With Christmas less than two weeks away, Santa may be stressing and out of ideas. That's why our helpful elves have put together some suggestions for the food lovers on your list. No waffling, though: These items will be snatched up fast.
Panettone: What’s not to like about receiving a panettone for the holidays? And I know no better version of the festive sweet than the one from pastry chef Luigi Biasetto in Italy’s Veneto region. It’s expensive but made from a mother yeast that has been nurtured for 60 years, organic eggs, organic honey from the Alps and candied fruits from Sicily. And if you consider that a panettone is consumed over a period of days, the price doesn’t seem quite as daunting. The online supplier of all things Italian and delicious, Gustiamo, is the source. $70 for a 1.6-pound pastry at www.gustiamo.com.
Japanese bread knife: Bakers and anyone with a serious bread addiction will appreciate this Japanese bread knife from renowned blade maker Gesshin. Extremely thin, it moves through bread easily, resulting in minimal crumbs. With hard-crusted breads, the trick is to apply as little pressure as possible in order to get an even slice. $45 at www.japaneseknifeimports.com.
Brass pie and cake server: British designer Tom Dixon is responsible for the turban-shaped brass hanging lamps at Orsa & Winston restaurant in downtown L.A. But he also makes some extraordinarily handsome tableware that includes bowls, platters, tea caddies — and a bright, shiny pie and cake server. Garde in Los Angeles also carries his lustrous copper-plated cocktail shaker. $85 and $135 at www.gardeshop.com.
Subscription to the Feiring Line newsletter: Wine writer and natural wine advocate Alice Feiring puts out a newsletter focused on natural, organic and biodynamic wines. Ten issues a year of Feiring’s adventures in wine country, mostly in Europe, with passionate small-scale producers. It’s a great read. This is one wine maven who can write. $65 for a subscription at www.alicefeiring.com.
Coravin wine access system: A game-changing gadget for preserving wine that allows you to pour a glass of wine without removing the cork — and without oxygen touching the wine. A thin, hollow needle is inserted through the cork to extract the wine. As the wine is poured out, its volume is replaced with inert argon gas from a small canister. Remove the needle and the cork reseals itself. Nifty — and much used by master of wine and master sommelier candidates. $299 at www.coravin.com.
Felt wine carrier: You won’t be embarrassed to walk into a restaurant toting this sleek, Minimalist wine carrier. It’s made right here in Los Angeles from thick merino felt in either red or charcoal. The two-bottle Duo model folds flat in your luggage. Handsome and discreet, it is trimmed in Italian leather. A single-bottle model is available too. $129 at www.graf-lantz.com.
Yakitori charcoal grill: Make like Yakitori-Ya with this stainless steel charcoal grill from Japan. Available from Hitachiya, the Japanese cookware store in Torrance, it comes in two sizes. You'll want some Japanese hardwood charcoal too. And throw in a pack of bamboo skewers, so whoever's lucky enough to receive this gift can get to work right away grilling chicken skin, chicken meatballs, chicken wings and shiitake and vegetables over that fierce binchotan charcoal. $274 and $379 at www.hitachiya.com. (310) 534-3136.
Del Maguey single village mezcal: Widely available, Ron Cooper’s single village mezcal collection under the Del Maguey label would make a fine gift for any spirits lover. We’re partial to the one from Chichicapa, a village southwest of Oaxaca, for its complex smokiness and sweet tropical notes. The maker is Faustino Garcia Vasquez. For sipping, not shooting, and too fine for cocktails. $66 at www.delmaguey.com.
Copper tea strainer: Handmade in Kyoto, Japan, the copper wire is woven in an intricate pattern with a chrysanthemum at the bottom of the strainer. An essential piece of luxury and exquisite craftsmanship from Japan that any tea lover would cherish from Tortoise General Store in Venice. Copper tea strainer, $72, with rosewood handle, $99, www.tortoiselife.com.
Smoked Tasmanian ocean trout: The same exquisite smoked Tasmanian ocean trout used by famed Sydney chef Tetsuya Wakuda of Tetsuya is now available from Kai Gourmet, the L.A.-based seafood company that delivers to your door. Serve the delicate smoked fish from the remote southwest coast of Tasmania on its own or on thin slices of rye — and the next morning on a bagel or bialy with cream cheese. $32.50 per 1.1-pound pack at www.kaigourmet.com.
Pho T-shirt: Lovers of pho can declare their allegiance with this beefy 100% cotton T-shirt from Sonoma-based illustrator and wine writer Hawk Wakawaka. The hand-drawn design shows all the elements that go into a bowl of the Vietnamese soup and is available at her Etsy shop. $25 for adults, $18 for children at www.etsy.com/shop/HawkWakawaka.
W//R//F// ceramics: Designed by Nobuhito Nishigawara, this line of subtly beautiful dinner ware glazed in palest gray is made in the sculptor/potter’s Orange County studio and sold at Tortoise General Store in Venice. The collection includes bowls, plates, dishes, serving bowls, pitchers, cups and mugs, and a gravy bowl. Each comes in three sizes (large, medium and small). $14 to $38 at tortoiselife.com/tortoise/artists
Carrot spoon and fork: The matching carrot spoon and fork make it fun to eat your veggies — or anything else, for that matter. They're short-handled, the better to fit those small hands, and are stocked at the Los Feliz garden and lifestyle shop Potted. $12.50 at Potted (323) 665-3861.
The Gourmandise School cooking classes: Choose from a variety of classes, both sweet and savory (from Thai cooking to chocolate making), and learn from top local chef instructors, including Roxana Jullapat, Stefano DeLorenzo, Gill Boyd and Sonoko Sakai, in addition to in-house chocolatier Ruth Kennison. Classes are 100% hands-on unless otherwise noted. Starting at $85 at thegourmandiseschool.com.