Gift Guide 2019: Sweet Heat

November 29, 2019

Lately I find myself using more and more gochujang, the ubiquitous Korean chile paste. It’s got so many uses; yesterday I threw some into my classic Thanksgiving chili.

I’ve been using the supermarket sort, but it hit me that there are probably finer varieties. This traditional kochujang from Gotham Grove is one. It arrives beautifully packaged – a natural gift- and it keeps forever.

And while you’re at it, peruse the wonderful Gotham Grove website. You’ll find yourself coveting all manner of esoteric ingredients, from snail black garlic vinegar to aged soy sauces and roasted perilla oil.

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Gift Guide 2019: A Little Bird Told Me….

November 27, 2019

During a recent meal at Tak Room, the waiter appeared with the most adorable utensil to squeeze a little lemon over my fish. The fish was delicious, but I couldn’t stop thinking about that cute little bird.

Turns out they’re easy to find. I bought mine from Amazon, but if you’re interested in old objects, there are a lot of vintage bird squeezers on the market. I found them here and here.

There are definitely better way to squeeze lemons -but nothing nearly as cute. It makes a very good gift because they’re inexpensive – and unusual enough that your friends are unlikely to already own this particular little bird.

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Gift Guide 2019: The Spices of Life

November 26, 2019

I blame the New York Times’ Ligaya Mishan for my latest spice obsession. Last summer she posted a picture of the staples she was taking away on vacation, and I noticed a bottle of fermented sumac among the spices. I’d been looking for sumac, so I immediately ordered some of my own from Burlap and Barrel.

But I didn’t stop there. This young company sources directly from farmers all over the world, and I was intrigued by black lime, by Urfa peppers, by wild mountain cumin, by what they promised would be the best cinnamon of my life. Before I knew it, I’d ordered more spices than I could possibly use, so I’ve started sharing them with friends.

These are really wonderful, and very intense spices Any cook would be thrilled with a single jar, or one of their many gift packs.

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Here’s to Herbs

November 25, 2019

It snowed last night, and I’m kicking myself for not harvesting the last of the parsley, sage and thyme before it was too late.

If I had one of these herb-drying racks, perhaps I would have remembered to beat the frost. So I’m ordering one now – and a few for friends. They’re inexpensive – and there’s nothing like a few hanging herbs to make a kitchen feel friendly.

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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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