All I Want for Christmas

Get the foodie in your family something for the holidays that’s not an overly specific kitchen appliance.

At first I thought I’d compile a guide to gifts for everyone who likes to cook—in Richmond. I quickly realized, however, that the only gifts I can honestly recommend are all the things I hope people will give me. That means there won’t be any basics here, and some of the items will be a little pricey. But, you know, I’m worth it. And so is that person in your life who feeds you all those amazing meals you’ve come to take for granted. You’re kind of in love with that food, aren’t you? Keep the chow coming with a thoughtful package under the tree and make sure the person who cooks knows that you love them too. Don’t they deserve it?

*Most things are local but some things can only be had by mail. Look for the asterisk to indicate online shopping.

Vosges Exotic Chocolate Bars

How can you ever go wrong with chocolate? Tie a ribbon around three or four of these crazy-good chocolate bars with things in them like crunchy fleur de sel, hot chili, or wasabi and wait for the gratitude to overflow. This was the best hostess gift I never knew who gave me and made me wish more people would detour away from the wine shop to the chocolate store on the way over to my house.

*Lush Heavenly Bodies Buttercream

Speaking of chocolate, this bar isn’t for eating, but for sliding its slippery, silky softness all over your body in the shower or bath. With nearly 85% emollients and only15% soap, you’ll not only moisturize and clean up but smell deliciously of cocoa with a hint of citrusy spice. Throw in a tin of lip-gloss redolent of honey and white chocolate aptly named Honey Trap ($3.95) and the kisses you receive will get even sweeter.

Giraffe Family Nesting Measuring Spoons

Ceramic AND dishwasher-safe AND seriously cute but not too precious. Throw in a set of Goose Nesting Cups ($28.00) and maybe a gorgeous dishtowel with appliquéd Blue Finches to round out the culinary menagerie.

The Wedge

Is it getting a little too girly for you? Well, pull out your handy-dandy, manly wedge and ingeniously stack wine bottles anywhere you might like. And if someone shows up with a gift unexpectedly, whip off the top bottle of your stack and slap it into a clever Bob’s Your Uncle Wine Bag ($13.95 for six) that says something like “an explosion of blackberries and cranberry zing.” It’s sure to distract from your temporary confusion.

Planetary Design Press Coffee Maker

French press coffee really is the richest kind, but my flimsy glass coffee maker only holds a measly 32 ounces and that’s just enough to fight over who gets the next cup. This thermal coffee pot not only comes in blue, green, chrome, and black but it also holds a whopping 48 ounces and is guaranteed to preserve the peace every morning.

Global Paring Knife

These Japanese knives are a little lighter than most high-end cutlery, but they’re razor sharp and easy to maneuver. Sometimes a job is too delicate for a big, hulking chef’s knife, and for that you need a decent paring knife you can depend on.

Yamazaki Tantalyn Salt and Pepper Shakers

Did you notice that one of these shakers is a different size from the other? They each nestle coolly in your hand, like surprisingly light river rocks, and then retreat to the center of the table where they unobtrusively wait for the next transcendent moment of seasoning.

*Surprises: Texturas-FIZZY

An ingredient concocted by the mad scientist/premier molecular gastronomist, Ferran Adria of El Bulli. Here’s a recipe:


  • 500 g. sugar
  • 200 g. water
  • 100 g. FIZZY
  • grated peel of 2 limes
  1. Place the sugar and water in a saucepan and heat to 130º C.
  2. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture’s temperature to rise to 140º C by its natural heat-generating reaction. Add FIZZY and the grated lime peel. Stir with a spatula to dissolve the ingredients thoroughly.
  3. Extend the mixture quickly in a baking tray lined with Silpat baking sheet – the sugar will begin to rise as a result of the effervescence. After a few seconds the sugar will crystallize and form a rock.
  4. Cut slices with a knife once the sugar has cooled.
  5. Let slices fizz all over your tongue in an unexpected explosion of lime.

Man, once you figure out how to convert Celsius to Fahrenheit, don’t you want to do that?

Sushi Playing Cards

Or you could just order in and play a couple of hands. Raw fish is optional.

Cheese Assortment

If you showed up at my door with a basket of cheese and nothing else, would I turn you away? You’d be lucky if I didn’t drag you through the door and snatch the basket out of your hand, but I’d probably let my early childhood socialization take over and say hello first. I might even give you a glass of wine too, if you told me you let Sara of River City Cellars choose the cheese for you. Current favorites are the creamy Galician Tetilla and the sharp Zamorano (with a “th” please) from Castile-León in Spain. Throw in some chorizo (hanging to the right of the cheese case) and I might even break out the good stuff for you.

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