Panko bread crumbs have gone solidly mainstream in flavored renditions - Crusting Blends - from McCormick.

Combinations are tasty and aromatic - Garlic, Lemon & Rosemary; French Onion, Pepper & Herb; and Italian Herb & Cheese.

Weighing in at just under 8 ounces and a generous cup (panko is drier and lighter than regular crumbs), each is sufficient to coat three to four pounds or about 16 servings of chicken, fish, pork or other crusty creations.

It's a tad pricey, but worth it if you want a really crisp restaurant-style crust.

Crusting Blends by McCormick, about $3.89. At supermarkets nationwide. Or visit

- Marilynn Marter

Walnut nectar

Ampelidae is one of the stalwarts in the Moore Bros. stable of artisan French wine producers, but it also makes one of the best nut oils I've ever tasted. Walnuts - not olives - were historically the prime source of vegetable oil in the Poitou region where the winery resides southwest of Tours. And this bottle of stone-crushed amber elixir is intensely rich, far more vivid than canned walnut oils.

Traditionally used for salads and white string beans, it's a staple in my pantry. It's also unfiltered and fairly delicate, but keeping it chilled in the fridge is an easy way to keep it fresh for several months.

A half-liter bottle of Ampelidae walnut oil (Huile de Noix Vierge 2006) costs $25 at Moore Bros.

Wines in Pennsauken (7200 North Park Drive, 888-686-6673) and Wilmington (1416 North DuPont Street, 877-316-6673).

- Craig LaBan

Sensible sauce pot

I do tire of all the gimmicky barbecue accessories that surface at this time of year. But this one from Bobby Flay serves a useful purpose, especially for the grilling fathers on your list: a stainless steel pot for barbecue sauce with a tight-fitting lid with brush attached.

It's perfect for perching beside the grill, at the ready for glazing or basting. And the design renders it spill-proof and shatterproof.

Bobby Flay sauce

pot with brush, $19.99 at area Kohl's department stores.

- Maureen Fitzgerald