Mistletoe Man Magnet.
Delicious Dark Chocolate from Bloomsberry & Co. in a colorful box with explicit instructions:
“Hold strategically above head and stand by for action.”
The holiday line also includes “Christmas
Survival Chocolate,” with the Warning: “Festive fever is highly
contagious. Break off the desired dosage to ease discomfort.”
The bars cost between $3 and $5 each and are widely available in supermarkets, gourmet shops, liquor stores and mass merchandisers.
RAZZLE DAZZLE IN A GLASS
The Aperol Spritz cocktail (Italian sparkling wine and the Italian apertif Aperol), popular for years in Europe, is now winning fans in U.S. cities, too. Treat the “bubbly” personalities on your list to a bottle of the spunky sparkler, Prosecco, paired with a bottle of Aperol, a rosy red drink made from gentian flowers and rhubarb. Each costs about $20; Prosecco is widely available; Aperol is in large liquor chains such as BevMo.
They’ll thank you profusely when they discover they can cook fabulous fish dishes at home without hassle or unpleasant aromas in the kitchen.
Give them a copy of Rick Moonen’s “FISH WITHOUT A DOUBT: THE COOK”S ESSENTIAL COMPANION” and wait for an invitation to dinner.
Got someone on your list who likes to be ahead of the loop?
In 2009, we’ll be seeing lots of wine decanters being used, and not just for pricey wines at temples of haute cuisine. A decanter, which can be had for as little as 20 bucks, will do wonders for ANY wine. Even Two-Buck Chuck and its beer-budget cousins benefit noticeably from a few minutes of sloshing around in a roomy glass pitcher.
Depending on your budget, spring for the exquisite versions from Riedel Crystal from Austria __ the Riedel Ultra decanter costs about $240 at Williams-Sonoma and $180 at Amazon.com – or check out the simple but effective vessels at Bed Bath & Beyond and Crate & Barrel where a $19.95 decanter will do the trick. has one that’ll do the trick for $19.95.
IT’S A TOSS-UP
The best-dressed salads this season are wearing simple vinaigrettes made with top-notch vinegars and oils.
There are dozens of top-notch EVOOs (extra virgin olive oils) in upscale supermarkets and gourmet shops. You can’t go wrong with Balzana, Masserie di Sant Eramo; Laudemio Marchesi di Frescobaldi – with costs between $20 and $40 per bottle.
Home cooks can never have too many vinegars to play with. Consider a balsamic vinegar from Marky’s food emporium in Florida; or sherry vinegar such as Columela; or champagne vinegar from B. R. Cohn in Sonoma.