The Procrastinator’s Guide to Foodie Gifts This Holiday Season

Combining Nick Morgenstern’s love of ice cream and aesthetics, his Rivington Street parlor has dropped a 2017 “Sorbaes” calendar shot by Blaise Cepis, and flush with cheeky, ice cream-themed pin-up shots. The calendar is on sale for just $10, and the shop’s open until 9 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Plus, last-minute shopping is a great excuse to try one of Morgenstern’s new hot chocolates in flavors like white chocolate durian and Szechuan milk chocolate.

Mah Ze Dahr's "black card"
Mah Ze Dahr’s “black card”

West Village bakery Mah Ze Dahr’s mouthwatering display of chocolate chip cookies, toasted coconut bread, and brown butter blondies makes it difficult to choose just one sweet. For those who can’t, there’s MZD’s “black card.” It’s actually a numbered brass key fob, only sold in the store. The $300 chit gets you one baked good each day for a full year. Drop by the bakery on the daily, and the black card will pay for itself by Easter.

If you’re craving a savory way to stress-eat your way through Christmas Day… and/or you need a host gift, two of the area’s finest bakers are cooking up last-minute holiday loaves. Pam Yung, formerly the chef of Brooklyn’s Michelin-starred bread and veggie mecca Semilla, is only taking 50 orders before the weekend. And this Friday, Dan Richer, the chef-baker of Jersey City’s Razza Pizza Artiginale, will be repeating his Thanksgiving run of wood-fired onion breads, available at the restaurant from 5:30 p.m. onward.

Contemporary artist and Canadian-New Yorker Chloe Wise just published her first self-titled monograph featuring still lifes, portraits, and sculptures that challenge the way women and food are portrayed — in both art history and modern consumer culture. While the book won’t see wide release until the new year, the hardcover edition is available now for $60 through Exhibition A.

If you’re looking for an arty gift that’s easier to swallow — and you don’t mind buying into both art history and modern consumer culture — there’s no shortage of limited-edition booze collaborations this holiday season. Fashion world favorite tattoo artist Scott Campbell etched out this year’s artist’s holiday edition bottle of Hennessy, while the German artist Michael Riedel gave Dom Perignon’s 2006 Vintage an op art makeover.

Silent little mice from L.A. Burdick
Silent little mice from L.A. Burdick

Because the night before Christmas is always better with a silent mouse, visit the new Spring Street location of New Hampshire chocolatier L.A. Burdick. You won’t find these little “mice” trashing your cousin’s advent calendar; on the contrary, these cinnamon, orange, and mocha flavored treats will melt in your mouth. Want something that lasts longer than a single bite? Sniff out their cardamom and vanilla-scented holiday stollen guaranteed to stay fresh into 2017.

Nothing whispers utilitarian elegance like a chambray kitchen apron from New York fashion designer Todd Snyder. The longtime ABC Cocina customer is a huge fan of the restaurant’s former chef Dan Kluger. $98 buys you this durable-chic kitchen staple which the two men created together for Kluger’s newly opened Greenwich Village restaurant, Loring Place.

If your loved one’s uniform is a Supreme tee shirt — and whatever they’re getting for Christmas without a box logo is getting sold on eBay and spent on next Thursday’s drop — they probably live on a diet of instant ramen. And what do you know, the Lafayette Street retailer’s got just the thing for that, too. Pick up one of this season’s hottest sold-out releases, a logo ramen bowl, from the resellers at Grailed. No, they won’t have it on Christmas day, but at least your loved one won’t have to wait in line on Lafayette Street until it arrives.


Lovin’ From the Oven: Valentine’s Day Treats From NYC Bakeries

There are plenty of ways to indulge your sweetie this Valentine’s Day weekend in NYC (and let’s not forget the uncoupled), but there are few better gifts than the ones that include a little sugar. Here are some delectables from local bakeries to please the sweet tooth in your life:

There are enough Magnolia Bakery outposts in the city (and beyond) these days that paying a visit to one of them should be quick and painless. Cupcake mania might very well be on the wane, but you have to admit that a personal-size cake is an intimate gift. This year, Magnolia’s festively decorated choices include devil’s food or fresh strawberry cakes topped with chocolate ganache, and chocolate, vanilla, or red velvet cakes lathered with a choice of chocolate or vanilla buttercream and scripted with a nostalgic sentiment ($3.75 each).

Kamel Saci's heart-shaped baguettes
Kamel Saci’s heart-shaped baguettes

Over the past year, il Buco Alimentari (53 Great Jones Street; 212-837-2622) baker Kamel Saci has been busy building a serious bread program. For the February 14 weekend, Saci will be in a slightly more playful mood, baking heart-shaped baguettes, available in plain and Parmesan. But it’s the chocolate version we’re after, which Saci calls the “Mon Cheri,” studded with amaretto-soaked cherries. Each of the breads is five dollars and will be available at the shop Saturday and Sunday.

