Foodie’s Holiday Wish List

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By Deirdre Bourdet

cheeseKnifeSet.jpgMy family insists that I am difficult to buy gifts for, due to my extremely personal and subjective taste (aka “pickiness”) when it comes to clothing and the like.  I remind them annually that it’s actually very simple to get me something I will love – as long as it relates to food or wine (or is in fact food or wine), doesn’t clutter up my cabinets and counters, and doesn’t dominate my kitchen aesthetic, I’m a happy camper.  In this vein, I offer you some suggestions for the picky foodie in your family, virtually guaranteed to please those who love to cook and eat:

(1) Laguiole 3-Piece Cheese Knife Set 
Laguiole is still the gold standard for cheese service knives, and for good reason.  The traditional design is classic, elegant, but also sleekly modern.  And the knives are fantastic: a razor-sharp cleaver for the hardy mountain cheeses, a short rounded spreader for the soft stuff, and versatile long blade with pointed tip to spear that hunk of camembert you’ve just sheared off.  Gorgeous and functional, these knives are welcomed everywhere they go.  

(2) Microplane Zester Grater
This tool will change your attitude about grating cheese and chopping zest.  Its rasp-like blade makes short work of even the hardest parmesan or pecorino, and can denude a citrus fruit of its zest in a matter of moments–without taking the white pith with it.  Plus, the enormous volume grated cheese it produces is paper-thin, delicate, and easily dispersed into a dish, allowing you to use less cheese to achieve the same flavor result (for those that care about health or kitchen economy).

(3) Silpat Baking Mats
Even non-bakers appreciate these non-stick silicone liners.  They go in the oven (up to 480 degrees), as well as into the freezer, making them perfect for cheese tuiles or vegetable chips, as well as chocolate or sugar decorations.  And, you’ll never have to scrub your baking trays again.

(4) Cooling Racks 
Once again, not just for the cookie-bakers.  These racks are perfect for letting meats rest without ruining the lovely sear on one side, and also indispensable for finishing canapés or tartines without mucking up the serving dish (any extra tobiko or grated cheese just falls right through).  Get one that folds up so that it doesn’t take up too much storage space, and make sure it’s got enough height to allow easy air circulation underneath.

(5) Offset Palette Knife
Perhaps my favorite cooking tool of all… the long, slim, and flexible palette knife has no equal for versatility and convenience.  Release a full tray of cookies (or a barbecue full of burgers, or an entire pizza crust, or..) in a single swipe, pick up and move multiple objects at the same time, or frost a genoise in a few easy strokes.  The ones with the offset blade are easier to work with on barbecues and countertops alike.