What to buy a foodie this December

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The Times may earn a commission if you buy any of these gifts through links on our site. The items were independently selected.

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Fermentation crock
Mudslide Stoneware fermentation crock
(Mudslide Stoneware)

Sure, you can make kimchi or sauerkraut in a bowl with some rocks, but why? when you can do it in one of the gorgeous fermentation crocks made by Santa Fe potter Colin Dyck, who became a potter because he liked fermenting stuff. His Mudslide Stoneware’s hand-thrown, 1-gallon pots come with water-locking lid and weights, in black, white, rust and blue.

$195. Purchase here→

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Whole wheat boules
Roan Mills sourdough bread
 
(Charlie Dedlow)

Roan Mills bakery in Fillmore makes sourdough bread from landrace grains they grow in nearby fields, then mill and bake on-site. There are the normal loaves and baguettes but also giant 3-kilo boules the size of hubcaps — made with Sonora, or Red Fife and Glenn wheat flour, and perfect for a wine and cheese party. Call 2 days ahead for orders.

$20. Purchase here→

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Goat’s milk soap
Goat’s milk soap
(Natalie Wiser-Orozco)

A “goat rodeo” is a mashup of unlikely things, hence Goat Rodeo Soaps: Riverside farmer Janice Lake uses her own recipes for the heady soaps, hand-milking her herd of 12 dairy goats daily. The soaps, which she takes to four farmers markets, come in flavors such as lemongrass, rose geranium and absinthe.

$7.50. Purchase here→

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Beeswax food covers
Beeswax food covers
(Beeswrap)

To help eliminate plastic from her kitchen, Vermont mother of three Sarah Kaeck started infusing organic cotton with beeswax, jojoba oil and tree resin, to create her line of Bee’s Wrap. Washable and compostable, the patterned cloth can be used and reused to wrap around breads, bowls, leftovers, whatever.

$6-$42. Purchase here or here

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Pump Street chocolate bars
Pump Street chocolate
(Pump Street Chocolate)

If you love the combination of bread and chocolate (Nutella sandwiches, Ferran Adria’s chocolate toast), the English bakery and chocolatier Pump Street has gone one step further. The 9-year-old Suffolk family business combines the two in the bars themselves: a 66% bar made with sourdough and sea salt, and a 60% bar using rye crumbs and Ecuadorian chocolate.

About $6. Purchase here→

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Sake subscription

Love sake but don’t know where to find a decent bottle to drink at home? Tippsy is a new monthly subscription service that helps people discover different kinds of sake. Each box comes with three bottles plus suggested food pairings.

$69 for a single order. Purchase here→

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Flavorful sauce
Harissa
 
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

At the edge of each table at the Exchange, the Middle Eastern-leaning restaurant at the Freehand hotel in DTLA, is a tiny saucer of rusty red harissa, and zhoug. The roasted chile heat of the harissa is reminiscent of a salsa macha and the zhoug is razor sharp and vibrant. They both add a punch to almost anything, including sandwiches, kebabs, fish and salads too.

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$4 each. Purchase here→

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Philips air fryer
Philips air fryer
(Amazon)

We predict you’ll become more than just a little attached to this air fryer. It’s the appliance many of us now use most to cook chicken, vegetables, fish and, of course, French fries. It’s easy to clean and it makes a perfect gift for someone with a small kitchen.

$148. Purchase here→

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Pizza oven
Breville’s Smart Oven Pizzaiolo
(Breville)

Yes, this is a splurge. A big one. But Breville’s Smart Oven Pizzaiolo would be the most spectacular gift for the hard-core pizza lover (short of a backyard brick oven, which would cost way more). This little countertop box hits 750-degrees and produces the charred bubbles that match any of the best Neapolitan-style pizzas out there. And it happens in two minutes. Whether you’re giving it to someone who has already mastered homemade dough or wants to, know that it works wonders on frozen pies and even leftovers.

$999. Purchase here or here

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Spice it up
Mama’s mala hot sauce
 
(Justin Eli)

Mom’s Mala Sichuan Chile Sauce is for anyone who likes just a little spiciness and a lot of flavor. Last year, Justin Eli decided to create his own version of his mom’s mala sauce when he couldn’t find anything like hers on the market. More than just a hot sauce, it delivers mala, the signature tingling sensation that comes from Sichuan peppercorns in combination with the heat of chiles. Along with the aromas of five spice, this condiment offers savory bits of chile and peppers in the flavorful oil. You can pick up a jar at the El Segundo, Playa Vista, Brentwood or Culver City markets or order online for shipping.

$12.99. Purchase here→

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Beeswax bread bag

You bought the expensive crusty bread from the fancy bakery; you can not finish it all in one sitting. Does the nice bread want to go into a plastic bag? The bread does not. It was made with wild yeast and the farmer had a nickname for every kernel of wheat that was ground into flour for it. The bread wants you to buy it this luxurious beeswax bread bag from Gjusta Goods, a store in which you want to buy everything that’s not nailed down, the same way you feel when ordering at the restaurant next door. The bag smells like bee heaven and kept promises, and it will keep your fancy bread in tip-top shape. Bee nice to the bread.

