Ultimate Foodie Gift Guide 2011

Many women angle for jewelery, others make-up. For me (no shock here), it’s all about food and drink (and some minor home improvements)! Below, find the edible presents I’m hoping to receive or own and heartily recommend this season (I know, I know, some of these are a bit extravagant, but I can dream!):

  1. Custom spice blend from La Boite a Epice in Manhattan: The most recent issue of Food & Wine Magazine profiles Lior Lev Sercarz, the founder of this spice boutique in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen. I’m dreaming of my own customized mixture, or at least, a few of the already-created blends made for expert chefs, such as Ana Sortun of Cambridge, MA’s Oleana and Sofra Restaurants. http://www.laboiteny.com (price unknown)
  2. Hamilton Beach 6 Quart Programmable Stovetop Slow Cooker (33567T): Since beginning work on my slow cooker cookbook for The Taunton Press, I’ve fallen increasingly hard for slow cooking–and this new reasonably-priced appliance makes the technique even easier! Brown meats and saute aromatics in the stovetop-safe crock. No more dirtying an extra pan or losing precious fond (brown bits) on the bottom of the pan! http://www.hamiltonbeach.com, about $75
  3. Davao White Chocolate Bar + Pistachios from Askinosie Chocolates. I love the subtle tang that goat’s milk lends to chocolate, and am further tempted by the addition of gorgeous, rich pistachios. http://www.askinosie.com, $10.50
  4. Any treats, especially petit fours, from Valerie Confections in LA. A couple of years ago, I received a shipment of their petit fours, and was entranced. Now I’m itching to try the rose petal and ginger varieties. http://www.valerieconfections.com, $50 for 12 petit fours.
  5. A trip to my favorite (domestic) foodie destination: Northern CA. As always, I would make a pilgrimage to San Fran’s Ferry Plaza Market, try Cotogna Restaurant (the casual offshoot of Quince) and Manresa, and spend a few days in the Napa Valley, returning to Ubuntu and the Oxbow Public Market, and trying new restaurants that have cropped up since my last visit.
  6. Decorative painting of my tired kitchen cabinetry. I would love the nicked, farmhouse-y wood to be coated in a creamy off-white matte finish. There’s no better way to wake up a blah or outdated kitchen.
  7. A larger outdoor grill. We can’t cook burgers, hot dogs, veggies, and BBQ chicken rapidly enough with our standard Weber Genesis Silver B model.
  8. …And while we’re on the subject of outdoor entertaining, a standing heat lamp (to extend outdoor entertaining season in my neck of the woods: Southern New England), a large and attractive umbrella or awning, and a fire pit.
  9. An outdoor shower. I know it’s not food-related, but my husband and I are still dreaming of the one we enjoyed at Manka’s Inverness Lodge in California’s Marin County. Cue in bird song and the aromas of eucalyptus and redwood. Need I say more?
  10. Black truffle butter, the perfect complement to rib eye steaks.
  11. A selection of varietal honeys, including some I’ve never tried, such as California’s stir thistle.
  12. Sea urchin. I have yet to try it, and am eager to do so.
  13. A new fridge, preferably a Sub-Zero (told you I was dreaming!). The model I inherited is over 20 years old, and on its last gasp.
  14. High-quality tea (especially flavored black and green) and coffee, such as The Perfect Sip Allegro Coffee gift set available at Whole Foods Markets. http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/products/774
  15. Gift certificates to Dean & Deluca, Williams-Sonoma, Balducci’s

Should I add anything to this list? Let me know, and have a happy and healthy holiday season!

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