Sunday, December 13, 2009

Santa, baby...

It's that time of year again - time for gift-giving and getting, for wishes made and granted. I thought I'd jump into the gift guide fray and share a few of the items from my own wish list, along with a few things I find either essential or just too darn neat to pass up.

all i want for christmas, part ii
First up, a few items from my own wish list. It's a mix of the practical and whimsical, with a bit of Julia mixed in for spice. Clockwise from the top left, here we go. First, a DVD set of Julia Child's complete French Chef series from PBS. The original, and still the best, cooking show. Next, from Anthropologie, a set of their ikat bowls - gold-rimmed and covered in one of the hottest motifs around, they turn cereal or salad dressing into an event.

I'm still searching for the perfect cream-and-sugar set, and this version from Design Within Reach comes awfully close to perfection. I have a couple of antique mortar and pestle sets, but not one that actually works. I love the color of this Le Cresuet model. Next, also from Anthropologie, a cute faux-bois mug for my desk at the office.

Next, something every cook should have: a Le Creuset Dutch oven. I love my 7-quart Martha Stewart model, but I wouldn't turn my nose up at an oval 5-quart version. Preferably in Caribbean Blue. Two more items from Anthropologie, including a dish towel (they have the cutest ones on offer) and gorgeous salad servers. Finally, smack in the middle, a set of grinder attachments for my KitchenAid stand mixer (the better to make homemade terrines) and a set of fishy coasters. They're my color, what can I say?
Design Within Reach has been haunting my dreams recently, not least because of these tiffin lunch pails. I've been bringing my lunch to work almost every day for about a year now, and I think it might be time to graduate from leftover shopping bags to a real-life lunch pail.
I already have this one, and I use it at least twice a week - more during the holidays. It's a KitchenAid stand mixer, and it makes life worth living. If you bake, you must have this. If you whip cream or egg whites more than twice a month, you need this. If you want to bake or whip cream more often, you need this. Via its myriad attachments, the mixer can also become an ice cream maker, food mill, meat grinder...

As I said, you must have this. A perfect splurge of a present, and it comes in many delicious colors.

Speaking of splurges - if you can't afford a trip to Paris this winter (which I can't), why not do the next best thing and get your Francophile a box of Pierre Hermé's macarons? Various delicious assortments are available for shipment anywhere in the EU on his website. Stuck here in the USA along with me? Pick up an assortment at a Bouchon Bakery outpost (in Las Vegas, New York or Yountville) or order a selection from Payard Patisserie.

I'm almost as obsessed with books as I am with food, so it's no surprise that my cookbook collection is getting a little out of control. This year was a banner one for cookbooks; these are just a few of my favorites. Clockwise from the middle of the top row, we have a fantastic baking book from Cindy Mushet, The Art and Soul of Baking. The recipes in here run the gamut from simple to complex; it's a great manual for long-time or beginning bakers. Next, a second volume from Gourmet and (former) editor-in-chief Ruth Reichl. Gourmet Today was released just before the magazine was closed in early October, and Reichl spent the weeks after the closing promoting the book around the country. She truly believes in it, and she's right - like The Gourmet Cookbook, it's chock-full of the best the magazine's crack staff had to offer.

I Know How To Cook, by Ginette Mathiot, is a bible of French home cooking that's been legendary in France for generations. Clothilde Desoulier (of the blog Chocolate & Zucchini) just completed the first English translation of the book, and I have to admit that I can't wait to cook from it.

Thomas Keller's latest book, Ad Hoc At Home, is by far his simplest - though, given that this is Thomas Keller, that isn't saying much. However, I've already made a few of the recipes (notably the chocolate chip cookies), and I can promise you that anyone can tackle the items in these pages. David Chang's Momofuku cookbook, on the other hand, is not an easy one to take on. It's a fantastic read, though - part memoir, part cookbook, really - and is worth buying if you're at all interested in either Chang, the NYC restaurant scene, or really awesome pork buns. (One word of warning: the book is full of cursing. Being rather foul-mouthed myself, I like that, but it may not be everyone's cup of tea. Also, beware the ridiculously fawning introduction from co-author Peter Meehan.)

Finally, a book that really isn't a cookbook, per se, but a love story: My Life In France. It's the story of Julia Child's two great loves: her husband, Paul, and the food of France. This is the book upon which the (far, far superior) Julia half of the Julie & Julia film was based, and if you haven't read it yet, you absolutely must. It's one of the most inspiring, delightful things I've read since graduating from college eight years ago. Seriously.

I don't think about food all the time - really, I don't! This year, I've got my eye on a couple of definitively non-food gifts, all from Etsy (Of course!). This scarf from ArtLab is dramatic and warm - not to mention infinitely practical. It's big enough to be worn, belted, as a vest, or as a shawl.

Next, a gorgeous, unique ring from Toosis, a jewelry designer based in Istanbul. Made of vermeil (gold-coated sterling silver) and featuring a teeny diamond, a pearl and a raw amethyst, it's the sort of thing I can see myself wearing every. Single. Day.

Finally, a little lace-patterned ceramic bowl for the ring to live in. (It would also make a great pinch bowl for salt or pepper, come to think of it. OK, maybe I do always think about food!)


TKTC said...

A+ on the gift guide. Also, ditto. My orange stand mixer made my baking year in June but it was discovering The French Chef on Netflix that was probably the winner. I order them so much, I'm hoping Santa Jason will take the hint:)

Meg Blocker said...

Thanks, hon! I hope one of my good fairies takes the same hint. ;-)

Blog Widget by LinkWithin