EVERY FAMILY has its foodie. The person who monopolizes the tailgate grill. The one who gladly hosts the holiday dinners. After all, who makes better gravy?
Foodies know - and will regale you in painstaking detail - what's so special about Kobe beef. They dream of being contestants on "The Next Food Network Star." When they're coming to dinner, don't dare try to pass off a store-bought dessert as homemade.
It isn't easy to come up with gifts that meet finicky food-lovers' standards. But every year, Yo! Food goes in search of indulgent ideas, from indoor herb gardens to countertop wine cellars.
For 2008, we sought out gifts that are affordable yet original for those who love to cook, bake, imbibe - or just read about all of the above. Many have a local connection, too.
If you know someone whose weekly shopping list reads something like: edamame, organic coffee beans, spelt bread, pinot grigio-infused salami and frozen, marinated rack of lamb, you might just know someone who really
Well, they might not love it as much as two customers who had such a cultlike obsession with the eco-conscious grocery that they created a cookbook tribute. In "Cooking with All Things Trader Joe's," Deana Gunn and Wona Miniati offer recipes using entrees, meats, veggies, sauces and other items off the chain store's shelves. Fun sections like "Bachelor Quickies" tutor cooks on how to use frozen Joe's items.
$24.95, Brown Bag Publishers, www.cookingwithtraderjoes.com.
If your foodie loves Latin fare, why not give the gift of Jose Garces. This local star chef, owner of acclaimed Philly eateries Amada, Tinto and Distrito, will autograph a copy of his debut cookbook, "Latin Evolution," which you can give along with a gift card that can be used at any Garces restaurant.
Book, $35, gift cards $20-$200, www.grg-mgmt.com.
A gadget they don't have
What an innovative idea from the always clever folks at Kuhn Rikon: a nonstick serving knife with a sharp edge, so you can cut and pick up squares of lasagna or slices of pie in one swoop. It comes in silver or red, with a matching cover for easy storage, too. And we loved the price.
$14 small, $16 large size, www.kuhnrikon.com.
Sweets from South Africa
Give a tasty gift while doing something worthwhile. Philadelphia entrepreneur Alicia Danielle Polak founded the Khaya Cookie Co. in 2006, creating jobs in South Africa, where her cookies are made. Ingredients are all natural and locally sourced. Every 150,000 boxes sold translates into 100 jobs. Cranberry Rooibos Shortbread and Orange Rooibos Shortbread are the most popular holiday flavors, but there are many others to choose from.
The art of paella
Lobster paella. It doesn't get any better than that at Old City's Cuba Libre, which features the Cuban favorite on Monday nights. Bring paella home with the Cuba Libre paella kit - a cooking pan, rice, seasonings, a shopping list and chef Guillermo Pernot's lobster paella recipe.
Help the foodie on your list go green with a bamboo cutting board from Chef Central. That online kitchen-supply heaven features TruBamboo cutting boards from star chef Ming Tsai's East-West products line. Bamboo is harder than traditional woods, lasts longer and is a more renewable resource.
Here's to beer!
What would the holidays be without a little brew? The
' own Joe Sixpack couldn't agree more. His new book, "Christmas Beers: The Cheeriest, Tastiest and Most Unusual Holiday Brews," will impress even the most seasoned brew gurus with its detailed look at the 2,000-year-old tradition surrounding beer and the holidays.
Smart grocery shopping
Who isn't trying to cut costs at the grocery store these days? We love this little helper: the SmartShopper Electronic Organizer, a hand-held aid that lists all your groceries, notes which items have coupons and can print the list on the spot.
The gadget, which attaches to the fridge with a built-in magnet, holds up to 2,500 items and can remember all your favorite weekly food purchases.
A Tasty Philly gift
Tastykake's new Philly Pops Collection gift package has a CD of Peter Nero and the Philly Pops' holiday music and an assortment of Tastykake faves like Peanut Butter Kandy Kakes, Butterscotch Krimpets, Buttercream Cupcakes and Chocolate Juniors, 10 packages in all.
$31.99, overnight delivery available, www.tastykake.com.
Gourmet to you
If eating, rather than cooking, is your favorite foodie's preference, give the gift of a gourmet dinner from Home Bistro. The site - its motto is "Live more. Cook less" - has gift certificates for everything from appetizers to full dinners to desserts. Specialty diets such as low carb or low sodium, also can be accommodated.
$19.50 and up, www.homebistro.com.
Bake it the Green way
Local author and chef Aliza Green just released her ninth book, "Starting with Ingredients: Baking," perhaps her most comprehensive look yet at the art of baking. Its 350 recipes are organized by ingredient, from apples to walnuts and chocolate. Her exhaustively researched books have earned her a cult following among foodies nationwide. This one should be no exception. *
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