10 Tasty Gifts for Foodies
A foodie is a foodie, right? Well, there are foodies, and then there are foodies. We're not all the same, and there are nearly as many foodie types as there are divergent cuisines. So when shopping for a foodie, be sure to shop for your particular foodie.
Here are 10 gift ideas for 10 different types of foodies:
Are her spices spilling out of the pantry? Are his cookbooks falling off the shelf? Are her accoutrements shoved haphazardly in a drawer? Help this foodie get her mise-en-place. For a spice solution, try the Spice Stack, which will adeptly store cinnamon and cloves (YouCopia also makes a new Coffee Stack for single-cup java drinkers).
Fabulous bookshelves and cases, with personal installation included, are thoughtful for cookbook hoarders, and a fabulous plastic vase picked up at an art museum store can double as a haven for errant spoons and spatulas.
If he doesn't have The Essential New York Times Cookbook, that's a go-to gift. My dear friend Ellen gave me this amazing cookbook last Christmas, and I absolutely adore it.
But a newer book, just published this year, is Susan Russo's The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches. Beautiful and informative, it explains how to make a real po' boy and how it came to be.
3. For the well-traveled gourmet
Most people who love both cooking and travel will be interested in learning about the culinary destinations you've visited. Instead of buying shot glasses or snow globes on your next vacation, go native locavore and pick up that olive oil, jam or cookie that are only available locally. My favorite foodie travelers will be receiving some thimbleberry and chokeberry jams and fruitcakes I picked up at The Jampot in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The monks of the Holy Transfiguration Skete run a busy little store May through October, but they do take orders by phone and fax, and they're worth savoring even if you've never set foot in the U.P.
Instead of buying a prepared bundle of gourmet goodies from out of town, why not fill your box with local delights? You can shop for your locavore-loving foodie at LocalHarvest.org -- they have a whole gift section -- but another idea is to buy a share in a local community-supported agriculture (CSA) farm. Some CSAs will be happy to furnish you with a gift certificate, and this is a gift that will fill your foodie's larder all summer long (Local Harvest also has a section on finding CSAs near you). Combine the certificate or the goodies with Robin Mather's The Feast Nearby: How I lost my job, buried a marriage and found my way by keeping chickens, foraging, preserving, bartering and eating locally (all on forty dollars a week) for a personalized gift basket.
5. For the foodie at the office
'Tis the season for office parties, secret Santas and holiday grab bags. Booze is often a go-to office gift, and most liquor and wine stores are stocked with potent potable gifts. But instead of wrapping up a big-name bottle, get crafty with a spirit from a local distillery. With more than 300 different craft distilleries scattered across the U.S., you'll be able to find a small-batch spirit to your liking. My husband and I wrapped up a bottle of Great Lakes Distillery's Rehorst Gin for his office's white elephant grab bag, and it was fought over at the holiday party.
6. For the chocoholic
Give me chocolate -- any artisan, single-sourced truffle will do. But one of the hottest trends in cacao these days is to make a truffle evoke another classically sweet taste, such as "birthday cake," "candy apple" or "mint cookies." Fannie May, my favorite chocolatier from my Chicagoland childhood, now features such delights in their new FM Artisan line created by Norman Love. The birthday cake tastes, well, like a yellow birthday cake, and for me, it's nostalgia -- times two.
7. For the new gourmet in the family or the foodie you just met
Pots and pans, china and appliances suggest too intimate a relationship. For a new-to-you foodie, kitchen accessories (with gift receipts, of course) are the way to go. My sister's boyfriend makes a mean hot fudge sauce, but I've never seen his kitchen, so he's getting a fabulous fold-up cutting board (Joseph Joseph Chop2Pot), a funny set of tongs called the Snapi and my favorite Microplane to better shave chocolate for his sauce.
Culinary memoirist Kathleen Flinn's latest tale, The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks, not only explains and offers some of the best, classical stock and salad dressing recipes, but those who are already fearless in the kitchen will appreciate the yarns she weaves about supermarket voyeurism.
9. For the oenophile
I've been a fan of Bottega del Vino wine glasses ever since I attended a magazine party where they were in use. A slightly inebriated writer stumbled, and his glass of Merlot went flying. The red wine splattered all over the tile floor, but the crystal didn't shatter. Now, the glasses aren't completely unbreakable -- I've had relatives break them with ease -- but they're stronger than the typical, aroma-enhancing stemware.
I'm also a big fan of elegant, Scandinavian design, so when our friends Brian and Karen brought us back a Grand Cru wine pourer and wine stopper designed by Erik Bagger from Denmark, I swooned. Not only does it prevent dribbles when pouring, it looks great, too. You don't have to travel to Denmark to get it; you can order it online.
I love to make truffles, toffee and cookies, but I'm always at a loss at how to wrap my handcrafted goodies (and the love and affection I put into making them doesn't count). Dinah Corley not only details instructions on how to make that amazing gingerbread, cucumber vodka and olive tapenade, but she shows you what skill level you need to make it, the time necessary for the endeavor, how to wrap it and how far it can travel in Gourmet Gifts: 100 Delicious Recipes for Every Occasion to Make Yourself & Wrap with Style.
Corley's wrapping suggestions are equally apropos for gifts you haven't made, and I plan to use them as I put together gift baskets of cheese and Jampot jams for my dear foodie friends this year.