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
Nic Newcomb makes beautiful ceramics that I have admired from afar for years. These plates, though, I had to have. Like a sad rainbow. Also a good canvas for plating food.
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.
December 5th, 2014 at 10:51 am
Great list. It’s the rare gift guide that makes you feel a little smarter having read it.
December 5th, 2014 at 10:55 am
DAMN is right about the candle description. I can’t stop reading all of the perfume descriptions, and hoo boy – is it getting hot in here?!
And I totally got those incense papers as stocking stuffers for my MIL and SIL. Pinching myself for not getting a package for myself. I’m pairing them with some weirdo match books.
Colin got MOTHERLAND… and loves it. Have you heard of Small Press Distribution (also a non-profit)? He subscribes it’s always interesting to see what they send – MOTHERLAND… was included in one of the mailings. http://www.spdbooks.org/.
And I just reserved PERSIANA and NOTES… from the library. Thanks for the recommendation!
December 5th, 2014 at 11:41 am
I’m still curious about your thoughts on Prune :) Lovely list – especially the mortar and pestle – which is exactly what I’ve been looking for – so thanks! xx
December 5th, 2014 at 11:45 am
Elizabeth- Thanks, that means a lot coming from you.
Marlena- They are SO GOOD at writing those descriptions, it kills me. And I can honestly say that the scents always live up to the fantasy for me. Thanks for the SPD link, I am excited to check them out.
Olga- I am trying to remain positive. ; )
Johanna Lowe says:
December 5th, 2014 at 11:50 am
I’m with Elizabeth on this one. Excellent, simply put, thoughtfully created and for a list it’s actually interesting to read! Thanks Tim.
December 5th, 2014 at 1:06 pm
OMG THOSE BLACK BOWLS, SO GOOD. Sorry for the caps lock, but geez. A stellar gift guide, as usual! xoxo!
December 5th, 2014 at 1:50 pm
Johanna and Luisa- XO!
December 5th, 2014 at 3:02 pm
Exquisite list! I cannot resist les papiers d’armenie eau-de-grand-meres-francaises!
Rockin Arugula says:
December 5th, 2014 at 3:32 pm
Thank you for the mortar & pestle recommendation! Don’t have one as all the ones I see just aren’t right somehow but this looks great and I trust your opinion. :)
December 5th, 2014 at 6:31 pm
Just got the Eula Bliss book too and am looking forward to reading it! Also love the papier d’armenie incense papers. That mortar and pestle is beautiful!
December 6th, 2014 at 11:39 am
After watching two seasons of Hannibal, that notebook seems especially and wickedly fun.
December 6th, 2014 at 2:11 pm
Love this list and want everything on it. Good scouting, Santa!
December 7th, 2014 at 11:51 am
Was eagerly anticipating this list! Looks great. Also, I was able to find some Iowa Pine soap before it disappeared this year. ;)
December 7th, 2014 at 1:02 pm
Thanks, Jordan! I also stocked up on the pine soap, it’s so good.
December 7th, 2014 at 6:31 pm
There are a lot of holiday gift guides circulating right now but I can honestly say that I loved everything on this diverse list! I’ve got an enormous Mexican mortar and pestle that is such a work out to use so I will add the one you recommend to my xmas list. Happy holidays!
December 9th, 2014 at 12:12 am
Love your gift list. I just ordered 3 People to Kill sketch books. I think they are hilarious! I can’t wait to give a couple away as gifts, and of course keep one for myself. I’ll be sure to leave it on the coffee table where I can glance over every now and then and have a good laugh! Kiyo
December 13th, 2014 at 4:11 pm
I’ve zeroed in on the Milton Brook mortar & pestle too, Tim, but SIZE. What SIZE did you buy??? Size matters :o)! With baited breath I wait. ps LOVE the sad rainbow/droopy zebra plate/black raspberry bowls/50 Shades Of Grey Spoon!!!
December 13th, 2014 at 7:05 pm
cR- Hmmmm. Mine is a size “2”. That is what it says on the bottom. Not sure what that translates to but hopefully you can figure it out from that?
January 2nd, 2015 at 9:34 am
The spice blend of La Boite looks interesting enough to try, but I’ve not come across this brand at this side of the Atlantic. On the other hand, in France they have Olivier Roellinger. Only to stock up on Roellinger spices is worth a visit to France.