Christmas is just one week away, but don't fret. There is still time to shop for that special foodie in your life. Restaurant gift cards and gift baskets are always appreciated by food lovers, but this year think outside the box. I've listed a few suggestions that even the pickiest bon vivant in your life will absolutely love.
Must Have Appliances
I have to admit, I'm a little late to the Instant Pot game. I purchased mine a year ago for Black Friday and was frankly a little terrified of it. Flash forward to today and I use my Instant Pot at least 2 to 3 times a week. The Instant Pot comes in three different sizes - 3 QT, 6 QT and 8 QT. The 6 QT is the perfect size for most families. It can pressure cook, slow cook, saute and even make yogurt. It retails for $79.99 to $139.99 and you can get great deals at most department stores. Walmart has an exclusive 6 QT Pioneer Woman floral version available in two different patterns for $99.
Another appliance it took forever for me to purchase was a stand mixer. I felt there wasn't anything it could do that I couldn't accomplish with my trusty hand mixer. Boy was I wrong! A stand mixer is a kitchen miracle worker. A KitchenAid stand mixer will run anywhere from $200 - $500 depending on what power and size bowl you purchase. The best thing about owning a stand mixer is the multitude of attachments you can purchase that will allow you to make pasta, sausage and even ice cream. My only regret was not getting a fun vintage color.
The Aviary is Chicago's hottest cocktail bar and the recently released The Aviary Cocktail Book is one of the greatest cocktail books of all time. This visually stunning book takes a culinary approach to making cocktails. It includes over 100 recipes as well as information on food & drink pairings, low/non-alcoholic drinks and flavored ice. The book is available online at TheAviaryBook.com. The standard edition retails for $85 or you can purchase a reserve edition in a special display case for $135.
In Street Food of Mexico, James Beard award winner Hugo Ortega takes readers on a culinary journey across Mexico. As he travels through his homeland, Ortega showcases the stories behind the flavors and recipes of each region. The book can be found on Amazon or Barnes & Noble or for $60 a personalized copy is available from ChefHugoOrtega.com that includes a Mexican chocolate tablet, a molinillo and two Hugo's mugs.
Hotel Alessandra is downtown Houston's newest luxury hotel. It is conveniently located near major sporting, concert and theater venues as well as the best bars and restaurants. The hotel offers several great packages for romance, sports, theater or spa. Most packages include food and beverage credit at Lucienne or the sophisticated lobby bar, Bardot.
CityCentre is a mecca for dining and shopping and the best way to enjoy it is with a stay at Hotel Sorella. This elegant hotel offers packages that include dining at Radio Milano, Capital Grille or cocktails at Monnalisa bar. Hotel Sorella's premier location in the heart of CityCentre gives you the option to party all night or enjoy the great views with a glass of wine while you relax.
Chef for a Day
Tris in The Woodlands offers foodies a behind the scenes look into what its like to work in a chef-driven kitchen. Your Chef for a Day experience begins at 10 a.m. with a four hour one-on-one lesson with Executive Chef Austin Simmons. You get to prep several signature dishes followed by a 3-course lunch. At 4pm, you will break for the day before returning that evening to indulge at Cureight, Tris' exclusive eight course dining experience. Chef for a Day is $400 per person and available on Thursday to Saturday. For more information contact Chris Perry at CPerry@triswoodlands.com.
Chef for a Day at Brennan's is truly an unforgettable experience for that special foodie in your life. Your culinary adventure begins with a personalized chef's uniform and a tour of the restaurant and kitchen. Next you will work and prep at each station in the kitchen tasting your creations along the way. When the prep work is done, it's time to head to the bar to taste spirits and consult with Brennan's "wine guy" to choose the perfect wines for dinner. The evening concludes with a six-course dinner and wine pairing for you and five of your friends. The cost is $1,475 (gratuity excluded).
About the Author
I like eating, traveling, and enjoying liquid libations. I'm all about great wines, signature cocktails, and local brews.