"True Love" shortbread cookies
“True Love” shortbread cookies

Breads Bakery
 (18 East 16th Street/1890 Broadway; 212-633-2253) makes more than a few of our favorite sweet things, and the holiday specials are just as tempting as their everyday fare. We like the charming simplicity of shortbread cookies with icing ($10.95 for an assortment), but head over to the bakery’s original Union Square location or the newly opened one in Lincoln Center and you’ll also find marzipan hearts filled with pastry cream and fresh raspberries, and chocolate bread with dark-chocolate chips.

Conversation hearts eclairs, made by Pâtissière Jennifer Yee
Conversation hearts eclairs, made by Pâtissière Jennifer Yee

Jennifer Yee Pastry, the jewel-box counter inside Lafayette (380 Lafayette Street; 212-533-3000), is worth frequenting any time of year for its array of gorgeous French pastries, cookies, and cakes. For V-Day, Yee will be tweaking her signature eclairs, which are filled with vanilla cream and raspberry jam, with strawberry glaze and conversation-heart candy decals (3 for $18). Also, look for her “Blue Valentine” eclairs (filled with chocolate) and a boxed assortment of six macarons decorated with holiday messages ($17). The collection is available for pre-order as well, at the bakery’s online shop.


Five NYC Chocolatiers to Hit Up for Valentine’s Day


If Willy Wonka were a New Yorker, he’d be proud that the city is now home to a cadre of chocolatiers who are crafting sophisticated sweets out of the magical cocoa bean. Over the last decade, NYC has become a chocolate destination. We have a decadent array of chocolates to choose from, all made right here — from milk to dark, with inventive fillings and creamy ganache coatings. We’ve picked a few must-tries, from old-school to new, just in time for Valentine’s Day:

Chocolat Moderne (27 West 20th Street #904; 212-229-4797)
Tucked away in a nondescript Flatiron office building, this shop features chocolates that pop with flavor and originality. Joan Coukos Todd, a former banker who became a chocolatier after a trip to Belgium, came up with a collection especially for February 14th, which includes white and pink color-swirled hearts that look like rose petals. Fillings for the dark, milk, and white chocolate assortment include Tuthilltown Spirits Hudson Baby Bourbon, passion-fruit-cardamom caramel, and raspberry Madagascan ganache. Todd also refined a “Kimono” collection that features Japanese-inspired truffles flavored with shiso-lime, persimmon, and peach. Everything in this store tastes like love.

Dried flower–infused chocolate bars from Raaka
Dried flower–infused chocolate bars from Raaka

(64 Seabring Street, Brooklyn; 855-255-3354)
Since 2010, this Red Hook–based chocolate factory has been making bars using unroasted cacao, which the owners say imparts a greater range of the bean’s flavor. The bars are infused with ingredients like coconut milk, cask-aged bourbon, and maple. Raaka’s First Nibs subscription service sends out three bars (with tasting notes) every month for $24.95 — two limited-edition flavors and one classic. February’s bars are strewn with edible dried flowers: chamomile-lavender and rose-jasmine.

An assortment of chocolate sins
An assortment of chocolate sins

(online only; 718-788-0200)
Tumbador’s line of premium classic chocolates, overseen by the expertise of Jean-François Bonnet, the company’s French born-and-trained chef, far surpasses the fancy packaging and marketing craze of other Brooklyn chocolate makers (we’re not naming names). The peanut butter and jelly bar elevates all-American flavors with raspberry pâte de fruit and crisp peanut praline, which are sandwiched in dark chocolate and dusted with raspberry powder. Try the Seven Deadly Sins Repent or Rebel boxes for the holiday — both are filled with the same truffles so it just depends on which sentiment you need to express. The sinful bonbons include: goat’s milk dulce de leche with salt (Sloth); white chocolate with passion fruit ganache (Envy); and pomegranate juice, pomegranate liquor, and molasses (Lust).

Jacques Torres (various locations)
Torres, a/k/a Mr. Chocolate, has nine stores in New York City and sales in the double-digit millions. It’s an empire built on all things chocolate, from a spiced mix for drinking to chocolate-covered Cheerios. The French pastry chef is offering some naughty treats for the holiday. For Fifty Shades of Grey lovers, try the “Spank Me” chocolate hearts. There’s also an “edible kissing game,” a 25-piece assorted box that promises satisfaction all around.

Li-Lac Chocolates (various locations)
The oldest chocolate shop in Manhattan, opened in 1923 by a Greek immigrant, encompasses the best of both worlds — old-fashioned gooey sweets and refined presentation. The store recently moved its production to Sunset Park in Brooklyn, where visitors can now see the Lucille Ball–style assembly line for themselves. For V-day check out the store’s old-school heart boxes, packed with SweeTARTS conversation hearts in bright colors, chocolate nonpareils, and chocolate-covered Oreos.


The Boozy Holiday Gift Guide, 2015 Edition

For all the supposed joy of the holiday season, gift shopping can bring out the Grinch in the best of us. Regardless of how well you think you know your friends and loved ones, that perfect item remains stubbornly elusive. Your dad clearly doesn’t need another tie, and a gift card to the iTunes store is far too impersonal to carry any lasting significance.

