I love a good gift, don’t you? A gift with a little thought behind it, rather than the last-minute gift card grabbed at the grocery store checkout. Something that says, you are SEEN. You are KNOWN. Chocolate always, always works for me in this way. We’ve compiled some special gifts for loved ones who like to spend time in the kitchen, or entertaining, or both. Be a hero. Buy them something they’ll actually use.
For the Caffeine Fiend:
I bought this for my husband two years ago, and it’s probably the best thing I ever bought anyone. Seriously. He uses it a minimum of twice a day; on weekends, take that up to three or four. Certainly, it’s not an inexpensive gift, but think about what you save even if you use it once daily (do the math: $5 for a latte at Starbucks, times 365 days). I like this particular model because you can store and grind whole beans to order, and steam/froth milk for your latte or cappuccino. The water tank is large, so only needs to be refilled once a week. Plus, it looks so pretty on your counter you won’t begrudge it the space.
For the Chocoholic:
Chef Uzma Sharif is filling Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood with the tantalizing aromas of Indian spices as she handcrafts her outstanding truffles, which she sells in bright, turmeric-colored boxes. You’ll discover her talent for judicious balance and flavor while biting into one of those chocolates, redolent with cumin, ginger, mint, black tea, cardamom, and rose. Throw in a tin of her Kashmiri Chili Sipping Chocolate ($18) and a few single-origin chocolate bars ($8 each) and you will be invited to every party, everywhere once word gets out.
For the French Provincial Fan:
Dear God, I love Food52, because it traffics in attainable aspiration. It’s not cheap, but it’s not outrageous. Case in point: these adorable copper kitchen ornaments, 3 for $50, or 6 for $85. I’m going to order them, even though we don’t have a Christmas tree. I’m thinking I’ll buy a small rosemary bush for the holiday season and decorate it with these instead.
For the Budding Scientist:
Drinkmate Bundle, $128.99
You’re probably thinking, doesn’t SodaStream already do that? Well, my friend, unlike that product, the Drinkmate doesn’t just carbonate water … it can fizz up any liquid, as long as it doesn’t contain pulp. That means wine, coffee, juice, cocktails — all are fair game. Make your own hard lemonade with vodka and (pulpless) lemonade, or your own, healthier fruit soda with water and cranberry juice. You can even re-carbonate flat beer or champagne! Easy to clean, there are no batteries or cords to mess with, just a CO2 cylinder.
For the Small Appliance Maven:
I appreciate a multi-use appliance, which is why I went crazy for the Instant Pot a few years ago. It can take the place of a number of appliances … and that is something I really dig about this machine. I want an air fryer, but I just don’t want to add another item to my already cluttered countertop. But I am due for a new toaster oven, so there’s a part of my brain that can make peace with this one. It’s got 11 pre-set functions, and comes with a 13” pizza pan, a 11’ x 13’ enamel roasting pan, air fry basket, and wire and broiling racks. The dual-speed convection function is what helps produce a super-crispy result when air frying. Mama like.
For the Cheesiest:
Nothing says party like a gorgeous wooden charcuterie board laden with sliced and chunked cheese, olives, pickles, dried fruit, nuts, and thinly sliced salumi. (I am literally salivating as I type these words.) And this board is a beaut! At 27.5” x 13.5”, it can accommodate your most splendiferous displays. Not quite big enough? Opt for the nearly 24” diameter circle. All boards are available in French Walnut or French Oak.
For the Scotch Fanatic:
Chicago architectural designer and artist Taylor Mentzer has created a special “Scotch Box” to celebrate the union of 15-year old, barrel-matured single malt scotch whisky Abelour Single Cask No. 22112 and the great City of Chicago, drawing equal inspiration from the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and Chicago’s jazz history. The result is a stunning presentation box that protects and displays one extraordinary bottle of booze.
For the Fancy Knife Enthusiast:
This isn’t just a knife … it’s a work of art. This is either for someone who can really cook, or someone who just likes to collect expensive, pretty things. The comfortable handle is made of Masur birch, while the patterned blade starts with 101 layers of steel and has a Rockwell hardness of 63. These babies are hand-honed by Japanese craftsmen who devote their lives to making the perfect knife you can then use to mince herbs and chop vegetables. It’s just so damn PRETTY.
4747 N. Lincoln, Chicago, 773-472-6700
The Merchandise Mart Plaza, Suite 107, Chicago, 312-644-6360
A gift card to The Chopping Block delivers an educational experience with a dash of fun mixed with delicious food and wine to someone special. It’s the perfect gift for any food or wine lover.