2016 Holiday Gift Guide

The older I get, the more I realize that space is precious and no one wants to clutter their living space with a whole bunch of tchotchkes. Still, there are a few special people in your life that you want to celebrate with tokens of appreciation whether it is for a special occasion like a birthday or the holidays.

I love to gift small things that can be used up, and won’t leave a footprint. If I know the person well enough, I may venture and get them a book I think they’ll love–with a gift receipt in case they want to exchange it.

Here is a list of things that any food lover would appreciate:

  1. Geechie Boy Mill Grits: I first learned about this family run farm at an artisan market at Art and Soul where I met the owner. I love that my purchase is going directly to small business and it doesn’t hurt that their products are fabulous. My favorites are the Jimmy Red grits, and Jimmy Red cornmeal.
  2. Rancho Gordo Beans: If you haven’t tried them yet, just do it. It’s winter, and a pot of beans is just the type of comfort food that everyone can use. I like the classic cranberry bean because it is the most versatile. Use them for minestrone or pasta e fagioli. I also like the Domingo Rojo, Midnight Black, and the California wild rice–all of these are in my pantry right now. And hey, read number five on the list, and  drizzle that limited reserve extra virgin California Olive Ranch olive oil on those beans. Rancho Gordo beans are available in DC at Salt and Sundry in Union Market.
  3. The “Touch of Pearl” Giddy Paperie Calendar: This cute calendar is small, perfect for display on a desk. Noteworthy months: January displaying oranges, February displaying bon bons, and June displaying oysters.
  4. Anson Mills Products: Yep, you probably know them for their grits but they offer so much more. New favorites: Charleston Gold rice that is aged with wild red bay laurel, new crop Carolina Gold rice, slow roasted farro that is more aromatic and flavorful than regular farro, and rice waffle flour that makes super crisp waffles.
  5. California Olive Ranch Limited Reserve Extra Virgin Olive Oil: First pressing olive oil, available right after harvest. It has a robust profile with peppery and green notes. It is best used for drizzling over food, maybe use it for a simple vinaigrette with lemon juice. I love using it over cooked farro or pasta.
  6. The Monocle Guide to Drinking and Dining: I’m a devout Monocle Magazine reader, and this book is as fabulous as the magazine, maybe even more fabulous because it focuses solely on food and drink. At first glance it may seem like a regular book, but it is so much more than that. The volume is a gorgeous, clothbound hardcover with luxurious and super smooth matte paper. There are 10 fascinating chapters in the book that are packed with inspirational content. I’m slowly savoring every single page. You can pick it up locally in DC at Politics and Prose, they also ship. Here is a breakdown of the 10 chapters:
    • Inspirational producers from all over the world
    • How to guides on how to start on the food industry from successful experts
    • Interviews with noteworthy individuals about their hypothetical last meals including Donna Hay, Nobu Matsuhisa, Isabel Allende, John Malkovich, Martha Stewart, Alice Waters, Joël Robuchon, and many others.
    • Food centered essays by writers, and chefs
    • History of local foods such as beer, bagels, soba noodles, and 17 other international foods.
    • Food markets of the world
    • Must see shops when traveling
    • Must try products
    • Essential tools of the trade
    • Hosting tips
    • Recipes!
    • And an international directory of simple and sumptuous restaurants, cafés, and bars.

I hope you find a little something here for someone on your list, or for yourself.

Happy Holidays!



Author: onevanillabean

I have loved cooking and baking since I was 5 years old. It was the one activity that I would share with all my extended family. Like most people, I love traveling. I love visiting the markets, exploring unknown ingredients, and bringing them back home with me for inspiration. I find that recipes with simple and pure ingredients yield the best results.

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