Foodie gifts for 2009
Eats, gadgets and other presents for the home cook
By Linda A. Thompson-Odum firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s that time of year again: time to shop for that perfect foodie gift, even if the foodie is you.
Perhaps it’s the economy, but this season’s hot items at the local kitchenware store aren’t too different from last year’s. And most of the popular gifts are smaller items, not the big expensive appliances that once captured the gift-giver’s attention.
“In years past, people spent more money on higher-priced gift baskets. We’re not anticipating that this year,” said Tony Adams of Cooking Matters in Nashua. “What we are doing this year are smaller grab-and-go presentations in the $10-to-$40 price range, like soup bowls with soup mixes, or pasta strainers with sauce included, instead of the $75 range we averaged in the past.”
“There’s not any one thing that people are asking for this year,” said Janet Learned from Things Are Cooking in Concord.
For gadgets, Learned pointed out that anything silicone is still popular. Employees at the Williams-Sonoma in the Mall at Rockingham Park in Salem also said their red silicone tools for use in non-stick pans were a big seller. Silicone cookware can be used in the freezer, oven and microwave. It’s flexible and heat-resistant, and comes in a multitude of vibrant colors and forms, such as bake ware, prep bowls, spatulas, vegetable steamers, pot holders and coasters.
Butter’s Fine Foods in Concord is featuring a complete line of hand-crafted cutting boards, bowls and utensils from New Hampshire Bowl and Board in Webster. The cutting boards come in a variety of shapes, which include a moose, a Christmas tree, and an outline of the state. The shop also has build-your-own gift baskets that customers can fill with any item they select.
Learned said bamboo dishtowels are a big seller in her store: “They wash and dry beautifully and are eco-friendly. I can’t keep them in stock.”
Small items such as whisks, brushes, knives and microplanes are hot items for Learned. Also on that list is the utensil pot clip, which snaps on the side of a pan to hold the spoon while cooking. Her customers like the Sweet Grass Farm Farmhouse cleaning products, lotions, candles, soaps, and sachets, all made in New Hampshire.
Of course, there are still the dream kitchen items that cooks hope Santa will leave under the tree. At Things Are Cooking, those gifts are pots and pans from All-Clad and Le Creuset, which can cost more than $200 for one pot. “I think a lot of people who have been holding back all year long know they can come into this store and buy something that will last,” Learned said.
Food-wise, both Learned and Adams said teas are top on the list this time of year. Both stores carry a wide variety from companies such Republic of Tea Harney & Sons, whose teas come in silk sachets. They have all the accessories — tea pots, mugs and strainers.
Adams noted that patés, olives and cheeses sell more during the holidays, as do teas and jams.
“People ask for things this time of year that they don’t ask for at other times. They splurge a little more around the holidays, but a lot of the things we sell aren’t going to break the bank,” Adams said.
Butter’s sells a lot Winnipesaukee chocolates and cranberry chutneys for the holidays, as well as cheeses and sausages from the cases. The shop also carries imported Italian pastas and sauces that make nice foodie gifts.
A hot seller at Williams-Sonoma is the Edelskiver Dutch pancake pan, which makes light, ball-shaped pancakes that are filled with fruit, chocolate, jam or cheese. The shop also sells the Edelskiver mix and the new Edelskiver Cookbook with 40 pancake recipes.
At Things Are Cooking, Learned said she sells a lot of New Hampshire maple syrup and local raw honey as gifts. Other popular food items include products from Stonewall Kitchens, soup and dip mixes, plus bread dipping seasonings.
The one holiday top-seller that Adams at Cooking Matters finds a bit surprising is hot sauce: “People tend to go towards them more this time of year,” he said. “I guess it’s the brag effect. People want to get the hottest sauces they can find.”