Gifts for Cooks
Since almost everyone is doing more cooking right now, gifts for kitchen use are both practical and welcome. Take a look at these suggestions—most will work for both cuisine novices and chef-wannabes, and a couple are for the hardcore foodie cook.
Lodge Cast Iron:
"Rosie the Riveter" Skillet
Lodge, based in Tennessee and known for its enameled cast-iron Dutch ovens, produced a limited-edition Rosie the Riveter Skillet as a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment, giving women the right to vote. (Did you know Tennessee cast the final "yes" vote?) The East Bay has a strong Rosie connection, housing the Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historic Park. The skillet's bottom is etched with the classic Rosie image.
Mandala Recipe Stand
Serrv is an international fair-trade nonprofit that puts out very cool catalogs. A standout in the holiday selection is this beautiful recipe stand, hand carved from mango wood in India. The Serrv collectives in each country are often made up of people who have lifted themselves out of poverty through the fair prices paid for their work. Good cooking karma here.
Mercer M20000 Genesis 6-piece Glass Block Knife Set
Don't get chefs started about their knives. But it's true good cooks love good cutlery. This professional-grade set includes an 8-inch chef knife, an 8-inch bread knife, a 6-inch boning knife, a 5-inch utility knife, a 3.5-inch paring knife and a tempered-glass knife block holder. Knife blades are made of high carbon stainless steel, and handles are ergonomically designed with santoprene. This set looks good and cuts good.
Irish Soda Bread Dish
Give a gift that celebrates the recipient's (or President-elect Biden's) Irish heritage. The charming green-and-cream Soda Bread Dish has the authentic recipe in its center, framed by Celtic knots. Comes with a metal stand and is oven-, microwave- and dishwasher-safe.
Sur la Table:
Messermeister Chef's Torch
For the home cook who has (almost) everything, this might be the pick. The butane-powered aluminum torch is used for charring peppers, melting cheese and, bien sûr, caramelizing the top of a perfect crème brûlée. Don't worry—the torch has a child-proof lock.
woodNflex Flexible Hardwood Cutting Board
This is really a plain old good idea: a cutting board that flexes to pour chopped items into a pan or bowl, and easily fits in the sink for washing. Real oak or walnut veneers are fused with food-grade silicone backing to create the product. It's very lightweight and can be flipped over to use as a trivet for hot pans.
Victorian Trading Company:
Folk Pattern Engraved Rolling Pin
The baker who just has to have the best pie presentation will love this damask-patterned rolling pin. Imported from Poland, it's made from moisture-resistant beech wood with a metal axle.
Make Museums Merry
In a season of giving and gratitude, support our wonderful local museums with gift purchases from their online gift shops. Covid-19 may have closed their doors temporarily, but with our help, they'll be back enriching our lives in 2021.
Oakland Museum of California:
Board games are totally back! The fam will enjoy this "creative spin on classic Bingo," featuring California classics such as Death Valley, the Giant Sequoias and the Golden Gate Bridge. Informative facts are featured on the back of each calling card. Includes six player boards, plastic bingo chips and 42 picture cards.
Pacific Pinball Museum:
Alameda's rad pinball museum is selling off its duplicate machines. The ones on the site page list identified with a "W" are in working order. If you have the spare change, and a pinball wizard to buy for, you'll find a dream present here. One example: a Stern Meteor Pinball (1979) for $400. Contact Larry Zartarian, email@example.com.
Prices vary, www.pacificpinball.org
Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive:
Rosie Lee Tompkins Exhibit Catalog
BAMPFA's Rosie Lee Tompkins retrospective, a collection of nearly 70 works, has been extended through July. Internationally renowned quilt artist Tomkins (1936–2006) was based in Richmond. Eli Leon, a scholar and advocate for African American quilt-making traditions, donated his entire collection, including 500 of Tomkins' quilts, to BAMPFA. Reservations for Rosie Lee Tompkins catalogs can be made online and will be immediately fulfilled when BAMPFA reopens. The catalog was singled out as "excellent" by the New York Times.
Takara Sake Museum:
Sho Chiku Bai Classic Junmai 1.5L Gift Cask
While your sake-loving friend is roasting chestnuts on the open fire, they can also warm up some of this very special junmai from Berkeley's Takara Sake Museum. According to the museum, "When warmed to around 100º F, the texture and flavor build, bringing out more intense umami...Savory elements of salted custard, cocoa nib, banana bread, toasted nuts and mineral are evident." Yumami.
Richmond Museum of History & Culture
'Remembering Life at Home: Collected Works from the WWII Home Front Quilts Project'
'Tis the season for great books about quilts. The 2014 "Voices in Cloth" show featured a special exhibit of 45 fiber artists whose quilts depicted themes from the WWII home front. The exhibit transferred to the Richmond Museum of History & Culture, which produced this beautiful volume. Order by Dec. 13 to ensure delivery by Christmas.
Aftelier Perfumes/Archive of Curious Scents
Chocolate & Saffron Body Oil
Gift this "romantic and sensual body oil" to your significant other. A combo body oil and hair elixir from internationally known Aftelier Archive of Curious Scents in Berkeley, it combines jojoba and fractionated coconut oils with the enticing scents to "leave a veil of fragrance on your skin or in your hair that mixes beautifully with your own chemistry." Or someone else's chemistry.
$50, 50-ml. bottle, www.aftelier.com