Gift Guide 2019: A Good Apron for a Good Cause

December 17, 2019

When I first met Susan Feniger she and Mary Sue Milliken were cooking most of the food they served in their tiny City Cafe on a little grill in the alley behind the restaurant. Their only other source of heat was a hot plate. Wolfgang Puck took me there: “They’re the coolest people,” he said, “and they’re making fantastic food.”

They’re still among the coolest people I know.

The pioneering women chefs have gone on to open lots of other – much larger – restaurants; their latest, Socalo, just opened in Santa Monica. But while they’ve been busy with restaurants and television shows they’ve also raised a lot of money for their favorite causes.

Mary Sue is passionate about No Kid Hungry while Susan’s latest project is this fantastic apron. All proceeds go to the LA LGBT center.

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Gift Guide 2019: Pretty Seedy

December 16, 2019

A friend from Georgia was recently in New York looking for a gift to take home to a transplanted northerner. “I want something I can’t get down south,” she said.

Without missing a beat I walked her over to Seed and Mill in the Chelsea Market. They have wonderful organic tahini, fantastic soft serve ice cream – and the best halva I’ve ever had.

The flavors of the Middle East are having their moment right now, and Israeli food is all the rage. Which means that halva, the strangely appealing candy made of sesame seeds is making a huge comeback. It is, I think, the texture that’s most appealing; it starts out dry and then changes in your mouth in an almost magical way.

Seed and Mill makes halva in an entire range of flavors. They start with plain sesame and expand to pistachio, rose oil, white chocolate & raspberry, cardamom and sea salt dark chocolate. A sampler would make a very appealing present, but if you’re looking for the wow factor, consider an entire cake. Weighing in at six and a half pounds, it makes quite an impression.

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Gift Guide 2019: Through a Glass

December 15, 2019

Every time I reach for this glass it makes me happy.

It’s an esthetically pleasing object that nestles into my hand in the most wonderful way.

I like the other glasses in the set too.

They were a housewarming gift when we moved in here fifteen years ago, and they’ve given me pleasure every day. I use them for juice, for wine, for a simple glass of water. I recently asked the friends who gave them to us where they’d purchased them – and discovered that these Hirota glasses from Japan have been made for more than a hundred years. Founded in 1899, the Hirota Company aims to preserve the traditional art of Japanese glass making. Hold a glass in your hand, and you’ll understand why this tradition is worth preserving.

And while you’re on the Sara site, take a look at the other beautiful objects they sell. It’s a beautifully curated collection.

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Gift Guide 2019: The Coolest Tool

December 14, 2019

Buying anything on Indiegogo is always a gamble. The last item I purchased was almost a year late. Still, when it finally arrived, it was worth the wait.

This one is late too. The Chopbox Cutting Board was promised for Christmas but like almost everything I’ve contributed to on the site, it’s not quite on time. Still, I’ve bought these for a few of my cleanfreak friends, and I don’t think they’ll mind waiting.

The Chopbox is a smart cutting board that has a built-in scale, a built-in timer and two knife sharpeners. It hides a second board beneath it. But its main selling point is that it sterilizes itself with a built-in disinfecting UVC light. Can you think of anything more reassuring?

Mine hasn’t arrived yet, so I have no idea if it will actually live up to its promise. But if it does, it will make many people very happy.

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Gift Guide 2019: Silver Spears

December 13, 2019

If you’ve never seen asparagus tongs before – and really, who has? – this is what they look like. You slip your fingers into the loops and pick up the spears, one by one.

As utensils go, these are pure Victoriana. But they’d make a perfect gift for someone who has everything. Or a cutlery freak. Or simply someone who loves strangely beautiful objects.

This particular tong is an antique – and you can find examples on the web. Try here or here.

This one, on the other hand, is a contemporary version made by Vagabond House; you can find it here. (They also make other interesting objects for asparagus freaks.)

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