2006 Holiday Gift Guide
Giving to gastronomes is getting harder these days. In the age of flexitarians, offal enthusiasts, and coffeegeeks, the food world has become fractured into an endless array of niche tastes and sub-genres. To make things a little easier, The Food Section offers these targeted suggestions for holiday gifts.
For the culinary collector: So, you can't afford Del Posto, but for less than $20, a wind-up version of Mario Batali can be yours. Replete with red pony tail, shorts, and orange clogs, mini Molto shakes a bottle of olive oil and flips a pan of pasta. $14.95 at Toy Lounge. - Josh Friedland
For the design conscious coffeegeek: This mini dumpster boasts a slick design, comes in six colors, and can tolerate sustained barista abuse. Since the espresso ground receptacle collects organic waste to add to the compost pile, it gets bonus points for sustainability. $28.95 at Grindenstein.com. - Jessica Ritz
For supplicants to the sandwich gods: This new book from Jason and Jennifer Denton, the founders of New York's 'ino and 'inoteca, contains instructions for making the couple's renowned panini, bruschetti, and tramezzini, along with recipes for aperitifs, antipasti, and salads. $14.93 at amazon.com. - JF
For your brother, the budding molecular gastronomist: So you want to get into the molecular gastronomy game, but where are you going to find ingredients like xanthan gum, sodium alginate, or lecithin? Chef Will Goldfarb of New York's Room 4 Dessert sells a line of specialty products so home cooks can replicate some of the world’s most innovative dishes. A bag of Methylcellulose, a thickener and stabilizer, will set you back $10 at Will Powder. - JF
For your mom (and her bird's eye maple, wax finish coffee table): Maybe if you give mom these gorgeous jewel-toned Brazilian agate slice coasters, you'll remember to keep your water glasses off her furniture. $55 for a set of four coasters at Moss. - Ganda Suthivarakom
For dads who do the dishes: This washable linen-cotton necktie is made completely out of dish towel, so it makes a fashion statement at the office as well as in the kitchen. $27.64 at Atypyk. - JF
For loose tea lovers: Adagio Teas' ingenious teapot/infuser takes all the trouble out of brewing loose tea. Fill with hot water, add leaves, and when the tea has steeped to your liking, place the pot on top of your cup and a valve automatically infuses and releases the tea, leaf-free. $19 at Adagio Teas. - JF
For the culinary historian: David Kamp's The United States of Arugula traces the history of the American food revolution from the nation's pre-Balsamic era into the epoch of the celebrity chef. $17.16 at amazon.com. - JF
For Nutella naysayers: There's a small contingent of hold-outs who claim they can resist Nutella's addicting blend of chocolate and hazelnuts. They may be won over by Pasticceria Majani's almond, hazelnut, and chocolate spread, based on the Italian chocolate maker's famed FIAT chocolate cubes. $18 at Artisan Sweets. - JF
For the spontaneous casanova: What's more romantic than an impromptu picnic? A cohort who comes prepared. This corkscrew/folding knife, decorated with Napoleon's royal bee insignia, is perfect for opening a bottle of rosé and sharing hunks of saucisson at the drop of a hat. $109 at corkscrew.com. - GS
For your fromage-loving frère: A gift set of cheeses from Murray's Cheese, the Artisanal Premium Cheese Center, or Cowgirl Creamery will send your sibling into a months-long lactose-induced haze of creamy, occasional stinky, but delicious euphoria. $550 for 12 months of cheese (pictured here) from Murray's; $600 for the six-month Conoisseur's Club at the Artisanal Premium Cheese Center; or $540 for a monthly installment of artisan cheese for a year from Cowgirl Creamery. - JF
For the haute dining challenged: Is it o.k. to eat meat on the bone with your hands in a fancy restaurant? How does one properly dispose of UFOs ("unswallowable food objects")? Colleen Rush has the answers to these and other pressing questions in The Mere Mortal's Guide to Fine Dining. $10.36 at amazon.com. - JF
For the frozen custard fanatic: The standard-issue, sub-$50 ice cream maker performs beautifully, but Cuisinart's Supreme Ice Cream Maker features a built-in compressor freezer which requires no pre-freezing. That means that gelato, granita, and other frozen concoctions can be had almost as soon as the inspiration strikes. $249.95 at Williams-Sonoma. - JF
For your insect-eating aunt: Christa Weil's Fierce Food is a compendium to the world's most extarordinary foods, with handy entries for everything from live monkey brain to roasted "Big Ass" ants (not to mention silkworm pupae). Mmmm. $11.20 at amazon.com. - JF
