Foodies – ugh, the modern day hipster’s cousin with an equally varied scale of intensity, severity, and just plan annoyingness. Much like hipsters, the term “foodie” has a different meaning to everyone. With such a broad net being cast, chances are, there is someone in your life that enjoys all things culinary a bit more than the average Joe. Be it curing their own meats, or simply an addiction to 3:00am food porn browsing (bad Timmy, Santa’s watching you); here are five fail-proof gifts for the foodie in your life.
1) KitchenAid 2-Speed Immersion Blender
This gift is perfect for the foodie who likes to cook, regardless of their skill level. From the creative sauce blender to the pent-up frustrated Nirvana jamming cook who just likes to purée and crush things, this inexpensive gadget will do the trick. Retailing for around $40 during this holiday season, this blender has two speeds (low and high), a removable eight inch blending arm, a five foot power cord, and weighs only two pounds. This blender is perfect for making homemade pasta sauce right in the pot (easy and simple recipe here), or soups without transferring to a stand blender.
2) Tovolo King Cube Silicone Ice-Cube Tray
When it comes to ice, yes, size does matter and the bigger the better. In most higher-end establishments, certainly those who pride themselves on their cocktails, you may have noticed the ice cubes becoming larger and larger, and there’s a reason for that. Large sphere’s or blocks of ice melt more slowly, therefore making your drink colder without the rapid diluting that comes from multiple smaller pieces of ice. Prefer Scotch on the rocks; go with a solid two-inch cube. Like a fizzy chilled cocktail instead; opt for a long sphere about the length of the glass. However if you’re wearing Seersucker and anywhere close to a horse, pebbled and crushed ice are still the only way to go for a mint julep. But for the mixologist in your life, the Tovolo standard large 2-inch cubed tray will be a perfect addition to their eccentric bitters collection and vintage stemware.
Tip: To achieve that crystal clear ice block, take distilled water, boil it, allow it to come to room temperature, then boil again before freezing.
3) Smoked Alderwood Sea Salt
Not to be confused with cannibalistic inducing “bath salts” that were all the rage in early 2012, smoked sea salts (of the culinary variety) are very much in right now and are likely to stay that way for a while. While there are many varieties of smoked salts, I’d recommend smoked alderwood sea salt as a fantastic gift, and I like to get my salts from the San Francisco Salt Company. Started in 2002 by British-native Lee Williamson and his pal Daniel Elmer, these guys provide culinary salts, as well as bath, spa, and shower salts. They start with pure Pacific Sea Salt and slowly smoke it over Northwest Red Alderwood until it has a nutty smoky flavor. The course salt is meant as a finishing salt, meaning to sprinkle over your food just prior to service. It’s a perfect touch for salmon and goes great on scrambled eggs.
4) Books for the Literate Foodie
If the foodie in your life is more into the literary, historical, foundational aspects of food, well hell, even if they aren’t, these are two “must reads” for any food fan.
Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton is a New York Times bestseller and recounts the journey of Chef Gabrielle Hamilton, owner of Prune restaurant in New York which she opened in 1999, and James Beard Foundation Best Chef in NYC 2011 winner, and the challenges she faced in her kitchens and in her life as she pursued her culinary dreams. Anthony Bourdain called it, “Magnificent. Simply the best memoir by a chef ever. Ever.”
The Art of Eating by M.F.K. Fisher was written during WWII as a guide to help advise wives on how to cook with just a few supplies. The book, a series of essays, musings, and historical accounts, was praised by Julia Child saying, “How wonderful to have here in my hands the essence of M.F.K. Fisher, whose wit and fulsome opinions on food and those who produce it, comment upon it, and consume it are as apt today as they were several decades ago, when she composed them.”
5) Wüsthof Knives (any of them)
A knife to a foodie is like a quiver of flaming arrows on the back of a warrior as he rides a majestic translucent steed, shooting those flaming arrows across the Bridge of Hemdale into the mists of Avalon…basically really necessary and totally bad ass (and if you didn’t get the above reference then shame on humanity).
Wüsthof has been making kick ass knives since probably the dawn of time. Regardless of the historical accuracies of any of this, these are generally regarded as the gold standard and are surprisingly affordable as they come in over 60 sizes and varieties within the standard “classic” set. The blades are made from one solid piece of tempered high carbon steel, seamless hygienically fit handle, triple-riveted handle shells with a full tang handle. From the 8-inch offset hollow edge, to the 5-inch Santoku chopper, there’s a knife for all price ranges and all cooking skill levels.
So there you have it, five fail-safe gifts for the foodie in your life.
Oh, and don’t ever, ever, get anyone who you consider, or they consider themselves a foodie, truffle oil. Ever. Why do they even make that stuff?
Merry Christmahanukwanzaa from the Hungry Lobbyist (and I’ll take all the knives you want to give me, just let me know @HungryLobbyist).