But there’s a simple solution: booze. It’s fun to shop for, everyone loves getting it, and it’s readily available all across town. It also runs the gamut of pricing, so you can land on an appropriate bottle for naughty and nice alike. Here’s a look at some stocking stuffers this winter to please everyone from casual acquaintance to devoted spouse. Invest appropriately, and you might even end up turning the former into the latter.

Like most brown liquors, Cognac is enjoying a renaissance in New York. The double-distilled grape spirit from southern France is turning up in more cocktails, while it continues to reveal its virtue and accessibility as a soulful sipping beverage. There’s also some damn good deals to be had from quality producers. Celebrating its 250th anniversary this year, Hennessy unleashed a collector’s edition release that retailed at $650 a bottle. It flew off the shelves. The elegant expression, packaged accordingly, is befitting of a loved one. But if you’re shopping for a co-worker, or a semi-decent friend, the brand offers their VS Holiday Gift Box at a far more affordable pricepoint. The juice inside, aged for at least two years in French oak, will surely deceive the gifted into thinking you spent at least double the $32 it commands at most liquor stores.

At a similar price, Hochstadter’s Vatted Straight Rye Whiskey is a veritable steal. The blend incorporates grain spirit from across North America, much of which fetches a statelier sum when packaged in prettier bottles. Don’t fall for the hype — it’s what inside that counts. And the rye lovers in your life will surely appreciate Cooper Spirits’ mixture of slightly spicy stock, ranging from four to 15 years in age. A throwback label imbues the gift with a nostalgic edge, best appreciated by seasoned drinkers. Give this one to dad — or grandma, if she’s a badass.

While nobody wants coal in their stocking, Scotch lovers wouldn’t necessarily mind a similar flavor profile in their whisky bottle. Oblige them with Bowmore Small Batch Single Malt. It’s a meditation on bourbon-like tones of oak and vanilla, peered through the peat bogs of the Scottish isles. Straddling that chasm between smoky and sweet, it exists as a sensible Scotch for bourbon aficionados. Best of all, it sits on the shelf at the inviting price of $40 a bottle. A tremendous value for any single malt scotch, particularly one arriving in any easily wrap-able gift box.

Beer, too, can be a thoughtful present. Though a six pack of Coors Light might be pushing it, craft beer connoisseurs in your circle are likely clamoring for something a bit more exclusive. Seek out the 2015 editions of the Bourbon County Brand Stouts, from Goose Island. Aged for a year in ex-bourbon barrels, these heavy-hitting dark ales upwards of 10% in ABV, age beautifully, and are always in high demand after their annual release, the day after Thanksgiving. Here in the city, you’ll be able to find the original stout, as well as the Barleywine, and coffee-infused variations at most high-end bottle shops. They’ll typically range from $10-15 a pop, so you won’t be too intimidated to secure the entire set. Thick on the tongue, with lingering notes of vanilla, caramel, and roasted cocoa, it’s dessert disguised as beer.

If you’re looking for something seasonally-inspired to bring to an upcoming holiday party, Brooklyn Brewery and Captain Lawrence Brewing out of Westchester, each produce their own take on a Winter Ale. Brooklyn’s is a take on a scotch-style beer, with creamy notes of caramelized malt. Captain Lawrence’s is a solid example of a winter warmer, brewed with tongue-tingling spices reminiscent of nutmeg and clove. Both beers are in bottle throughout the city, retailing at under $12 a six pack.

If you want to make your gift a bit more immersive, The New York Beer and Brewery Tour is just the ticket. For $115, attendees get a four-hour adventure highlighting a few of the best brewpubs and beer bars of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. Beer, food tastings, and  transportation are included.

For something a bit more playful, if not far more expensive, the Whisky Advent Calendar from Master of Malt is a welcome surprise. The 24 day countdown to Christmas is honored with two dozen, wax-sealed 3cl drams of single malt, each hidden behind their own cardboard window. The set, available for $188 online, includes an exclusive 50-year-old Scotch, Japanese whisky, and other rarities, some of which go for as much as $500 in full bottle format. If you haven’t ordered it already, fret not, whisky lovers will surely have little problem playing catchup to arrive at the proper day of the calendar. Alternatively, you could enjoy them all on Christmas, to make your in-laws that much more tolerable.

Dom Perignon Luminous Collection
Dom Perignon Luminous Collection

No alcohol crams as much festivity into the bottle as bubbly. And the world’s most renowned Champagne brand has packaged something special this winter to light up the lives of your loved ones. Dom Perignon’s Luminous Collection includes a ten year old vintage, branded with it’s own backlit label, available in several colors. The $250 bottle isn’t overly extravagant, and it expertly navigates the thin line between classy and flashy. Plus, there’s the added bonus that whomever your gifting it to might pop it open in your presence. A gift that keeps on giving. Even after the bottle runs out, it still makes a radiant mantle piece. The glowing glass is now only offered on-premise, but Shoppers Wines in Union, New Jersey is currently offering a limited allotment on discount for December. Easier on the wallet is Veuve Cliquot Brut’s holiday gift bag. The special packaging includes a space to sign and dedicate the offering, and the water resistant packaging doubles as a makeshift ice box.



