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Brewing beer, curing meat, or making cheese? Tell us about it

I'm looking for an obscure kitchen gadget for a gift...

papawow Feb 13, 2010 10:23 AM

What new/cool/unique gadgets are out there? I'm looking for a gift for a chef that has nearly all of them. Any suggestions?

  1. hobbybaker Feb 14, 2010 07:22 AM

    A help to create own cookbook if the chef has not published yet.


    1. tim irvine Feb 14, 2010 07:02 AM

      salt pig, with or without salt, depending on budget. I have a traditional one by the stove and a Nigella Lawson one for dining.

      1. flourgirl Feb 14, 2010 06:52 AM

        I agree with many of the other posters here who felt that it can be very difficult to match the right gift to a serious hobbiest. It's REALLY tough.

        That said, I really like the idea of giving a luxury consummable - especially a high end ingredient. How about something like bottarga, which is a salted, cured fish roe that is traditionally sliced thinly or ground and sprinkled on seafood pasta dishes, for example? I also love the truffle salt idea. Just make sure it is a good quality brand. Some of the so-called truffle salt out there is worthless.

        I know you said that you don't know if she bakes much - but if she does, she might love a copper whisk. I received a gorgeous one for Christmas - copper with a cherry handle - for beating egg whites. It's a great piece of Americana (made on Ocracoke Island, NC ) and I also love it because I didn't have a copper bowl and it's easier to store the whisk rather than yet another bowl - which I have too many of already. These people also make other cherry handled utensils that are just as beautiful.


        2 Replies
        1. re: flourgirl
          LindaWhit Feb 14, 2010 12:23 PM

          I *love* this whisk! The same friend who gave me the aged balsamic I mentioned above also gave me this whisk.

          1. re: LindaWhit
            flourgirl Feb 14, 2010 04:23 PM

            I love it too. I don't know what it is, but I've *always* had a thing for whisks. And this is a really beautiful piece of handcrafted kitchen equipment that perfectly serves it's purpose. Life is good.

        2. grampart Feb 14, 2010 06:39 AM

          If your budget can handle $100, my suggestion a ThermaPen.

          1. c oliver Feb 14, 2010 06:35 AM

            A stack of great, white kitchen towels?

            2 Replies
            1. re: c oliver
              Gio Feb 14, 2010 06:41 AM

              Oh I like that idea... and bar cloths, or those wonderful long striped chef's aprons. I love those.

              1. re: Gio
                bear Feb 14, 2010 06:57 AM

                Towels are a great idea. Michael Ruhlman has a link on his blog to the CIA kitchen towels, which are just a bit longer than regular dish towels and therefore more convenient (and safer) than using standard towels for draining hot pans, etc. Practical, but a little splurge.

                He also has some other cool suggestions.


            2. t
              ThreeGigs Feb 14, 2010 05:14 AM

              Infrared thermometer?
              How about something stylish instead of practical, perhaps something from Alessi? I'm partial to the Phillipe Starck juicer myself.

              1. SusanaTheConqueress Feb 13, 2010 03:37 PM

                For sure can't miss: A gift certificate to Sur La Table - ( Where their once-a-year sale is going on _right now!_ :-D


                It's always a pleasant surprise to find someone cared enough about what _I_ would like to let me select precisely what I would like :-D

                The Ferry Building location is wonderful ~ I've spent many a foggy morning at the Ghandi statue, waiting for it to open after a lovely breakfast at Boulette's Larder, right next door (YUM!), with the wall-to-wall floor-to-ceiling windows revealing all the goodies inside (well-lit & tidily displayed) :-D

                Yes, Sur La Table will fill the bill.
                Gift card? Please.

                13 Replies
                1. re: SusanaTheConqueress
                  hobbybaker Feb 13, 2010 06:33 PM

                  If you want make it personal, why don't you cook something for him/her, as he/she might be fed up with cooking for somebody else. Pick up something exotic for him/her outside his/her own expertise. Otherwise, agreed with gift certificate. But not for specific retailers but credit card companies so that he/she can use everyhwere. There is nothing more than burden to get anthing you do not really want or it is far from your taste. I got a flatware set for wedding present from my in-law and it is far from my taste. Sorry, but I strongly hope someday soon I can replace it and I wish they would have given us a damm gift card for what we like! As a chef, your friend knows what he/she needs and he/she has. I know it is boring but it is practical and helpful.

