Saturday, December 01, 2007

Recipe to Successful Holiday Shopping

It’s the first day of December and you’re already feeling behind in your Christmas shopping, right? Well, join the party. (Hey, what are you going to bring to the party? Sigh, another thing to add to the list of things to do!)

No worries. The Single Guy Chef is here to help, at least when it comes to shopping for your food-loving friends and family. I actually have to mail most of my gifts off every year, so I have to say I’m a lazy-ass shopper and I do it all online. Well, mostly online whenever possible.

So here are a few suggestions of gift ideas based on things I’ve come to know and love. (And again, no need to send any gifts my way. Just your visiting my blog and clicking on my Google ads are enough for me. See, I’m so easy.)

Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker (red), $59.95, exclusively at Williams-Sonoma. All cooks like their gadgetries, and I just feel lately I’ve been talking a lot about artisan ice creams in the Bay Area, what with my love of Ici and Bi-Rite. So you can let someone special make his or her own creations at home. I like the smart holiday red color of this particular ice cream maker, and it comes with an extra freezer bowl so you can make multiple flavors at once. The price can’t be beat too when most electronics are over the $100 mark. Hmm, I’m already dreaming of peppermint candy ice cream with cranberries.

Cook With Jamie: My Guide to Making You a Better Cook, (Hyperion, 2007), $24.75 at My cookbook recommendation for this year is one that I already have on my shelf. This latest U.S. publication from British chef Jamie Oliver aka “The Naked Chef” is a nice, hefty gift that is perfect for any starting home cook or one looking to expand his or her cooking style. I’ve always been a fan of Oliver’s simple but creative approach to combining fresh ingredients, and his conversational revelations to the basics of everyday cooking makes this an easy book to master. Added plus: just amazing photography as usual.

Cowgirl Creamery Favorite Deluxe gift package, $60, If you have friends who love cheese as much as I do, then treat them to some of the best in the United States, from right here in the Bay Area. Cowgirl Creamery produces award-winning cheeses and this gift package lets you choose from three of its most popular cheeses (Mount Tam, Pierce Point and Red Hawk—I’d go with the Red Hawk myself) along with a fruit nut crostini from Anjou Bakery, a cheese knife and a Cowgirl Creamery cheeseboard. It’s the perfect simple dessert for Christmas day.

Poco Dolce Bittersweet Tiles Assortment Box, 16 pieces ($34), available online at or most Whole Foods stores. I’ve mentioned before that this is my current favorite specialty chocolates produced in San Francisco. I’m still in love with the blending of bittersweet chocolate with the sea salt crystals on top. The company isn’t promoting any special gift boxes for the holidays, so I’d recommend giving the standard 16-piece assortment box, which will allow your loved one to try the many offerings and let them decide what’s their favorite.

Frog Hollow Farm Fruit Cake, $49, available at Get a bit retro on yourself and give a fruitcake. What better way to say Merry Christmas!? Frog Hollow Farm, one of the Bay Area’s favorite fruit preserves purveyors, puts a fun twist to this holiday tradition with their moist spike cake speckled with their own preserved fruits. This package comes with seasonal fruit, which I believe should be pears. This should be one fruit cake that won’t get past 2007.

Waitress DVD, (20th Century Fox), $19.99 on Amazon. The DVD of this delightful independent film will be released on Dec. 4 just in time for the holidays. And you can forget about that other food movie starring a rat—this one was my favorite food film of 2007. Keri Russell delivers a true-but-charming performance as a diner waitress trying to get out of her hard-luck life by dreaming up crazy-named pies. Of course, I still can’t get past the sad story of how the New York filmmaker/actress Adrienne Shelly was murdered right before her film premiered, taking away one of the more innovative female film visionaries to come along in awhile. Anyway, this is a charming, quaint film with a lot of quirkiness to keep your favorite person satisfied in front of the TV.

Formaggio Kitchen Connoisseur Pantry Basket, $125, from The online gourmet specialty store known as Formaggio Kitchen seems to have made the list of several holiday shopping guides, and with good reason because they offer some really hard-to-find gourmet spices and ingredients. It definitely has a big emphasis on cheese and Italian products, but I like as their pantry basket. First of all, it’s huge filled with a variety of jarred or canned ingredients that’ll make any foodie friend happy. If you don’t want to go with the pre-selected pantry basket, you can create your own with some of Formaggio’s unusual ingredients. (The smoked Viking sea salt from Denmark looked especially exotic.)

Heath Winter Shallow Bowl, $125, available at Just as important as quality ingredients to make a meal is plating! And anything would look good in this beautiful bowl from Heath Ceramics, the high quality hand-crafted pottery in Sausalito just north of San Francisco. I’ve been an admirer of the Heath brand for years, and many top restaurants use their products. I especially love the color of this special winter edition of Heath’s product line. So beautiful. Can you picture it with a persimmon sitting at your dinner table? (Or better yet, mines? ;-)

Good luck with your holiday shopping! BTW, any of the above will make nice little gifts for you as well! Merry Christmas!


Anonymous said...

Ben, can you please list more gifts in the $15-20 range?


Single Guy Ben said...

Hi Ann, I know, I'm already busting my holiday budget. So I'm going to take your suggestion to heart and come up with some suggestions later this week in the $15 to $20 range. Thanks for the suggestion!

Unknown said...

You have some great gift ideas on your list! I especially like the gourmet cheese, I cannot get enough wine and cheese!!

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Anonymous said...

I have the Jamie book on my wish list and I may have to mention the cheese package to my husband!