November 30, 2017
I’ve been buying vintage cookbooks from Abebooks for what seems like ages, but I somehow missed the fact that they also sell vintage menus from all over the world. The menus don’t cost much – they average around fifteen dollars – and they’re the real thing, not copies. So if you know someone who wishes they’d been at a country hunt in England in 1889, eating a kaiseki meal in Tokyo in 1911, or feasting in Paris during the time of Toulouse Lautrec, you can find an appropriate menu here. There are dozens to peruse and the range is enormous, so even if you’re not searching for a gift, this is an intriguing way to spend some time.
They also have gorgeous botanical prints – like the one above – cut out of old illustrated books. If you know someone who loves antique apples, pears or gooseberries, one of these would make a unique and very welcome gift.
November 29, 2017
I wrote about Roy’s Panettone in last year’s gift guide, but since then I’ve come to love this amazing fruit bread even more. I’ve just finished ordering some for a few special friends, and I thought I’d remind you about it. In addition to the classic, Roy’s now making panettone in a few new flavors: pecan-caramel, chocolate or pistachio-cherry.
This is not the cardboard panettone that sits morosely on the table, wishing someone would eat it. This is light, airy fruit bread that vanishes in a flash. Eat a slice and you instantly want more. You can read all about Roy and his obsession with this Italian classic here, in my new column in Town and Country Magazine.
Or you can just cut to the chase and order some direct from Roy.
November 28, 2017
If you’ve got Charles Dickens visions, you can’t do better than Talbott and Arding’s traditional Christmas Pudding
. A family recipe, it’s made with three kinds of raisins, candied orange peel, organic eggs and suet from grass-fed local cows. Lots of spices and brandy too. It’s hard to think of a better finale to a festive holiday feast.
An extra bonus: the crock it comes in is a perfect little bowl; I’ve reached for mine a million times this year, and each time I remember how much I loved eating the robust cake (it really is more cake than pudding), it originally held.
And while you’re at it, you might want to think about the shop’s astonishingly delicious fruit and nut loaf.
I’ve never had anything quite like it. Gluten-free, it’s a whole world of fruits and nuts that seems to be held together with nothing more than a wish.
November 27, 2017
Okay. You’ve climbed on the salt bandwagon. You have an entire library of salts, in various shapes and sizes, from all over the world.
And if you’re like me, you’re confused.
Do you really need to spend a fortune on salt? Which should you use, and when?
I’ve got dozens of different kinds of salt, but for everyday cooking I’m down to one:
Bitterman’s Fleur de Sel.
Mark Bitterman is a salt fanatic, and he sells a whole range of salts from all over the world. You can read about him and his company here.
Or you can just cut to the chase and buy a BIG bag of his fleur de sel: 2.8 pounds for about fifteen bucks. Organic, sun-dried, hand harvested. Lovely to taste and fine to touch.
You won’t be sorry. And while you’re at it, buy some for your friends. They will thank you.
November 26, 2017
If you’ve got a passionate cook on your list – and you love them enough to want to spend some serious money- they will thank you for many years for giving them this wonderful hand-forged carbon steel skillet from Blanc Creatives.
I wouldn’t exactly call it a skillet: the sides are very low. This makes it the perfect pan for flipping eggs, making pancakes and searing meats.
The blue black color is truly beautiful, and the pan gets even lovelier as it ages. I find myself caressing the pan each time I dry it. (It is easier to care for than cast iron.)
The skillet comes in three sizes: I have the medium, which I find incredibly useful. More often than not, when I pull open the pan drawer, this is the one I pull out.