Whether you have a foodie in the family or a friend who just loves to play in the kitchen, Diane Beauregard, owner of Things Are Cooking in Concord, recommended a few of the most popular gadgets and culinary toys as gifts this year.
Cool kitchen tools
The best gadget gifts are the most useful and versatile. Charles Viancin Group produces a number of neat items in silicone, like pot holders, finger grips and food prep accessories. The Charles Viancin silicone lids (which come in different shapes and colors inspired by nature, like a lily pad, pumpkin or a sunflower lid) are a replacement for plastic wrap or aluminum foil that can cling air-tight and water-tight to any rounded surface. The lids are microwavable, oven-safe, stovetop-safe, can be used in the refrigerator and are machine washable.
“They are very, very popular. They fly out of here,” Beauregard said.
The French porcelain cookware company Revol has also been a popular buy, Beauregard said. The brand markets high culinary grade porcelain that is microwave-safe, oven-safe, chip-resistant and scratch-resistant. For a cute and chic cooking gift, Beauregard recommends Revol Froisses, affectionately known as the “crumpled cup.” The porcelain tumblers come in a variety of colors. Beauregard said they can be used to bake muffins, hold appetizers or make a lava cake since they are so versatile.
Revol also features baking pieces, like roasters and a chicken dish in the shape of a chicken. A newcomer to the brand is the Revol Revolution. It functions like a Dutch oven but can be used on induction, gas or electric and is made of 100-percent natural material.
Hot ticket gifts
“KitchenAid mixers are obviously a favorite among people,” Beauregard said. “Everybody loves them, whether it just looks pretty on their counter or they use it [frequently].”
KitchenAid Artisan Series 5-Quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixer is the standard mixer, with a 5-quart stainless steel bowl, 10 speeds and various accessories from pasta makers to grinders. Essentially, it’s the Red Ryder BB Gun for cooks.
There are other mixers from KitchenAid, with different sized bowls and from other series (like Classic Plus, Ultra Power or Professional). Prices can range from $229.99 to $899.99, but if that chef in the family already has a mixer, consider purchasing a few attachments, which can be purchased separately.
“Knives are always really nice,” Beauregard said. “We carry Henckels, Wüsthof Trident brands. There’s nothing like a really nice sharp knife, like a chef’s knife. That’s just a very popular size knife that would fit with anyone.”
For those who approach a wall of kitchen knives like facing a dark cave, any sales clerk at various kitchen stores can help decipher what’s best. Blades can come in stainless steel, carbon steel or even ceramic.
Beauregard added that Nespresso Latissima coffee and espresso machines are popular and make great gifts, especially for the latte lover.
Another crop of high-end culinary gift items comes from Le Creuset. These goods have become fashionably trendy in kitchens but are also reliable gifts. The brand markets cookware and bakeware as well as utensils and accessories.
“Those are very popular,” Beauregard said. “They have been around for many, many years. They’re made in France [and] are cast iron with an enameled interior. They are great for slow cooking, for making soups and stews. They can be handed down for generations and will last a lifetime if properly taken care of.”
Stocking stuffers for your cook
Beauregard said Charles Viancin wine stoppers, which come in silicone flower shapes, and Loofah Art kitchen scrubbers in various colors and designs (like moose, penguins, flowers and even Tabasco bottles) are great small gifts.
“A lot of people pick those up for quick gift items,” she said.
There’s also the Architec Recipe Rock, a magnetized ball bearing that attaches to a sphere and can hold up to eight pages of paper or recipes.
“It’s great because it keeps your recipes from getting dirty and they’re small enough they can fit right into a stocking. This item has been very popular,” Beauregard said.
For the reading chef
Michael Herrmann of Gibson’s Bookstore (45 S. Main St., Concord, 224-0562, gibsonsbookstore.com) recommended a few cookbooks for the holidays, too. Ottolenghi: the Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi made the top of Herrmann’s list, featuring Middle Eastern cuisine with hints of inspiration from Mediterranean and California cooking. He also
recommends The A.O.C. Cookbook, by Suzanne Goin.
“My wife and I have had great success with Ms. Goin’s earlier work, Sunday Suppers at Lucques (I mean that my wife cooked, and I ate with great success),” Herrmann wrote in an email correspondence.
Provence, 1970: M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, and the Reinvention of American Taste by Luke Barr makes another great read for the foodie. Gramercy Tavern Cookbook, by Michael Anthony and Daniel: My French Cuisine, by Daniel Boulud also topped the list from the New York culinary scene. Lastly, Herrmann recommended Salt Sugar Fat, by Michael Moss — “It’s an expose of how agribusiness hooked us on everything in junk food that is harmful to us, and in so doing turned a lot of what we eat into junk food,” he said.
Appeared in the Dec. 5, 2013 issue of the Hippo