Well, I'm definitely too late for Hanukkah, but hopefully I can catch those of you starting to do your Christmas shopping. These are gifts for the food lover, the cook, the person who dreams include fancy cocktails and beautiful pie servers. As always, if you've got other suggestions, leave them in the comments. Happy gifting!
Pok Pok Som: When I ate at Pok Pok Ny for the first time, we started our meal with an addictive tamarind cocktail made from this drinking vinegar. It's light, refreshing, and the perfect thing to take your mind off of the 20-degree weather outside. Tamarind is my favorite, but I also love the honey, ginger, and thai basil flavors.
Liddabit Stout Gingerbread Caramels: Brooklyn Larder is one of my favorite spots in New York, and Liddabit makes some of the best caramels in the country. These seasonal confections are particularly tasty.
Craft Coffee Subscription: For the friend who's both a coffee snob and extraordinarily busy, Craft Coffee is the perfect solution: regular shipments of just-roasted, small-batch coffee beans, dropped off at your door. Not much more expensive than buying the bags at a store.
Falls Mill Grits: I first purchased these grits on a business trip to Nashville, and I so loved them that I've made a point to stock up every time I head down there for work. Really good flavor, not expensive, great for polenta or grits or even folding into bread.
Crest bottle openers:for me, the pinnacle of elegance. These bottle openers have been making the rounds in foodblogland, and I've caught the bug. Practical enough to use, pretty enough to display. I love them all.
Salvador spice blend from La Boîte à Epice: ABC Carpet & Home has a small selection of La Boîte à Epice spices, and best of all, they have a little tray of the spices available for tasting. Last time I visited, I dipped and smelled my way through a handful of blends, and each was so fresh and vibrant, as though they'd just been mixed. (Perhaps they had.) My favorite new shop, Food 52's Provisions, has a selection of these blends available. The one I'm most excited about is the Salvador, made of saffron, pimenton, and seafood essence. It's begging for paella.
Owl's Brew Tea for Cocktails: The kind folks at Owl's Brew sent me some of these goodies to sample. The tea itself is quite good, but what really won me over is how easy and unstressful it makes cocktail mixing. Pour, add spirit of choice, sip. People will think you're so fancy, and you'll barely have lifted a finger. Available on Owl's Brew's website and on Provisions.
Boker's Bitters:Got these as a gift from my brother and sister-in-law last year, and loved them immediately. Couldn't quite put my finger on the dominant flavor, but my friend Josh finally solved the mystery: we think it's cardamom. Whatever it is, it's a winner in manhattans and particularly friendly to stout-based cocktails, which we've been making a lot.
Herringbone Napkins: I've taken to gifting linens when folks have us for the weekend. What's nicer than a little bundle of napkins or placemats, or even a nice runner for the table? These are especially charming.
Pretty gold spoons from Anthro: What's a gift guide without a little Anthro bling? These vintage-inspired gold spoons are a current crush, the sort of thing I'd never buy for myself but most definitely would gift to someone.
Vintage Milk Bottles: I bought these from Paper Source for our Thanksgiving tablescape. They came in a pack of 6, and I filled 4 with spare bouquets of flowers and berry stems, and tied a little ribbon of twine around the neck of each bottle. I just loved the way they looked. Come winter, I'll use them to serve cold cream with coffee, or warm maple syrup with pancakes. They've been such a surprisingly useful addition to my kitchen that I thought you might like some, too.
Nudo Olive Oil: The kind folks at Nudo sent me some of their cocoa nib olive oil to try a few months back. It's a novelty item at best, more fun to taste with a spoon or serve over fleur de lait ice cream than use in actual cooking. That said, I went out and bought one of their regular olive oils to try, and it was clean and grassy and really quite lovely. GIVEAWAY: Nudo has offered to send one lucky NDP reader a Quattro Stagioni gift set, which contains 4 8-oz. canisters of plain, lemon, pepper, and basil-scented olive oils. They're good stuff. To enter, leave a comment below and make sure to include your email address (which is never ever published or sold) in the secure sign-up form so I can contact you if you win. Enter by midnight, December 8th, and I'll choose a winner on December 9th. Good luck!
Jerusalem: Far and away my favorite cookbook of 2013 (and everyone else's, too.) Beautiful recipes with just the right dose of innovation - a dash of pomegranate syrup here, a bit of sumac there. The ingredients aren't so new to me, but many recipes call for combinations that never would have occurred to me. It's a grains and greens-focused book, with enough meat and fish to engage the omnivores. For me, pretty darn close to perfect.
Four and Twenty Blackbirds:I'm not big on specialty cookbooks (with the exception of breadbooks), but this pie book is a stunner. If you haven't been to Four and Twenty Blackbirds, make a pilgrimage next time you find yourself in New York. They make fantastic pie. As for the cookbook, their butter crust is perfection, and their salty honey pie is absolutely the best pie I discovered this year, beating out fierce competition.
Modernist Cuisine - the e-Book!If you considered buying Modernist Cuisine at Home but passed, you'll be thrilled to know it's now out on e-book. Unlike other e-books, which are just electronic versions of the paper thing, the MC folks put a ton of thought into how people would use an ipad publication differently from a paper edition. The result is so, so elegant. Even if this isn't on your shopping list or wish list, go watch the video promo on their site.
The Zuni Cafe Cookbook:Not a new book, not by a long shot. It's a classic, and it occupies a sacred space on my shelf for its careful treatment of beautiful ingredients and for its indispensable, inspiring section of spreads, sauces, pickles, and preserves. Judy Rogers, its author and the cook at the helm of the Zuni Cafe, passed away this week from cancer at age 57. I've been thinking about her recipes and about how much I've learned from her patient, deliberate approach to cooking good food. If you don't have her book, you need it.