Just a few tidbits you might want to consider for last-minute, local, food-and-bev- oriented gifts. Or, you know, start your shopping NOW. I’m saying this kind of gloatingly from my high horse of Canning Nirvana Christmas Presents. Actually, I’m sitting on a mountain of frozen food and gloating. Ouch. It’s chilly up here. For those reasons, I’m always late on the food blogger giving buyable Christmas present lists. Sorry. That doesn’t mean these things aren’t worthwhile.
1) A blown glass golden pierogi ornament, as pictured above on my mantel. Forget those German pickle ornaments as so last year. There are also golden ravioli, if you are so unfortunate as to not be Polish.
2) A couple of bottles of O Wines chardonnay, which is an initiative to raise scholarship funds for young women, owned and managed by St. Michelle Wine Estates. Read more here about the story and wine. I received a sample of the red table wine and the chard, and both are pleasant and food-friendly and budget-happy, perfect for a gift for any family holiday party. Also, the logo looks like our ‘O’ for University of Oregon, so sportsfans would dig it. Their website notes that many of our local groceries (Albertsons and Safeways, Fred Meyers, and the Market of Choice on Green Acres) all carry the chard; not sure about the Red Blend.
3) Silicone goodness at Hartwick’s, if you can’t afford that sous vide machine or the Vitamix
you’ve your loved one has been craving. These perfectly square ice cubes are oddly satisfying; the trays are often used by high-end bars. I’m not sure who else uses the silicone spatulas but me, but I wholly endorse them as one of my favorite kitchen items. You can use the business end or the handle for stirring and scraping various-sized projects, and high heat is ok.
4) A gorgeous wood pasta board or cutting board, custom-made by Bill Anderson in Eugene. Chef Rosa Mariotti‘s partner, Bill Anderson, is a retired engineer and woodworker, and he’s been making these lovely pasta/pastry boards and smaller cutting boards from various hardwoods, some exotic like the striped tigerwood. I have an entire album of samples here. They’ve kindly offered to sell the boards as a fundraiser for the Master Food Preservers of Lane County, OR. The pasta boards go for $90 and up (with the tigerwood being on the higher end), and Rosa can fill you in on the price of the smaller boards. I bought one of each, and they’re spectacular. For inquiries, send a message to Rosa on Facebook! 5) Tomato-scented candles at Marché Provisions, because it’s almost summer again, right? I like the scent of the tomato leaf one better than the prettier tomato one, but it’s up to you to choose looks over talent. Or just buy any beeswax candle ever. They’re so sweet and slightly honey-sticky and that butterscotch color. Yum.
6) Also at Provisions, some truffles with local spirits (Bendistillery, Clear Creek, House Spirits, among others); a “Sniffle Slayer” lolly with lemon, ginger, honey and cayenne; and Hott Smoke sauce, which would kick those truffles’ and lollies’ asses. 7) Any number of fascinating little kibbles and bits at Sequential Biofuel, our loving local gas station with all kinds of healthy, sustainable, and gluten-free-friendly stuff, like a bison “candy” bar.
8) An independent food magazine. So important now that media publishing has gone to hell.
9) But the reason I’m really here is because I want to talk cookbooks. If your loved one cooks, these are the ones that grabbed me this year:
- Molly Stevens’ All About Braising, an essential addition to your collection, even though you think you know all about braising. I just got it and I love it. Pair with her book on Roasting.
- Tartine No. 3, the famed bakery’s new all grain baking book. Probably not for the beginner, but you could try. The recipes are thrilling for anyone who is struggling to perfect the no-knead technique.
- Jeffrey Morgenthaler‘s The Bar Book, also via Chronicle Books. It’s pretty fab, unsurprisingly, as one of the only cocktail books out there to offer a solid, technique-based guide for the home bartender. Expect to understand principles and classics, not fancy trends.
- Boat, a Whale & a Walrus by Seattle chef Renee Erickson, whose restaurants — modern, chic, vibrant, shellfishy — embody perhaps the epitome of PNW cuisine.
- Not a cookbook, quite, but Heather Arndt Anderson’s new book about the food history of our fair City of Roses to the north, Portland: A Food Biography, promises to be filled with fun facts and even some recipes. Her Tumblr page is fascinating and reflects her research acumen, but be sure to click through to buy the book directly from her or the publisher.
- And two hyper-local farm-to-table cookbooks: Anthony Boutard’s Beautiful Corn, the best treatment I’ve seen on the science and culinary merit of corn from a mellifluous farmer/writer in the tradition of Wendell Berry, and a great collection of local recipes for Beans, Grains, Nuts and Seeds: Further Adventures in Eating Close to Home by my fellow Eugene locavore, Elin England.
10) Aaaaand, for the ridiculous person on your list, one of the silliest things I’ve seen this year: costumes for your wine bottles. Available alongside many more reasonable gifts at Cost Plus. Or consider the leather cooler I saw on a clickbait site for gifts for the adventurous eater, or that damned “aroma fork” thing that makes your fork smell. WHY. Why not?