Friday, November 18, 2005

The Foodie's Holiday Wish List

Hey, boys and girls, if you need to know what to get your favorite foodie (or local food blogger) for Christmas or Hanukkah, here are a few treats I think are pretty nifty. Consider it a public service for my readers. I'll do anything to help you score big with the food and wine geeks in your life:

1) A Magnetic Spice Rack -- I've seen these all over town from Target and Cost Plus to At Home in the City and Crate and Barrel. This month's Dine features one from Soho Spices. Prices range from $50-$225 for the stainless steel brushed-finish board and 12-20 magnetic steel containers. These are perfect for a cook who works with lots of colorful Indian and African spices or specialty ingredients -- and they look great in the kitchen! Make sure you choose an option with strong magnets and containers with a tight seal -- spices can loose their punch pretty easily if not stored in air tight containers.

2) A Wine Decanter -- If your special foodie likes good red wines (I do, I do!) consider a wine decanter. Target carries the bargain Riedel decanters and most good home stores like Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel, and Williams Sonoma carry a version. If you really want to splurge, Kahn's carries the expensive, crystal Riedel, but it's not necessary. Look for one with a good area for helping your heaviest reds aerate. (Until it died an untimely death, I was quite happy with my inexpensive Pottery Barn decanter. It was very flat and I have the special wine decanter squidgy wire cleaner to clean it. The squidgy cleaners for decanters, wine glasses, and champagne flutes are available at Kahn's.)

3) Bouchon by Thomas Keller -- You can go wrong giving a regular cookbook, but you can never go wrong with one of Thomas Keller's luscious, readable volumes of food porn. Bouchon, his follow up to The French Laundry Cookbook, features Keller's trademark decadent dishes none of which you'd ever make at home but all of which you drool and dream over. This book is sheer sex on a page.

4) Everyday Pan or Paella Pan -- Giving pots and pans may be the foodie equivalent of giving someone a new dishwasher for their birthday, but if it's the right pan, your favorite cook will be surprisingly happy. Most people who cook have the basics. The treat is when you give them a pan they might not have but they find themselves using all the time. Enter the Everyday pan -- a shallow flat pan with an ovenproof lid that can go from stovetop to oven easily -- and its slightly larger, rounder cousin, the paella pan. Both are the kinds of pans most cooks find themselves wondering how they lived without before. Choose good quality and give it in love -- it's a metaphor for "where have you been all my life!"

5) Cheese Knives -- If your foodie likes to entertain, then he or she will know the easiest and spiffiest thing you can do for a party is a cheese board. If they know this much, then they'll love you when you give them a set of cheese knives. Pottery Barn has these sets with both wooden and pewter handles. Each set has 5 knives specially designed for cutting soft, semi-soft, hard or aged cheeses. Whether they're serving triple-cream brie or 10-year aged gouda, you'll be the star with this gift.

6) Riedel "O" Stemless Glasses -- I proudly admit it! I'm a convert! I love these handy little wine tumblers. They're the right shape, easy to hold, and perfect to pop into the dishwasher. At $18-25 a pair (depending on which types/shapes you choose), they are the best glass for the money out there right now. Available at most wine shops and even lurking in the wine section at Steinmart. They come in seven major shapes/sizes. I recommend starting with a pair of red and a pair of white.

What other goodies help foodies score at the holidays? Post your suggestions and we'll put them together. I'm all about sharing the love!


Nancy White said...

Here are a few of my favs:

1. Vacuvin - for those of us who like wine nightly, but only drink a glass, the vacuvin is great. Seals in the wine for tomorrow!

2. Sauces from - can't go wrong. 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.

3. 3-4 really nice napkins to line bread baskets with. Either those beautiful woven towels from France or napkins. Wrap around a fresh loaf of bread, tie with ribbon and freshen someone's bread basket.

These are all at the lower end. Nice gifts when you go to someone's house.

And plate-o-shrimp, I just bought an everyday pan!


Anonymous said...

I'll add a few items to the list:

1) Microplane zester/grater
2) Gift certificate to Penzeys Spices
3) Digital kitchen sale
4) French Butter Dish
5) A second coffee grinder to use for spices