Gift Guide 2015: Holiday Shopping Ideas for Food-Obsessed New Yorkers

With Hanukkah already lighting up the calendar and December 25 bearing down like Buster Poindexter behind the wheel of a Checker cab, time’s running out to stuff the stockings of the New Yorkers on your list who envy the five pounds of veal Frank Cross found under the tree in Scrooged.

To make their miracles happen, we’ve haunted the city’s best culinary pop-ups, websites, and shops for Nordic cookbooks and bottled cocktails, handcrafted chests of chocolate and automated nut milkers — all of them as appetizing in Christmas wrapping and tinsel as butcher paper and bakery twine.

Sure, the Soho bookstore stocks this year’s top recipe tomes, from Magnus Nilsson’s whale-braising manual, The Nordic Cookbook, to The Food Lab, J. Kenji López-Alt’s manual for better eating through chemistry, but what separates McNally Jackson (52 Prince Street, 212-274-1160) from its more noble competition is a bounty of hard-to-find foodie periodicals, like feminist quarterly Render and the stylish Spanish Tapas, that make flying home for the holidays so much more bearable when you’re delayed on the runway.


While seeing a Starbucks shutter is a gift in its own right, its outpost on the corner of Union Square West has just been replaced by the Food52 Holiday Market (41 Union Square West, no phone). Open until December 20, the online cooking community’s real-world pop-up stocks culinary quirkiness like raw-pine Pieboxes, pancake-flavored Minocqua popcorn, gently used Food Network props, and a schedule of special events from book signings to pie-latticing workshops.

Gustiamo (1715 West Farms Road, Bronx; 718-860-2949) is the place for small-production Italian specialties you can’t find anywhere else, all carefully sourced and imported to the company’s wholesale warehouse in the Bronx. Owner Beatrice Ughi and her small, dedicated team make frequent trips to Italy, ensuring each producer is staying true to Ughi’s high standards. This year, Gustiamo put together a variety of themed gift boxes, which can be rustically packaged in crates salvaged from the city’s produce markets. Find them online, or in person — every Saturday through December Gustiamo is opening its warehouse doors to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Karen Tedesco)

Gwyneth Paltrow brings Goop Mrkt (10 Columbus Circle, no phone) to the Shops at Columbus Circle at the Time Warner Center through Christmas Eve. Fans of the lifestyle guru’s ascetic indulgences can enjoy Chalait’s green-tea lattes by day and Dewar’s by night while perusing Soyabella nut milk makers, Staub cocottes, and custom-wrapped copies of Thug Kitchen.

If you’ve ever had to settle for a hightop table in the front room at Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria (53 Great Jones Street, 212-837-2622), you know too well the temptations of the deli cases, countertops, and breadbaskets piled high with Umbrian flavor. Stock up on house-label olive oils (which can be refilled behind the counter), perfect for pairing with head baker Kamel Saci’s country loaves, or resist all temptation with an already bowed-up pain d’épices. Impossible to resist? You can also opt for packaging you can eat through, like pastry chef Genevieve Meli’s wood-grained chocolate box of chocolates.

DUMBO’s keeps an ear to the ground all around the country for the best regional purveyors in every major food group, including chunky half-pound fruit and nut bars from Los Angeles’ Valerie Confections, Tuscan salami from Portland, Oregon’s Olympia Provisions, bottled Saratoga cocktails from Fluid Dynamics, and Chicago bar snacks like Bee’s Knees chipotle-lime peanuts. Even better, there’s same-day delivery in the city, perfect for homesick visitors who don’t like anything New York has to offer, except for everything they’ve ever wanted from their own kitchen.

Filling the void left by Ruby et Violette, and in all their customers’ bellies, Schmackary’s (362 West 45th Street, 646-801-9866) sates Hell’s Kitchen’s bakery cravings with eight daily cookies both chewy and eclectic. Even better, Schmackary’s is open late, so when the lights go out on Broadway it’s not too late to fill a tin with a dozen of its seasonal variations, like cream-cheese-frosted dark-chocolate Dirty Peppermint, cinnamon-dusted eggnog, and the place’s classic Super C, which studs a sea-salted chocolate chipper with holiday M&Ms.

Astor Wines (399 Lafayette Street, 212-674-7500) is downtown Manhattan’s unofficial party supply warehouse for a reason, and this season it’s stocked with new and exclusive holiday bottles smoky, fizzy, and fruitful, like Tamworth Distilling’s tamarind cordial (probably the first liqueur ever inspired by nineteenth-century naturalist Alexander von Humboldt), Compass Box’s coveted fifteenth-anniversary expression of its Flaming Heart scotch, and Champagne for day and night like Nicolas Feuillatte’s Land of Wonders and Taittinger Nocturne.

