Shopping For Foodies, 2013: Part 5

BorderSprings004.jpg Mike Persico

This year’s gift roundup skewed more toward cooks than straight-up eaters, which probably tells you something about how I mainly think about food.   (Speaking of which, here’s something else: I hate wasting it, which is why one of the things on my wish list this year is a pack of cheese paper, so that next year I’ll get a leg up on the bacteria and ammonia that just love to ruin any nice wedge of Délice de Bourgogne you suffocate with plastic wrap.)

But the last item on my list goes out to all you folks who’d simply like to take your favorite foodie out for a solid bite to eat.  You could do a lot worse than treating them to my favorite new sandwich of the year, the pulled lamb shoulder from one of Reading Terminal Market’s newest tenants, the Border Springs lamb stall. 

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Shopping For Foodies, 2013: Part 4

big-white-bowl

The driving force behind this series is that you don’t need to spend that much to spread serious joy to the cooks and eaters in your life. Gift guides that sing the praises of Le Creuset Dutch ovens and copper saucier pans drive me crazy. Sure, those things are lovely to have to any kitchen. But they cost an arm and a leg, and more to the point, everybody already knows how great they are.

So today’s recommendation is an exception—in half measure, at least. It’ll set you back $95. But on the other hand, I feel sure that it’s never been highlighted in a gift guide before—mostly because it is a non-essential kitchen item for which you can buy a perfectly acceptable substitute for a small fraction of the price.

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Shopping For Foodies, 2013: Part 3

plentycover

If you’re like me, you’ve spent at least some of the last week Googling “Best Cookbooks of 2013”—and then wondering if Ottolenghi, by London chef and restaurateur Yotam Ottolenghi (which turns up on just about every list) is really all its cracked up to be. 

I don’t know.  Nor do I know if Jerusalem, which won the same author heaps of accolades in 2012, deserved them. But I can tell you this: either book would have to be mind-bogglingly good to surpass Plenty, which he put out in 2011 to slightly less acclaim.

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Shopping For Foodies, 2013: Part 2

romertopf2

City living rules out a number of cooking methods—even plain old grilling can be hard to pull off in an apartment building—but it puts the biggest kibosh on one of the most primal: spit-roasting. 

And yet your favorite urban foodie still has a hankering for moist, low-and-slow meat with a crispy skin, right?  So set him or her up with a Romertopf baker ($40-$90, depending on the size).  This unusual two-piece unglazed clay vessel has a valuable specialty:  Before you use it, you soak the top and bottom in water for 15 minutes.  This impregnates the walls of the vessel with moisture, which is converted into steam for the first phase of cooking.  Then, when the steam runs out, the Romertopf transforms—with no effort on your part—into a dry-cooking environment that will crisp up the skin of that lamb shoulder.  (That’s my favorite thing to use it for—specifically, Moroccan mechoui—but it also does a great job on whole chickens.)  

Bonus: For great recipes suited to the Romertopf and other clay vessels, consider Paula Wolfert’s brilliant Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking as a companion gift.  This is one of the best five cookbooks I own, and has never, ever let me down.

Check out Shopping For Foodies, Part 1 [f8b8z]

Shopping For Foodies: Trey Popp’s Holiday Gift Guide, Part 5

The last installment of my gift guide is the best. Not only because it’s delicious, but because this is one thing that your foodie friend—especially if he or she is local—has probably never tried, and might never even have heard of.

I don’t believe I’ve ever encountered it at an area restaurant, nor have I ever seen it at one of the Asian supermarkets (though I might have just failed to spot it, which is a regular feature of my shopping at those sprawling depots).

So here we go…

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Shopping For Foodies: Trey Popp’s Holiday Gift Guide, Part 1

The holidays are full of bad advice for foodies.  The New York Times Dining section made this plain on Wednesday in their gift guide, which recommended that readers buy three pounds of Washington cherries for $79.  Also, .6 ounces of ground ginger—note that decimal placement—for $24.

The Times isn’t the only offender.  (And hey, they also plugged Art in the Age’s Sage spirit, so they’re not all bad.)  But you know what I’m talking about.  For every ten foodie gift ideas, seven are insanely pricey, four are hard to get—mental Venn diagram time—and half of what’s left will probably just make your gourmet friend scratch her head while smiling awkwardly beneath the tree.

It doesn’t have to be this way.  For the next few days, I’m posting better gift ideas: Things that your favorite foodie probably doesn’t have already, that are affordable on any budget, and that might just become as indispensable in their pantry as they are in mine.

Beginning with…

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