Though I know well enough to leave the real gift guides to the professionals, I thought it might be nice to offer a few casual, less formal ideas about gifts that would please any lover of food and cooking.
Most people who like to cook are already going to have an apron or two, but if those people are anything like me, they are going to be less than thrilled with the styles of aprons offered by most shops. I prefer a plain, unfussy apron, which is surprisingly difficult to find. I also like a long apron when I cook, because I have been known to inexplicably fling food all the way down the front of my pants. Because of this same propensity for active mess-making, I also prefer an apron without pockets, as the last thing I desire after cooking a meal is the unexpected discovery of a pocketful of flour or a lone, errant prawn. This apron comes in every color imaginable, and it’s got an adjustable neck for us shorties.
I am fortunate to live in a city that offers many a choice of places to get great coffee, but I know that great coffee is not so readily available everywhere else in the country (or even the state). Cafe Mam offers totally organic, fair trade Arabica coffee that is roasted to order, which means that when you place your order, your coffee gets roasted right then, just for you. Impressively, all of the coffee is available to order at a price of under $10 a pound, which is unheard of for such high quality coffee. I like the tango blend the best, which is half French roast, half Italian roast–two very bold, dark flavors. The two darker roasts are great together, and they offer a robust and flavorful cup that is never scorched or the least bit bitter. The flavor grows subtly sweeter as the cup cools–always a good sign. All roasts are available in 1 pound or 5 pound bags. Get a 5 pound bag and split it up into 1 pound portions for stocking stuffers for the coffee lovers in your life.
If Ruth Reichl is the mistress of sultry food writing, with her talk of apples and noodles somehow made erotic and otherworldly, Calvin Trillin is your best friend or favorite uncle who likes to sit around with you and chat about what you both like to eat. Trillin, essentially, is a whole other world of food writer, because he is not technically a food writer at all. Funny, informative, touching, and clearly in love with his subject of food, food, food, Calvin Trillin is my all time favorite writer who writes about food, which is the only thing I can think to call him without undermining all the great, non-food writing he has also done.