Ample Hills Creamery (305 Nevins Street, Brooklyn; 347-725-4061) solves the problem of how to stay up while binge-watching the last six — er, three — chapters of the Star Wars saga. Order a four-pack of pints in flavors like the marshmallow Light Side, studded with the dark forces of cocoa crispies, and the espresso chocolate Dark Side, lightened with white chocolate pearls. Sure, the movie’s out before Christmas Day, but it’s not like whoever’s receiving this isn’t going to see it again.

Looking for smoked salmon and a smoking gun? Head to Soho’s flagship Dean & DeLuca (560 Broadway, 212-226-6800), where every pantry provision from Siberian caviar to walnut cutting boards look as cinematic as the white-aproned fromagers and charcuterists immortalized on screen in Basquiat and The Night We Never Met.

The Museum of Food and Drink, a/k/a MOFAD (62 Bayard Street, Brooklyn; 718-387-2845), has a lot more to offer artful gourmandizers than MoMA’s still lifes of Wayne Thiebaud’s cakes or Michael Anthony’s edible re-creations of them at the Whitney. And if the opening exhibition, “Flavor: Making It and Faking It,” isn’t engaging enough, package it with tickets to Dominique Ansel’s January chocolate sauce workshop.

BKLYN Larder (228 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn; 718-783-1250) is stocked with screen-printed sandwich art good enough to eat alongside every outer-borough condiment in history worthy of a smear, from A. Bauer’s horseradish mustard to Sam Mason’s sriracha-hot Empire mayonnaise.

Where do you find a hand-formed terracotta tureen by Astier de Villatte topped off with a white glazed Snoopy? ABC Carpet & Home (888 Broadway, 212-473-3000), which is also the place to find what to stew inside it. And in-house restaurant ABC Kitchen offers an annual ABCSA which every summer delivers ten weeks of the same organic Hudson Valley grass-fed meats, eggs, cheese, and vegetables used by the restaurant.



Gift Guide 2014: 20 Holiday Gifts for Food-Obsessed New Yorkers

Food-obsessed New Yorkers of a certain age may still long for Bud Fox’s pasta maker in Wall Street, but for friends and relatives more Hannah Horvath than Daryl Hannah, we’ve scoured the city, assembling a score of delectable items guaranteed to impress on one night or eight.


1. Supreme Box Logo Espresso Cups ($12)
It’s no surprise Lafayette Street skateboard campsite Supreme has love for espresso: the baristas next door at La Colombe frequently don the shop’s gear. Now Supreme’s literally putting its iconic box logo where its mouth is with this single-shot demitasse, perfect for the brand’s thirstiest fans.

2. Boxhead Shiraz from Astor Wines ($11.99)
This southern Australian red is the only bottle Astor Wines’ website recommends you pair with kale. This should be enough information to help you make up your mind.

3. Bookmarc X Undercover GILApple Light ($250)
There’s nothing more New York than Marc Jacobs (sorry, Taylor Swift!), so be your new dorm-mate’s beaming ambassador with this taxi yellow big apple lamp with an old school cab headlight, on sale at the designer’s Bleecker Street bookshop.

4. Rookie Yearbook Three ($29.95)
Couldn’t get your kid sister tickets to Tavi’s star turn in This Is Our Youth? Instead, gift her the teenage wunderkind’s Rookie Yearbook Three, which includes this cut-out pizza pennant from food-obsessed local illustrator Monica Ramos.

5. Spodee Moonshine Wine from Brotherhood Winery ($7.99)
This milk-bottled moonshine looks as wholesome as your family on Christmas morning, and it couldn’t be more necessary by the time you’ve all finished dinner. Just know you’ll have to skip town to fetch a bottle — while the Prohibition Era recipe’s distilled in New York, the only place to find it in-state is on site at Brotherhood Winery in Washingtonville.

6. The 212 Collection from Fishs Eddy ($4.95-$47.80)
The only thing more offensive than the 9/11 Museum selling memorial cheese plates was the Port Authority’s attempt to cease and desist with Fish’s Eddy’s 212 dishware. Before you’re hit with the next Metrocard increase, treat your favorite party host to a platter sporting some of the city’s most iconic Subway fare-funded architecture.

7. Soylent Starter Kit ($25)
It’s about nourishment while coding, but this two-liter gift set of Soylent’s powdered nourishment’s also the perfect gift for anyone opening up a PS4 on Christmas morning with no plans to press pause through New Year’s Eve.

8. May Sun’s Untitled (Four Napkins) from the MoMA Sto ($150)
Convince your friend who just jetted back from Instagramming Art Basel that these limited edition silkscreened linens are really an interactive art installation sure to disrupt their next dinner party.

9. Mike’s Hot Honey ($10)
Your partner’s kitchen doesn’t have the discipline of David Chang’s, and no one’s wiped down that bottle of Sriracha in the fridge since it was factory sealed. Now’s the time to replace it with this year’s chile-est condiment, which works as well on pizza as it does on ice cream — and you, if they still need some convincing.

10. Mike Mills’ Pill Print Boxer Shorts from Sleepy Jones ($49)
The next best thing to Berocca when it comes to curing a hangover is waking up in clean underwear, so whatever sent your bae to bed in a daze, leave them waking up in a fresh pair of undies, which double as a gentle reminder to take some aspirin, too.

