Yes, it’s true–36 days–just a little more than a month to finish all your holiday chores. Fortunately, I’m here to help out with a few gift suggestions for your food-obsessed friends & relatives.
For the coffee geek: If you have coffee-geek friends, chances are they already own top-notch brewing equipment, source their beans from a local roaster, and have “favorite” espresso demitasse cups. So try one of these options…
How about a turned-wood tamper, handcrafted by Susan Spicer’s husband Chip. Orleans Coffee Exchange has a limited number of his tampers, available in various sizes, priced around $40. Don’t know what size to buy? You know every coffee geek is dying to tell you about his/her espresso machine and certainly knows the diameter, in millimeters, of said machine’s portafilter. Just pretend you’re in the market for an espresso machine and ask a few questions about larger diameter vs. smaller, or double-walled vs. single portafilters. You’ll find out what you need to know.
Or go for a half-dozen sterling silver demitasse spoons, readily available at local antique and silver shops. Try As You Like It (3033 Magazine) or online at eBay for a nice selection. This isn’t as expensive as you might imagine–“estate” silver (aka used) is affordable, especially with odd, multi-letter monograms or in less popular (but still beautiful) patterns. Plus, pre-owned silver is a very green, recycled gift. Demitasse spoon prices vary widely according to condition and pattern, but expect to pay around $60 for 6 spoons, depending on condition and weight.
For the adventurous cook: several pounds of Bomba paella rice, some dry spanish chorizo, and a paella pan. Check out The Spanish Table for a wide selection of pans and ingredients;the pans start at around $10, rice at $5. Fra Mani brand Spanish style chorizo is available locally (Whole Foods and St. James Cheese Co.)
For the person who truly has everything: yes, we all know a few. Chances are, the MasterChef in your circle already has high-quality knives, pots, appliances, ingredients, gadgets, table linens, etc. How about a Thermapen instant-read food thermometer? Fr 0 degrees to 572 degrees in 3 seconds, the Thermapen ($96, direct from the manufacturer) is good for roasting meats, baking bread, making candy; it comes in nine different colors. Buy direct today at the link above and get a free oven timer/thermometer to keep or re-gift.
More ideas coming soon…..what’s your favorite kitchen gift to give or get?
Favorite thing to give and receive is cookbooks. I’m particularly hoping to receive a copy of Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc At Home this year. I love sending some of our great local cookbooks to out of state friends, but any excellent cookbook makes an excellent gift.
Also thinking about sending my sisters each a bamboo cutting board this year.
Cookbooks ARE great, especially when you know the recipient’s culinary leanings. RE: cutting boards–I think everyone needs at least one large wooden board with a resevoir edge–so you can carve a chicken, roast, etc. and not lose all the juices onto the countertop. Like this one…
Cannata’s in Houma (West Park near the mall) carried Palacios chorizo for under 6 bucks a package. I think an ingredient basket with a country theme is a great idea (Spain, Germany, India, etc.)
Another good source for food gifts in Houma: Nam Thanh asian market at 1614 Prospect Blvd. A good source of rice noodles, rice papers, fish sauce, and the little store carries fresh produce and frozen goods as well. In the same small shopping center, I noticed a small tortilla shop selling fresh tortillas and tacos (on weekends only, but my Spanish isn’t good, so I’m guessing a little).
I bought the Thermapen and use it for everything where temperature is important, wine, green, white, black teas, coffee, when cooking hamburgers, meats, etc.
Can you believe I still don’t own one? Maybe someone will buy me one this year.
fyi, I believe Melange has closed; a friend bought me a silver piece from there at their going out of business sale. I feel entirely too bourgeois to own silver but that is another story for another day.
Collapsible strainers/colanders are never-endingly useful. I use mine constantly, and it even goes in the dishwasher.
Thanks for the info on Melange…silver is great. Useful, and as a precious metal, it won’t ever lose its value. Take THAT, stainless steel flatware. Honestly, some of the high-end stainless is as expensive as modestly priced, estate sterling: who would pay so much for stainless?
I was given an old, semi-complete set as a wedding present; dates from the 20s/30s. Haven’t used it much yet, though. I intend to break out the spoons for Christmas dinner’s dessert if nothing else.
Stainless has this wonderful property of going in the dishwasher so my programmer carpal tunnel hands don’t kill me while washing it. Silver, not so much. Sigh.
You can put sterling in the dishwasher! (Everything but hollow-handled knives and other soldered-handle serving pieces.) Just don’t mix it with other metals (esp stainless) in the silverware basket, don’t use a citrus-based detergent, and take it out before the drying cycle starts. Beverly Bremer Silver Shop has a nice sterling care info guide: http://www.beverlybremersilvershop.com/caring_for.php