We are smack dab in the holiday season, so I’m going to share a bit of what I love in the world of food and wine. Frank’s favorite things if you will. An ad hoc list of cool stuff that will make for a fun gift for the holidays or for those dinner parties that seem to happen every night. Let’s take a look at what’s in my kitchen and fridge!
We’ll start off with a new favorite; Ari Cole Hot Cakes. Read about these delightful molten chocolate cakes; I love this style of dessert. Rich, decadent, a shining example of the greatness of chocolate. Grab them from the Ballard Market and small talk with Autumn Martin, she is very cool. But these will make any dinner special, prep these for dessert and you’ll swoon at the end of the meal. Awesome.
- Heat by Bill Buford – The former writer for the New Yorker spends time at Mario Batali’s Babbo and the experiences of working the line, Italy, and Mario. This book is a very fun read. Available in paperback too!
- The Fannie Farmer Cookbook by Marion Cunningham – This is my go to resource for all sorts of recipes. It’s been around forever and has every recipe under the sun. Awesome for reference.
- A Day at El Bulli by Ferran Adria – Step into the inner workings at Adria’s much lauded Spanish restaurant. The reservations are booked way in advance, so this might be your only way of seeing what it’s like there.
- Jamie at Home by Jamie Oliver – Jamie’s enthusiasm is contagious and this book brings that verve to the table in a fun seasonal manner that is informative, interesting, and exciting.
I love kitchen gadgets, so I’m pretty much a marketer’s dream. But I’ve always hold to the mantra that Alton Brown has hammered into me when it comes to kitchen gadgets (no uni-taskers!), so these are the great ones that everyone should look into.
- Thermapen by Thermoworks – I’ve extolled on it’s awesomeness, you’ll reach for it often. Because there is no fixing overcooked food.
- PepperBall by Chef’n – The company is based in Seattle and this is the pepper grinder that Ming Tsai uses. I like that you can operate it with one hand and it is easy to adjust the coarseness of the grind.
- Alton Brown Salt Cellar – I’m an Alton Brown fanatic and I love his salt cellar. Easy access, cleverly designed, perfect. Fun to use, you’ll enjoy salting things.
- Microplane Zester – Indispensible, I use this to grate everything. Cheese, chocolate, nutmeg, citrus zest. Indispensable.
- OXO Flour Sifter – I love baking and using this badboy to sift flour and other dry goods makes it a breeze. One handed too.
- Lodge Cast Iron Pan – For less than fifteen bucks, this pan can do everything – cook eggs, make cornbread, saute and sweat vegetables – I love it. And it’s pretty to look at. (But don’t use it to cook anything tomato; the acidity will wreak havoc.) And it’s invincible.
I’ll always love manchego, but my two of my favorites of the moment are Brindisi by the Willamette Valley Cheese Company and Abbaye de Belloc. Abbaye de Belloc is a French cow’s milk cheese that is full, creamy and a note of carmalization, it’s really good. Brindisi is an Italian-style Fontina with a good flavor that exudes smoothness.
Ok, so it’s easy to go overboard with wine stuff, so I’ll focus on bottle openers. First of all, avoid those rabbit pulley thingies. Yeah, they are quick, but they are also expensive and they don’t last really long. Just get a bartender’s tool! They have everything you need – a foil cutter to do the initial cut (something a rabbit doesn’t have), a solid corkscrew, and the cap lifter! And it’s super easy to use, just point the corkscrew towards the center of the cork, spin a handful of times, drop the lifter and pull, easy! Here are my openers I reach for most often:
- Wood inlay Corkscrew – I love the way this looks, the wood is a nice touch. This one at Winestuff is pretty cool.
- Soft Machine Wine Opener – This corkscrew is sexy, the rubberized grip and easy motion is a winner.
You already know that I love Grains of Paradise, and Maldon Sea Salt is my salt of choice. But I’m also starting to really dig Thierry Rautureau’s salt rub. I first read about it a bit ago in Seattle Weekly’s breakdown of local salts. But it wasn’t until recently when a mutual friend reminded me that this won the best local salt in the competition. Even better is that the only place in the world to get it is Chefshop.com! We all like being elitist and having stuff the next person doesn’t so get this now! Thanks for the tip Nathan!
Ok, I can go on and on, but we’ll stop there, or we could be on the verge of my first 3,000 word post, and I don’t think anyone is ready for that. Unless you really want to find out my favorite spatula, chocolate chips, and baking sheet. What are some of your favorite kitchen necessities?