Gifts for gourmands
What to get the food lover with everything
By Linda A. Odum firstname.lastname@example.org
Looking for a gift for your favorite foodie? Here are some suggestions that will please any food lover.
• Gadgets and gizmos: Tea and tea-related accessories are popular holiday gifts for people who enjoy a good cup of oolong or Darjeeling,
“Tea lovers are more into gadgets than coffee drinkers,” said Tony Adams, owner of Cooking Matters, 97 Main St. in Nashua. “They will buy all of the accessories.” He recommends a pouch mug from HuesNBrews, a tea mug with a small compartment on the side to hold a used teabag.
For the foodie who likes board games, Adams carries a selection of food-themed “opoly” games. The most popular is Wine-opoly, but he also has Chocolate-opoly, Brew-opoly, and Cocktail-opoly.
Cooking Matters has a large selection of gourmet food items. Adams noted that pancake mix is a big seller during the holidays. (Try one from Stonewall Kitchen.) He also has In Vino Veritas, a line of chocolates paired with wines.
This is the time of year for new oil, the first pressing of the olive harvest that took place in October and November. Adams carries Zatz December’s New Oil from Napa Valley. This pungent and fruity olive oil is not meant to sit around; it should be used quickly.
Anything silicone is hot this season, according to Janet Learned, who, with her husband, Art, owns Things are Cooking, 74 N. Main St. in Concord. Silicone cookware can be used in the freezer, oven and microwave. It is flexible and heat-resistant, and comes in a multitude of vibrant colors and forms — bakeware, spatulas, steamers, pot holders and coasters, to name a few.
Often the holidays are a time when people buy more expensive gifts that friends and family members would not buy for themselves. Learned pointed out two such cooking lines. The first was All-Clad, a high-end line of cookware.
“It is an American-made product that many people are looking for,” she said. “It’s wonderful to cook with for even heat distribution. It looks beautiful, cooks wonderful and feels wonderful in your hands.”
The other is Le Creuset, a line of enameled cast iron cookware from France. The cast iron ensures even heat distribution while the enameled surface allows cooks to prepare any recipe. (Uncoated cast iron will give acidic foods a metallic taste.) The line’s design allows it to go straight from the stove or oven to the dinner table.
Learned noted that traditional cast iron and basic bakeware are also popular this season.
“I think people are doing a lot of at-home cooking,” she said. “Going back to the way people used to cook.”
• Cookbooks and memoirs: What foodie doesn’t love a new cookbook or two? Michael Herrmann, owner of Gibson’s Bookstore, 27 S. Main St. in Concord, recommended these:
Apples for Jam: A Colorful Cookbook, by Tessa Kiros, contains photos and anecdotes of family, friends and childhood. “The recipes are organized by color, which is a beautiful idea for a cookbook,” Herrmann said.
I’m Dreaming of a Chocolate Christmas, by Marcel Desaulniers and Ron Manville. Chocolate expert Desaulniers has created a book full of mouth-watering recipes and images.
The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution, by Alice Waters. The owner of Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkley, Calif., and a leader in the organic and local food movements, Waters has created a cookbook full of simple recipes and detailed cooking techniques.
The Tenth Muse, by Judith Jones. Best known as the editor who brought Julia Child’s cookbooks to America’s kitchens, Jones spent decades as a literary editor at Knopf. Her memoir parallels the food landscape of the past few decades.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, by Barbara Kingsolver. From an author best known for her fiction, this memoir follows a year in which her family vows to consume nothing but locally grown foods.
• Hands-on gifts: Most food lovers enjoy learning new cooking techniques. Many area schools and businesses offer culinary classes to give as gifts.
Colby Hill Inn in Henniker features Cooking Confidential classes, where students prepare and enjoy a three-course meal with Chef Brian Woods. Each student gets a monogrammed chef’s jacket — the inn will wrap one with a gift certificate if you wish to purchase the evening as a gift. They also offer two-night packages that include hands-on lessons with the chef. Get details at www.colbyhillinn.com or by calling 428-3281.
Chez Boucher French Cooking School in Hampton has one-day workshops, couples’ night out classes, six-week programs and professional training classes. Gift certificates are available for all. Check out www.chezboucher.com.
Chef Liz Barbour’s Creative Feast offers a number of cooking lesson options, including classes at local shops and private in-home lessons. Gift certificates are available. For all class options, visit www.thecreativefeast.com or call 465-6929.
McIntosh College in Dover has its Seasonings classes offered through its Atlantic Culinary Academy. The topics range from food and wine to baking, ethnic cooking and nutrition, and are taught by Academy instructors. For a list of classes, see www.mcintoshcollege.edu/Seasonings or call 877-744-6800.
The Impressive Chef Cooking School in Hudson has cooking classes taught by various area chefs. It also features a kitchenware shop, and all students receive a 10-percent discount on purchases. A course schedule and a list of chefs and their credentials are available at www.impressivechef.com.