’Tis the season of giving, and I’ve gone through my very large bag of tricks for fab finds for even the pickiest of eaters and/or receivers.
1. A Pinch of Style
Whenever I am at a total loss on what to give, I always know I can ping Amanda McClements and her knowledgeable staff at Salt & Sundry for inspiring ideas. For the sherry or wine lover, a Spanish Porrón; for the woman who has everything, a set of insanely chic matte-black Picardie tumblers; and for the eco-conscious, a collection of stainless steel drink straws.
Spanish porron, $48; tumblers, $6 each; stainless steel straws, $18, Salt and Sundry.
2. A Taste of DC
Given that I am from DC, I love giving DC-centric gifts to my favorite foodies and Shop Made DC is an obvious destination. Their ‘DC Loves To Cook’ package includes uber-cool items like a cutting board imprinted with the city’s three-star logo, a variety of salsas, chips, hot sauce, and the must-have D.C. mumbo sauce.
$130, DC Loves to Cook.
3. Italian Escape
Make them feel like they hopped on a plane and landed in Italy for the holidays with a variety of specially curated items from the Mercato at award-winning Washington, DC, restaurant Officina. Chef Nick Stefanelli and his team will fill a fabulous bag (or basket) with Italian delicacies like wines from Mt. Etna, Faella pasta, Antichi Uliveti Del Prato olive oil and Figs & Chocolate Panettone from D’Abruzzo (shown above).
Prices vary, Mercato at Officina.
4. Mid-Atlantic Whiskey with a Side of History
No need to go to Kentucky: If you have a whiskey aficionado on your list, why not take them on a stroll through history — whiskey history — in the mid-Atlantic region. The Whiskey Rebellion Trail launched this summer with the goal of putting the area’s storied whiskey craft history on the map. The trail visits award-winning craft spirit producers and attractions, winding through distilleries in Pittsburgh, Maryland, Virginia, and Philadelphia. You can tour, swirl and sip your way through an incredible array of American spirits like Wigle Whiskey, Liberty Pole Spirits, Republic Restoratives, and Sagamore Spirits. Wrap up a promise to take a day or weekend trip, to check out one area, or go big and do the entire trail — or even just hand over the Trail’s URL and let your brown-loving friend disappear into fascinating history, news, and updates from dozens of distilleries. Want something a little more solid — or liquid — to unwrap? Throw in a bottle of award-winning spirits from highly awarded Pittsburgh-based Wigle Whiskey, who craft everything from Pennyslvania Rye and Smoked Bourbon to Dutch-style gin and modern-day Absinthe.
5. The Year’s Best Books
Lucky for me, I have the opportunity to interview a variety of cookbook authors and food writers all year long and learn about what inspires them and brings their books to fruition. Aspiring home-chefs and die-hard foodies both will love nothing more than to stock their libraries with the latest cookbooks and food memoirs. (Buying from a small bookstore makes it all the more delicious.) Here are some picks:
THE Classic, Newly Updated:
The Joy of Cooking: 2019 Edition, Fully Revised and Updated, by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, Ethan Becker, John Becker, Megan Scott, $28.
For the Food Nerd, a New Way of Thinking About Cooking:
Lateral Cooking, by Niki Segnit, $28.
Memoir from a Fascinating Figure in Food:
Notes From A Young Black, Chef, by Kwame Onwuachi, $26.
The Latest from America’s Favorite Italian Chef:
Felidia: Recipes From My Flagship Restaurant, by Lidia Bastianich, $35.
Vegetables Get Passionate Treatment from Chef Joe Andres:
Vegetables Unleashed: A Cookbook, José Andres & Matt Goulding, $40.