Gift Guide 2020: Capering About

November 30, 2020

In my house, capers are an essential ingredient. So I was overjoyed to discover the giant salt-packed capers imported by Gustiamo. They are, hands down, the best capers I’ve found in America.

But the truth is that my pantry is always filled with the superb products Gustiamo imports from Italy. If you have an Italian food-lover on your list, they’ll be thrilled with almost everything on the site. Gustiamo imports this fantastic apricot jam from Sicily; it’s not a preserve, but a thin and extremely flavorful jam that makes a great glaze for fruit tarts. (It’s also perfect in a Sacher torte.)

This cherry tomato sauce makes an almost instant dinner on top of some of their terrific pasta

And the panettone they import every year at this time is legitimately legendary.

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Gift Guide 2020: Pot Luck

November 29, 2020

I’m still using the Dansk pots my mother bought in the sixties, and I love every one of them. Still, when my son gave me this Dansk Kobenstyle butter warmer for Christmas last year, I was underwhelmed. I said “Thank you very much,” put it in the drawer and expected to forget about it.

To my surprise, I find myself reaching for this surprisingly useful little pot almost every day. It’s the perfect vessel for a single soft-boiled egg. It reheats that half cup of coffee you forgot to drink. Need to produce a quick hit of gravy? Just the thing. Miso soup perhaps? And, of course, it does very well at its intended purpose. You don’t even need a potholder.

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Gift Guide 2020: Perfect Produce

November 28, 2020

When I was at Gourmet, the best days were the ones when a box arrived from The Chef’s Garden. We never knew what would be in there, and we’d hover over the box, oohing and aahing as the most astonishing produce was revealed.

The Chef’s Garden, in Huron Ohio, has been growing vegetables for the world’s best chefs for almost 40 years. They are, among other things, responsible for the microgreen craze.

“When everybody else started using mesclun,” says Farmer Lee Jones, “Charlie Trotter began looking for the next new thing. His chef came to our greenhouse and looked at a flat of radishes that were just beginning to sprout. ‘What’s that?’ he asked. We told him that they weren’t ready yet. He said he wanted them anyway – and before long we were sending microgreens of all sorts to chefs across the country.”

For years chefs who wanted exotic produce – edible flowers, ice spinach, beautiful beets as skinny as threads – they called on the Jones family. When restaurants began to close because of Covid, the Jones family pivoted to offering vegetables to home cooks.

If you want the sweetest and most nutritious carrots, potatoes and salad greens, you can’t do better than this remarkable regenerative farm. Everything they grow is so beautiful that these days, when I think of sending flowers to friends, I send vegetables instead.

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Gift Guide 2020:

November 27, 2020

As we contemplate leftover turkey and wonder how to deal with excess stuffing it’s hard not to think about the growing number of Americans who are not lucky enough to be facing that problem.

Current stastics indicate that 40% of Americans are now food insecure. Every time I look at that figure I want to tear my hair out. And then I try to figure out some way to help.

Here’s one easy suggestion. New York’s Coalition for the Homeless has teamed up with a long list of world-class artists to create The Artist Plate Project. The possibilities are intriguing; they include Andy Warhol, Lorna Simpson, Jenny Holzer, Maurizio Cattelan and Rashid Johnson, to name just a few.

The purchase of just one plate can feed 75 homeless and hungry New Yorkers. I can’t think of a better gift at this particular moment. Which is probably why they’re selling out so fast.

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Gift Guide 2020: Saved!

November 26, 2020

You know how you eat half an avocado, wrap the other half in plastic and then find that it’s turned into a dark slimy object? Don’t you hate that? It need never happen again.

Eliminating food waste is a top priority for people who care about the environment, which makes these little avocado savers the perfect present for just about everyone you know. Made of silicon, they’re inexpensive, useful – and kind of adorable. And while we’re at it, they’ve also developed ingenious solutions to saving cucumbers, apples and citrus of all kind.

And while I have you, a very happy Thanksgiving to you all.

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