Gift Guide 2018: Drink it Up

December 15, 2018

The new Aviary Cocktail Book may be the most beautiful book I’ve ever seen.  The book is huge and weighs more than 8 pounds, but once you start leafing through it, you’re hooked.  Grant Achatz and his team doe nothing by half measure, and everything about the book is compelling. The writing is concise, the recipes meticulous and the photography gorgeous; anyone who cares about cocktails would be thrilled to receive a copy.

And while you’re at it….

you might want to include this beautiful Porthole Infuser, which was originally designed for The Aviary.

Does anybody need this?  Probably not.  On the other hand that probably means that your friends don’t already have one.  And it’s certainly the most beautiful way to make a do-it-yourself project into something lovely.  Make flavored vodkas, flavored oils, lemonade…. Or simply fill it up, set it on the counter and let your friends admire it. 

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Gift Guide 2018: Picky, Picky

December 14, 2018

I love my Blanc Creatives steel pan- it’s the workhorse of my kitchen – but I suggested that last year. (You can read that here.)  So this year I thought their lovely cocktail picks would make a very cool gift.

But they were sold out.

But I’ve just learned that the Virginia company has produced a brand new batch.  Hand forged of steel, with a little copper holder, they’d make a perfect present.  Attractive, useful and unique; this is one gift you can be sure your friends do not already possess.

Order by Sunday, and it will arrive in time for Christmas.  (The site still says they’re sold out, but the Blanc people say that will change before the day is out.)


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Gift Guide 2018: Keep a Lid on It

December 13, 2018

Years ago a friend made me a lidded ceramic bowl which I found incredibly useful for everything from making yogurt to keeping foods warm in the kitchen and storing them in the refrigerator.  Then I dropped the cover, it shattered… and I’ve been looking for a replacement ever since.


Sarah Kersten, who is probably best known for her beautiful fermentation jars (if you have a fermenter friend, this would be a very welcome present), has finally put her lidded bowls back in production in her Berkeley studio.  They look beautiful, take leftovers easily from  refrigerator to table, and would make a wonderful gift for almost anyone.


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Gift Guide 2018: For Restaurant Lovers

December 12, 2018

If you know someone who’s wild for a special New York restaurant, this is the perfect present.

John Donohoe, cartoonist, author and former New Yorker editor, is making it his mission to draw every restaurant in New York.  That’s probably not possible, but his website, All the Restaurants,  offers dozens of different drawings of restaurants, listed not only alphabetically, but also categorically.

So if you know someone who has special feelings for Balthazar

loves dim sum at Jing Fong

or can’t forget that special night at 21, this would be a perfect present.

Each print is signed and limited to an edition of 365.

Order by December 14th if you want it in time for Christmas.


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Gift Guide 2018: So Many Good Things…

December 11, 2018

When I have a few free moments nothing gives me more pleasure than trolling through the online catalog of Corti Brothers in Sacramento. The site is always filled with new and wonderful things to eat.

In the early seventies, when I moved to California, people in need of truffles, great olive oil, or the best Parmigiano, invariably called Darrell Corti who would send it off to them on a Greyhound bus. Darell was selling balsamic vinegar before anyone else in America had ever heard of it, and collecting California wines before most people understood how good they could be.  I still think he knows more about food and wine than anyone else in the country.  And the store is still importing foods you can’t find anywhere else.

These Italian candied black cherries are a case in point. If you like real maraschino cherries, you’ll like these wild cherries from the Adriatic coast even better. Any mixologist would be grateful to be introduced to this easy way of making an Old Fashioned something really special.

This sour cherry syrup would be a fantastic gift for someone who wants to dabble in Persian cuisine.

And if you know a soy sauce freak, they’ll want to know about the line of fascinating variations Corti Brothers imports from Japan.  I’m particularly partial to this:

Mitsuboshi Saishikome Shoyu double fermented soy sauce, which has a smooth umami richness that sets it apart from other soy sauces.

But don’t take my word for it: go to the website and look around. I’m willing to bet that you’ll encounter a few products you’ve never seen before.

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