Thursday, December 6, 2007

I Don't Know What I Want

Maybe I know what other people want.

Yes, it's holiday time and I'm shit out of ideas for what people should get me. Aside from some out of print/obscure/not available in the U.S. books, a dog (not happening), and a new bed (also not happening), I don't really need anything. Worse than that, I don't really find myself wanting anything.

Is that sick?

So I thought I'd try to find the answers to what other people might want this holiday season and, in doing so, scare up a couple if ideas for myself.

1. The Gift that Obviates Marriage

Don't want to get married but want the presents? Buy them for yourself. Once you have these items, you'll find the reasons for nuptials greatly diminished.

The KitchenAid 5-Quart Mixer is easily my favorite kitchen appliance. Want to make a quick cake? Dump ingredients in mixer and come back when homogenized. It's heavy as anything and needs a permanent space unless you enjoy lugging it from a cabinet, but mine has a place of honor on the counter between the espresso maker and the cuisinart.

I personally favor the color I own (long story short: I bought myself a blue one several years ago on sale and lamented every day afterwards that I had saved twenty bucks but failed to get the color I had my heart set on. Two years later the Man of the House buys me the color I want for our anniversary. Yes, it is true, for a few days, I owned two of these before donating one to ye olde best friend), but the following are additional hues that make me smile: Grape, Crystal Blue, Pink, Chocolate.

2. The Gift that Turns Your Kitchen into a Maranello Showroom

TheFrancisFrancis! X5 espresso maker is a work of art (also available in many awesome colors and, yes, mine matches the stand mixer). So this is not a cheap gift. I have never, not for one tiny tiny moment, regretted buying mine. It has totally transformed the kitchen both visually and qualitatively. I can make a damn fine espresso anytime I want. The steam action pump is an immensely necessary feature as it really expresses the coffee in a way that gives it good crema and a terrific taste. Yes, the pods can be expensive (it also takes grounds FYI), but less expensive than a Starbucks and infinitely more convenient.

3. The Gift for Budding Patissiers

The Professional Pastry Chef is an invaluable reference. Yes, it is hampered by the size of the recipes (how often will you really be making chocolate mousse for 50?) but the mise en place section alone is worth the price of admission. I mean, did you know it takes about 20 minutes to make your own graham crackers and that they're awesome? The soup-to-nuts desserts I've made from the book haven't always been my favorites, but the procedures have really shaped how I go about baking and designing my own recipes. It is a heavy tome that doesn't get replaced on the shelf very often in my house because I like to have it around when I'm working.

4. The Last Salt and Pepper Mills You'll Ever Need

The Peugeot 9-1/2-Inch Pepper Mill, Black Matte and accompanying salt mill were (don't laugh) a Valentine's Day gift this year and they are amazing. I might well never buy another mill. The coarseness settings really really work and are unique enough to allow for pretty much any application of salt or pepper one could conceive. Furthermore, they are neutral and elegant and wouldn't look out of place on a casual or fancy table. Now, if only I had a table.

5. The You're Really A Grownup When Gift

You have the Riedel Vinum Burgundy Glasses in your beverage arsenal. While Man of the House and I recently bought a sweet bar from Crate and Barrel, I am not yet confident enough in our abilities to buy real wine glasses. You see, we are not exactly what I'd call delicate. I buy glasses in bulk so that when, inevitably, we break two within the first week and one every two months thereafter, it isn't such a big deal. If you are more mature had sure-handed than we, however, these are really beautiful glasses.

6. The American Psycho Blue Ribbon Winner

The W├╝sthof 8-Inch Extra Wide Chef's Knife is a solid weapon. The heft of it is comforting especially if you, like I, might live in a less than desirable neighborhood. Moving onto to reality, though, I had wanted this knife for ages because it was the first knife I had ever held where I felt as though no task would elude me. I know knives are very particular and every person will love a different knife. However, if you like something substantial and heavy, this may well be the knife for you.

So that's just an overview. I could go on, but I don't want to appear to be reaching. These are five indispensables and one wish for the future from my personal collection. Happy Shopping!

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