Friday, December 15, 2006

Gift Ideas for the Single Guy Chef ;-)

OK, during this holiday season of sharing, I'm going to help you lost souls who just don't know what to give to your single friend who loves to cook. With just eight shopping days left, I've come up with a list of eight great Christmas presents for the food lover, single or otherwise. (To my friends who are reading this, please don't consider this list as a wish list for me nor a hint of what I'm looking for. I mean, I may already have several of these items featured. So don't bother using this as a guide. :)

Recchiuti’s Black Box. Luxury chocolates are so en vogue as gifts these days, especially since reports stated the health benefits of bitter chocolate as an antioxidant. And with so many to choose from, brand name plays a big role in shopping these days. With the conglomerate Hershey gobbling up some well-known premium chocolate companies such as Berkeley’s Scharffen Berger, it’s nice to still see an exquisite chocolatier like Michael Recchiuti of Recchiuti Confections of San Francisco. Recchiuti’s quality packaging complements the chocolate premium flavors. I especially like its Black Box gift, a 16-piece assortment box that includes the popular burnt caramel flavor. The Black Box sells for $40 at the company Web site or its store in the Ferry Building.

Yum personalized gift baskets. One of those rare small businesses fighting for its independence in a growing world of chain gourmet shops, Yum in San Francisco is a gem with gourmet food products from around the world. I used to live right around the block from the store and could count on finding a rare food item as a gift or for myself. Shop the shelves to create a personalized gift basket or tell the people behind the counter how much you want to spend and a theme and they’ll whip something up for you. At 1750 Market St. at Octavia, opened Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed Sunday.

Cookbooks. A sure-fire gift for the single chef is a cookbook. They’re probably just as busy as you so haven’t had time to get the latest ones just hot off the printing press. Two of my favorites are Tartine and The Plumpjack Cookbook: Great Meals for Good Living. Tartine by Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson, with foreword by Alice Waters (Chronicle Books, $35) is the baker’s delight. Recipes from this famous San Francisco bakery are matched with luscious photographs. I don’t like to bake and even I loved flipping through the pages. The Plumpjack Cookbook by Jeff Morgan with forward by Gavin Newsom (that ’s hizzoner the mayor) (Rodale Books, $35) is a luxurious book with slick pages coming out just as the Plumpjack CafĂ© is experience a resurgence in popularity with its new chef. I like the format of how the chapters are laid out by meals, starting with breakfast and ending with desserts. And the photographs and wine descriptions are stellar. Available at most bookstores.

Whole Foods Gift Card. I know, it seems impersonal to give a gift card, but when it’s for people who are used to spending their whole paycheck ;0 then a gift card to Whole Foods will surely be welcomed. Comes in $10, $25, $50 and $100 denominations and a “rechargeable” gift card that’s the gift that keeps on giving (perfect for college students who you still have to feed regularly and want to make sure they eat organic). Available at all Whole Foods stores and at the company Web site.

Williams-Sonoma Voice Alert Thermometer. Until this past Thanksgiving when my sister used her fancy thermometer to roast her perfectly moist turkey, I didn’t give much thought to poking my meat with metal. But now I’m a convert. Roasting meat can be so easy with a quality thermometer, virtually guaranteeing a moist and tender roast. This particular thermometer exclusive to Williams-Sonoma is digital, self-adjusting and can alert you with a beep or a voice. Includes three AAA batteries. Sells for $29.95 and is available at stores and at the company Web site.

June Taylor’s Candied Seville Peel in Syrup. There’s nothing more personal in a gift than hand-made food products. One of the more popular marmalades and fruit jams are those by the Bay Area’s June Taylor, who searches out rare and heirloom fruits for her products. I have to disclose that I have not tried her jams or marmalades, but other foodies are raving about her. After checking out her Web site, I’m tempted to buy a few for myself this Christmas. I especially liked the sound of her Candied Seville Peel in Syrup, which sounds like a wonderful complement to pork or a nice hard cheese. A 14 oz. bottle sells for $26. Available at the Ferry Building Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings and until Christmas at June Taylor’s Still Room in just south of Berkeley’s Fourth Street district (2207 4th St. at Allston Way). Special holiday hours are Friday, 12 to 4 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Cuisinart SmartStick Hand Blender. For the single chef with not much kitchen space (I know, believe me), hand blenders are the perfect gift because of their versatility and easy storage. This particular version from Cuisinart has the modern brushed stainless steel look and comes with extra chopping and whisk attachments, so you can do more than just puree your soup in the pot. Available at Crate and Barrel stores and is currently on sale for $49.95 on its Web site.

O&Co Lemon Oil and Pourer. I pretty much use this brand of extra virgin olive oil exclusively. (Disclaimer: I used to work at O&Co.’s Fillmore Street store a few years ago after the dot-com bust. That’s where I learned all about quality olive oil.) This premium line of extra virgin olive oils from Europe has a range of flavors to complement whatever you’re cooking. My perennial favorite is the lemon oil. O&Co. (they’re officially Olivier & Co. but switched to the simpler O&Co. to avoid confusion with the Napa Valley company of the same name) doesn’t really do infused flavored oil, going instead with natural flavorings. But among the few flavored oil they do (other flavors include basil and mandarin orange), I love the fresh, bright flavor of the lemon oil. It’s so good I even drizzle it on French vanilla ice cream and it’s like eating a lemon cake! Sells for $27.50 at O&Co. stores.



Very helpful gift ideas. Thanks for sharing. i love all the ideas.

Gift Ideas said...

I appreciate the labour you have put in developing this blog. Nice and informative.