There’s so many things going on this year… many of which I’ll be sharing with you here. This week in particular is packed. Tonight, I saw David Chang of Momofuku speak at Harvard. Tomorrow, I’m off to the Science of Cooking finals. Wednesday I’m planning to go to an event at Whole Foods on affordable entertaining and Thursday is a Geoff & Drew’s cookie tasting at Clover Food Lab. Add to that holiday parties with friends, alumni groups and colleagues… Busy, busy! But so fun. This is actually one of the things I love most about the season- celebrating friends and making new ones.
One of the things I like least about the season is buying gifts- I never know what to get people. Or what to tell people to get me.The internet is full of lists for what to get chefs, home cooks etc, but most of them are kind of niche gadgets. And if you’re like me, your kitchen is already full of gadgets that get pulled out just a few times a year…I don’t need a garlic peeler, a panini grill or even a cookbook. I already have a Kitchen Aid, a rice cooker and a Cuisinart. Instead, here are a few gifts that I don’t think you can go wrong with, suitable for a veteran cook or a neophyte.
1. Cooking class. I love stepping out of my comfort zone and learning new tricks and techniques, and I’m constantly updating and adding to my list of restaurants/hotels/institutions that offer cooking classes. What’s great about this is that a cooking class can fit almost any budget, diet or timeframe. Opt an affordable after work cooking class at the BCAE, or a week-long culinary bootcamp at The Essex in Vermont. In Boston, Stir, Formaggio Kitchen and Boston University all offer classes/events that I would love to attend. Further afield, there’s Salt Water Farm, and Claddagh Farms (home of duckfest AND porkshop, both of which I dream about). This weekend I’m headed to King Arthur’s Baking Education Center, a gift from a wonderful aunt who will be attending with me.
2. Kitchen/tea towels. Sure, it sounds cheesy, but towels are like the underwear of the kitchen. Necessary, but not something you want to go out and spend money on. My towels take the brunt of the abuse in my kitchen, mopping up spills, acting as makeshift pot holders and hand wipes. A towel doesn’t last last 24 hours near my stove without getting stained- or worse (I have set a few on fire). So it’s always a delight to get pretty, clean, new ones. Etsy is a great place to start if you’re looking for something off the beaten path, though these from Target would be just fine as well.
3. A gym membership. No, you’re not calling me fat. With all the cooking and eating I do, working out is essential if I want to fit into my pants. And it’s not just about looking good… I want to be healthy. Much of my time is spent indulging, so I try to balance it off with some sweat at the gym. Besides, nothing tastes better than a cold beer after a long run.
4. A meat, fish or vegetable share. Remember last year when I joined a CSF and cooked fish every week? It was a great way to explore cooking and get out of my comfort zone (though I did get tired of cod after a while). The foodie in your life likely scours town for the best stuff available. Make it easy by having it delivered to their door (or close to it). You can get a round up on areas CSAs here, while there’s info on meat and fish shares here. Not what you’re looking for? Put in a call to a local farm. If they don’t have a CSA, they may know a farmer who does. Bonus for you: you’ll likely score a dinner invite.
5. Something to drink. One of my favorite dinner guests always shows up with a nice bottle of wine or interesting spirit to try (sometimes both!). And I’m always tickled by the gesture- I think its thoughtful when people go to the trouble to pick out something that goes with the meal or that they think I’ll enjoy. Not sure where to start? Seek out a local liquor store that cares about wine and spirits (like the Wine & Cheese Cask in Somerville) and ask for some help. Most places are happy to give you some pointers and work with your budget.
Of course, there are tons of other gifts that I’m sure my culinary-minded friends would love to receive. Feel free to leave a comment below with your recommendations.