11. Christina Kelly’s Greek Coffee Cups from the New Museum ($45)
The city’s Greek coffee shops and their classic Anthora cups, which date back to 1963, may soon be history, so don’t miss the opportunity to make them a permanent part of someone’s collection. These limited edition 10-packs designed by Brooklyn artist Christina Kelly flip the cup’s original sentiment, and feature a graphic depiction of Greek affection as old as time.

12. Ferrero Pocket Coffee from Buon Italia ($4.35)
It takes a stack of Dunkin Donuts gift cards to stuff a stocking, so go old school with these retro-packaged caffeinated chocolate imports from Buon Italia at Chelsea Market, where a five pack of the candies costs less than the price of your dignity ordering a Coolatta.

13. Five-Pound Box of Thaan Charcoal from Pok Pok ($8)
You know who really deserves coal for Christmas? Anyone who appreciates the char of Andy Ricker’s Thai-style Pok Pok-brand fruit wood briquettes provide. Also: Anyone who doesn’t appreciate them.

14. Christmas Cereal from Dominique Ansel ($15.50)
What beats lining up for a Cronut on Christmas morning? Knowing someone cared enough to visit the Spring Street bakery in your stead, so you can crunch on a bowl of the pastry chef’s breakfast fix loaded with caramelized milk chocolate Rice Krispies, toasted hazelnuts, and meringues.

15. Walking Petit Four by Laurie Simmons from Artspace ($2000)
What to get the girl who has everything and eats cupcakes in her bathtub? This limited edition print signed by Lena Dunham’s mom, Laurie Simmons.

16. Pizza Underground Tote Bag ($15)
Nothing’s more Christmas than Macaulay Culkin, and nothing’s more pizza than Culkin’s pizza-themed Velvet Underground cover band Pizza Underground. If you missed scoring some merch at the Home Aloner’s Bowery Ballroom show last week, you can place an order seamlessly from the act’s new Etsy shop.

17. The Sundae Toolbox from Jeni’s at Gansevoort Market ($36)
Perfect for anyone who’s ever worn an Ohio State jersey to Santacon, you can now pick up this three-pack of Columbus’s most beloved ice cream toppings from the scoop shop’s new Meatpacking outpost.

18. Chateau D’estoublon Oil and Vinegar Table Set from Ideal Cheese ($46.95)
Know someone whose perfume is even heavier than they are? They’ll love scenting their greens with this haute duo of organic extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar spritzers

19. Jeff Koons Jigsaw Puzzle from the Whitney Museum ($38)
Exclusive to the Whitney, the pop artist’s 204-piece homage to the Trix Rabbit should keep your kids busy until the museum’s new building opens next May.

20. Will Cotton Wrapping Paper from RX Art ($15)
We can’t wrap our guide for the year until your last gift’s under the tree, so seal these deals with the confection painter’s insatiable wrapping paper. Fair warning, your loved ones may fail to admire it if their appetite for the season’s anything like ours.


Gift Guide 2014: Five Best NYC-Based Cookbooks for the Holidays

If there’s someone in your life that’s looking to polish up their cooking skills, or even just boil water, a good cookbook can guide them along the way. So give them the gift of empowerment via a book. From cocktail recipes and carnivorous tomes to dessert canons and guides for beginners, here are the five best recently released cookbooks, from NYC-based authors, to purchase for the holidays.

For the Beginner: How to Cook Everything Fast: A Better Way to Cook Great Food, by Mark Bittman

A follow up to his original How to Cook Everything, Bittman’s latest volume focuses on — you guessed it — preparing food quickly. The New York Times food writer has taken 2,000 recipes and has broken them down into steps aimed at getting dinner on the table in 15, 30, or 45 minutes. Recipes range from chicken parmesan to spanakopita, from spaghetti and drop meatballs with tomato sauce to cheddar waffles with bacon maple syrup to apple crumble under the broiler. It’s great for beginners or anyone looking to speed up their dinner game.

For the Carnivore: The New Charcuterie Cookbook: Exceptional Cured Meats to Make and Serve at Home, by Jamie Bissonnette

A northeastern champion of nose-to-tail cuisine, Bissonnette is widely hailed for his charcuterie skills — he’s also picked-up the James Beard Award for “Best Chef: Northeast.”
In his first cookbook, the chef/owner of Toro NYC breaks down the mighty pig (and other animals) into all its parts and teaches readers to make something delicious — there’s even a recipe for headcheese. The book is perfect for anyone obsessed with meat (or strange animal bits).

For the Sweets-Lover: Sugar Rush: Master Tips, Techniques, and Recipes for Sweet Baking, by Johnny Iuzzini and Wes Martin

Several great pastry publications were released this year, but for those looking to really understand the ins-and-outs of sweet treats, this one sits at the top of the list. It includes more than 250 photographs highlighting step-by-step instructions on how to make the James Beard award winning chef’s recipes from bitter orange ice cream and blackberry souffle to salted caramels and olive oil sponge cake. The volume explains desserts to novices while expanding the repertoire of recipes for more advanced practitioners of pastry.