For your obsessive compulsively clean uncle: Triple-washed pre-bagged mesclun and pre-cut crudité are anathema to the germophobe. With this flexible rubber washing tub, complete with scrub brush, he can soak and scrub his veggies in as many changes of water as he deems necessary. $75 at the Museum of Modern Art. - GS
For baby gastronomes: Food-inspired books for children abound, but Lisa Brown's "Baby Be of Use" series takes a subversive spin on the feel-good genre. With bright, bold artwork, Baby Make Me Breakfast and Baby Make Me a Drink aspire -- with tongue firmly planted in cheek -- to teach baby how to cook breakfast and mix cocktails. $9.00 at The McSweeney's Store. - JF
For the pot-scrubber in the family: These nifty sponges shaped like saucisson (pictured here) and cheese will make washing dishes a little more tolerable (only a little bit). $6.24 each at Atypk. - JF
For your cacao-addicted co-worker: Desk-bound chocophiles will appreciate this chocolate-scented organizer. $14 at Fred Flare. - JF
For the introspective eater: Michael Pollan pulls back the curtain on how we eat in his best-selling book exploring the intersection of food, health, and industry, and the extraordinary complexity of individual food choices in today's food world. $15.63 at amazon.com. - JF
For mixologists on the move: Have bar, will travel. This miniature bar set contains two folding cups, a corkscrew, two flasks, and a stirrer, which fit in a black leather case measuring just 4" x 5.25" x 2.25". $48 at FLIGHT 001. - JF
For your niece, who likes to play with her food: A small army of creative minds have transformed the gastronomical landscape into a spectrum of soft and fuzzy toys. The the soft Bento Sushi Play Box (pictured here) is $35 at The Spoon Sisters; Lilly Bean's handmade felt pizza pie is $28 at Mahar Dry Goods; plush pork and other cuts start at $19.99 at Sweet Meats. - JF
For oenophiles fighting the good fight against oxidation: Leftover wine that loses the battle against oxygen and quickly turns undrinkable is a perpetual problem. CHOW tested a range of wine-saving gadgets on the market and came down in favor of Wine Enthusiast's Private Preserve Wine Preservation Spray, which uses a mixture of nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and argon to displace the oxygen in an open bottle of wine. $9.95 at Wine Enthusiast. - JF
For the ice cream conoisseur: The gelato haven il Laboratorio del Gelato ships nationwide, and their ricotta, hazelnut, and green apple flavors are particularly tasty. But, this indulgence is only for those who don’t mind spending significant sums on their gelato -- four 18-ounce containers packed with the flavors of your choice will cost a pretty penny. $60 (plush $35 shipping) at il Laboratorio del Gelato. - JR
For the soup-sipping pop art enthusiast: Barneys is selling limited edition soup cans with reproductions of Andy Warhol-designed labels. Plus, there's actual condensed tomato soup included in every can. $48 for a set of four cans at Barneys. - JF
For your sweet-toothed sweetheart: Blogger-to-baker Kelli Bernard's limited edition Champagne Brownies are made with 99 percent dark chocolate and all-natural cocoa and topped with a Champagne glaze. The design for the packaging is inspired by vintage Champagne bottle labels. $19 for a box of four ("Little Lady") or $42 for eight ("Grand Dame") at Amai Tea & Bake House. - JF
For wine drinkers with a chemistry fetish: Using glass laboratory flasks as wine decanters not only lends a bit of nerd chic to your wine service, but their design also provides more surface area for air to reach the wine. "Not only do they look cool, they do their job superbly," writes New York Times wine critic Eric Asimov. A set of four 2000 ml Erlenmeyer flasks will set you back $74.40 at labsafety.com. Photo: istockphoto.com - JF
For the literate coffee drinker: This series of porcelain mugs emblazoned with classic Penguin book titles includes works by Emily Brontë, H.E. Bates, H.G. Wells, and John Morris. $24 each at The Conran Shop. - JF
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Really great ideas, yet I think you can find
cheaper molecular gastronomy ingredients:
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Posted by: Darryn at Dec 19, 2006 5:28:57 PM
My husband bought me the Cuisinart ice cream maker, or was it for the children?....
Anyway, it's one of the best kitchen gadgets I own, and I have quite a few!
We have had more fun making different recipes and I'm so much happier knowing that they aren't eating dubious chemicals and artificial flavorings and colourings.
Excellent buy (or should I say gift) :)
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I really love the dish towel neck tie! I think that I will get one for my husband this father's day! Wouldn't that be the best idea ever? :D
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