On the heels of the Apartment Therapy Un-Gift Guide posted yesterday, here is a Nourishment guide to gift giving this season. Our theme with food-related gifts is to either give gifts that can be used and consumed, or that encourage more home-cooking.
- A simple, inexpensive gift is tea. I love the Douglas Fir Tip tea from Juniper Ridge. It tastes like winter, does not need milk or sweetening, and leaves a delightfully clean feeling in the mouth. I’m drinking some now as I write and, I must say, getting into a very holiday-ish mood.
- Apartment Therapy suggests a book and an offer to cook for a friend. Cooking for someone is a wonderful gift. A book that encourages them to cook for themselves is also powerful, if you are sure they’ll use it. Two of my favorite books to give are The Zuni Café Cookbook by Judy Rodgers and Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini by Elizabeth Schneider. The Zuni book is filled with recipes that are simple to make and always wow a crowd. The Vegetables book is perfect for those who love vegetables, or who are trying to incorporate more into their diet (New Years resolution?). Cookbooks can be expensive, so if you’re on a budget, try an online used book merchant such as Powell’s or in NYC, The Strand bookstore has a very large cookbook section.
- For those trying to get more confident in the kitchen, a gift certificate for a one-night knife skills course is a great gift. I took one a while back at the Natural Gourmet Cookery School in Chelsea. The Institute of Culinary Education also offers beginner classes like knife skills. They also offer wine courses and cuisine-specific classes from absolute beginner to advanced.
- A food magazine is a gift that lasts the whole year. I give a subscription to Cook’s Illustrated to my mother-in-law every year. Saveur is another favorite of mine. For early adopters, there is a new publication called Chow whose first issue had articles such as “Great Illegal Cheese” and “Sublime French Toast.” For the traditionalists on your list, Gourmet, Food & Wine, and Bon Appètit are all reliably inspirational.
- For the cook who likes something exquisite in their cabinet, a special olive oil or vinegar is a gift that will definitely be used and enjoyed if you’re sure the recipient cooks at home with some regularity. My mother gave me a box of two bottles of Manni olive oil. It’s like liquid gold and is not meant to be cooked with. I drizzle it on polenta, pasta, simple green salads, roasted vegetables, and even ice cream. In your local gourmet store, look for olive oils that are beautifully packaged, and be sure it’s an extra-virgin, first-pressed variety.