The Gift Guide

November 28, 2010

Starting today I’m going to post a new gift suggestion every day until Christmas. These are all products I’ve tried and loved, all gifts that I’d like to receive myself. (And although I shouldn’t have to say this, I should add that nobody’s paying for product placement.)

There’s a certain irony in this, because when I was at Gourmet I did a terrible job of showcasing stuff to buy. This was partly because there was always so much pressure from the publishers to showcase the advertisers’ products. If you’re wondering why there are always watches on the cooks, there’s your answer. But it was also because I could never figure out a really interesting way to offer shopping suggestions. But now that I’m no longer at the magazine, when people ask me for gift suggestions, it all seems very straightforward. So here it is, a list of gifts that I think your friends will appreciate.

I’m starting with Mangalitsa pork, because I cooked some the other day, and I was truly startled by the sheer deliciousness of these beautiful wooly pigs.


I love baking with Mangalitsa lard, which is pure white, soft and has a fine sweet flavor that is not quite like anything I’ve tasted before. When you’re making pie dough it rolls out like a dream, and bakes up into a wonderfully flaky crust that lacks the mean piggy flavor of so much lard.

But the last time I ordered the lard from De Bragga and Spitler (, I decided to order some meat as well. Let me just say that it is, hands down, the most delicious pork I have ever tasted. It is so sweet, succulent and seductively flavorful that the only seasoning it needs is some salt and pepper (and maybe a few cloves of garlic). Trust me: if you send this to a friend, he will love you forever.

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