Sunday, December 9, 2012

Holiday Bites: Top 10 Gift Ideas for Your Fav Foodie 2012

Fun, functional, foodie-friendly.  Here are the Top 10 finds so far for holiday gifts that won't cause an acute case of boredom, nor break the bank.  Where there are deals, or high/low cost options, I have noted them below - but all are $80 or under.  Edible gift ideas are in a separate post.

1. Sugar & Spice: Master Spice Blends from Spice Master Lior Lev Sercarz

To state the obvious: spices change the entire flavor profile of a dish.  And spice blends are the gift that keeps on giving for working professionals who don't have time to cook multi-course meals but still want to enjoy something that tastes gourmet.  This kit includes The Art of Blending e-book, by Lior Lev Sercarz, who has created custom blends for some of the world’s top culinary minds and counts chefs Daniel Boulud, Eric Ripert and Top Chef judge Gail Simmons among his clients.
Sercarz’s first cookbook tells the stories behind the blends, with recipes for each contributed by his clients. Also included in the kit are 3 jars of his popular spices: Pierre Poivre Spice Blend, Cancale Spice Blend, and Reims Spice Blend.

For a lower priced option, choose from over 40 unique sounding, intriguing blends from Orchidea (orchid root, lime, sichuan pepper and spices) to Ana (sumac, rose blossom, sesame seeds, middle eastern spices) to Dali (saffron, lemon, cayenne, and "seafood essence").

Buy from: The Ingredient Finder

Love 'em: The Art of Blending Spice Gift Collection  $55.99

Meh acquaintance: Single jar spice blends $15-27

2. For the OCD: The Obsessive Chef Cutting Board 

For those who like to cook - and follow recipes to the letter: give the gift of precision prep with this beechwood cutting board, printed with graph lines to help the OCD chef attain that elusive level of exactitude and consistency.

Buy from: ($25.99) or Paper Source ($26.95 buy from store location to avoid shipping charges)

3. Urban Cheesemaker: DIY Cheese Kit

I don't know about things tasting better when you make it yourself (certainly not true for me) but this kit definitely sounds like fun for cheese lovers! Make your own all-natural ricotta and mozzarella (oops I guess this one really belongs in the edible gift ideas post)! 
Uses whole or low-fat milk, 1 gallon per batch.

Kit includes (makes 10 batches of cheese 1.5-2lbs each):

.2 oz. vegetarian rennet.
4 oz. citric acid.
3 oz. cheese salt.
Cooking thermometer.
Fine cheesecloth.
Instruction/recipe book.

Buy from: William Sonoma $25.95

4. Drink.Play: Molecular Mixology Kit

Mix it up - break free of the tradition of drinks you drink just because it's the holidays and that's what you drink.  Do something that is both fun to make and imbibe, and serves as a great ice-breaker at holiday parties - with this Mojito R-evolution molecular mixology kit.

- 3 natural food additives in pre-measured sachets (10)
- 1 slotted spoon
- 2 plastic pipettes
- 1 silicone mold
- 3 recipes

Buy from: $30

5. Presentation Counts: Handcrafted Pottery Dishware by Eri Sugimoto

They take great care with the food they serve - give them a beautiful canvas to present their works of art on!  When it comes to dishware, most things that are gorgeous usually canot withstand actual life - and there's nothing worse for time-crunched foodies than dishes that can ONLY be handwashed and handled with white glove service etc. Eri Sugimoto's lovely pottery dishes are gorgeous to behold AND dishwasher and microwave safe. LOVE these!!!

Buy from: Eri Sugimoto Etsy Shop small plate $14 each - see full collection at Etsy store.

6. All About that Personal Touch: For Wine Lovers 

A great customizable keepsake that's got form and function down: a serving tray that lets your favorite wine lover display that brag-worthy cork collection.  Tray fits 100 corks. Or if you're not sure the size of their collection, Red Envelope will supply corks for you to fill the tray for an additional charge.

Buy from: $49.95 tray only, add $14.95 for corks

[Deal alert: Gilt has a deal right now $25 for $50 merchandise credit towards any item at RedEnvelope, so you can pretty much get this tray for half price with that offer!  Ends 12/13.  Planning on spending more than that? Pick the $50 for $100 option instead - tab on the same page]

7. Fresh Herbs Year Round?! Turn Black Thumbed Urbanites into Proud Indoor Gardeners

Fresh herbs are awesome, but they always wilt and wither far too soon. Keeping live plants is ideal, but what urban apartment dweller has room to grow much less tie to tend their own herb garden?  AeroGarden is a cool solution - they're compact, dirt-free, indoor gardens that tell you when it’s time to add water and nutrients, and even turns grow lights on and off to simulate the sun, making it super easy for anyone (presumably even those like me with black thumbs) to grow and have access to fresh herbs year round!

Buy from:  $59.95 (sale price: regularly $99.95) also get 20% off with code "SAVE20" this weekend only) Free shipping with orders over $50

8. Finishing Touches: Flowers Do Double Duty as Home Decor and Plate Garnish

Make them feel like a Michelin chef with fancy edible flowers at the ready to turn their culinary creations into a work of delectable art.  This is low-tech, a traditional style mini-garden for your kitchen windowsill, but comes in a lovely presentation of elevated pots that serves as a great decorative piece with purpose.

Buy from: $59.95

9. Wear Your Heart on Your Phone: Foodie Cases

For those who haven't upgraded to iPhone 5 yet (and maybe don't plan to as a statement of rebellion against the marketing machine that keeps churning out new models just as you're recovering from the dent the last model made in your paycheck) - a cool case for the iPhone 4 or 4S that looks good enough to eat! From Peter K Designs.
For those who have upgraded: love this chocolate bar case for the iPhone 5.

Buy from: Peter K Designs Etsy Shop (macarons case for 4/4S) $26

Zero Gravity (chocolate case for 5) $24.50

OR let them create their own so they can show off their favorite food photo from Instagram, Facebook or other pic archives - this company does more than iPhones, Galaxy and others also on the list: Casetagram starting at $34.95

10. All-Natural Skin Products That Smells Good Enough to Eat: Eminence Organics

Eminence Organic Skincare products are made in Hungary using all organic ingredients that smell amazing.  With all the often stressful holiday travelling, give them a little bit of pampering via this spa on the go.  This little travel gift set includes 1/2 oz jars of some of my favorites: Sweet Red Rose Cleanser, Rosehip and Maize Exfoliating Masque, Stone Crop Masque, Apricot Whip Moisturizer for Day, Naseberry Treatment Cream for Night - in a lovely wooden box.  Yes this line o product is a bit pricey but they worked well on my skin (combo) and I am literally addicted to the amazing smells! 

Buy from:  $49


Ok some bonus ones beyond the main 10 gift ideas.  Just because they are adorable

Handcrafted food miniatures from this Etsy artist are mouthwatering!  Most of the people I know are too old to wear these as jewelry, but these would make cute zipper pulls for bags or makeup case etc.

Buy from: Allies Minis charms start at $11 each
Un-Grumble Slider Plush
Buy from: ScoutMob $18

This is just a start.  Got any cool gift suggestions? Send 'em my way or post in the comments!

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