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20 UNDER 20 : Great gifts in good tast: Some are local. Some ar seasonal. All are affordable.

December 12, 1991|KATHIE JENKINS

* In the 1930s, Fiesta pottery was sold in dime stores. Then the Homer Laughlin Co. stopped producing its colorful dishes and suddenly Fiesta became collectible . . . and expensive. The company has started making Fiesta again, but the colors are slightly different from the originals. This cozy turquoise pitcher holds four quarts and sells for only $9.99 at Arni's the Dish Factory, Inc., a downtown Los Angeles restaurant supply company (310 S. Los Angeles St.).

* Prosciutto is swell. Bresaola's delicious. But when you're thinking about air-dried meat, there's really nothing better than coppa. This Italian delicacy is made from cured, dried pork shoulder spiced with chile peppers and cayenne; served in paper-thin slices, it has a rosy hue and a sweetly addictive flavor. Some of the best comes from Domingo's (17548 Ventura Blvd., Encino), an Italian grocery and deli that's more Bensonhurst than Ventura Boulevard. At $6.99 per pound, coppa is an affordable luxury.

* Why spend hours in the kitchen messing around with cookie cutters? For $12.50 you can pick up a sack of classic gingersnaps at City Restaurant (180 S. La Brea Ave, Los Angeles). A pound of Citysnaps are packed in a shiny red shopping bag and tied with a holiday ribbon. Included is one big decorated gingerbread man that would make a perfect tree ornament . . . provided you can resist the urge to eat it.

* Marie Antoinette didn't really say, "Let them eat cake!" Brioche is what she was pushing. Better than bread, it's a buttery, egg-filled loaf. For the holidays, Breadworks (7961 West 3rd St., Los Angeles) is making a good thing better. Co-owner Tony Di Lembo has created a special chocolate version of this decadent bread. The chocolate brioche ($5.95), which is baked in a fluted pan and is topped with a perky knob, is superb with a cup of cappuccino.

* Author Dorothy Parker once said there were three things she could never attain: envy, content and sufficient Champagne. If you really want to know what she was talking about, try pricing Louis Roederer Brut Premier Champagne. One of the best of the bubblies, the imported bottle sells for about $40 in most liquor stores. But at Topline Wine & Spirit, a discount warehouse (4718 San Fernando Road, Glendale), you can get it for just $19.99.

* Stollen has been putting in an appearance at the German breakfast table since about 1400. Traditionally rich in butter, almonds and rum-soaked fruit, the cake is dusted with powdered sugar and shaped in an oval, symbolizing the manger. For the real thing, try the loaf ($14) at Rockenwagner (2435 Main St., Santa Monica).

* During the holidays, no Armenian household is without sweet soujouk. It looks like a sausage but is really a sweet made of whole walnuts wrapped in a blanket of condensed grape water. Arax, an Armenian grocery and deli (17644 Vanowen St., Van Nuys), sells this delicacy for $6 a pound.

* If you really love your dog, you'll buy him a bag of gourmet goodies specially created by Mary George, the pastry chef at Trumps (8764 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood). These all-natural snacks for canine customers come in a variety of shapes. A bag of 12 dog biscuits costs $7.50 and includes temptations such as carob-liver breadsticks, whole-wheat-oatmeal health biscuits, peanut butter cookies, fresh garlic (no fleas!) cookies, chicken liver empanadas filled with gizzard pate, and-carob-chip-wheat germ scones. If your dog doesn't like them, your friends might.

* In Italy, it isn't Christmas without panettone, the tall, rich loaf filled with nuts, citron, raisins and anise. It's easy to find the imported brands, but they're always dry. Nicolosi, an Italian bakery in Encino (17540 Ventura Blvd.), bakes panettone on the premises, so it's always fresh and fine. The festive-looking loaf sells for $6.95.

* Nobody understands edible luxury quite as well as the Indians. They often gild their food with thin sheets of edible silver or gold and are the world's largest consumers of the world's most expensive spice. Maybe that's why saffron is a bargain at Bombay Spiceland (8650 Reseda Blvd.) in Northridge. One gram of imported Spanish saffron is $3.99 at this no-frills supermarket; that's less than half what you'd pay at most stores. The imported chutneys--Aeroplane mango ($2.49), hot-sweet ($2.99), fresh mint ($2.99), and coriander ($2.99)--are also worth trying.

* This prize-winning fruitcake isn't available in any store. You have to get it from the vet. It's a good, old-fashioned one-pound cake, laden with fruits and rich with booze; packed in a pretty container, it sells for $12.50. The fruitcakes are made by Mrs. Quinn, the mother-in-law of veterinarian William Garner, who sells them at Garner Veterinary (11967 Ventura Blvd., Studio City).

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