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Level 6 Maestro
19,790 karma

Rand Fishkin

Ballard • Seattle, WA
CEO + Founder of SparkToro, Author of Lost & Founder, previously founder/CEO of Moz. Lifelong Seattlite.
Joined over 2 years ago

Rand Recommends

Products

Diaspora Co.
Spices
Diaspora is pretty amazing. Google them. You’ll see fawning praise like “nothing short of the best turmeric on the market,” and “the food world is losing their mind over Diaspora.” So, really, do you even need my endorsement? Go put together a build-your-own three pack of their jars or go all-in on their cult-favorite, Pragmati turmeric.
Hanega Pantry Essentials Gift Set
Cooking Oils
Get the Hanega mini gift set and awe your loved one with beauty and flavor. Technically, I’ve only tried the soy sauce, but it’s like the first time you had wine that wasn’t out of a box and thought, “huh, maybe wine can be good?”… only, you know… for soy sauce.
Jacobsen Salt Co.
Specialty Salts
Did you know Vice wrote an entire piece about Jacobsen? No, really. It’s basically an advertisement for the company, with no criticism or journalism whatsoever. And we’re talking about VICE here. This isn’t Fox News covering everyone favorite lame duck, this is a publication with very high standards that loves to punch up, down, sideways, and into non-Newtonian spaces. They’re not nice to anyone. Except Jacobsen. Go buy this starter pack or their salty black licorice.
Jumbo Cashew Gift Tin
Snack
I’m allergic to most nuts, but even I can eat this Jumbo Cashew Tin, because technically, cashews are seeds. Animated shooting star. NBC jingle.
Junebug's Sauce
Condiment
I’m embarrassed to say I’ve tried this only once, at a friend’s home. Obviously, I need to add it to my own Hanukkah list, because I agree with their raving fans on Instagram and Twitter, this sauce is heavenly. It’s both American-South and East-Asian in flavor profile, and it works wonders. Pick up the 4 pack of 12-oz bottles for $34.
Kamado-San Donabe
Rice Cooker
Friends, do you wonder why the Japanese rice you make at home is never as good as it is at Japanese restaurants? Well, turns out, there's probably two missing things: 1) the rice itself (Kushikari is likely what you want) and 2) You're gonna need a donabe. And not just any donabe, but a multi-thousand-year-old clay donabe from a particular region in Japan that all the trendy food sites have started raving about after TOIRO (a shop in California run by an amazing Japanese chef) started popularizing them. Here's the product: https://toirokitchen.com/products/kamado-san. It'll change your life, or at least, katsu and oyakodon nights.
Kettle and Fire Bone Broth
Bone Broths
If you want truly amazing, collagen rich bone stock (the kind you need to make outstanding risotto, for example) you’ve got two choices: Make it at home by roasting bones and boiling them, a chicken, and a bunch of veggies in a giant pot for 8-10 hours, then filtering, refrigerating, and skimming the fat. Buy Kettle & Fire’s boxes. That’s it. So, do your friends a favor and buy them a carton of bone broth. Geraldine drinks the stuff for breakfast or lunch. I usually use it in recipes. Both are good applications.
Masienda Nixtamal Starter Kit
Tortilla Kit
Do you want incredible, fresh tortillas at home? Of course you do. Making tortillas this way is an experience. You get to use this marvelously-satisfying pressing device. You see the shape puff up and you can’t help but smile, knowing it’s about to wrap your favorite ingredients in a deliciously efficient food-delivery vehicle.
Montana Mex (Eduardo Garcia)
Spices
Nine years ago, an awful accident left Chef Eduardo Garcia with electrical burns over his body and a mechanized hook in place of his left arm. Five years later, he started an online shop out of his home kitchen in Montana, selling all-natural, high quality Mexican spice blends. I just sent some to my co-founder Casey. Pick up their All the Goodies box or grab a trio of spices. Then check out their excellent recipe blog and get inspired by the content marketing and the food tips 😉
New York Shuk Harissa With Preserved Lemon
Harissa
Trust me when I say that if you haven’t had this New York Shuk Harissa, you are missing out. The flavor reminds me of the first person I had a crush on (pretty sure it was either my 3rd grade teacher or Kelly LeBrock in Weird Science), i.e. so perfect in memory that neither time nor reality can dull it.
Schmackary's Cookies
Snack
This is Geraldine’s favorite cookie shop. And look, we are talking about a woman who knows her cookies. 99/100 times when she tries a baked good, she turns to me and says, “these are good…. but mine are better.” And she’s right. A little boasty, but right. Schmackary’s is the rare exception. They’re not better, but they’re just as good. My favorite are the classic Chocolate Chip and the Mexican Hot Chocolate, but Geraldine thinks highly of their Red Velvet and Funfetti. There’s loads of customizable packages you can order ranging from $20-$50.
Scrappy's Bitters
Cocktail Supplies
Step one: Buy Scrappy’s Bitters for your friends. Step two: wear masks and social distance until this virus is nipped in the bud. Step three: go to your friend’s house and enjoy the great mixed drinks they whip up thanks to your thoughtful gift of Scrappy’s Bitters. That wasn’t so hard, now was it? OK, maybe step two was, but it’ll be easier if you buy some Scrappy’s for yourself, too.
South Church Salt Co.
Specialty Salts
Did you know that Adam Melson, director at SEER (one of the best digital marketing agencies in the US), runs this salt company with his wife, Elizabeth? It’s true! A few years ago, Adam sent us some in the mail, and ever since, we’ve been hooked. Geraldine puts it on eggs, toast, tacos, steak, chicken… We’re about to run out, too, so I need to place an order of my own. I prefer the medium spicy Jalapeño salt, but I know folks who love the Ghost Pepper stuff, so follow your bliss.
Uli's Famous Sausage
Sausages
Look, sometimes, you just want a delicious meat stick that’s really easy to cook and tastes great without any work. Uli’s delivers. Literally and figuratively. While most sausages, especially anything packaged at a store, are highly questionable in origin and quality, Uli’s are amazing. Outside of Bavaria, I’ve never had a better “wurst” style sausage than theirs. Send 3lbs. (12 links) for $48 and make someone’s day. As Greg Universe wisely says, “if every pork chop were perfect, we wouldn’t have sausages.”

