My Food Odyssey

10 Christmas Gifts for Food Lovers

I can’t believe it’s December already. The year seems to have just flown by. I squeezed a lot into the year but at the same time, there are more things I wanted to achieve. There’s still some time left, I suppose – more I can get done before the fireworks go off and the new year begins. But it looks like some dreams will be carried over to next year. That’s not a bad thing – chasing down dreams keeps life interesting!

Now that December is upon us, Christmas preparations begin in earnest and we start planning our Christmas gifts. I’ve always been a practical person when it comes to gifts. I hate waste and the idea of buying novelty gifts just doesn’t sit well with me. I won’t be buying you a pair of Santa slippers or a Minions onesie. I prefer to give thoughtful, useful gifts that I know the recipient will still be enjoying come January.

With that in mind, I have prepared a list of 10 Christmas Gifts for Food Lovers. They cover a range of prices, so there is something here for every budget. When I curated the list I did have gift recipients in mind, but really these are things I think all food lovers should own, so feel free to treat yourself (or to drop large hints to anyone who might be buying you a gift!)

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. All items have been selected independently by me and are either items I already own or items I would love to own. However, the post does contain affiliate links so if you buy any of the items using the links provided I receive a teeny, tiny commission.

 

 

Under $20 / £20

1. Jay Rayner – A Greedy Man in a Hungry World

I love Jay Rayner as a food critic. His reviews are always a wonderful mix of humour and cynicism. He knows good food when he finds it and is as likely to recommend as to criticise. In this book, Rayner examines the food system across the planet pointing out the good, the bad and the downright absurd. He tackles real issues in an engaging and entertaining manner. Highly recommended. [BUY]

 

2. June Molloy Vladička – Lithuanian Cooking: Nine of my traditional Lithuanian dishes

Yep, that’s me! Earlier this year I released a short memoir based on my experiences with Lithuanian food, from my first attempts while still living in Ireland to finally “cracking” the dishes here in Lithuania. The book contains nine of the most popular Lithuanian dishes, including cepelinai (potato dumplings), kugelis (potato pudding) and koldūnai (meat dumplings). The recipes are very detailed, with step-by-step instructions and notes on ingredients, so that they can be followed by anyone, even those not familiar with the dishes. [BUY]

 

3. Wine Glass Plate Clips

I discovered these at a swanky party I was invited to in Vilnius a while back. If you’re serving food where there is no seating, these little clips are so handy. Clip one to the side of your plate and you have a safe holder for your wine glass, freeing up your hand for eating. If you’re having an informal gathering around Christmas these would be so useful. They would also make great stocking fillers. [BUY]

 

4. Gin Balloons

Gin is in – did you know? All the cool bars now serve a wide selection of gins, an even wider selection of tonics and a ridiculous array of garnishes! You almost need to complete a questionnaire before you get your drink! The one constant, though, is the gin balloon. If you are still drinking your G&T from a Slim Jim or highball you are so not in vogue! You need to get yourself a set of these glasses, pronto! [BUY]

While we’re on the subject of gin, can I also recommend my friend Katia’s blog post on G&T garnishes.

 

5. Microplane Gourmet Fine Grater


Microplanes are the bees-knees when it comes to graters. For me, no others compare. We have the fine grater and use it several times a week, primarily for Parmesan and cheddar, but also for garlic, ginger, nutmeg and for zesting lemons. It’s stylish enough to bring to the table and the slip-free handle is very comfortable to hold. If you don’t already own a Microplane I would start with this one, adding others as you need them. [BUY]

 

 

 

$20-$60 (£13-£60)

6. Nigel Slater: The Christmas Chronicles

Nigel Slater is my favourite food writer bar none. I don’t buy his books for the recipes (which are excellent), but for his descriptions, not just of the dishes but of the entire eating and drinking experience. He makes me just want to curl up on the couch with a glass of mulled wine and a sticky chocolate biscuit and just read and read. I own several of his books, but this one is just published and I haven’t had a chance to buy it yet. (If anyone feels like buying it for me, please PM me for my address!!!)

Just read this extract from a paragraph entitled “On coming in from the cold”:

“You hang up your coat, tug off your boots and light the fire. You will probably put the kettle on our pour yourself a drink. Not so much as a way to get warm, more to welcome yourself home. Home means more to us in cold weather. Making ourselves comfortable is a duty. Making friends and family comfortable is an art.”

This is a tome of a book, covering the period from November 1st to the end of January and including all the Christmas classics. A gorgeous book to own and give. [BUY]

 

7. Pasta Machine

I’ll be honest – when I first got my pasta machine it got very little love. I was living in an apartment with a tiny annex kitchen. The breakfast bar separating the kitchen from the sitting room served partly as an extra worktop, but mainly as our dining table. It was the only space suitable for setting up the pasta maker and it just proved to be too much trouble. Since moving into our new house, however, the pasta maker has come into its own. We very rarely buy pasta or noodles anymore. Making the pasta dough takes just a few minutes. Rolling it takes a little longer – about 30 minutes for 3 eggs worth. However, this provides us with enough for two days. The taste of fresh pasta just can’t be compared with commercial dried pasta – even the good stuff. Once you get the hang of it you’ll be rolling your own pasta in no time. [BUY]

 

8. Meat Cleaver

I’ve wanted a meat cleaver for ages and today I finally got one. Well, it’s actually part of my Christmas present so technically it’s not mine yet, but it’s in the house! On my first day at catering college 26 years ago (aaggghhhhh!) we all had to buy a set of professional chef’s knives. They were very expensive, but our lecturer assured us they would last a lifetime. I don’t know about my classmates, but I still have mine. When I decided to get a cleaver I wanted to get the same brand, which is a German brand called “Dick”.* Unfortunately, I couldn’t find one, so I bought something similar. Again, it is a professional knife. When it comes to knives I don’t believe in scrimping. It needs to be made with good steel so it can withstand constant sharpening. It also needs to feel solid in your hand and to have a secure handle. This is particularly important in the case of a cleaver, which has a very heavy blade. The metal from the blade should run the whole way down through the handle so that there is no risk of the head flying off when the knife is in use. Even if the handle is black, the steel should be visible running down through the centre. Usually, there are three steel rivets visible along the front and rear of the handle. Don’t buy any other kind – it’s just too dangerous. Of course, not every home cook needs a cleaver, but if you butcher your own meat or like to make stock from bones, cleavers can save you a lot of time and effort. [BUY]

* Yes, I know – the name is unfortunate. I have to admit I squirmed a little typing “dick cleaver” into my search engine!

 

 

 

Premium – Over $150/£150:

9. Le Creuset Roaster

I got one of these as a wedding gift and I absolutely love it. It is used at least once a week and still looks as good as new. Apart from looking gorgeous and lasting well, it really is better for roasting than tin or glass, particularly for vegetables. I often roast large batches of pumpkin and end up using both a glass dish and this dish. Because the cast iron gets hotter, the liquid that comes out of the pumpkin steams off more quickly so the pumpkin starts to caramelise sooner. It’s also great for kugelis, giving a really crusty edge. A really great gift. [BUY}

Kugelis in the Le Creuset roaster!

10. KitchenAid Mixer

Apart from the Nigel Slater book (and the gin glasses, because I don’t drink gin!) this is the only item on the list I don’t own – yet! I know from talking to my foodie friends that these are the ultimate food mixer, as well as being an iconic piece of kitchen kit. While I bake a lot of bread I don’t make that many cakes or sweet treats, but if there is a baker in your life I assure you – they want one of these! [BUY]

 

 

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