                  1. re: c oliver
                    janeh Feb 13, 2010 06:59 PM

                    I went to WIlliams Sonoma, $35 gift certificate in hand, thinking that there was nothing that I wanted or needed (without adding lots more $). I brought home a Microplane box grater, and it's pretty cool. It has 3 graters and a slicer, is easy to use, has a good handle - I think that this is going to be my gift for friends who cook, even those who have everything (else)!

                    1. re: c oliver
                      janeh Feb 13, 2010 07:12 PM

                      Actually I got the gift card when I returned a useless (to me) item. I got the box grater because I wanted to use the credit and be done with it, and the grater was the right price and seemed fairly practical. I've used the grater a lot and I like it . So, I'd give a friend the grater but never a WS gift card.

                      1. re: c oliver
                        hobbybaker Feb 13, 2010 07:15 PM

                        Agreed. It is not environment friendly to buy something which is not needed just for a ceremony reason. That way, if the person is a close friends, I would give my "Dinner for you and your spouse" at my home.

                        1. re: janeh
                          cutipie721 Feb 13, 2010 07:09 PM

                          See here's the catch. I have 3 versions of the paddle microplane (fine, medium, and course). I've used a boxed grater long time ago and I don't like it.

                          I have an idea. How about some gourmet food items that he can consume? I'd love to receive some truffle salt at any given time ;-)

                          1. re: cutipie721
                            c oliver Feb 13, 2010 07:12 PM

                            I think that's a great idea. No way to lose here, eh?

                            1. re: c oliver
                              papawow Feb 13, 2010 09:09 PM

                              I'm with c_oliver here about the money thing. I was raised to give gifts and to match them up as best you can. Gift cards are admitting that you didn't care enough to even try.

                              Consumables are good; truffle salt, what else?

                              1. re: papawow
                                c oliver Feb 14, 2010 06:34 AM

                                Sherry vinegar? There also something called Minus 8 vinegar that's supposed to be amazing. Made from grapes that froze on the vine; I guess something like ice wine. I know there are threads here about both.

                                1. re: c oliver
                                  c oliver Feb 14, 2010 06:43 AM

                                  Here's a thread I started last year on sherry vinegars:


                                2. re: papawow
                                  LindaWhit Feb 14, 2010 12:20 PM

                                  You don't say how much you want to spend, but what about a 25yo aged balsamic vinegar? One of the best gifts I've ever gotten (and it's now up to about a 35yo balsamic, as I've used it so sparingly! LOL)

                                  Sur la Table has the truffle salt and aged balsamics.

                                  1. re: papawow
                                    foiegras Feb 14, 2010 09:30 PM

                                    I did a selection of various cool salts from the bulk section for my sister one year for Christmas ... the black salt, the pink Himalayan salt, smoked, fleur de sel (which she had said she'd never tried--gasp) ... a sampler of pretty much everything, and put them in a decorative tin. It was a hit ...

                                    I would love the aged balsamic as a gift.

                                    1. re: foiegras
                                      fauchon Feb 15, 2010 03:23 AM

                                      Speaking of salt: Vignalta Sale Alle Erbe (Herbed Salt) from Corti Bros in Sacremento...Rosemary, garlic, sage, pepper, fresh farm-raised herbs (not dried) mixed with veneto sea salt. This stuff is transcendantly delicious, imperative on roasts, steak, vegs, even eggs & hamburgers...the Corti newsletter is a food addict's delight, too, offering items you simply don't see everywhere. Google will turn up other sources for Vignalta but I first tried it because of Corti's description & have stayed loyal to them. Plus their newsletter is amazing...


                          2. re: SusanaTheConqueress
                            goodhealthgourmet Feb 13, 2010 07:45 PM

                            i REALLY wish i hadn't seen this post about the SLT sale. i have to be next door to it tomorrow, and i'm powerless to resist that place when they have a bargain. and of course i'm obsessed with their new Le Creuset colors which will undoubtedly be full price!

                          3. Politeness Feb 13, 2010 11:33 AM

                            papawow, I have a feeling that c oliver and cutipie721 are right, but there is one (fairly inexpensive) item that your chef friend probably does not have and that is pretty cool: masu-style sake cups. http://www.jlifeinternational.com/Tab... When filled with sake -- especially warm sake -- the aroma of the cup changes -- enhances, with many sakes -- the taste of the beverage. Larger masu are traditional measuring cups in Japan; the smaller sake-sized ones are rarely seen on this side of the Pacific Ocean, and so it would be very surpriising if your friend had any. If you look around, you may find a matching hinoki (cryptomeria) tokkuri (sake serving vessel), also.

