My friends and I have a gourmet cooking club. Every couple of months, we meet, usually at someone’s house, and pretend to take a cooking class! Really it’s just an excuse to get together with great friends and eat great food. You see, not all of us are foodies. I love to watch cooking shows, read cooking magazines and cookbooks, and talk about cooking. I also like to cook, but not as much as I like watching other people cook. And my palate isn’t refined enough for me to qualify as a foodie. I basically eat to live, with a few guilty pleasures thrown in. There are, however, some serious cooks in our group. My friend Fay, for example, is the type of woman who makes dinner seem like an event. At our first gathering, at her house, the spread was so elaborate and so elegant that I was immediately impressed. It would have taken me a solid week to make that much food! Fay can really, really cook, and really appreciates good food, fully qualifying her as a foodie. The items on this list aren’t just for foodies like Fay – they are great options for any cook on your list!
1. Gourmet Herb Braid, $49: This fragrant, decorative bundle of fine dried herbs adds warmth to any kitchen, and is useful as well: Just snip off what you need as you cook!
2. Herbs of Provence, $18: When I went to the South of France with my husband, pre-kids, I returned with a pot of “herbes de Provence” for our food editor, and she loved it! These prized herbs add French flair to everyday cuisine.
3. 10-Salt and Spice Box, $79: These beautiful boxes, made of non-endangered acacia wood, hold a cook’s arsenal of fresh spices and exotic salts. Also available in a 5-salt box, $59.
4. Rustic Soup du Jour with Burlwood Bowl, $198: Everything the comfort cook needs to create a hearty, homey dinner, including a cookbook and a beautiful bowl to hold it all!
5. California Collection of Cheeses and Snacks, $125: This impressive wooden tray holds a selection of fine California cheeses, crackers and sweets.
6. Italian Measuring Jug, $19.95: This charming jug easily replaces all of the other measuring cups in your home, because it measures almost anything, from rice to flour to liquids.
7. The French Chef with Julia Child DVDs, $37.49: The definitive collection of episodes from the definitive French chef – a must for every cook!
8. The Best of America’s Test Kitchen 2011, $24.50: From Cook’s Illustrated, this annual compilation of the magazines best, exhaustively tested recipes is a must for chefs and armchair cooks alike.
9. Zabar’s Pantry Essentials (prices vary): A collection of gourmet essentials, like L’Estornell Sherry Wine Vinegar, $14.98, capers with salt, $5.49, and Marcona almonds in rosemary honey, $7.98, will elevate everything they make.
10. Dean & DeLuca Spice Rub Collection, $60: This selection of nine spice rubs adds flavor to any meat or fish dish.