9 Ingenious Gift Ideas that I am crazy about!
Join Eat, Drink & Make Photos Tour in Umbria and travel with a small group through the heart of Italy next September with Suzanne Carreiro, author of an Umbrian cookbook, and Murray Rockowitz, photography guru. Immerse yourself in photography, cuisine, wine, culture, and sights. Call or email me to save a place and purchase a gift certificate before the tour is full! More…
2. BEST-KEPT SECRET IN NAPA VALLEY: Aaron and Claire Pott own the boutique Pott Wine in Napa. Aaron is one of the most brilliant winemakers in Napa Valley, or in the world (not joking). His sublime wines are sold the minute they are released. Get on the mailing list now.
3. PRICELESS FAMILY HEIRLOOM: Book a sitting for a fine art portrait with Petaluma, California photographer Murray Rockowitz. He handcrafts stunning black-and-white portraits of individuals, families, and pets. Make it an annual gift. Book now while your family is in town.
4. FOR GIN LOVERS: I have a group of friends who are gin fanatics—and they say this artisan gin from St. George Spirits in Alameda, California, is the best they have had. The cool thing is that they also do tours and tastings.
5. EXTRAVAGANT: 2015 Shasta Airflyte 16
Trailers from the ‘50s and ‘60s are the rage, but pristine trailers are rare. Now the renowned 1961 Classic Shasta is being reproduced in a limited edition. Reserve your trailer.
6. TOMORROW’S HEIRLOOM: I bought my first copper skillet in Villedieu-les-Poêles, France at the factory. That was 1988—my son or granddaughter will be using the pan 50 years from now. The rest of my copper cookware collection is All Clad but from what I have read, it’s not what used to be (copper layer is too thin). Look for the thickest layer of copper, usually from 2.5 to 3 mm thick. I have stainless lining but tin is supposed to heat better and is almost stick-free. I chose stainless so I wouldn’t have to re-tin—and I love my copper pans. I have heard about two brands that sound intriguing that I would check out if I were buying. Hammersmith Cooper Cookware in Brooklyn, NY makes handmade cookware. A great gift if you can wait until 2015. The other, Bourgeat, claims to have a 3 mm outer layer of copper.
Some of my favorites: 1921 The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton; 1940 The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck; 2014 The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt; 2013 The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson—an amazing book about North Korea; 2003 Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides; 2009 Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout.
8. AUTHENTIC COOKBOOKS: Two great books:
Classic Indian Food by Julie Sahni. I usually can figure out how to make a dish on my own, so I rarely use recipes, but to get authentic flavors of Indian cuisine I use this book so often that it is falling apart.
The Dog Who Ate the Truffle: A Memoir of Stories and Recipes from Umbria. Okay, so this is my book, but it is a realistic look at the culture, people, food and wine of Umbria. The recipes are easy to follow and authentic. It’s easy to buy a copy and pay with PayPal. Be sure to fill in the space for a custom autograph!
9. BEST FOR FOODIES: A Weekly Box of Farm Fresh Produce. Subscribe to a CSA box (Community Supported Agriculture) to get seasonal produce (and often unusual veggies) directly from a nearby farm. Many boxes offer meat and eggs too. Find a farmer near your recipient.