5 Fabulous (and Last-Minute) Holiday Gift Ideas for Foodies
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THE THREE PART 2018 HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE
So, you thought it was cute when I suggested starting your holiday shopping in early/mid-December was living your best #procrastinationlife? Well, now that there’s just one week left until Christmas Eve, it’s time to show your mettle (or at the very least, bookmark/pin this post for easy reference on the 23rd)! In honour of your strong procrastination game, I’ve saved a couple of my favourite gift ideas for this final installment of the House of High/Low’s 2018 Holiday Gift Guide. If you haven’t already, make sure you check out the first two guides for unique gifts for jetsetters and fashionistas.
PART III: PERFECT (AND LAST MINUTE) GIFTS FOR THE FOODIES IN YOUR LIFE
Today I’m sharing places and things I love that will also make great gifts for foodies. Rest assured, there’s no need to panic as the gifts on this list are thoughtful, incredibly useful, and you can pick them up or have my best friend, Amazon, deliver them to your door in just a couple of days (or perhaps even on the same day, depending on where you live and if you’re an Amazon Prime Member). Pro tip: To get free expedited shipping during the holidays, sign up for a 30-day free trial (with no commitment) of Amazon Prime here:
1. Restaurant Gift Certificate
Even though gift certificates are sometimes viewed as impersonal, for a foodie, the gift of an exceptional dining experience should be very well received. Plus, it doesn’t get more thoughtful than doing research (reading this post is research!) to find the perfect gift.
Having spent the majority of 2018 living and, more accurately, eating my way through NYC, I blame the city’s exceptional food scene for 2018’s extra pounds. But I wouldn’t change it for the world (well, I do wish I went to the gym. But that’s what 2019 is for, right?!) and now I can share my reviews with you. I’ve limited the following picks to restaurants which offer gift cards online.
Le Bernardin (Manhattan - Midtown)
Although it’s too hard to definitively rank my favourite restaurants in NYC, I’m certain that 3-star Michelin restaurant, Le Bernardin, is at the very least, vying for that top spot. Although the Chef’s Tasting is a whopping US$225/person (it’s worth it for a special occasion; I took GC here for his birthday dinner) the lunch prix fixe is US$90. Any foodie, especially one that loves seafood, will appreciate the impeccable quality of the ingredients and the kitchen’s masterful technique. You can order a gift card here, and choose to pick it up at the Midtown restaurant. Apologies for the yellowish tint on the food pics. I didn’t know at that time I’d actually be starting a blog!
For my Toronto friends, since this is the House of High/Low, I had to throw in a great deal:
Piano Piano (Toronto, Harbord)
I loved having the occasional lavish brunch at Chef Victor Barry’s former restaurant, Splendido. To be honest, I still haven’t checked out his new-ish (is 2016 still considered new-ish?) restaurant that took over the same space, but I’ve only heard great things.
Now that Piano Piano is running an online promotion with Anycard, there’s no better time to try it (and gift it!). With the purchase of a C$200 gift card, you will receive a bonus C$100 gift card for free. According to the email I received, “the bonus $100 gift card will automatically be sent to the purchaser. The $100 gift card is valid from January 1st, 2019 - November 30th, 2019. Promotion ends Dec 25th 2018.”
Bar Isabel (Toronto, College St.)
I’m a big fan of Chef Grant Van Gameren’s restaurants and bars. Bar Isabel has a superbly curated wine, cocktail and craft beer list. Combined with delicious pintxos and tapas (the grilled octopus is a must), your giftee is sure to have a great and lively night out. Gift Cards are available at Bar Isabel (797 College Street) daily for purchase anytime after 2pm.
2. Instant Pot
I’m sure you’ve heard many extoll the virtues of the all-in-one magical Instant Pot by now, but how many of your sources never cooked a real meal in their life? GC and I went from delivery, take-out, and restaurant-dining 360ish days/week to home-cooked meals on weeknights (I’m pretty sure Uber Eats thinks we’ve died). We both feel better (including, having more energy), lost our NYC-weight without even “dieting”, and we’re saving lots of money.
Since taste really matters to the both of us (I don’t believe in eating just for sustenance; I like to enjoy every meal) and my cooking skills were non-existent, I initially feared that the Instant Pot would be yet another appliance collecting dust. But, on a regular basis, I easily prepare incredibly tender and flavourful dishes in about 30-45 minutes (and a majority of that time is inactive cooking time). Lots of recipes just call for tossing all of the fresh ingredients and spices into the pot and waiting (only a short period!) for the pot to work its magic. I’ll share some of my favourite Instant Pot recipes, like Filipino adobo, chicken marsala, honey sriracha chicken, etc., in a future post.
Trust me, I can hear how fanatical I sound! I’ve actually bought Instant Pots for my family and friends so that I can obsessively chat with them about how life-changing it has been. It really is the must-have cooking gadget for those who love great food but don’t have the time or skill to cook (or clean – one pot means less dishes!)
For me and GC, the 6qt is the perfect size - it’s enough for dinner and leftovers for lunches, etc. If your family is much bigger or you like to entertain, I suggest purchasing the following 8qt model that is currently on sale in the US:
3. Michelin Guide
For around US$15, why not give the foodie in your life the restaurant bible? When it comes to finding reputable sources for dining recommendations, in my opinion, nothing tops the Michelin Guide. A partner from work gifted me the New York City version of the Michelin Guide and I still constantly flip through the many tape-flagged pages for ideas (even though it’s a little too reminiscent of CANs/outlines (a nerdy/scary reference for my fellow friends in law)). You can make it an even more thoughtful gift by gifting the Michelin Guide to their favourite city or hometown.
4. Chrissy Teigen’s Cookbooks
Once I started to get comfortable with cooking via the Instant Pot, I built up the confidence to occasionally (read: when I have more time and I’m not being lazy) prepare a meal sans Instant Pot. As much as I love googling free recipes, I find beautiful cookbooks to be inspirational, and they can make for great décor. As an added bonus, Chrissy Teigen’s signature wit and humor are on full display in her cookbooks, Cravings and Cravings Hungry for More. These books make excellent gifts for the foodies in your life who like to cook, entertain, and be entertained!
5. Cheese Cave Tour
There are few things I love more in this world than cheese. If you have cheese connoisseurs in your life, gift them their grown-up version of Disney World - a cheese cave tour!
In my opinion, the pinnacle of cheese fandom (and one of Condé Nast Traveler’s 50 coolest places to visit on earth) is to tour Murray’s cheese caves in Long Island City, Queens. For US$150, you’ll get a tour of the aging facility, learn the science behind what happens during the aging process, and you’ll get to taste six of Murray’s Cavemaster Reserve Cheeses. Although I’ve enjoyed many visits to this Greenwich Village stalwart, I have yet to visit their impressive caves in Long Island City (but it’s certainly on my bucket list!). Check out their future events and place your order for tickets here.
Let me know your thoughts on these products and places in the comments below. Happy holidays, friends!
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