The holidays are here, whether you can believe it or not (yeah, it was 66 degrees yesterday, but let’s put the tree up and have pumpkin spice everything!). I know some of you are going to be looking for ideas of awesome gifts for your favorite food-lovin’ folks, so let’s do this.
First off, one of the best gifts you can give is a restaurant gift certificate! It helps support our local industry as they try to get back on their feet, and who wouldn’t love a free lunch or dinner somewhere?
Charitable donations on someone’s behalf are also so thoughtful, like SF New Deal, the SF-Marin Food Bank (give by midnight on 11/30 to have your gift matched!), and 18 Reasons (where $18 supplies a family in their Cooking Matters program with a full bag of healthy groceries!). You could also help support organizations like La Cocina, or gift a membership to 18 Reasons.
You can show your support to yours truly by purchasing a tablehopper 15-year anniversary tote bag! Carry allllll your goodies in this oversized, sturdy, natural cotton canvas fifteenth anniversary tote (this isn’t one of those flimsy cotton totes—and the gusseted bottom means it won’t tip over, even after a couple drinks, ha-ha!). Limited quantity! When it’s gone, it’s gone.
I also still have some limited stock of tablehopper vintage SF restaurant and bar tees, from t-shirt designs of the famous Blue Fox to the sassy Players Club. Thanks for showing your tablehopper love on your sleeve.
Let’s pop into my kitchen, shall we? I have been obsessed with Reem’s Spice Blends from Burlap & Barrel, and while two of the trio are sold out, the khalta hara remains, a chile spice blend I love to shake on my eggs, avocado toast, and any dips I’m munching. Magic! B&B’s site is full of awesome spices and chef collabs and gifts, check it out.
I have been loving my new sturdy cheese grater from Italy from Garrett Wade—bye bye, messy box grater that likes to eat my knuckles. Their site has all kinds of unique gifts, from vintage French paring knives (these are wonderful for trimming fruit and slicing up salumi), to all kinds of classic kitchen gear, to garden tools.
Many of you know what a dedicated espresso lover I am (read: fanatic), but I have been having such a good time taking out my phin filter and making myself a Vietnamese coffee in the afternoon, thanks to Fat Miilk (I recently brought my phin on the road for a perfect coffee in my hotel room—have phin, will caffeinate). Fat Miilk uses Robusta beans that are organic, directly traded, and ethically sourced—and Robusta reportedly has two times the caffeine and antioxidants of most beans, so get ready to launch. I have personally enjoyed their bold Blue Roast the most in their cheerful phin filter (they come in four colors!), but you can check out which roast level appeals the most, and if you want it ground or in whole beans.
Over the years, I have recommended gifting a bottle of olio nuovo (“new oil”) since it’s such a fabulous, seasonal treat (Market Hall in Rockridge usually has a great selection—and they have some fantastic holiday food gifts). But the harvest from Tuscany this year is greatly diminished, let alone any likely shipping snags and delays, so you may want to consider domestic and local olio nuovo from top producers like Séka Hills or McEvoy Ranch (preorder is limited!).
Or, you can order some well-made hemp CBD-infused olive oil from Pot d’Huile, which is beautifully packaged and on special right now! They also make Sessy sesame oil, Loud Grandma chile crisp, and Hot Sloth hot sauce, all favorites in my pantry and for chilling out. (Full disclosure: I did some website writing for them. But I really love love these products.)
Whenever I’ve had someone over to my place for drinks or a meal (or both), I’ve had fun pouring a taste of the trio of California-inspired amari from Brucato Amaro. From the chartreuse-like Chapparal, to the orangey-spicy Orchards (perfect for holiday vibes), to the dark fruity-bitter Woodlands, I love having these around for a fun tasting after dinner. Pick up a bottle (or all three) at these local stockists.
You have a friend who is stressed out (aren’t we all)? Gift them a jar of Goldmine Adaptogen Powder to dial down the UGH and be sure to point them to the awesome recipes, too. (You can also book them for a one-on-one mymilligram cannabis consultation with yours truly: 20 minutes for $40, and I’ll help suggest tailored products for sleep, pain, anxiety, and good times.)
Every bookshelf needs Black Food: Stories, Art, and Recipes from Across the African Diaspora [A Cookbook], edited by Bryant Terry. “In this stunning and deeply heartfelt tribute to Black culinary ingenuity, Bryant Terry captures the broad and divergent voices of the African Diaspora through the prism of food. With contributions from more than 100 Black cultural luminaires from around the globe, the book moves through chapters exploring parts of the Black experience, from Homeland to Migration, Spirituality to Black Future, offering delicious recipes, moving essays, and arresting artwork.” Find it at Green Apple Books, Omnivore Books, and other local booksellers. Or, the evil Amazon, if you really have to go that route.
Not Food, But Friends I wanted to give a shoutout for a few more gift ideas from my fab friends:
My dear friend of 30-plus years, Andrea Scher, has her first book coming out at the end of the month: Wonderseeker: 52 Ways to Wake Up Your Creativity and Find Your Joy, which is exactly the kind of book we need right now to help cultivate daily joy. I can attest that she is someone who can really make you see things differently.
My dear disco genie and brother from another mother, local designer Basil Racuk, just launched this new collection of four exquisite candles at his two shops in Noe Valley. Will it be Marrakech or Late Night Sessions? Magic Garden or Purple Room? Pay a sniff visit (3980 24th St.) and find out.
Just Because And lastly, since I have to transition from caftans to PJs for my work-from-home style for the winter, I want to do a mention of my favorite leopard sleep set from Printfresh. (I adore my Royal Palms PJ set, too.) They’re made with the softest, stretchiest cotton, with pockets, piping, and a comfortable waistband, all the details that count. Here’s my link for $15 off! Their nightshirts are also fab.
The tablehopper 15-year anniversary tote.