In the wake of the year we have had, no one will complain if a gift you give arrives a few days late. After all, who could think of buying gifts in advance? (Apologies to my friends and family!) With that in mind, here are a few gifts for the food and cocktail lover on your list that you can buy (or send) ASAP.
What a year 2020 has been for home cooks! Pandemic plans (here looking at you, sourdough bread) have arguably increased people’s interest in food, and there are plenty of great foodie gifts in your life. For a real kitchen upgrade, Smithey’s Hand Hammered Carbon Steel Oval Roaster ($ 275) is a real piece of craftsmanship and will make any dish more beautiful. I’m also in love with Le Creuset’s new Cosmos collection of round Dutch ovens (starting at $ 360), which comes in a dark blue color.
One way to immediately improve the taste of your food is to use premium herbs and spices. They usually don’t come cheap, which is why they’re a welcome gift. Burlap & Barrel has just presented a new collection of masalas which has been developed with award winning chef Floyd Cardoz. Tragically, he died earlier this year from complications from Covid-19. Burlap & Barrel also offers a number of wonderful gift options including one out of the ordinary cinnamon ($ 8 for 1.8 ounces) and yes you can taste the difference. There are also handy and practical kitchen towels ($ 7 for a set of two). Worried that your gift will not arrive on time? The company has you covered with a card that you can email indicating that your gift is in the mail.
Guaranteed success is the new book People who love to eat are always the best ($ 19), a collection of quotes from Julia Child. The title is, of course, one of his memorable jokes. There is also the new edition of The best American culinary essay ($ 17), which is edited by J. Kenji López-Alt and includes stories by Kat Kinsman and other notable writers.
I plan to spoil my family this year with lots of goodies and desserts. This plan starts with breakfast, and there’s no better way to start the day than with the delicious Caramel Pecan Cake from Red Truck Bakery. The bakery cakes are both light as air and incredibly tasty – and this one is no exception. It is the ideal accompaniment to a cup of fresh coffee. While Red Truck no longer ships for the holidays, you can purchase a cake at its two locations in Virginia. You can also send an e-gift card and let the recipient choose their own confection.
A jar of delicious Zach & Zoe honey will turn even prosaic toast or a bowl of tangy Greek yogurt into an incredible treat. Someone gave me a jar of their Wildflower Honey with Ginger Root ($ 20 for 16 ounces) and my family is obsessed with it. I might not be able to make a peanut butter sandwich without it. New Yorkers can also stop by the brand’s booth at Chelsea Market.
And for the sweet tooth in your life, Jacques Torres (Mr. Chocolat himself) has plenty of holiday candy. The Sampler Christmas Hat Box ($ 122) includes several of his signature treats, including a 25-piece candy set, dark chocolate Santa, milk chocolate snowman, Santa Claus bear in dark chocolate and a box of hot chocolate. There are four locations in New York City and the company will ship as well, but if you need something right away and are outside of the five boroughs, Torres kindly shared his chocolate chip cookie recipe on their website.
Help the cocktail aficionado in your life improve their drink-making game with an all-new set of six Stainless Steel Mixology Spoons ($ 25) designed by award-winning bartender Jim Meehan. Another great idea? The heavy walnut pestle ($ 35) designed by Half Full columnist Gary Regan. It was the last project Regan had completed before she died last year; one end of the pestle is a brass ice pad in the shape of his signature rooster.
Celebrate bar culture with the line of eight Old Flame t-shirts ($ 25 each) that feature matchstick covers from establishments across the country. Each is like a time capsule from a different era and looks like the kind of vintage shirt you look for in a thrift store, but never can find.
Finally, if you need a gift immediately, consider Whiskey Master Class: The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Scotch, Bourbon, Rye & More ($ 27) from Half Full columnist Lew Bryson, and the new edition of Gin: How to drink it: 125 Gins, 4 ways ($ 20) from Half Full columnist Dave Broom. Another great gift is the brand new book Sittin ‘In ($ 40) by Jeff Gold, which features 200 photos from the golden age of jazz clubs and includes memorabilia from Quincy Jones, Sonny Rollins, and other greats.
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