Greetings to longtime and brand new Dinner A Love Story readers! Herewith, the annual holiday gift guide featuring the best of eating and reading of 2020. In keeping with tradition, there’s an amazing giveaway for a few lucky readers, but this year, being 2020, there’s a little twist, and I hope you’re up for it. Happy Holidays, Everyone!
Chef Knife (Nakano, $60 with code DINNER) A chef’s knife can be a personal thing, but Nakano has nailed the most important factors to make this classic 8-inch kitchen workhorse be a universal fit for the home cook: It has just the right heft, a comfortable handle, a steel, sharp blade, and handles all your slicing tasks with precision and strength. Nakano sent me one a few weeks ago and I loved it so much, I decided to officially collaborate with them. Good news for DALS readers, because that means you can use the discount code DINNER at checkout to activate a $14 holiday voucher and receive a free Japanese e-cookbook with your order. You can also use the discount code towards their limited edition, double-sided, high precision Santoku knife ($139 with code DINNER). THAT’S NOT ALL! Perhaps most exciting, you can win BOTH OF THESE KNIVES FOR FREE. Keep reading for more details on that one….
Restaurant Gift Cards & Cookbooks (such as Eventide, $19) Most likely you can’t share a meal with someone at your favorite restaurant right now, but you can still support those restaurants to make sure they’re ready to go on the other end of this pandemic. Consider buying someone a gift card to that restaurant, along with a note that says “Can’t wait to eat ____ with you at _____ in 2021.” Another gesture of support: Look into your favorite spot and see if they’ve published a cookbook. Last week, we made the iconic clam chowder from Portland’s Eventide cookbook. Was it as good as being there? No. Was it special in its own way? Absolutely.
Mezcal (Madre, $50-55) I never cared very much about mezcal, a smoky agave-based liquor, until my friend Stephanie from Mexico City described the proper way to drink it: neat with a slice of orange. Then I couldn’t get it out of my head. My local wine store recommended Madre — how pretty/gift-worthy is that label?
Old-Fashioned Lowball (Crate & Barrel, $10, each) Olivia McCool, the food stylist on my book shoot, loved these glasses for the way they refracted light in a photo. I love them because they have the exact right heft and I feel supremely elegant drinking a Negroni (or Mezcal!) from one. For Next-Level Gifting: Pair a set of 4 with a bottle of the recipient’s favorite booze.
Trick Mirror (by Jia Tolentino, $17) Essays on identity politics and internet culture by one of this era’s great thinkers. My 18-year-old tore through it last year — I recommend highly for the special twenty-something feminist in your life.
The Cheese Plate That Will Change Your Life ($25, by Marissa Mullen) It’s hard to overstate how satisfying this book is. Mullen has a devoted following instagram (I first heard about it from my 18-year-old niece, who will be the likely recipient of this gift), and the cheese-by-numbers method spelled out in these pages gives you the tools and the visuals to execute her visions perfectly for every occasion: That Salami River Plate, That Game Day Plate, That Treat Yourself Plate, That Fireside Plate. You get the idea.
Herbal Tea Gift Set (In Pursuit of Tea, $35) I wrote a little bit already about my pandemic-induced, pathological obsession with Getting Cozy ca 2020. (Including but not limited to: fires in the fire place every day, string lights illuminated across the backyard window all day long, warm white bean soup for weekday lunches, etc.) A big part of Campaign Cozy, though, has been a sudden interest in afternoon tea. At some point between 2:00 and 4:00, just as we are pushing to finish the work day, either Andy or I will offer the other one a cup of herbal tea (no caffeine) and it feels so unlike us (and our morning, turbo-charged coffee routine) that I want to laugh every time. So I did a little research and found In Pursuit of Tea, purveyors of single-origin, hand-processed looseleaf teas. This Classic Herbal gift box features Chamomile, Mint, and vanilla-and-honey-spiked Rooibos. (Related, but pricey: The most gorgeous multi-colored mugs from which to drink them.)
Handmade Chocolate Mice (L.A. Burdick, $36 for a box of 9) If you’re looking to impress a boss or a friend who has everything, or you are a grandparent who wants to spoil your grandchild rotten (I can say from experience: the be-ribboned mice-shaped truffles elicit actual shrieks from teenage girls), these artisanal chocolates are iconic, classic, and no-fail.
The Ultimate College Cookbook (Victoria Granof, $20) She was the beloved, brilliant food stylist on my last book (and of course, the Pasta Con Ceci master), and here she offers a range of dishes designed to be cooked in dorm-friendly appliances as well as her hard-won, very Victoria-esque culinary wisdom. (“If you are cooking with subpar salt, don’t bother seasoning.”) I am all over this for my college freshman.
Oval Platter, ($122, Revol) Every time I take a photo of food on this plate, everyone’s all Where’d you get that beautiful platter? It really does make everything look elegant, from everyday muffins to cheese spreads and roasted vegetables. (Note: Forever grateful that Revol was one of the generous partners I collaborated with for The Weekday Vegetarians.)
Lollipops (See’s, $22 for 30) For the friend who misses traveling, pick up a box of the legendary pops, ubiquitous at all the duty-free shops. Any time I traveled for work, I used to pick up a box on the way home for the girls.
****THIS FUNDRAISER WAS COMPLETED IN JANUARY 2021***Giving Back and a GiveAWAY! LASTLY! I would like to humbly ask a favor: If you’ve ever thought to yourself “I wish there was a way to thank that Dinner: A Love Story lady for the recipe/menu/book rec/PPP series she once gave me….” I have a great idea for you! Consider donating $5 or $10 to World Central Kitchen, the miracle-working nonprofit run by humanitarian chef José Andrés (he’s the one up above, on the right), that has been busy feeding the hungry and stepping in to help bolster traditional safety nets — city services, food banks, school meal programs — struggling since COVID hit. I’ve set a GoFundMe goal of $
2000 $ 3000 $ 5000 $10,000 $12,000 but if you are in the position to give, any amount however small would be amazing. Deadline for donating and entering is Friday, December 18 at midnight ET. ****THIS FUNDRAISER WAS COMPLETED IN JANUARY 2021**
Now for the Giveaway!
-One lucky donor will win the featured set of Nakano knives (the Chef and the Santoku, shown above). To be eligible, please forward your WCK donation confirmation to Jenny@dinneralovestory.com and subscribe to Nakano’s newsletter.
– Three others will receive one of the featured books (Trick Mirror, That Cheese Plate Will Change Your Life, The Ultimate College Cookbook, The Eventide Cookbook, or your choice of restaurant cookbook, no more than $30). I’ll pick TWO from the donors and ONE random reader from the comment section below. If you comment below, be sure to note which book you’d choose. Good luck!
UPDATE: Congratulations to the winners, Jenny K, Andrea S, Camille H, and Megan H, who have all been notified. And THANK YOU to all of you who contributed. In total we raised $11,800 which is just mind-boggling. (FYI You can donate through January 1, 2021, if you are still inclined!) THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!
Let’s see what we can do!
P.S. DALS gift guides through the years:
Photo Credit: Stocksy