My favorite fragrance company (D.S. & Durga ) is now making candles and I am totally freaking out over them. This candle , man. It brings me back to the 80’s and being cuddled up in the backseat of a car with my mom and her fur coat. As the creators describe it:
On saffron tanned leather seats, in clothes that look like rugs, singing “we must never break the chain”. Lacquered chestnut paneling with puffs of burning fuel.
Jessie Mott and I went to grad school together, and since then she has been working as a successful artist (Whitney Biennial , yo!). I was most excited when I discovered she was printing some of her weird/wonderful animal drawings on baby clothes and selling them . Perfect for the kids in your life.
The Tartine empire continues to rule. This  is easily my favorite book since the original Tartine, and features the compelling recipes from Bar Tartine. By next year at this time we will all be dehydrating everything, trust me. The book is smart, thorough, and aspirational. The first half of the book is a guide to the preservation techniques the restaurant uses (spoiler: many of them involved drying of fruits, veg, herbs, etc). I don’t know how many of these techniques I will actually follow, but I am really glad to know about them. The books feels fresh, which is rare in a cookbook. (caveat: My only wish for the Tartine crew is that they were more careful about editing their books. I always find errors, this one included. BUT! Don’t let that discourage you. The errors are usually easily detected and forgiven.)
Spice blends had always struck me as unnecessary, until I tried the work of Lior Lev Sercarz at La Boîte. Really sophisticated blends that you probably could not recreate yourself. I am an especially big fan of Orchidea , which is great in baking and sweets. Try using it in place of cinnamon in your favorite cinnamon/sugar donut recipe
I am using this  to keep track of recipes. I think it gives me a real edge.
Could there be two more different dessert cookbooks?
Sweet & Southern  is a good old fashioned cookbook full of recipes that you can’t wait to make. The author is present, but like a good host not drawing attention to himself. I have been working my way through the book and the recipes are all flawless—clearly well-tested and made to enjoy. It’s a gift that anyone would be happy to receive.
In Brooks Headley’s Fancy Desserts , the author is clearly the focus. The book covers punk music, pastry and Headley’s life. It could have been easy to hate, but I love it. It is funny, compelling and Headley’s earnestness wins you over and is endearing. These aren’t necessarily everyday recipes, so get this for the serious baker or for anyone who likes punk music and humor and reading about food.
These black glass mixing bowls aren’t that easy to find, but are a favorite. They’re made by Mosser Glass  and the color is called black raspberry (there is a redness to glass when held in front of bright light). They’re nice displayed as an object, or used for serving. For the Goth cook in your life.
Heidi Swanson remains a hero of mine. She is so good at everything. Her online shop, Quitokeeto , is one of my favorite places to splurge on things for myself. I think she does an especially good job at curating knives .
If you’d like your apartment to smell like a French grandma’s apartment (and really, who doesn’t?) these incense papers  are a great stocking stuffer. (Thanks to my friend Tiffany  for introducing me to these!)
My collection of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cookbooks continues to grow. These are two favorites from the past year.
Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts  is full of wonderful recipes including things like a Béchamel sauce made with olive oil and yogurt. YES.
Persiana  is a beautifully created and curated collection of recipes from the talented Sabrina Ghayour.
Bloggers are always posting about GIR products, because GIR sends them to us for free. But also because they are awesome. I really only used their spatulas  until now, but this recently released spoon  is also getting lots of use in our kitchen. So, believe the hype.
Eula Biss has been compared to Joan Didion a lot, and that usually makes me defensive. I think she deserves the comparison. She is quickly becoming my favorite essayist, and Notes from No Man’s Land  is one of my favorite books of recent years. Also worth reading is On Immunity, her second book.
I’ve had a very difficult time finding a mortar and pestle that I liked. Some were too rough, some were too smooth. Some were hard to use. I was like the Goldie Locks of mortar and pestles. Then Bryan found this British design  (from Milton Brook) and it is perfect. It doesn’t hurt that it is one of the best looking objects in our house.
Happy holidays, friends! xoxo
ps. Bonus! As a gift to yourself, listen to the Ellen Burstyn episode of Death, Sex & Money .