December 23, 2013
There's still time to send a subscription……
Every year at about this time, when it's getting pretty close to Christmas and you're still out there desperately seeking appropriate presents, I suggest a magazine subscription.
Last year it was Modern Farmer and Fool. (And if you're not acquainted with these fascinating publications, I suggest you remedy the situation.) The year before it was the now extremely famous Lucky Peach. The mere fact that these passionate independent magazines exist makes me incredibly happy. But this year's suggestion makes me happiest of all.
In light of the flap about the Time Magazine food issue debacle – "The Gods of Food" – which utterly ignored the contribution of women in the kitchen, it's nice to know there's a magazine celebrating both women and food. And what a magazine! It's beautiful. It's well-written. And it's always interesting.
If you know a woman who's involved with food (and is there anyone who doesn't?) the biannual Cherry Bombe would make a perfect present.
December 22, 2013
When was the last time you had a perfect peach?
A peach so powerful that its fragrance filled your kitchen. A peach so tender that juice was running down your cheeks with the very first bite. A peach so satisfying that the flavor lingered, long after you'd tossed the pit away.
Modern peaches are a pretty dispiriting lot. They're so hard that an entire generation thinks of peaches as a crisp and crunchy fruit. And so lacking in fragrance that the seductive perfume of a peach had become an extremely rare experience.
But real peaches still exist. The best I've found come from Frog Hollow Farm. They're seasonal, of course, you have to wait until summer. But right now you can send the promise of peaches to your favorite friends. I can't think of a better present.
Frog Hollow's peach program promises to pick each of 6 varieties as they hit the peak of their season, and pack them so carefully that they arrive in perfect condition. In my experience, they always do; each time I've opened the box the aroma has staggered me.
$300 is a lot of money for a few peaches. On the other hand, what you're really buying is a taste of the quickly vanishing past. And that, I think, is priceless.
December 21, 2013
Adopt an olive tree? I posted this last year, and I still think it's an incredibly cool idea.
Here’s how it works: You go to a beautiful website and scroll through the various orchards on offer. There are more than a dozen in Le Marche, Abruzzo and Sicily, with a picture of each, a little biography of the olive farmer, and a description of the oil they make. You choose the orchard you want, and “adopt” one of the olive trees. They, in turn, send you the oil from your olives when it’s pressed. (The next olive oil will be shipped in the spring.)
This is, in essence, an international CSA (community supported agriculture), a way to collaborate with a farmer, become part of his farm. It offers the consumer a way to participate in the creation of a product, while providing financial security to the farmer.
Best of all – you can go visit your tree and meet the farmer. Hard to think of a better excuse to visit rural Italy.
There's still time; a gift costs $69, and you can print the certificate out immediately.
In the interest of full disclosure I have to admit that I’ve still never done this. But I'm posting it again in hopes that one of my friends will get the hint.
December 20, 2013
Say cheese. You can't do it too often.
I'm repeating myself here, but since I first posted this gift, 4 years ago, it's become much easier to find. And I still think these cheese papers make a fantastic gift: it's impossible to have too many.
Here’s the problem: If you love cheese as much as I do, you always buy too much. Then you watch it wither away in your refrigerator, dying a slow and horrible death. In order to protect it, you need to wrap it away from all the aggressive odors that inhabit your refrigerator, waiting to pounce. But plastic or foil simply suffocate your cheese. Waxed paper is less lethal – it allows it to breathe – but offers little in the way of protection. If you want to make your cheese happy, this is the answer.
Somebody once brought me a package of cheese papers, and it changed my life; I’ve been grateful ever since. I’m pretty sure your friends will feel the same.
A package costs $9, and they're available in all sorts of supermarkets (even Safeway!), kitchenware shops (Sur La Table) and gourmet emporiums (Dean & DeLuca). And while you're at it, buy some for yourself. You won't regret it.
December 19, 2013
I love food people. I’ve always thought it was impossible to be a great cook and have a mingy soul. Yesterday, Luis Weiss proved that once again on her blog, The Wednesday Chef.
I’ll let you read Luisa’s description of what moved her to auction off her fascinating collection of cookbooks (many are signed first editions). But if you don’t tear up, at least a little, on reading her words I’m betting you’re not much of a cook.
The auction is truly in the Christmas spirit. After reading Luisa’s blog I threw in the last hardcover copy that I’ve got of my first cookbook, Mmmmm: A Feastiary (1972).
(They only printed 3500 hardcover copies, and they’re almost impossible to find.) I’ll sign it – and match whatever the winning bid is.
There's lots of great stuff here, and Luisa's throwing in a copy of her own wonderful book, My Berlin Kitchen, to anyone who spends $50. The auction ends tomorrow.
I just wish I’d come up with this notion on my own.