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Last Minute Gifts for the Foodies on Your List

December 20, 2010

By Pat Tanner

We all have at least one serious cook or gourmand to buy for. Herewith my suggestions for all things fun, informative, innovative, useful, and delicious in the world of food and dining.

In books the no-brainer choice is Best Food Writing 2010 (Holly Hughes, editor; Da Capo Lifelong Books). The latest edition of this reliable anthology features well-known and lesser-known writers and bloggers. Another good bet, especially for serious lovers of French food and wine, is Au Revoir to All That: Food, Wine, and the End of France. The softcover version (Bloomsbury) of Michael Steinberger’s 2009 masterpiece is just out. As for actual cookbooks, look no further than Lambertville, where once again I am recommending any volume in the Canal House Cooking series issued three times a year from the banks of the Delaware by Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hersheimer (thecanalhouse.com).

What adventurous home cook would not covet his or her own sous vide machine like those found in the most forward-thinking restaurants? At $450 the SousVide Supreme is a budget-buster to be sure – and it doesn’t even come with a vacuum sealer, which is required for this method of cooking foods vacuum-sealed in plastic, in a low, slow water bath. A more low-tech gadget is on my personal wish list: the as-seen-on-TV Euro-Pro Ninja Master Prep. Seriously. Yes, I scoffed at the claim that this modestly priced “food and drink maker” – it retails for $60 but you can find it for $39.22 at amazon.com – replaces a regular blender, food processor, and stick blender. Then I read the reviews, all of which say it exceeds the overblown claims! Features include two interchangeable bowls and a four-part blade that results in uniform cutting and ice crushing.

Perhaps the foodie on your list prefers human interaction when it comes to enhancing cooking skills. Gift certificates for local hands-on classes exist for every level of interest and skill at private cooking schools and community colleges throughout the state. Two of my favorite sites for group lessons-slash parties-slash festive meals are the Miele showroom on Route 1 in South Brunswick and Viking Culinary Center in Fairfield. A class for a group (at Miele the size ranges from six to 75 adults) averages about $110 per person.

When it comes to stocking stuffers, I recommend supercool ingredients with which your favorite cook can, in turn, stuff their pantry. (And if you’re lucky, you just might be on the receiving end of your own largesse.) Something like the balsamic vinegar “caviar” I featured in a recent blog makes an excellent gift.

I hope these tasty suggestions prove helpful. They are submitted along with my very best wishes for a delicious holiday!

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