups, and mixed boxes of caramels or creams, satisfy the chocolate-lover’s list.

Other sweet specialties such as licorice, jelly beans, chocolate mocha beans and hard candies are available at the shop, though not made on site.

A Boynton Beach chocolatier for 40 years, Scheurer’s Chocolate is at 640 E. Ocean Ave. 561-649-4412 or scheurerschocolate.com

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Two Fat Cookies has all the baked sweets you desire: cookies, brownies, cupcakes, cakes and mini desserts for parties.

Try the raspberry molten: a flourless chocolate truffle topped with a fresh raspberry and white chocolate drizzle. Did we mention it’s gluten-free?

Serious cookies are here: The chip monster is a chocolate chip walnut cookie sandwich filled with chocolate ganache. The dirty cookie is a shortbread base with eggless cookie dough, salted caramel and ganache topping.

Mini cheesecakes and Key lime tartlets, strawberry mousse cups and Boston cream tarts are among the one-bite wonders. Cake pops and rice krispy treats make for easy party goods.

But create your own flavors. The store will take on custom orders if it can make them.

As with all bakeries and specialty shops at the holidays, order well in advance.

Two Fat Cookies is at 32 SE Second Ave., Delray Beach. 561-265-5350 or twofatcookies.com.

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Stone crab claws are that perfect Florida seafood at the holidays.

Captain Clay and Sons Seafood Market gets fresh loads from the Keys in season.

Look also for Atlantic seafood such as triggerfish and others you don’t find at many seafood counters, along with Florida lobsters, snappers and the sweet lionfish.

Captain Clay and Sons is at 1319 N. Federal Highway, Delray Beach. 561-266-2068 or captainclaysseafood.com

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Need caviar, or maybe all the seven fishes for your Italian seven-fish dinner?

Hit up Capt. Frank’s Seafood Market, where scallops, shrimp, mussels, clams, octopus, fish fillets and all things seafood can be found. (Order ahead!)

King crab legs and stone crab claws are ready to eat; just fix a sauce and you have a ready-made appetizer for a pot luck. Sushi is made fresh daily, making it great for a casual party take-along.

Also available for gifting: wines, including champagnes, and prepared food items including Stonewall Kitchen’s famous jams and dips.

Capt. Frank’s Seafood Market is at 435 W. Boynton Beach Blvd., Boynton Beach. 561-732-3663.

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Hot buttered rum and traditional punches such as the Tom and Jerry are trending this year.

Ingredients for your drinks and some mixology advice are available at the Wine Room Kitchen and Bar, where you can taste any number of wines before buying full bottles.

The servers are knowledgeable, and the chef knows pairings as well.

You also can put together a charcuterie board from the selections of cheeses and meats, or buy one already made for takeout.

The Wine Room Kitchen and Bar is at 411 E. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach. 561-243-9463 or thewineroomonline.com/delray-beach.

And for people who can’t decide, or the procrastinators, call your favorite restaurant or market and order a gift certificate. Make it generous enough to cover two meals — nobody likes to dine alone.

Jan Norris is a food writer who can be reached at nativefla@gmail.com

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