Happy Hanukkah, early Christmas, belated Thanksgiving and even Happy Festivus!
Despite the rain and gray skies, I totally love the holiday season: all the pretty lights everywhere, cookie exchanges, hot chocolates, scarves and mittens, getting time off work…oh yeah and of course spending time with friends and family too 🙂
I’ll admit it though, my dislike is the gift giving.
I am pretty darn awful with gift ideas and it totally stresses me out. I always want to give presents that are thoughtful, personal and something the recipient wouldn’t get themselves. So then I usually fail at coming up with ideas and then give presents a month or two late. Whoops. (Case in point: it is the 6th night of Hanukkah and I have yet to get my brother, who lives on the other side of the world, a gift. #fail. Sorry, Marshall!!)
But if that person has a big food obsession like me, then the gift giving isn’t so bad because I am basically shopping for myself.
So in an attempt to help you out and make sure you don’t have to struggle with ideas as well, I’ve made a list of some of my favorite kitchen gadgets and awesome Portland-made products, perfect for the food lover in your family (or even just treating yourself).
Fun kitchen gadgets:
1) Good Cook Silicon Spatula Spreader: This is a great spatula for really anything, from mixing omelettes to frosting cakes.
2) Slate Cheese Board with Soapstone Chalk: My friends are fabulous and got me this for my birthday, and I totally love it. It’s a fun way to class up that cheese plate. Plus you can write cute messages to your guests, rather than just what kind of cheese they are eating.
3) Shun Santoku knife: All cooks need a great knife and is by far my favorite. Really versatile, nice to hold and really sharp. Plus it was inspired by centuries-old samurai sword-making techniques, so that’s pretty awesome.
4) Williams-Sonoma 10-Piece Glass Bowl Set: This nesting set is perfect for prep work or to use as serving dishes.
Fantastic Portland-made products:
1) Steven Smith Teamaker tea: Started by the man who also started Stash and Tazo teas, Steven Smith knows all about tea and he showcases it in his latest brand. This is what tea is supposed to taste like. Flavorful, rich, fragrant. If you like black tea, give their Kandy or Exceptional Iced Teas a try.
2) Jacobsen Salt Co. sea salt: This salt is made using Oregon Coast seawater and turned into big flakes. I use it as finishing salt on just about everything: salads, pastas, chocolate cakes, you name it.
3) QUIN Best of Oregon Caramels: Saint Cupcake’s Jami Curl recently opened her own candy shop, located in downtown’s Union Way. From gumdrops to marshmallows to caramels, everything is handmade using real ingredients created in the Pacific Northwest. The Best of Oregon mix bag includes all of the best: Hazelnuts (using Freddy Guys hazlenuts), Honey (made with Bee Local Honey) and of course Oregon Sea Salt (using Jacobsen Salt Co.).
4) Ava Gene’s gift card: Treat someone to dinner at Portland Monthly’s Best Restaurant of 2013. Start with the Pane with Borlotti Beans and make sure to order any one of their housemade pastas.
5) Pix Patisserie date night: Spend an evening enjoying some of the best desserts in the city, along with a glass of wine or cocktail. The desserts at this East Burnside bakery/bar are not only delicious but also works of art. If you love Nutella (and who doesn’t?!), order the Royale and you will be in heaven.
6) Mighty Gastropolis book: An entertaining read of Portland’s food scene, with stories of the Rose City’s best restaurants and even recipes from places like award-winning Le Pigeon and the super successful Thai food cart, Nong’s Kao Man Ghai.
7) Olympic Provisions Saucisson au Chocolate: Don’t worry, this isn’t a meat and chocolate salami combo, but rather dark chocolate, nuts and fruit rolled in powdered sugar to mimic salami. Brought to you by the acclaimed charcuterie makers, this salami tastes great and is a fun gift.
8) Oregon Olive Mill Arbequina olive oil: I recently did a blind taste test of various olive oils and this one won. It is smooth, buttery and nutty. Plus it is from one of the only olive farms in Oregon. You can check out to Oregon Olive Mill in Dayton to view the 17 acres of olive trees, learn about the milling process and sample their olive oils.
9) Alma Chocolate Super Sampler: This is the perfect box of treats for the chocolate lover: 10 pieces of insane handmade chocolate truffles, like Thai Peanut Butter Cup and Habanero Caramel.
10) CruMarket Gift Basket: Here is the complete package with products produced right in downtown’s culinary incubator, KitchenCru. The goodies include a bottle of Oregon wine, Pinkleton’s Curious Caramel Corn, NW Elixirs “Hott Sauce #1” and Oregon Bark Toffee Chips.
Best of luck with your gift giving and happy holidays!