Monday, November 28, 2005

Foodies Holiday Wish List -- Part II

As part of our ongoing public service (and while waiting with bated breath to actually try Jonathan Wright's cooking to see if it's as transcendental as all of his New Orleans fans say), we present part II of the holiday gift list. As the gifty holidays approach, we're doing our part here to help gain you points with the food and wine fans in your with a little help from fellow WeLL foodie Nancy White and Lebanon columnist and blogger Scott Hutcheson:

1. Vacuvin and a good opener: Nancy says Vacuvin is perfect "for those of us who like wine nightly, but only drink a glass...Seals in the wine for tomorrow!" For less than $12, you can pick up the pump (which pumps air out of the bottle) and two rubber vacuum seal stoppers, all in one package. I'd also add the Screwpull corkscrew or a good lever corkscrew to that list. Skip cheesy novelty corkscrews, and please, please, please, skip those decorative wine "tops". I have *never* understood what those were for. Over the weekend, we hung a few on the tree, so maybe that's it.

2. Microplane Zester/grater: Scott makes an excellent recommendation! I have the Microplane zester and I'm eager to get larger size (hint! hint!) (Hey, I mean of the *grater*, you people, I swear!) These easy-to-use planes are sleek with an excellent handle and a super smooth "micro" grating surface. Saves knuckles and fingers from the worst damage with those old box or flat graters. Microplanes come from small to big sizes and sell for less than $15 each. I found mine at Williams Sonoma.

3. Sauces from Fran's Chocolates: Nancy says with sauces from this amazing looking chocolate maker, you can't go wrong! Wow -- I'm sold! From Nancy: "The Chocolate Cabernet sauce is pricy at 12 bucks, but give it with a tiny spoon tied around the jar and you'll have a new best friend. Skip the ice cream - it dulls the flavor with cold." What a great -- and delicious -- recommendation!

4. Gift Certificate from Penzey's Spices: Gift cards are perfect for letting your own personal chef splurge to their heart's content in a great venue for the splurging. Penzey's (in Indianapolis, on 86th in Clearwater) is a wonderland of spices, blends, rubs, marinades, and all other kinds of goodies including salts, peppers, and pre-made mixes to help you make everything from chili to Chinese food. Great idea, Scott! (I'm a fan of the Bicentennial mix myself.)

5. Napkins or linen towels: A few really nice napkins or French linen towels are perfect for lining bread baskets, using on special occasions, and even covering tables. Nancy says "Wrap around a fresh loaf of bread, tie with ribbon and freshen someone's bread basket." I've seen the best quality for the money at Williams Sonoma or Pier 1. (I'll go one step further and say I've never been disappointed when anyone gave me those great waffle weave kitchen towels from W/S in fun colors either. They wear like crazy and look great.)

6. Schott's Food and Drink Miscellany: Culinary fans will appreciate this entry in the popular line of books from trivia expert Ben Schott. From little known facts to hand references (and asking for the check in 21 languages), your favorite food nut will love this stocking stuffer.

I have a few more to add from Scott for next week's installment -- plus more than a few ideas from a shopping trip over the weekend. Keep the suggestions coming!

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