December 13, 2011
A Great Magazine
I often find myself looking at Lucky Peach and thinking, “I wish we could have done that at Gourmet.” The magazine is fearless, irreverent, well-written and brilliantly art-directed. It’s an entirely new generation of food magazine. If you haven’t seen it, you should. And if you know someone who enjoys reading about food (and if not, why are you reading this?), a subscription to the quarterly would make a very good gift.
December 12, 2011
Hand Made Candy Canes
Candy canes are as seasonal as strawberries, which is a big part of their appeal. Every one is an instant holiday. They’re so beautiful that I can never resist even the ordinary drugstore sort with their suspiciously strong flavors.
But when I discovered these hand-pulled candy canes made with natural ingredients, I was instantly hooked. They come in a gorgeous array of colors, they’re charmingly uneven, and they arrive in a bright red box tied up with bows and bells. A great gift for children – although anyone who considers herself too grown up for these is probably not someone I want to know.
December 10, 2011
One Fabulous Pepper Mill
I wrote about my favorite pepper mill in one of the last issues of Gourmet. I’m writing about it again because I still think it’s the best pepper mill you can buy – and there is no better gift. A great pepper mill is just about the hardest thing to find – and you can never have too many.
What’s so great about this one? It’s easy to fill and clean. It’s a truly handsome creature. It keeps grinding evenly for years – not just pepper, but salt and spices too. But most importantly, it makes me happy every single time I pick it up
The downside? I only know one place to buy Magnus Lindstrom's hand-crafted wood and ceramic mills, and they are not inexpensive ($80 to $120, depending on size). Quantities are limited. Still, if you want to offer someone a unique present, this one would surely do. Magnus Lindstrom pepper mill at Rubiner’s Cheesemongers 413-528-0488).
December 9, 2011
Hand-Blown Glass Candles
When I walked into CM Cherry in Hudson a couple of weeks ago, I fell so hard for the hand-blown glass candles that I instantly bought a pair for myself. Then I went back and bought them for just about everyone on my Christmas list. I’d just never seen anything like them.
You simply fill the elegant glass tapers with liquid paraffin and give the wicks a bit of time to absorb the oil. Then you light them, like an ordinary candle. They sparkle as they burn. They’re dripless. They’re also reusable.
Candle lovers (and I suppose such people do exist) would undoubtedly be thrilled to find these under the tree. But it’s hard to think of anyone who entertains -even once in a while – who wouldn’t be happy to put these unusual candles on their table. You can browse the website (the shop also has a remarkable collection of candlesticks), but it isn’t set up to take orders. So you'll have to resort to something even more old-fashioned than glass candles: The telephone. 518-828-2452.
December 8, 2011
Spherical Ice Cubes
Those big, beautiful ice cubes you see at cocktail bars aren’t just for show. They melt slowly, which means they don’t dilute your drink.
Many bars and restaurants actually chip cubes off of a large block of ice (or even an iceberg), which is not exactly ideal for the home kitchen (unless you’ve got a ton of space and a love of chiseling). Spherical ice cube trays are an excellent alternative. A set of two is $16, and all you have to do is fill the trays with water to get perfect little globes of ice.
But if you’re looking to splurge on a serious entertainer you might want something a little splashier. I kind of love this gorgeous professional ice ball mold, which churns out 30-40 ice cubes per hour. It's $213 – but it assures many hours of drinking pleasure.