An excellent rhyme, I think, for the right amount of gift giving is that everyone should get: something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read. Here are my 2011 suggestions for gifts to fill each of those categories.
Something they want
There comes a time in the drinking career of every oenophile when attention turns to the idea that different wines need different glasses. Not just red and white but ones designed specifically for each grape variety. This could get very expensive. Thankfully, Riedel markets a set that includes 2 Cabernet/Merlot glasses and 2 Chardonnay/Viognier glasses.
Available from Riedel Canada's site for $44.70.
Something they need
A digital kitchen scale. I know, I know, cookbook publishers still refuse to do the sensible thing and print ingredients measured by their metric weight. They say that’s because you don’t own a digital scale, want to cook like your mothers did, and therefore just don’t want to be confused. Cooking by weight is easier, more accurate, and until the publishers drag themselves out of the dark ages there are some great conversion charts available.
Find one that has a capacity of at least 5 kg, has all of its buttons on top, and a display that is easily readable even with your food processor’s bowl on the platform. Give one to the enthusiastic baker you know, the guy who makes his own bbq sauce or (especially) to your mother.
Cook’s Illustrated highly recommends the OXO Good Grips Food Scale that is available on amazon.ca for $41.97. You can find cheaper options but they don’t have a display that pulls away when weighing bulky items.
Something to wear
I’m going to bend the rules here and suggest something for your walls to wear. Friends Joel and Dana from wellpreserved.ca have produced a lovely chart they call The Periodic Table of Waterbath Preserving. I think the idea of giving something that allows friends and family to decorate their kitchen with aesthetics and practicality makes perfect sense.
Available online for $30.
Something to read
No one will be surprised to read that I am suggesting a cookbook as a gift this Christmas. There are about twenty good options but the one I’ve been cooking from (as part of a contest being run by the publisher, Thomas Allen & Son) is Jacques Pépin’s wonderful Essential Pepin. You can read about my experiences with his recipes for composed salad, tarragon chicken, and the chocolate mousse is on the way. This new cookbook from Julia Child’s good friend will be one that fits nicely into the regular rotation.
Available from amazon.ca for $26.85.
A gift guide is a tough place to say it, but I hope everyone has a very happy holiday season and gets in the spirit (or into the spirits) that is just right for them.