Home

Better Meat Co.
Butcher
This place is special - amazing staff, great prices, good quality, but it feels like going back in time. You're on the butchering floor. There's a paper price list. There's nothing on display. And if you're like me, the first time you walk in, they'll greet you with a "first timer...eh?" It's half delightful, half terrifying, and exactly what buying meat should be.
Farmer Jones Farm
CSA
Family farms have it rough. They don’t get the benefits of big agri-businesses vast lobbying efforts, nor can they usually sustain themselves exclusively with farmer’s markets. CSA boxes, restaurants, and getting creative like the folks at Farmer Jones, are the way to stay alive. Some friends recommended their Introductory Experience box, and I’d also suggest the Honeybee Experience.
Jon Courter
Contractor
Jon is incredible - high quality, reliable, fast, fair, and thoughtful. There's no one like him.
Olympia Provisions
Meat Delivery
"The best charcuterie in America.” That’s how the critics describe it, and I cannot argue. For years, our PDX friends have raved about Olympia (formerly “Olympic” until those bastards from the Games came for them), and nowadays, I’m just as hooked as they are. Pick up a fancy collection of 13 salumi or go with their Italian sampler.
The Japanese Pantry
Grocery
San Francisco Bay
Anyone else make Japanese noodles or panko-crusted tonkatsu at home and think, this is missing something? YES! Start with the Suehiro ponzu sauce ($11.5). It’s basic, but necessary. You’ll want some noodles, maybe the Somen ($23), to accompany. Then grab some Yuzu Togarashi ($13.5) in a package that screams “someone who loves me bought me this!” and possibly a vinegar like the amazing Apple varietal ($23). When I read that initially, the producer wouldn’t let them sell it, I instantly wanted more. Ah, psychology.

