Danville Express

Living - December 14, 2007

Epicure: Epicure's holiday wish list for cooks & foodies

by Jacqui Love Marshall

It's hard to shop for a passionate cook. After all, most cooks have usually equipped their kitchens with the latest tools - pots, pans, bakeware, knives, tableware, appliances and drawers filled with culinary gadgets. I know from experience - a cook in a kitchen store is like your kid salivating over the latest toy catalog or your handyman brother-in-law gone wild at the local home and garden center. Part of the pleasure of cooking well is the assurance that you have everything - repeat, everything - you might ever need to make the meal of a lifetime. So, it can be challenging to find a cookbook or utensil that isn't owned by your favorite cook.

Still, you know the way to this person's heart and it isn't by gifting a pair of slipper socks, a Chili's gift card or a universal remote. So, unless you can scrounge up a pair of tickets to the Martha Stewart show or a Bon Appetit cooking cruise to France with Wolfgang Puck, you'll be looking for the latest and greatest culinary gift to surprise your personal chef on Christmas Day.

Here's a list that's likely to include at least one item that your favorite cook doesn't have ... yet. And, most items are available at a store or online site that welcomes returns and exchanges, in case your chef friend really does already have it. Happy shopping ... and may the (culinary) force be with you!

Jacqui lives in Danville with her pug, Nina Simone, and volumes of cookbooks and recipes. Her column runs every other week. E-mail her at jlovemarshall@yahoo.com.

Wish list

Cookbooks & Magazines:

"Lidia's Italy: 140 Simple and Delicious Recipes from the Ten Places in Italy Lidia Loves Most" by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich, TV chef, offers 140 recipes through a culinary tour of Italian cities: Istria, Trieste, Friuli, Padova and Treviso, Piemonte, Maremma, Rome, Naples, Sicily, and Puglia **

"Bouchon," Thomas Keller's bistro cookbook features 180-plus recipes from his two bistro restaurants **

Cook's Illustrated, the consummate home-cooking magazine for aspiring chefs; six issues a year with no advertising and detailed illustrations, $26.95 for one-year subscription ***

Specialty Foods:

Hudson Cream Flours, The 100-year Kansas-based Stafford County Flour Mills produces some of the finest home and commercial flours. www.hudsoncream.com *

Salumi Cured Meats Collection, Salumi is a Seattle-based company that uses traditional methods to create the highest-quality gourmet cured meats. The collection includes Agrumi (pork with cardamom and citrus), Coppa (dry-cured, marbled pork shoulder rubbed with pepper and pepperoncini) and Guanciale (dry-cured pork used for flavoring vegetables, sauces and more). All three at an approx. weight of 3 lbs., Sur La Table, Walnut Creek ****

Dean & Deluca Ballotins * A decadent assortment featuring Strawberry Balsamic, Jasmine Pearl, Blood Orange, Toasted Almond, Hazelnut Feuilletine, Caramel Fleur de Sel, Raspberry and Lemon Thyme Truffles. Each is wrapped in milk or dark chocolate. Comes in boxes of 10 (**), 20 (***) or 36 pieces (****), www.deananddeluca,com

Specialty Items:

Chef's Jacket, Traditional and non-traditional styles in white or colors. Williams Sonoma, Walnut Creek or www.chefsemporium.net ***

Foodie Fight: A Trivia Game For Serious Food Lovers, Sur La Table ***

Stocking Stuffers:

Utensil Pot Clip, A stainless steel clip attaches to the side of any pot to hold a spoon or other utensil in place, Crate and Barrel, Walnut Creek *

Cake Taster, The Kitchen Table, Walnut Creek *

I.O.U. Certificates:

Sous Chef R Us. Offer to do all shopping and kitchen cleanup for a special meal in 2008. Any cook would love to be relieved of these chores to focus more on the cooking. Note: This gift includes displaying great patience as they explain in much detail about each item on the shopping list and send you to several places. !!!

Gourmet Out. Commit to take the cook to a restaurant he/she has been longing to experience for a three- to five-course meal in 2008. Start saving now, make the reservation early, and mention that your guest is a foodie and ask if your friend could meet the chef! !!!

Uno Mas. Create an I.O.U. for one not-yet-owned utensil made by Rosle or J.A. Henkels. Your I.O.U. includes actually purchasing the item but just knowing these names will astound your cook and generate a lively discussion about cooking tools. !!!

Lifelong Learning. Treat him/her to a cooking class at Draeger's, Blackhawk. The new store offers a variety of interesting classes by local and sometimes celebrity chefs. Go to www.draegers.com for a class schedule through April 2008. !!!

PRICE CODE: * under $10

** under $30

*** under $60

**** under $100

!!! priceless

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