For some people, food is just the stuff we eat, but for others, it's a bit more important. Take your mother, whose favorite television show is Top Chef and who staged a Quickfire Gravy Challenge at Thanksgiving this year. From the boyfriend who says "yes chef!" when you're boiling pasta for dinner to the best friend who tries to make everything from scratch, including puff pastry, wine and, um, sausages, everyone knows someone whose world revolves around food.
This holiday season, skip the boring wine-opener or snowman-shaped rubber spatula, and get a gift your food lover will really appreciate.
Is your foodie just as tech savvy as they are experienced in the kitchen? This year, spoil them with the gift of technology, and gift an iTunes card, with the suggestion of food inspired applications to download and podcasts to subscribe to for their iPhone or iPod touch. With prices ranging from $3.95 to free, it doesn't take much to set them up with a mobile dictionary of all the best in food knowledge. Some suggestions include KCRW's Good Food with Evan Kleiman Podcast, Clean Eats App, which allows you to search restaurants by health inspection ratings, Hungry? Tourist Walkabout Guide Los Angeles App, which shows LA restaurants in walking distance, and, of course, the LA Weekly application, which lets you search reviews of the best restaurants in town. At these prices (yep, we mean the free ones), you may just have to spoil yourself with this gift.
Apple iTunes Store
9. Food Film
Recreate those culinary cinematic moments for your food lover, and make your present a copy of one this year's great food flicks. Choose from the popular Julie &Julia (Decemeber 8th release), the award-winning documentary Food, Inc, and the lovable Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (pre-order for January 5th release). For an added bonus, add the complimentary book and let your foodie read and watch their favorite food moments over and over again.
8. A good cup of joe
For your culinary aficionado, a good cup of coffee is hard to beat. Local roasters, Cafecito Organico roast organic, fair trade coffee, including signal origin espresso, and decaffeinated beans. Along with a glass of their cold brewed iced coffee or freshly made espresso shot, pick up a bag of the beans at the Silverlake, Hollywood, and Barnsdale Park farmers markets. Or order a bag for your coffee snob online.
7. Farmer's Market Basket
Does your food lover want to cook with the best produce, but can't manage to find the time for a trip to the market? This year, make shopping easy by signing them up with a local CSA (community sponsored agriculture) program. Choose from the options of weekly, bi-weekly or monthly deliveries of local goods and produce, giving your food-focused friend all the best of local goods. Try LA favorites Tierra Migeul Foundation, Love Delivery, or one of the many other LA-based groups. Can't manage the cost of a year's subscription? Choose a reusable farmers market bag and pick up a week's worth of cheese, honey, meat, eggs, and fresh produce from your local farmers market.
Tierra Migeul Foundation, 14910 Pauma Valley Drive, (760) 742-4213; Love Delivery, (310) 821-5683
6. A Cookbook from an LA Chef
After cooking his Monday night suppers at Campanile for over ten years, Peel has collected his favorite of these classic comfort dishes into his newest cookbook, New Classic Family Dinners. With over 200 recipes and engaging photography, the newly published book will inspire anyone into the kitchen and may serve as the starter to your best meal yet.
5. Culinary Schooling
At one of Los Angeles' many cooking school venues, students learn knife skills, specific ethnic cuisine, or just how to turn that Sunday night supper into a relative masterpiece. Depending on your locations, classes can be found at Culver City's Surface, West Hollywood's Sur La Table, or in East and West LA locations with Hipcooks.
Surfas, 8824 National Blvd, (310) 559-4770; Sur La Table, 6333 W 3rd Street, (323)954-9190, Hipcooks various locations, (323)222-3663
4. Wine Road Trip
Take a scenic drive along the coastline to Malibu Wines, where you can enjoy flights of the winery's Semler and Saddlerock wines in the Malibu hills. Enjoy discussing the wines with knowledgeable wine experts and purchase a few bottles to bring back for your wine lovers collection. Just make sure to spend a few hours walking around the luxurious Malibu landscape, because a DUI would be the worst gift you could give.
Malibu Wines, 31800 Mulholland Highway, (818) 865-0605
3. Learn to make Beer
Is your friend always ready for a beer tasting at The Father's Office? Do they know more about bottom/top fermentation than the bar tender at your local pub, and do they always have a suggestion to offer the owners of your local liquor store? If so, think about the gift of knowledge, beer knowledge that is. A Beginner's Home Brewing Class at the Culver City Home Brewing Supply Co. might be just what they want, and this gift will only set you back a measly $5 (which can be used towards purchasing a brewing kit). The class, offered on the first Thursday and third Tuesday of the month, covers the basics of beer brewing including an overview of the process and equipment, giving your foodie they knowledge they need to get started on their own special brew.
Culver City Home Brewing Co., 4358 1/2 Sepulveda Blvd, (310)397-3453
2. Dressed to Cook
When your cooking friend has everything from top of the line knives to copper-core pans, what are they missing for the ultimate cooking experience? The chef's garb, naturally. And as they don't actually work in a top of the line restaurant, skip the classic stiff jackets and go for something a bit more fancy. With sleek cuts, piping, and soft fabrics, the chef jackets and aprons from Shannon Reed look more like something off the fashion runway then out of a high end restaurant. Cause you know they gotta look good when cooking up a storm.
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Shannon Reed, (617)395-6685
1. Dinner at Bouchon Beverly Hills
Thomas Keller, restaurateur and chef/owner of not one, but two of the countries top restaurants, finally decided to open a outlet in Los Angeles. Reservations at Bouchon are as coveted as a seat at the Bazaar was last year. Score dinner for two, and treat your foodie to the newest haute dining spot in Los Angeles. Hey, you'll probably get to sit next to Don Johnson, if such things matter to you.
Bouchon, 235 N Canon Dr, (310) 271-9910