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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Gift Guide 2020: Caviar, Cubed

November 25, 2020

I’ve always loved caviar, but until Petrossian invented Caviarcubes it never occurred to me to plunk it into a martini.

Truth is, I’m not convinced that’s the best way to use these intense little nuggets of pressed caviar. It’s a delicacy that deserves to be savored on its own (Aristotle Onassis preferred it to all other forms of fish roe), and these cubes would be wonderful tucked into blini, shaved over pasta, or simply served naked, in all their splendid glory.

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Gift Guide 2020: A Totality of Towels

November 24, 2020

I hang onto things. In some cases this is a good thing: it’s the reason why I’ve got a vast menu collection going back almost 50 years. And in some cases it’s absurd: I also have every letter I’ve ever received, including the ones from summer camp.

As for my dishtowels… Some of them should have been consigned to the rag bin a very long time ago, but I just can’t seem to let them go.

If you have a friend who is equally reluctant to let go of aging objects, they’d probably be thrilled with this extremely unusual monthly tea towel subscription. Each one is handmade by a Maine artist, and each is different. Best of all, they’re so lovely that even the most ardent collector would be embarrassed to store them in a drawer filled with tattered old rags. .

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