Gift Guide 2019: Okay, Now I’m Embarrassed

December 7, 2019

This is, without any doubt, the stupidest gift suggestion I’ve ever posted.

On the other hand, if you’re like me you probably know someone who’s obsessed with certain fast food chains. Yes, I do know a White Castle fanatic. And this ugly sweater is probably the perfect present for him.

Turns out that almost every fast food chain has an online store. I promise you that every object they sell is pretty cringe-inducing. At KFC you can buy fireplace logs that will make your house smell like fried chicken. MacDonald’s, of course, has an entire line of products, including a jolly holiday sweater.

They’re selling out fast: if you want Red Lobster’s Ugly Sweater you’re already too late (it’s probably that insulated pocket that made it so popular). Sad though it may be, you undoubtedly know someone who would get a good laugh from one of these gifts.


Gift Guide 2019: Wrap it Up

December 5, 2019

When environmentally friendly, reusable food wraps hit the market a couple of years ago, we all cheered. At last an end to the endless plastic clutter we were imposing on the oceans.

The new food wraps were virtuous. But they were also, for the most part, depressingly unattractive.

Of course somebody had to make a better, more beautiful version. Enter ZWraps. Washable, reusable, and made with organic ingredients, they’re also extremely lovely to look at. I appreciate the way they warm up in your hands, becoming soft and pliable. And I love the way they seem to curl up around lemons and make every bowl look more beautiful. They don’t cost much, and they’d make perfect presents for all your friends who want to feel they’re being part of the solution.

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Gift Guide 2019: Searchin’ for Urchins

December 3, 2019

Stephanie Mutz may be the coolest woman in America. When I met her a few months ago in Ojai her hands were stained purple, which makes sense since she is the only female sea urchin diver in the state of California.

The sea urchins she and her partner harvest for their company, Sea Stephanie Fish, are, in my opinion, the best in the world. (Some people prefer sea urchins from Hokkaido, but I’ll take those from Santa Barbara any day of the week.) If you’re lucky enough to live in Southern California, you can eat Stephanie’s astonishingly good uni in many restaurants. Even better, real sea urchin fanatics can purchase them in many places (they’re listed on the website).

If you’re buying whole sea urchins, you’re going to need to open them. Given their sharp spines and prickly exteriors, that’s not easy. Which is where this extremely functional tool comes in. Its only purpose is opening the little creatures up.

Stephanie sold me my sea urchin opener, but it turns out you can buy them on Amazon. And what sea urchin lover wouldn’t be happy to possess one of her very own?

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Gift Guide 2019: The Daily Grind

December 2, 2019

I’ve had this jaunty giant Perfex pepper grinder sitting on my kitchen counter for more than twenty years. I absolutely love it. It’s eight inches tall, holds a small mountain of peppercorns, is easy to fill and adjusts at the turn of a screw.

There’s only one drawback: it’s no longer available in the United States. I have absolutely no idea why this is the case, and for the past few years I’ve sought out vintage grinders when I wanted to give them as gifts.

Suddenly they’re back. They recently became available on Amazon. Although you have to order them from England, they’re well worth the trouble. They last forever, and your friends will think of you each time they reach for pepper.

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Gift Guide 2019: Sake to Them

December 1, 2019

Just when you thought you’d learned everything you needed to know about wine craft beer arrived, bringing an entirely new world to explore.

So you became fluent in IPA, Stout, Pilsner, Saison and Hefeweizen.

Then along came Sake, with an entirely new language to learn.

If you find the great Japanese brew confusing, this is for you. sells dozens of different varieties of sake, so you can learn to distinguish between Junmai, Ginjo and Daiginjo. Even better, they have a sake box club that offers three different kinds of sake on a monthly basis. (You can order a single box, or opt for an entire year’s worth of research.)

For those who choose their brews simply by name – how can you resist Snow Maiden or Moon on the Water? – this would make a wonderful gift. I can think of lots of people who would consider this a rather perfect present.

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