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Dec 20, 2011 5 min read

The tablehopper's Last-Minute, Food Lover's Holiday Shopping Guide

The tablehopper's Last-Minute, Food Lover's Holiday Shopping Guide
Everything you need to know, it’s right here.
Table of Contents

Yo yo yo and ho ho ho! Have you finished your holiday shopping? I know, I haven’t either. Just in case you’re stumped on what to get the gourmand in your life, I have a few last-minute holiday gift ideas for you that are quick and fabulous. Let’s do this.

How about my book?! Duh! And it’s less than $20. You can get a signed copy of The Tablehopper’s Guide to Dining and Drinking in San Francisco in my online store (I’m around this week, so we could even arrange a pick-up time), or you can swing by so many fabulous local bookstores who carry it. Buy local, and support your local author! We all thank you.

I was at the Arlequin annual Champagne party a couple weeks ago and was introduced to the maker of this amazing Metro Wine Map of France, David Gissen. For anyone trying to figure out the geography of the French wine regions, you will totally dig this map. It’s so clever and cool to look at. ($24.95 plus shipping.) You should look at all the other neat wino stuff on the De Long site, including more wine maps and tasting notebooks.

For the Italophile in your life: have you seen the new edition of The Silver Spoon that’s out? It’s considered the bible of Italian cooking, now with over 2,000 revised recipes and 400 brand new, full-color photographs. It’s all in there, really (and wait until you pick it up—it’s one heavy mofo). Page after page of totally authentic Italian cooking. It will totally inspire you to try new dishes. (Hopefully the person you bought it for will be inspired to cook something and invite you over!)

Do you understand the joy of having olio nuovo (“new oil”) in your house? It’s one of my favorite things about winter. I swear, I drizzle it on everything, from soups to bread to eggs. The bright, grassy, peppery flavors of this unfiltered oil don’t last long—just a few months—so you have to act (and eat it) quickly. If you want to buy local, the McEvoy Ranch olio nuovo is a favorite, and it’s super fresh ($22/375ml)—it’s also in a limited quantity this year, so no big bottles for you. A really elegant and fruity imported olio nuovo I have been using the past month is the Frescobaldi Laudemio First Pressing 2011 Extra Virgin Olive Oil—what a dream. I got mine from The Pasta Shop at Market Hall in Rockridge ($24.75), or if you want to purchase it online, you can get it for $28 on OpenSky.

While you’re at it, why not pick up a copy of Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil by Tom Mueller? There’s been a bunch of buzz about this very revealing book. So much that it’s actually out of stock all over the place and on back order—although as of today, the Booksmith in the Haight has two copies!

It’s fun to style folks (especially out-of-state friends!) with locally roasted coffee, whether it’s a bag from my beloved Sightglass or a special holiday blend from Equator, featuring two coffees from small co-ops Equator has worked very closely with the past few years (like the El Batan co-op in the remote Andean region of Loja, Ecuador). Available at: Atlas Café, SF; Mokka, Berkeley, and online.

Wouldn’t it be fab to have a box of edible treats arrive at your home each month? Yeah, that’s what I call good mail. The folks at Liga Masiva have expanded their offering from direct trade coffee to creating the Liga Box, full of specially sourced ingredients direct from farmers in Latin America. The first box, Dulces de Mexico, is $30 (plus $10 for shipping if outside the NYC area) and includes chocolate de metate (hand-ground chocolate), flor de jamaica (dried organic hibiscus), ate de guayaba (guava paste), and a full-sized print magazine filled with recipes, photos, and stories from the farmers. This is a trial box for them, and there are plans to release more in the future! Please support them in their efforts

Another option is to sign someone up for a Tasting Box subscription from It’s a monthly delivery of treats from independent producers, whether it’s a Seasonal Tasting Box, a Themed Tasting Box (like “Don’t Be So Jerky”), or a Cooking Box which comes with ingredients and recipes (all are $29.95 each). Subscribers enjoy free shipping, and each subscriber can choose a box of choice each month or opt to accumulate credits for future months.

There are so many new online gift certificate companies out there, making it much easier to buy someone a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant, or bookstore, or bar! Take a look at Treatful, Giftly, and Gift Rocket.

What about some cocktail classes or wine classes? It’s exactly the kind of thing I’d love to receive, but wouldn’t necessarily buy for myself. You can treat someone to classes from The Barbary Coast Conservancy of the American Cocktail at the Boothby Center ($65-$95, look at upcoming classes and get tickets here), Beretta has ongoing cocktail classes (usually $85, email or call 415-695-1199), and I really enjoy the classes at the SF Wine Center, taught by some serious pros (usually around $60).

I am always very grateful to receive a holiday card every year from a dear friend, telling me she made a donation to our local food bank on my behalf. You can hunt down your local food bank and donate, like the SF Food Bank, and there’s also this site, Give a Meal, which will allow you to donate from two weeks to a year of meals to someone in need.

Want more inspiration? I adored this page of local and lovely gift suggestions on the Ciao Samin blog.

Everything you need to know, it’s right here.

The Metro Wine Map of France.
The Silver Spoon.
Olio nuovo from McEvoy Ranch.
Extra Virginity.
The first Liga Box from Liga Masiva.
One of the best things you can give: a meal to someone who is hungry.
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