California olive oil is the new Tuscany olive oil. Run, don’t walk, to get your bottle of Limited Reserve California Olive Ranch Extra Virgin olive oil. Get two bottles of this award winning, sustainably grown olive oil, because one is for a gift. $17.97/bottle
Okay, everyone knows the coolest food product you can have is artisinal sea salt. Now imagine that salt has a really great story behind it about two college kids who decided to harvest sea salt using sustainable practices, and who won a business competition in their junior year of college which gave them the seed money, and who grew the business despite being full-time college students… and now imagine one of those incredible kids is mine. Bingo! (And, imagine how hard it was to refrain from starting this post by showcasing the salt.)
This great tasting salt is harvested on barges Zak and Hope designed and built themselves. Every grain is harvested, sun-evaporated and bottled by hand in Cape Cod. $8.00 each. But feel free to buy many jars: you can never have too much superb sea salt, and it makes a great host gift. (And by the way, if you think I am being too Mommy-pushy, I would like to point out again that I did not lead this post with Wellfleet Sea Salt.)
And just how did my son get smart enough about food to start his own food business? Why, Foodie Flash Cards, of course! (Well, not really. He grew up in a household with two parents in the food business.)
If you can understand and visualize the statement, “The onion foam on the deconstructed burger is just so Ferran Andria”, you may not need these flash cards to keep up with your hipster friends. They know that molecular gastronomy is so last year, but someone on your gift list might not… $10.20
For the competitive foodie on your list, Foodie Fight, a trivia game, might be just the ticket. Will the know-it-all in your life know the answer to such questions as “Who shed her shoes and a White House job, and bought a tiny specialty food store– eventually cinching cookbook deals and a Food Network Gig?” Put it to the test, for just $15.61
For the more laid back food lover, these two grow-your-own kits let you watch culinary magic happen right before your very eyes. We first discovered the Back to the Roots Mushroom Kit when my daughter Rachel gave one to Ebo last year for the holiday. Every morning, we came down to discover new mushroom growth– all from a nicely contained box on the kitchen window sill. Some people grow wildly weird shapes, and sometimes the boxes don’t produce much at all– it is all part of the fun. The inventors of the mushroom kit gave a great TEDx talk, by the way, that is worth listening to. $19.95
This japanese-made kit includes everything you need to grow your very own edamame right on a sunny windowsill. The beer glass you see pictured is actually your growing pot. I suppose since edamame is a traditional bar snack,it seemed fitting… $16.00 from the great website Uncommon Goods.
For the person on your list who would rather cook-his-own than grow it, a gift certificate for ICE allows him or her to take any of the hundreds of classes offered. I would like to think your gift recipient would rather take mine than any other class offered, of course (!) …but I recognize my classes may not jibe with his or her schedule. (Okay, or interests.) Gift certificates start at $100.
I’ll wrap up with just two cheesy suggestions.
Every year at Christmas, my brother-in-law Frank gets an amazing array of cheeses from DiBruno Bothers in Philadelphia. By the time dinner rolls around (dinner that Ebo and I happily cook), I have stuffed myself silly on cheese. Frank introduced me to one of my favorite cheese, Ossau-Iraty, and has often encouraged us to take home leftovers. (One of the things that makes him such a good b-i-l). He also introduced us to cheese paper, which helps keep cheese in good condition in your home fridge. It is $7.95 a box and a box will fit perfectly nicely in an average sized cheese freak’s stocking. (Would it be piggy to stick a box in his stocking?)
For the host or hostess who often serves cheese, this is a really nifty gift. You write the name of the cheese you’re serving right on the tile with a dry erase pen, so diners know what they’re cutting in to. It’s that or sticky notes for me.
And now, two cookbooks for cookbook lovers…
(Both happen to be written by friends, but I happen to have some really talented, award-winning friends.)
Grace Young won the 2011 James beard award for International Cooking for this book (and won for some of her past books, as well.) This is a spectacular book that will enable tyou to master the art of wok cookery, because, as Grace writes, The old expression: “One wok runs to the sky’s edge” means “one who uses the wok becomes master of the cooking world.” And as the wok user becomes master of the cooking world, so does he become master of the stir-fry, one of the greatest techniques of Chinese cookery.
David Lebovitz, author of many cookbooks, Chez Panisse alum, and creator of his eponymous and wildly successful blog that I just love to read, is as good a writer as he is a pastry chef. That is a rare and invaluable combination. David has a wonderful sense of humor and a lovely way of simplifying complicated desserts for the home cook. This book is a must for anyone who loves to bake.