Finance

Beauty

Health

Other

Big John's PFI
Speciality Food and Wine
Oh man. Are you looking for absolutely incredible Mediterranean food products that you can't find anywhere else? Of course you are. So, please, for the love of everything Italian, Greek, Turkish, and Spanish, drive on down to Big John's PFI. It's quite possibly the best kept secret in the Seattle food worlds, but really shouldn't be.
Crowd Cow
Speciality Food and Wine
A few years ago, my friend Ethan decides he wants some unusual cuts from a particular, high-quality, small-rancher-raised cow. But to get them, he needs friends. So, he emails 200 people via BCC and asks if anyone wants to go in with him on a side of beef. 190 people reply in the affirmative. That’s how Ethan started CrowdCow. Now, it’s a growing, venture-backed startup, and while I do hold that against them, the ranches they work with are fantastic, and the quality of meat is unlike anything you’ll get at the grocery store butcher. I recommend three things: American Wagyu (especially for the price:quality ratio), the Japanese Wagyu (for if you really want to spoil someone), and grass-fed boneless ribeye (because you cannot go wrong with it). The shipping containers are nicely biodegradable and environmentally friendly, too.
DeLaurenti (Pike Place Market)
Speciality Food and Wine
This has been my go-to Italian specialty foods store for years. Buy my favorite, chocolate Pandorato ($25), these thick, perfect fusilli from Rustichella D’Abruzzo ($9), their unusual and amazing Cannolicchi ($9), and of course, the best aged carnaroli rice on the planet: Acquerello ($11).
Ditalia Specialty Food Provisions
Speciality Food and Wine
There are very, very few places you can buy the best dried pasta brand on Earth: Benedetto Cavalieri. Ditalia is one of them, and no one with taste is gonna be sad about getting a big cardboard box filled with these remarkable noodles. That said, if you also included this Amarena Cherry Panettone, some Agostino Recca anchovies , and a few cans of the shockingly affordable La Bella San Marzano tomatoes, you’d quickly be known as the greatest culinary gift giver a pasta-lover could ask for. Side note: I usually abhor gift boxes, but Ditalia’s got some really good ones.
Mala Market
Speciality Food and Wine
I have had the incredible Sichuan chili oil precisely once, but I’m dying to get my hands on some more. I keep Lao Gan Ma’s Spicy Chili Crisp in my fridge at all times, and go through it faster than is probably wise. But the biggest reason I love Mala Market is because of Xi’an Famous Foods. If you’ve been to NYC and somehow missed their incredible noodles, I’m so excited for you, because you get to try it for the first time. I remember my first time. I went three times in two days.
Porchlight Coffee
Coffee Shop
Around the same time my previous startup (Moz) got into the software business, Porchlight Coffee opened on Capitol Hill. Zach Bolotin, the founder, was in the shop day and night, working harder than I did on my company, and surely for less pay (at least, after we got venture-funded). But every time I walked into his cafe, Zach was an absolute delight. No matter how busy or empty, rainy or sunny, the barista/entrepreneur was a ray of joy, even on rough days. Oh, and the coffee? Superb. Pick up a pound of their Drip Blend for $14. Maybe grab a few art prints or mugs while you’re at it. Anyone with a modicum of nostalgia for the Seattle of decades past will love it.
Savor Seattle
Speciality Food and Wine
This summer, we sent three of these boxes to various friends, and ordered one for ourselves, too. They’re great. They’re fresh. They change every week, and so unfortunately I can’t give you a tip on exactly which one to buy. What I can say is that everyone we sent one to loved ’em. If you’re not sure what a friend might like, and feel like the other items on this list might be too particular, go for Savor’s boxes. They’re consummate crowdpleasers.
Wixter Market
Speciality Food and Wine
Chicago, IL
Seafood is notoriously challenging to buy online. Hell, it’s challenging to buy in stores. People who love seafood, especially in landlocked regions of the US, at least have Wixter. The folks behind the shop care deeply about sustainability, freezing and thawing, shipping, and quality… You know… the stuff your local megamart doesn’t give two shits about? The Adventure bundle ($119) is a great choice for someone who just plain likes fish. If your recipient’s pickier, though, food writers rave about the tinned goods: in particular the octopus ($19), the sardines ($9), and the natural clams ($30), which are good enough to make Spaghetti alle vongole with!

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