By Chef Domenica Catelli
Christmas is just a week away, but many of us will have parties to go to up through New Year’s Eve. Between work, family commitments and last-minute shopping, figuring out what to bring as a hostess gift can be rushed and daunting. I have a few thoughts as to how to make the gifts more personal.
*If you are bringing a bottle of wine, personalize it by signing the bottle with a metallic pen. This way, when your friends go to drink the bottle a few months down the road they will remember that it is from you.
*Print out a favorite recipe that can be paired with the wine and tie it to the neck of the bottle.
*Give the gift of flight: Tastingroom.com allows you to buy mini bottles of some wines you love and others you have never tried. They are also small enough to bring on the plane. This is an unusual and fun way to give wine.
*Extra Virgin Olive Oil: If you are in California you can find a specialty bottle from a local grower like DaVero or Dry Creek Olive Oil. Attach a favorite recipe with this. All around the country you can get a strong Italian oil like Lucini that also comes in a bottle that is pretty enough you will want to repurpose it as a kitchen soap dispenser after the oil’s gone.
*Flavored vinegars: Champagne, Fig or Cherry Balsamic, Pear…these are fun gifts to give and to get.
*Finishing salts: Most of us won’t buy these elegant salts for ourselves, but if they are gifted to us, a black or smoky salt sprinkled on top of a grilled piece of fish or a salad can add an instant blast of unusual flavor.
*Don’t be tempted by the reindeer or Santa paraphernalia that’s out there. Remember that what may be cute to you can become landfill feed to your host. Give something that they can use year round.
*A bamboo cutting board: you can never have enough food boards. You can pick up a large beautiful bamboo board for cutting, or a medium-sized one for displaying cheese and crackers. There is not much use for the smaller boards.
*Microplane: a great, easy tool that all should have for zesting lemons and limes or grating Parmesan cheese
*Heat-proof spatulas in fun colors
Until next time, stay fresh and delicious!