Friday Five: Five Last-Minute Foodie Christmas Gifts

Fine, fine, I admit it. I don’t cook. The cookbooks on my shelves are either signed by people I admire or misdirected Christmas gifts from well-meaning folks who didn’t know my true side. I can do the basics – grilled cheese, meatloaf, maybe a pie. I just tend to leave the big stuff to the pros. Does that make me any less of a foodie? I think not.

Tired of giving (or getting) cookbooks? Here are five foodie-flavored gifts on the top of my Christmas list this year.

1) A little bit of the Mediterranean. I like to adopt things – trees, koalas, socks missing their partners. Nudo Italia offers customers an opportunity to adopt their own olive tree. For just over $100, fans of sustainable cooking can adopt a tree in the company’s tree grove for a year. Throughout the year, adopters will receive batches of olive oil harvested from their tree. You can actually visit your adoptee if you happen to be in Italy!

2) A collection of culinary greats. A recent stumble upon YouTube clips triggered old school memories of early morning public television and mouthwatering cooking demonstrations. Focusing on master chefs across the country, like Daniel Boulud, Rick Bayless, and Eric Ripert, the fantastic videos from Great Chefs are quick, informative, entertaining – and now available on DVD. With the series running throughout the 80s, the footage is classic, narrated by a friendly voice with familiar chefs demonstrating concise, delicious recipes. Great for anyone who wants to learn how to cook from industry leaders.

3) A foodie navigation system. Sometimes you have to take the good with the bad, and in my exploring of more culinary offerings both here in town and around the country, I’ve come across a few duds this year. I’m going to have to up my collection of Zagats and Michelin Guides. Maybe even a subscription to the Zagat Guide online for Christmas.

4) The gift of fruit. Don’t laugh. I’m serious. I may not cook or bake, but I know lots of other folks who do. I came across Naumes Fruit Gifts which offers local Oregon-grown fruit with an added bonus – a pound-for-pound matched donation to a local food bank for every purchase. With a lack of fresh produce at many food banks across the country, it benefits everyone involved. I might even get a pie out of the deal.

5) Inspiration. I know you’re probably tired of hearing about him, but I love David Chang. I really do. Maybe it’s the behind-the-scenes photos or the way his writer, Peter Meehan, put things into words, but I think the Momofuku cookbook is one of the best culinary books released year – and very inspirational. Chang’s honesty about his rise to fame brings a side of human to a food world that’s become a bit glossy and contrived. Great for anyone looking for a bit of kitchen oomph (though I hear the recipes are a bit daunting – which I wouldn’t know, because I don’t cook.)

Imagine an autographed copy!

~Jennifer Heigl

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