For the Cocktail Geek: Death & Co: Modern Classic Cocktails, with More than 500 Recipes, by David Kaplan, Alex Day, and Nick Fauchald

For anyone interested in mixology, this treatise is a step inside the doors of one of the world’s most highly acclaimed cocktail bars. Designed to feel like the actual place, Death & Co. is beautifully laid-out with stunning photographs and personal stories from partners David Kaplan and Alex Day — it also highlights regulars and their favorite drinks. With notes on cocktail theory, spirits, detailed instructions, and more than 500 recipes, including the innovative Oaxaca Old-Fashioned, it’s sure to enhance any home bar program. Plus, it just looks pretty.

For the Locavore: America — Farm to Table: Simple, Delicious Recipes Celebrating Local Farmers, by Mario Batali and Jim Webster

As Italian fare’s unofficial ambassador, Batali is obviously into letting ingredients do the talking — that’s what the boot-shaped nation is all about. In his latest edition, however, he’s bringing it stateside by hailing the good old U.S.A. and its domestic bounty. The celebrity chef calls upon top toques across the country to find out more about their favorite farmers; Batali, then, tells their story. With over 100 recipes made from ingredients sourced around the county, this book aims to get readers out to the farmers market and back into the kitchen.


DIY: Cranberry Orange Relish Redux

So the Big Meal is almost upon us. You’re a Thanksgiving house guest and you haven’t even prepared a dish to bring?! Of course not. Because procrastination is as American as Turkey Day itself. I know what you were thinking; just pick up a cheap bottle of wine or a six pack from the local bodega on the way. But you’re better than that. Here’s a last second dish that involves five minutes with a Cuisinart and a few ingredients that you possibly already have in your refrigerator. No fuss, no muss: Cranberry-Orange Relish Redux.

First, a few words about this seductive side dish. Cranberry-Orange Relish is so full of awesome, we can’t even begin to describe it. It highlights literally every other food on the Thanksgiving table. You want a bite of dark meat, white meat, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans? All of it, tastier with a smattering of the tart, sweet stuff on top. Heck, we’ll eat it anytime of year. We don’t need to wait for a special occasion. If you’re suffering from a random mid-day craving, the Cinnamon Snail Food Truck–famous for their vegan fare and creme brûlée donuts–makes a mean rendition atop their Thanksgiving-inspired seitan sandwich.

But this dish is simple enough to be masterfully executed by anyone with opposable thumbs. Now’s the part of a ‘how-to’ where you’d generally read a recipe. That’s what’s so genius about Cranberry-Orange Relish: no recipe needed. Just take out a few oranges, quarter them and throw in, like, a small carton of cranberries, add some brown sugar, maybe a few pecans and some orange juice and just start blending. Everything is made to taste. If it’s too tart, add more brown sugar. If it’s too sweet, more cranberries. The only advice we can offer with certainty is that you shouldn’t over-process, because it’s nice to have noticeable shards of zest and berry for textural significance.

So what are you waiting for? Snatch the dusty, old Cuisinart from under your kitchen cabinet and snap to it. Your value as a house guest is about to increase dramatically. Enjoy your Thanksgiving — and don’t say we never did anything for you.



Where to Buy Local on Cyber Monday

Fork in the Road is publishing a series of local gift guides this year — one from each regular contributor. Up first, this list from Billy Lyons.

The time has come to secure your swivel chair, break open a browser, and spend the entirety of your lunch hour (and possibly more) clicking “buy item” without remorse. Though the idea of Cyber Monday may seem impersonal, it’s actually the perfect chance to try out some amazing local products made right here in New York. Some you might want to read. Some you might want to use. And others? Well some gifts are just meant to be unwrapped and eaten immediately. Here’s a look at five unique holiday gift purveyors I’ll be patronizing this year — each of which may make you think twice about going for that flat screen in the window.

Pat LaFrieda's got plenty of sausage and burgers ready to go
Pat LaFrieda’s got plenty of sausage and burgers ready to go

Pat LaFrieda

The butcher with New York’s most famous burger blend, LaFrieda has released a new line of sausages in collaboration with Food Network host Andrew Zimmern for those of you who know people who like to start off Christmas morning with breakfast in bed. Options include cheddar bratwurst, sweet Italian, chorizo jalapeno, and chicken apple sausage. All of the sausages come pre-cooked and range from $48 to $82 depending on how many pounds you’re planning to eat — er, gift. There’s also a full line-up of dry-aged prime beef as well as burgers, with a Cyber Monday special on the original burger blend that nets you 16 five-ounce patties for $34.99.