$45. Purchase here→

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Franklin smoker
Franklin Barbecue smoker
(Franklin BBQ Pits)

You may know Aaron Franklin’s name because he revolutionized the barbecue scene in Austin or maybe you’ve just heard tell of the four-hour line one must wait to get a plate of his brisket. You may know or own either of his books — “Franklin Barbecue” and “Franklin Steak” — both of which are models of the form and absolute essentials for anyone who cooks cow. Those deeply washed in oak smoke know that Franklin is not just a meat mastermind but a welder who has fashioned barbecue pits that are the stuff of absolute legend — and know that him manufacturing and putting his name on a backyard offset smoker is a stamp of approval like when tea used to carry the seal of the Queen. That it costs as much as a used car is neither here nor there for those with true barbecue sickness; this is the backyard smoker we have been waiting for, and now the kid’s braces or fixing the roof are just going to have to wait.

$3,950. Purchase here→

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Classic cooking
Hakeme donabe
(Yuko Ikeda)

Chefs love using a hakeme donabe, an age-old Japanese ceramic pot, for its even heat distribution and beautiful presentation. You will too. It’s ideal for soups, stews and braises and can work on either the stove top or in the oven. Crafted from clay in Japan’s Iga region, this donabe is handmade at Nagatani-en, a company known for its Iga-yaki pottery. Hakeme means “brushstroke” in Japanese, and that’s how the glaze is applied to this model, which comes in four sizes. You can pick up this one or browse other donabes at Toiro in West Hollywood or order from its site.

$65-180. Purchase here→

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Sparkling natural verjus
Jus Jus is a low-alcohol, sparkling, natural verjus
(Jus Jus)

For those limiting alcohol intake or just looking for an alternative on nights to take it easy, there’s Jus Jus, a low-alcohol, sparkling, natural verjus. Founder Julia Sherman had slowed down her drinking and was looking for a bottle of bubbles that wouldn’t leave her feeling trashed and hungover. She, along with partner and winemaker Martha Stoumen, decided to make their own, manipulating traditional verjus (the pressing of unripe green grapes), by fermenting it slightly like a pét nat.

Prices vary. Purchase here→

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Essentials spice jar set
Savory Spice essential spice jar set
(Savory Spice)

This highly practical “Essentials” starter spice set from Savory Spice is perfect for the nascent home cook or anyone who needs a kitchen refresh. It contains the basic must-haves — salt, pepper, garlic powder — along with versatile, high-quality seasoning blends like Italian herbs and Mild Chili. Some of the spices included, like the California paprika blend, are not readily available at most workaday supermarkets.

$44.95. Purchase here→

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Charcuterie subscription box
Olympic Provisions charcuterie subscription box
(Olympic Provisions)

Portland, Ore.-based salumeria Olympia Provisions makes it easy to get your hands on high-quality meats and cheeses. Their charcuterie subscription boxes contain a curated hodgepodge of cheeses, salami, paté and other delicious foodstuffs, making it easier than ever to host your own meat and cheese party at home. Just pick your product preferences and delivery frequency. The U.S. Postal service will take care of the rest.

$13-36. Purchase here→

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Pearson Ranch citrus sampler

For your citrus-obsessed friend who has everything, get them a California exotic citrus sampler from the San Joaquin Valley’s Pearson Ranch. The ranch can’t guarantee availability, but a 5-pound box may include rare varieties of finger limes, limequats, calamondins and other hard-to-find citrus.

$45. Purchase here→

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Song collection

For his San Francisco shop, Peter Luong visits farmers in China and Taiwan annually, selecting only the most sublime tea varietals: delicate greens, oolongs whose flavors range from buttery to peachy, black teas with spicy depths. The collection presents Song’s entire lineup of teas in individual loose-leaf packets — an immersion course into tea’s highest expressions and pleasures.

$160. Purchase here→

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‘Tis the season: Panettone

Italy’s traditional holiday bread achieved cult status this decade among America’s most skilled bakers; mastering the cloud-like, pull-apart texture became a competitive point of pride. Roy Shvartapel is a baker’s baker, and his panettone, each loaf weighing over 2 pounds. has achieved cult status. Choose between candied orange-raisin and chocolate.

$60. Purchase here→

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Jenn Harris is a senior writer for the Food section and is also the fried chicken queen of L.A. She has a BA in literary journalism from UCI and an MA in journalism from USC. Follow her @Jenn_Harris_.
Amy Scattergood is a staff writer for the Food section of the Los Angeles Times.
Peter Meehan is the editor of the Food section. He previously edited Lucky Peach and wrote for the New York Times. He has co-written a number of cookbooks and produced shows for public television and Netflix. He likes tacos and is a graduate of Oak Park River Forest High School.
Genevieve Ko is the cooking editor for the Los Angeles Times. She is a cookbook author and has been a food writer, editor and recipe developer for national food media outlets. Ko graduated from Yale after a childhood in Monterey Park.
Ben Mims is the cooking columnist for the Los Angeles Times. He has written three cookbooks and has worked as a food editor and recipe developer for several food media publications, such as Lucky Peach, Food & Wine, Saveur, Food Network and Buzzfeed/Tasty.
Patricia Escárcega joined the Los Angeles Times as a restaurant critic in December 2018. A Southern California native, Escárcega was born in Riverside to a family of naranjeros (citrus pickers).
Bill Addison is a James Beard Award-winning restaurant critic. He was previously national critic for Eater and has held critic positions at the San Francisco Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News and Atlanta magazine.