                            (If you are looking for a bottle of sake to increase the dollar value of the gift, and if -- like most Americans -- you are a novice in choosing among sakes, ask for a junmai (non-fortified) kimoto (traditional method of brewing; kimoto method does not use lactic acid to accelerate the process), preferably from Yamagata Prefecture. Two brands that satisfy all three of those criteria are Hatsumago (which means "first grandchild") and Gassan no yuki (which means "snows of "Gassan"; Gassan is the largest mountain in Yamagata).)

                            1. c oliver Feb 13, 2010 10:52 AM

                              My suggestion would be to not try this. I liken it to my trying to buy a golf club or gadget for my non-professional golfer husband. I think the likelihoood of your buying something that s/he actually wants and doesn't have is pretty slim. But that's just my opinion.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: c oliver
                                cutipie721 Feb 13, 2010 11:05 AM

                                I agree. I think I have everything I need in the kitchen. All my friends know that I love cooking. Hence they buy me kitchen related items as gifts. Many times I wish they didn't.

                                1. re: cutipie721
                                  papawow Feb 13, 2010 05:10 PM

                                  c_oliver and cutipie721, I'm afraid you might be right but I'm willing to spend a little $ just for the thought of it.

                                  1. re: papawow
                                    Sam Fujisaka Feb 15, 2010 02:21 AM

                                    p'wow, I agree with c & c above. I use fewer and fewer gadgets as time goes on. More and more I appreciate good ingredients - from Arbroath smokies to zabaglione.

                                    1. re: papawow
                                      jenhen2 Feb 15, 2010 05:11 AM

                                      I have everything I need for the kitchen, but always appreciate when a friend supports my habit with something new and interesting. I will always try something new!! Plus, I think it's very fun, and if I don't need it, I can return it, right?

                                2. f
                                  fauchon Feb 13, 2010 10:43 AM

                                  How about the newly redesigned whisk, potato masher & mortar & pestle from üutensil? (Scroll down to "gear")


                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: fauchon
                                    papawow Feb 13, 2010 05:08 PM

                                    Very cool looking stuff, I thought the automatic Stirr -er would be cool but I saw a bad review about it on thekitchn (http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/ga...) - maybe the mortar and pestle?

                                    1. re: papawow
                                      fauchon Feb 14, 2010 03:53 AM

                                      I thought the whisk seemed most interesting followed by the m&p...autostirr doesn't seem as if it would be any improvement over old-fashioned human-powered stirring...lol

                                    2. re: fauchon
                                      nomadchowwoman May 17, 2010 01:47 PM

                                      I know I'm coming into this discussion late, but I happened into a spudnik potato masher, something I would NEVER have purchased--or believed could be much of an improvement--on my own. But some friends, who don't eat potatoes, got one in a gift box at Christmas and immediately handed it over to me. It is wonderful, and indeed makes much smoother and fluffier mashed potatoes, with a lot less effort. It's really pretty unbelievable--and I rank it right up there with my microplane grater as true improvements in the arsenal of kitchen tools.

                                    3. r
                                      runwestierun Feb 13, 2010 10:35 AM

                                      I'll stick my neck out--I really like the new after market (not made by Kitchenaid) paddle attachments for the Kitchenaid mixer that have the scrape-y windshield wiper rubber looking thingies on the side that scrape the bowl completely on every turn. It's $30 and it has so positively affected anything I mix to incorporate air--most notably cheesecake. I think they make them for most standing mixers. You would of course have to know if your friend has a standing mixer.

                                      These were my all purpose gift this year for Xmas, I gave half a dozen away. You have to know the make and model of the recipients mixer, and I didn't, so I just randomly bought them and taped the receipt right on them so they could be exchanged for the right ones. They have been very well received.

                                      Another idea--those things that cut the tops perfectly off of soft boiled eggs.

                                      Sushi mats?

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: runwestierun
                                        papawow Feb 13, 2010 05:07 PM

                                        I've seen those windshield wiper blades and I have always wondered if they worked well. I just don't know how much baking she does... nor what type of mixer she has... Maybe the egg topper chopper!

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