In the wake of the year we’ve had, no one will complain if a gift you give arrives a few days late. After all, who could think about buying gifts in advance? (Apologies to my friends and family!) With that in mind, here are some presents for the food and cocktail enthusiasts on your list that you can buy (or send) ASAP.
What a year 2020 was for home cooks! Pandemic projects (here’s looking at you, sourdough bread) have arguably increased people’s interest in food, and there are plenty of great gifts out there for the foodie in your life. For a real kitchen upgrade, Smithey’s hand-hammered carbon steel oval roaster ($275) is a true work of craftsmanship and will make any dish look better. I’m also enamored of Le Creuset’s new Cosmos collection of round Dutch ovens (from $360), which comes in a deep blue color.
One way to immediately make your food taste better is to use top-shelf herbs and spices. They’re generally not cheap, which is why they are a welcomed gift. Burlap & Barrel just introduced a new collection of masalas that were developed with award-winning chef Floyd Cardoz. Tragically, he passed away earlier this year from complications of Covid-19. Burlap & Barrel also offer a number of wonderful present options, including an out-of-this-world cinnamon ($8 for 1.8 ounces) and yes, you can taste the difference. There are also fetching and handy kitchen towels ($7 for a set of two). Worried that your gift won’t arrive in time? The company has you covered with a card you can email saying your present is in the mail.
A guaranteed hit is the new book People Who Love to Eat Are Always the Best People ($19), a collection of Julia Child quotes. The title is, of course, one of her memorable witticisms. There’s also the new edition of The Best American Food Writing ($17), which is edited by J. Kenji López-Alt and includes stories from Kat Kinsman and other notable writers.
I plan to spoil my family this year with plenty of sweet treats and dessert. That plan begins with breakfast, and there are few better ways to start your day than with the Red Truck Bakery’s delicious caramel pecan cake. The bakery’s cakes are at once light as air and impossibly flavorful—and this one is no exception. It’s the ideal accompaniment to a fresh cup of coffee. While Red Truck is no longer shipping for the holidays, you can pick up a cake at its two locations in Virginia. You can also send an e-gift card and let the recipient choose their own confection.
A jar of Zach & Zoe’s delicious honey will turn even prosaic toast or a bowl of tart Greek yogurt into an incredible treat. Someone gave me a jar of their Wildflower Honey with Ginger Root ($20 for 16 ounces) and my family is obsessed with it. I may not be able to make a peanut butter sandwich without it again. New Yorkers can also stop by the brand’s stall in Chelsea Market.
And for the serious sweet tooth in your life, Jacques Torres (Mr. Chocolate himself) has plenty of holiday confections. The Christmas Sampler Hat Box ($122) includes many of his signature treats, including a 25-piece bonbon set, a dark chocolate Santa, a milk chocolate snowman, a dark chocolate Santa bear and a tin of hot chocolate. There are three locations in New York and the company will also ship, but if you need something immediately and you’re outside the five boroughs, Torres has kindly shared his signature chocolate chip cookie recipe on his website.
Help the cocktail enthusiast in your life step up their drink-making game with a brand-new set of six stainless steel mixology spoons ($25) conceived of by award-winning bartender Jim Meehan. Another great idea? The hefty walnut muddler ($35) designed by Half Full columnist Gary Regan. It was the last project Regan completed before he died last year; one end of the muddler is a brass ice stamp in the shape of his signature rooster.
Celebrate bar culture with Old Flame’s line of eight t-shirts ($25 each) that features matchbook cover art from establishments across the country. Each one is like a time capsule from a different era and looks like the kind of vintage shirt you hunt for in a thrift store, but can never actually find.
Finally, if you need an present immediately, consider Whiskey Master Class: The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Scotch, Bourbon, Rye, and More ($27) from Half Full columnist Lew Bryson, and the new edition of Gin: How to Drink it: 125 Gins, 4 Ways ($20) from Half Full columnist Dave Broom. Another excellent gift is the brand-new book Sittin’ In ($40) by Jeff Gold, which features 200 photos from the golden-age of jazz clubs and includes the memories of Quincy Jones, Sonny Rollins and other greats.