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wasabigelatine’s 2008 holiday gift guide

…because it’ll be Christmas before you know it.

These exquisite animal shot glasses are a far cry from the college logo-emblazoned ones we’re all too familiar with. They’re made of black glass and pewter and are designed to balance on their noses or horns when filled with your beverage of choice. Head side up, they make lovely decorative objects. Choose from bull, bear, moose, deer or rhinoceros. $32 each, from A+R.

My mom has a Betty Crocker cookbook from the early 70’s, and as a kid I’d spend hours poring through pages of exotic American cuisine like fruited Jell-O salad, tuna casserole, and California coffee. These vintage recipe notecards by zebuladesign bring back warm, fuzzy, avocado- and brown-hued memories. The front features an actual vintage recipe card from the late 60′s or early 70′s and the recipe is printed on the inside. $9 for a set of three, from

Coco Rouge’s handmade chocolate bars are perfect for stocking stuffers, and their complex yet familiar flavors will delight exotic chocolate connoisseurs and the not-so-adventurous alike. My favorites are the Andalucia (bittersweet chocolate, Spanish chorizo toffee, Jamaican allspice) and the Pain Perdu (milk chocolate, toasted brioche sautéed in butter, fireweed honey toffee). $7 each at Coco Rouge (, 1940 W. Division, Chicago)

CB2’s Lichtenstein-inspired comic appetizer plates will brighten up any holiday party. Available in YUM! OOO! and MMM! Or get the whole set – they’re only $2.95 each. $2.95 each, from



Three masters of the molecular gastronomy universe published cookbooks this year, though only the most fearless – or ridiculous – will attempt these recipes at home. The rest of us will salivate over the lush, awe-inspiring photography as our stomachs growl in envy.

First up is Grant Achatz’s Alinea book (above left), which was also featured in my 2007 holiday gift guide as a special pre-order. The limited-edition autographed and slipcovered books are sold out, but standard copies are available from for a very reasonable $31.50.

If I were to choose one item for myself from this gift guide, it would be The Big Fat Duck Cookbook (above right). True to its name, it’s a whopping twelve pounds of gorgeous photography and impossibly elaborate recipes. It’s also a reader’s cookbook full of engrossing writing, including a foreword by food science writer Harold McGee, a history brought to life with artist Dave McKean’s whimsical and otherworldly illustrations, and food-related scientific articles. Somehow, it all makes sense together, skillfully embodying Heston Blumenthal’s culinary artistry and mad scientist inclinations. $157.50 from

Ferran Adrià has already published several books about his groundbreaking elBulli restaurant, so this gift guide isn’t going to highlight his latest. Instead, we’re featuring the spherification minikit (above center) for the aspiring molecular gastronomist assembled by Texturas, Adrià’s own line of hi-tech ingredients. $150 from

First Slice is a Chicago charity that provides low-income families with high-quality homecooked meals. It’s easy to contribute — sign up for a meal subscription plan of three three-course meals a week for yourself, and a hungry family receives the same delicious food you’ll enjoy. $35 per week for individuals, $68 per week for a family of three.

Design junkies will drool over the KOR ONE Hydration Vessel (right), a stylish alternative to toxic plastic bottles and popular aluminum ones that leave a metallic taste in your water. Holds 750 mL. $29.95 from

I fell in love with Dutch city bikes after a visit to Portland in May, and this bright green bicycle basket by Design House Stockholm only makes me want one even more since my 17 year old mountain bike isn’t equipped for such accessories. Fortunately, the included shoulder strap allows it to be used on its own — convenient for trips to the grocery store with no fancy Euro bike necessary. Also available in white and black. $60 from A+R



Jeni’s Ice Creams‘ inventive, absolutely mouthwatering flavors speak for themselves: seasonal specialties include dark cocoa peppermint, torrone, and Ohio heirloom pumpkin and mascarpone. 6 pints for approximately $70 at and worth every penny — split a six-pack with friends. 




This garlic storage bag is a practical gift idea; the sturdy cotton canvas shuts out light and keeps your garlic from sprouting. It’s screenprinted with an adorable garlic character and includes two equally cute buttons. $22 from



Pewter duck egg mirror(right), just because. $70 from




Zingerman’s Culinary Adventure Society is the very antithesis of local eating unless you happen to live in Liguria, the Himalayas, or Bali — some of the places from which past food club selections have been sourced. An extravagant gift for the global food lover. $175 for one shipment, $325 for two shipments, $600 for four from




If you’re like me, you probably want everything on this list for yourself, so here’s the eat your heart out plate. The design is screenprinted onto salvaged restaurant-style plates. $42 at Willow (, 908 N. Damen, Chicago).

May your holidays be filled with joy, love, and lots of good food! 





  1. Keri Voigt wrote:

    Ahhh, Jeni’s. It would cost $100 for us to have a 6-pack shipped to us here in CO, but I am thinking about doing it anyway. Their ice cream makes me cry it is so good.

    Saturday, December 6, 2008 at 4:41 pm | Permalink
  2. Cat wrote:

    My dad has a pewter wolf’s head jigger kind of like those.

    I love the Lichtenstein plates, but I like the Eat Your Heart Out plate even more. It reminds me of the Valentine you sent me. :)

    Monday, December 8, 2008 at 3:12 pm | Permalink
  3. Keri – I can’t stop thinking about Jeni’s! Maybe you could have some friends go in with you to split the cost?

    Cat – Ooh, that jigger sounds cool. And I’m a sucker for anatomical heart illustrations :D

    Monday, December 8, 2008 at 11:27 pm | Permalink
  4. Joan wrote:

    oooh very nice holiday gift guide!! :D
    now i know what to ask you to get me for Christmas hehe :)

    Wednesday, December 10, 2008 at 4:03 am | Permalink
  5. Natalie wrote:

    Thanks for writing about the cards! These are great gift ideas, and I’m so happy you told me about your blog!

    Monday, December 15, 2008 at 9:21 am | Permalink
  6. N wrote:

    Per the “fruited Jell-O salad” of your mom’s Betty Crocker cookbook: Thanks to the Luteran Church Basement Women Cookbook and the Minnesotan friends who introduced me to such delicacies, I’ve come to understand “salad” as synonymous with Jell-O impregnated with fruit, veggies, beans, … sweets and savories of all sorts. ew.

    Friday, December 19, 2008 at 12:30 am | Permalink
  7. Budget Babe wrote:

    Once again, I want everything on your list! This is becoming an annual holiday tradition for me, keep up the great work.

    Saturday, December 20, 2008 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

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