I’ve been particularly good this year, and I hope Santa has taken note. Because you know the saying: It ain’t over ’til the fat man slices. And I lust for a fancy mandoline under the tree this Christmas. Not the little eight-stringed musical instrument that Alison Krauss plays (a mandolin). I’m talking about the Bron classic stainless-steel mandoline (“The Original”) that superchefs throughout the world play. This sturdy steel mandoline will do ripple cuts of carrots, potatoes, and beets and slice truffles so thin you can see through them. Slicing up fruit for pretty tarts is a cinch with the Bron. It lists for $219.99 but you can pick one up at Spoons ‘n Spice (4700 S. 900 East, No. 45; 788 E. 9400 South, No. 32) for a measly $129.99.
No need to stop there, though. There’s plenty of cool stuff for the kitchen that’ll have your favorite cook creaming their jeans this holiday season. Speaking of slicing, remember the Seinfeld episode where Kramer purchases a deli-grade meat slicer so he can have fresh-sliced cold cuts at home? At Bintz Restaurant Supply (1855 S. 300 West), you can buy the Globe manual 12-inch geardrive heavy duty slicer for $2,883.05. There’s could be shaved corned beef in your future.
I’m not quite finished cutting stuff up yet. What self-respecting cook doesn’t secretly lust for an insanely gorgeous and expensive handcrafted sushi knife? Every time I visit Takashi’s restaurant, the sushi knife sweats kick in. Swordsmith Teruyasu Fujiwara IV makes knives called maboroshi no meito which translates as “visionary sword celebrated in victory.” I call them works of art. His #1 white high carbon steel Yanagiba sushi knife has a magnolia wood handle and a 14-inch blade. It sells for $1,200 at JapanWoodworker.com.
For a gift that any cook would adore—and one that’s in the “affordable” category—head over to Tony Caputo’s Market & Deli (308 W. 300 South) for a copy of The Silver Spoon cookbook ($39.95). Weighing in at 1,264 pages, The Silver Spoon—first published in 1950—is considered to be Italy’s culinary bible. With 1,200-plus recipes, this is the perfect gift for the cook who’d rather dispense with anecdotes and travelogues and get down to cooking. And while you’re at Caputo’s, pick up some fresh truffles to slice with your new Bron mandoline.
I’ve yet to meet a serious cook who wouldn’t kill for a wood-fired oven. I found one at SurLaTable.com which doesn’t require a major kitchen renovation. Two grand will get you the handcrafted terra cotta oven, made by hand in Portugal. It’s a 33-inch diameter dome-shaped wood-fired oven on wheels, for use out on the patio or terrace. When you order it from the Sur la Table Website, it’s delivered via its White Glove Service, which includes home assembly and removal of all packaging. Not even Santa assembles gifts and takes away the boxes! For gifts a little lighter on the pocketbook, head over to Sur la Table in the Gateway and peruse its collection of culinary Christmas tree ornaments ($9.95-$19.95). Sur la Table has everything from hanging pizza slices, french fries, avocados, hamburgers, and red onion ornaments to handmade Santa in the kitchen and ice-cream trucks to hang from the tree.
For winter and holiday cooking, I’d be lost without my cherished Le Creuset Dutch oven. I’ve had it for ages and think of it as a secret weapon in the kitchen. It’s ideal for stewing and braising and is essential for the beef daub, cassoulet, and choucroute that I make each winter. Made in France, you can gift someone or yourself a cast-iron 2 3/4-quart Le Creuset Dutch Oven for $79.95 at Sur la Table (suggested retail is $130).
Each year during the holidays I put out bowls of nuts—de rigueur for the X-mas season—and each year, they go untouched. So this year, I’m heading to Granato’s for groceries that are sure to be a hit with houseguests: Mezzetta almond-stuffed, anchovy-stuffed and garlic-stuffed olives ($5.95), Ital marinated artichokes ($3.50), Bruno marinated asparagus ($5.95), jars of spicy pepperoncini from Kronos ($3.50), Tamtad’s stuffed grape leaves ($4.50) and Mancini roasted red peppers ($5.50). This holiday season, I’ll leave the nuts to the squirrels.
Just when I thought I’d seen them all, along comes a kitchen cooking apron I’d be proud to wear! At SpanishTable.com you can order their fabulous flamenco apron ($28), which is actually made from the fabric of flamenco dresses. And the pretty ruffles are perfect for catching crumbs! While you’re at it, check out The Spanish Table’s enameled cazuelas, which range from 7-inch to 16-inch. They’re a snazzy way to serve steamed clams and mussels at the table.
Everyone, including me, seems to want to be Mario Batali. And why not? He’s a masterful cook as well as a world-class eater and drinker. So for the Mario wannabe in your life, motor over to Vespa Salt Lake City (361 W. 400 South) and equip him or her with a new ride just like Mario’s: a Vespa scooter. I think that Mario’s original Vespa was a 1969 model but for from $3,200 to $6,900 you can hook up your favorite chef with a 2008 Vespa.