Are you inundated with Gift Guides? Yeah, probably. But are you inundated with gift ideas that follow my golden rule: “Give the gift that you would most like to receive?” Probably not.
Well, this is that guide. For the chef, home cook, food aficionado, or just plain eater in your life. I would be completely happy to receive any and/or all of these gifts. So you know they are for real.
1. Spices from La Boite
Tucked behind a nondescript storefront way over on Eleventh Avenue in NYC is the magical land of La Boite Epices. Chef, owner, and spice blender Lior Lev Sercarz is an absolute alchemist, and the magic he creates in his beautifully packaged spice blends will blow you away. They make all other spice blends I have ever seen seem amateur. Rub a simple roast chicken with his Vadouvan mix and it becomes crispy, lightly curried skin with a hint of Herbs de Provence. His Ararat No. 35 is a smoky blend of Urfa Pepper, Smoked Paprika, and aromatic Fenugreek. His Ana No. 36 is the unlikely and addictive combination of sesame, rose petals, and cumin. And for your experimental side, he even has Smoked Cinnamon. Ships nationally and everything is handmade.
2. Recchiuti Confections
There are a lot of chocolatiers in this country, I know, but there is only one Michael Recchiuti. He started selling his handmade chocolates out of the trunk of his car at farmers markets. He and his wife Jacky eventually built one of the most respected businesses in the country, one handmade chocolate at a time. Remember that old “Salt Caramel” combo that has been EVERYWHERE for the past few years? Yeah — Michael made Salted Caramel Chocolates TEN years ago. Ten. Kona Coffee, Burnt Caramel, Lavender Vanilla, Lemon Verbena, Champagne Truffles… All created by a boy from South Philly who just happens to be an artist too. Try a Very Merry Christmas Box — you can thank me later.
3. Hedley and Bennett Aprons
Handmade chefs’ aprons, made in the USA. These aprons have just been made available to the general public — but chefs have been using them for years, and that is why you want to give one to your favorite chef (and maybe to yourself). These babies come with a lifetime guarantee, are made with adjustable straps and handpicked fabrics from around the world, and are designed for the rigors of a professional kitchen, so surely they can survive anything that happens in a home kitchen. And if the ones available on the site aren’t just right, then they can custom make one for you. Also in children’s sizes. Best of all, we can put our money where our mouths are — they are MADE IN THE USA.
From $50, hedleyandbennett.com
4. Island Creek Oysters
Say what? I could give someone a bag of Island Creek Oysters, harvested and shipped overnight from Duxbury, MA, and then invite myself over to eat them!?! Whoa — the holiday season just totally tipped onto its axis. Generally I try to give gifts I would like to receive, and this one tops the list. Only want 50 oysters? No problem. Want 100? Got that too. Want more? Oh baby. Let the party begin. These are some of the freshest, most beautiful oysters I have ever had —I give them to my father in Phoenix every year for Christmas! We light up the grill, make a mignonette and cut lemons, and 15 minutes later we are standing in the yard, eating freshly grilled oysters, no shucker necessary. Best. Holiday. Ever.
From $85, islandcreekoysters.com
5. Holdredge Vineyards Pinot Noir
Sure, you can go to your local wine store, and you can pick up a bottle of Malbec or get fancy with a reasonably priced Bordeaux, but… why not take the next baller step and HAVE THE VINEYARD SEND YOU SOME WINE? Holdredge Vineyards in Sonoma is a true small production, hands on winery. John Holdrege is a lawyer and winemaker, and he and his wife Carri run the day to day operation here. They only make 2000 cases a year, so this isn’t just another faceless bottle of Sonoma Pinot. You can taste the soil, the climate, and the love these grapes were fermented with. Best of all, they created a really reasonably priced Holiday Pack, for those who can’t decide.