Gift Guide 2019: Pining for This

November 24, 2019

Would you be shocked to learn that the pinenuts you’re most likely using in your pesto come from China or Siberia?

I was. On a recent trip to Italy I couldn’t help noticing that the pinoli in the markets were much larger than the ones I buy at home.

Back in my own kitchen, I scrutinized the pinenuts in my freezer. (They’re filled with oil, which means that left in the cupboard they quickly go bad.) Sure enough, the label said something about the various countries the pinenuts might have come from, and not one of them was Italy or the United States.

I took out a handful and laid them next to the ones I’d bought in Italy. Half the size! Then I tasted them: half the flavor too.

If you’re looking for a thoughtful and inexpensive gift for a cook, you could hardly do better than Gustiamo Pinoli which are organically grown and harvested by hand. I can’t think of a better way to stuff a stocking.

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Holiday Gift Guide 2019: Ladles Only

November 23, 2019

This may be the most elegant kitchen object ever created. A friend recently gave me one as a gift – a very generous gift I might add – and I find myself simply staring at it each time I walk into the kitchen.

And then I find myself reaching for it, and petting its smooth, silky shape.

Woodworker Joshua Vogel created this covetable creation. (It is also available in black.) While you might not be willing to spring for it for yourself (it’s a very expensive spoon), it really does make a spectacular gift.

Maple ladle at blackcreekmarket.com

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Gift Guide 2019: Breading Lights

November 22, 2019

Have you ever seen anything more adorable? These bread lights – which are made of real bread coated in resin – come in various shapes and sizes. The small ones (croissants, rolls, etc.), run on batteries.

The large ones plug into wall sockets.

Hand-made in Japan by a former baker, pampshades begin as real loaves of bread, meaning that no two are exactly alike.

I’ve linked directly to the source in Japan, but if you peruse the retail outlets on the website you will find shops in various states that carry varying versions of the little lights.

Who would want one? Any bread-lover – and doesn’t that mean almost all of us? Now all we need is a companion butter light.

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Holiday Gifts 2019: Mohntorte

November 21, 2019

The classic, very dense Austrian poppyseed cake.

Know someone who thinks there’s nothing like Christmas in Austria? You couldn’t possibly find a better gift than this evocative cake. All it takes is a single bite, and you’re walking down snow-sprinkled streets in Vienna.

If the only poppyseeds you know are the ones that top bagels, you’re in for a surprise: gathered into a group the seeds have a slightly bitter, nutty, almost stony and decidedly intense flavor. This is a very grown-up cake; each bite is intense.

The Vienna Cookie Company makes the cakes in two styles. One is covered with marzipan and lemon zest. The Christmas variation comes robed in chocolate hiding a layer of apricot jam just underneath.

The cakes are created by baker Heidi Reigler, who says this was a favorite when she was growing up in Austria. It’s easy to understand why. The one I ordered vanished in an instant.

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Gift Guide 2019: For Chocolate Lovers

November 17, 2019

Dandelion’s Advent Calendar, with a different chocolate for each day of December until Christmas

This is an extravagant gift, but if you know someone who really loves chocolate, what could be better than a different little box of chocolate every day while you’re waiting for Christmas to come? Made by some of the world’s best, most award-winning chocolatiers, this year’s calendar includes creations by

There’s a separate beautiful little box for each day of the month, folded and packed by hand. Each contains a different chocolate: among the delights is a Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Caramel Bon Bon, a Garden Mint Truffle, Raspberry Linzer Bon Bon.

If you want Christmas to come early, this is a very good way to begin. My gift guide will begin, as usual, on Thanksgiving Day, but this is one you need to know about now. (They started shipping this week.)

Dandelion Chocolate 2019 Advent Calendar

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