Gift Guide 2017: Happy Chopsticks

December 7, 2017

One of my favorite places to shop for gifts is Yunhong in Chinatown, a small elegant shop that looks rather strange among the ordinary geegaw emporiums on Mott Street. This branch of a shop in Beijing sells nothing but chopsticks (and the occasional hand-crafted hair clip).

Their wares range from a couple of dollars up to $600; these are  chopsticks you give as wedding gifts or take to a special dinner. (And should you pull them out at a fancy omakase meal, your sushi chef is bound to be impressed.)

If you care to buy their wares online, there are a few limited options here.

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Gift Guide 2017: A Little Lamb

December 6, 2017

I first tasted Jamison lamb at the late, lamented Chef Jean-Louis Palladin‘s restaurant, Jean-Louis at the Watergate.  Palladin was a chef’s chef – revered by people like Eric Ripert – and an all around great guy.

“When Jean-Louis first tasted our lamb,” John Jamison says, “he began to cry.  That was back in the seventies, and he kept saying, ‘This is the flavor of my childhood’.”

The lamb that John and Sukey Jamison raise naturally-  on lush grass on a gorgeous Pennsylvania hillside – is so delicious that chefs all over the country swear by it. Their holiday gift pack – a leg and 6 chops – makes a very fine present for a special friend.

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Gift Guide 2017: For Would-Be Brewers

December 5, 2017

Our liquid tastes change. Tea is gaining on coffee while beer is fast becoming the alcohol of choice.  Everybody it seems, is making beer.

But it isn’t easy. If you know a wannabe brewer, this Deluxe Brewing Starter Kit from Northern Brewers, will make them deliriously happy. Clear instructions, along with everything they’ll need to make a decent basement brew.

Who knows – they might even invite you over to share it.

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Gift Guide 2017: A Feast of Tomatoes

December 4, 2017

Even people who don’t like gardening love home-grown tomatoes.  And there’s no better place to buy the seeds than from TomatoFest Heirloom Tomato Seeds.

For more than thirty years Gary Ibsen and Dagma Lacey have been carefully collecting heirlooms, and they now grow more than 600 varieties sourced from gardeners around the world.  They’ve been selling seeds since 2004, and their offerings are awesome.  Here are a few that are new this year:

Godzilla

Thunder Bay

And of course if you’d like to go for a classic, there’s always this:

 

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Gift Guide 2017: My Favorite Anchovies

December 3, 2017

I use a lot of anchovies; I prefer them to salt in many vegetable dishes – they add a wonderful dash of umami – and I add them to the sauteed onions when I begin the dish.  Worry them about and they disappear, leaving behind just the ghost of flavor.

But there are so many terrible anchovies on the market! Little wonder many people disdain them.

I’ve finally found a favorite: Nettuno anchovies packed in salt.  They come whole, so you have to filet them yourself, which merely increases the pleasure.  Here’s a video showing you how to do it.

What makes these anchovies so special?  They’re made by a family in a small Italian village; they catch their fish at the peak of the season and salt them for five months.  The result is an anchovy that is not simply salty, but has a special sweetness. I often find myself popping a few into my mouth – they’re that good.  And this time of year I give them to friends in an attempt to share the pleasure

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