A Caribbean hot pepper sauce should put you in a festive spirit
A Caribbean hot pepper sauce should put you in a festive spirit

Bacchanal Pepper Sauce

Have friends and relatives that won’t be heading to the islands for a post-Christmas holiday? Console them with Caribbean hot sauce. Bacchanal sauce, a hot pepper sauce that’s popular throughout the islands, has made its way online courtesy of owner and Brooklyn chef Sonya Samuel; her mix is a combination of tamarind, ginger, pineapple, and plenty of hot peppers among other ingredients (all of which are 100 percent natural). A two-ounce bottle retails for $4.95, and a five-ounce bottle can be purchased for $10.95. Gift packages available could help you stock up on sauce — or enter a lot of chili competitions in the new year.

The Mast brothers have a new cookbook out this season if you've got a baker in the family
The Mast brothers have a new cookbook out this season if you’ve got a baker in the family

Mast Brothers Chocolate

If the holidays are the only time of year you can get away with eating sweets, the Mast Brothers are offering something new this year in addition their artfully wrapped bars (though you can still pick up a gift set starting at $40. The bearded brothers have released their first cookbook, Mast Brothers Chocolate: A Family Cookbook, which details a variety of dishes you can make like pan-seared scallops with cocoa nibs. Get the book on Amazon, and take advantage of Cyber Monday discounts.

Like pie? Purchase a class at Pie Corps and dessert is set for life
Like pie? Purchase a class at Pie Corps and dessert is set for life

Pie Corps

Give someone the gift of knowledge this season and reap the benefits at the dinner table (or at least avoid talking politics). Pie Corps runs a series of classes that cover topics like how to make a firm pie crust, what sweet pies you’ll need in your arsenal, and how to trade in your standard cocktail shrimp for some savory pie appetizers. Sessions start at $70 and are held at the store’s Greenpoint location. Of course, if you’re not into the whole educational aspect, you can just pick a pie to go.

Gin lovers can restock a relative's bar thanks to New York Distilling Company
Gin lovers can restock a relative’s bar thanks to New York Distilling Company

New York Distilling Company

When you’re stumped on what to give, booze is an excellent fall-back. Thankfully, New York is home to a bounty of beautiful distilleries, and this one features a good selection to make sure your present goes over well (or that your holiday party is epic). I’m a fan of the gin — and there are three varieties here. For the traditionalist, there’s Perry’s Tot Navy Strength Gin, a concoction with 57 percent ABV that might just halt table conversation. Dorothy Parker American gin features a mix of juniper, cinnamon, and hibiscus. Finally, the distillery’s Chief Gowanus batch is based off an old recipe that makes rye whiskey into a Holland gin that sits in an oak barrel for three months. You can head over to the distillery’s onsite bar The Shanty to peruse the selection while you drink, or you can buy through various New York retailers like Drink Up NY.


The Best Food Gifts for Valentine’s Day, No Edible Panties!

Did you leave it till the last minute? Well it’s not too late to buy one of these gifts for the food lover(s) in your life, ranging from $20 to $50:

A box of chocolates is still the perfect Valentine’s Day gift, but you won’t score any points with trashy, gloop-filled truffles on plastic trays. Justine Pringle’s hand-dipped caramels at Brooklyn’s Nunu’s are a great standby (12/$20) with a wonderfully chewy texture and dark caramel with just a touch of smoke. Not ready for that kind of commitment? Check out Robert’s appraisal of the cheesy heart-shaped boxes in every drugstore this week.


Luxardo’s marasco cherries are dark, dense orbs, ideal for classic cocktail-making (or deluxe snacking; try them with a scoop of vanilla ice cream). They’re sweet but full of flavor, and far more sophisticated than the tasteless hot-pink maraschinos that used to bob around in your Shirley Temples. The cherries can be hard to find, but Court Street Grocers has them in stock this week ($20/jar).


There’s something quite cheeky about offering someone you like a hunk of culatello, a glorious salami made from the pig’s upper thighs. Find a good piece from Salumeria Biellese at Murray’s.


You don’t have to be a high roller to enjoy fish eggs. Buy trout roe (125g/$35) or salmon roe (125g/$25) from Russ and Daughters, and enjoy them simply with crème fraîche on toast and a bottle of cold vodka. Years from now, when you’re dropping $1,000 on the good stuff and licking it off mother-of-pearl spoons, you’ll remember this fondly.


This collection is edited by poet Kevin Young (you might have seen his sexy poem, Leftovers, as part of the subway’s Poetry in Motion series) The Hungry Ear, Poems of Food and Drink ($25) is a slim book full of classic and contemporary food-inspired poetry, from Adrienne Rich on onions, to Elizabeth Alexander on butter. Read them out loud.


I love the work of Vera Balyura, a Ukrainian jeweler based in the East Village. Her strange, beautiful collection includes a brass ring decorated with a wee pig ($48). It’s perfect for the omnivorous food lover: The ring is delicate, but the pig looks like a legit, paunchy heritage type.


Forget all that aphrodisiac nonsense. Fresh oysters are always a good way to start a meal, and if you don’t already know how to open one, don’t be frightened away. Walrus and Carpenter delivers to the city and offers a free shucking lesson when you pick them up, or you can direct your questions to an oyster expert at Wild Edibles. (A basic oyster knife with a thick plastic handle will only set you back an extra $10.)