Gift Guide 2018: Is This the Future?

December 10, 2018

In their review The Daily Meal called this an “easy bake oven for adults.” C-Net liked it a lot. So did Wired. I certainly don’t want one of these space-age ovens, and most people I know wouldn’t want to spend more than a thousand dollars for an appliance that takes up too much space on your kitchen counter. 

But if you have a loved one who insists on being the first to own the latest technology, then he (and it probably is a man) will definitely want the Brava pure light technology oven.  

Apparently the oven can go from 0°F to 500°F in less than a second while cooking different foods to apparent perfection at the same time on a single tray.  

It’s probably an early clue to a new direction. It cooks food faster.  It heats the food, not the air around it.  And it’s certainly a way to be the hippest cook on the block.

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Gift Guide 2018: Perfect Christmas Cookies

December 9, 2018

My father moved to New York from Berlin in 1926.  He was twenty-six years old and fairly set in his food ways.  Which is to say that he didn’t really consider anything that wasn’t German could possibly be real food.

He thought cereal was a strange American invention, had very little use for salad (or anything green, to be completely honest), and wouldn’t dream of eating dinner if a basket of bread was not on the table.  And when I wanted to make him happy, all I had to do was bake a Sacher Torte.

The one thing I never could figure out was Lebkuchen. Partly because I didn’t know where to buy the strangely innocent wafers that are on the bottom (I always imagined they were large communion wafers).  It didn’t matter, because Dad knew someone who kept us supplied with the classic German Christmas cookies.

For years I dreamed about finding another great source for Lebkuchen; there are plenty of commercial brands, but none taste right to me.  And then I discovered Leckerlee. And it was like being a child again.

These are the real thing. Chewy, gingery, spicy, nutty – with that completely tasteless but compelling wafer on the bottom. It is, for me at least, Christmas in a single bite.


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Gift Guide 2018: Serious Heat

December 8, 2018

Okay, I know you’re over hot sauce.  These days everybody seems to be making it, and there are entire stores exclusively devoted to the stuff.

But I just discovered a line of hot sauces that have real character.  Hot Fire Hot Sauces are made by Nate Courtland, a chef who was raised in Nogales, Arizona (where they definitely know their peppers), these are more than merely hot.  They have balance and soul.

Made with organic ingredients sourced from local farmers, they’re fermented in charred oak whisky barrels, which gives them real character.. 

They’re all delicious, bu the one that moves me the most is Ghost Pepper Cran-Apple, the hottest of the lot.   The heat of those Carolina Reapers is tempered with roasted garlic, diced apple cider and the sneaky tang of fresh cranberries.  It’s kind of addictive.  

And hey – at $7 a bottle it makes a truly lasting impression. A little of this goes a very long way.


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Gift Guide 2018: Goose Feathers!

December 7, 2018

One of the reasons I live in the Hudson Valley is because I’m surrounded by wonderful farmers.  I just bought my Christmas goose from Kinderhook Farm, which is a kind of dream of a place that raises all manner of animals in a humane fashion.

The place is run by artists – and in her spare time Georgia Ranney, makes art out of goose feathers.  I can’t think of a lovelier present for a cook than one of her feather monoprints.

Lovely and unique, they cost $25 apiece or 5 for $100. And while you’re on the site, take a look at their farmstay cottage.  Open from May to October, reservations sell out fast because this too is kind of a dream.

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Gift Guide: Stupid Expensive, But…..

December 6, 2018


I fell in love with these titanium tumblers when I first ate at Singlethread in Healdsburg (which, incidentally, was just awarded three Michelin stars). The one they gave me felt so wonderful in my hand that I ended up petting it throughout the meal.  The tumblers also keep hot drinks hot and cold drinks absolutely icy.  I instantly coveted one.

But when I found them online, they were stupidly expensive, and I couldn’t bring myself to spend $175 for  a single tumbler. 

I should have bought one back then, because now they’re even more expensive. $250.  But if you have someone on your gift list who thinks she has everything, I’d be willing to bet she’s lacking one of these. And even more willing to bet that she’ll love it.

Who wouldn’t?

Each one is handmade, which takes about a week.  Then there’s shipping from Japan, which takes another week. Still, if you order now you should still be able to get one by Christmas.

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