Shopping & Reviews

Saveur’s 2010 Holiday Gift Guide: Editors’ Picks

Our editors pick the best gifts they've given, received, or wish they'd received.

The Very Best Quebecois Maple Syrup

“One thing I have given many times, something that can have great weight and significance whatever the occasion, is this maple syrup only available in Quebec. It comes from various small farms, they’re packaged in these ugly, funky cans that are uniform in design and then they’re sold in grocery stores. Each one is syrup from a single maple farm, though it won’t necessarily say where. It’s incredible; it puts our idea of Vermont or New England maple syrup completely to shame. Whenever I’m in Quebec I’ll buy five or ten cans to bring back and hold on to a few and distribute the rest as gifts.” –James Oseland, Editor-in-Chief The Farmer’s Can, 18.25 oz., $17.95,

Cookware That Lasts Forever

“The best tools I ever received were my first set of bargain Calphalon pots and pans that my mom bought for me from TJ Maxx when I was a freshman in college. I still use the battered 6-quart pot three or four times a week to boil water for pasta, braise greens, or simmer beans.” –Hunter Lewis, Test Kitchen Director Calphalon Tri-Ply Stainless Steel 13-pc. Cookware Set, $399.95,

Sweet Chilean Cookies

“I discovered this triple whammy of a treat on the web site Foodzie, which specializes in handmade, and at times perversely decadent, goodies. Maitelates combine three things I love most: cookies, dulce de leche, and chocolate. This substantial sweet is in fact an alfajore, a South American sandwich cookie (some say Chilean, others insist Argentine) that spreads smooth milk caramel between two fine-crumbed cookies made extra sandy with the addition of corn starch. As if that weren’t sufficiently indulgent, owner Maite Zubia coats each one in crisp dark chocolate. They come twelve to a box, but since they’re individually wrapped in attractive black paper and gold labels, they can work just as well as a stocking stuffer.” — Gabriella Gershenson, Senior Editor Chocolate Covered Alfajores Sampler Box, $35,

Serious Small-Batch Chili Sauce

“Yes, Mazi Piri-Piri sauce has the blistering heat chile fiends crave, but a base of tomato, vinegar, and lemon juice pack a bright, umami wallop with that spice. Handmade in small batches in Asbury Park, New Jersey, the addictive hot sauce is oil-based, giving it a lovely, satiny body. But beware: once you start by adding a dab to some morning scramble or a few drops to tomato soup, you may find yourself turning every meal into a vehicle for piri-piri delivery.” — Ganda Suthivarakom, Website Director Mazi Piri-Piri Sauce, $7.99, Sickles Market, Little Silver, New Jersey

An Intergalactic Pizza Cutter

“When I was eight years old, I put together my first ever model: a little plastic duplicate of the Starship Enterprise. It hung from my bedroom ceiling for years but it didn’t do much, since there were no moving parts. This is a far more functional version: a pizza cutter styled after the NCC-1701. The ship’s hull spins to cut through melted cheese and dough, helping pizza-lovin’ Trekkies boldly go. — Marne Setton, Assistant Editor Star Trek Enterprise Pizza Cutter, $24.99,

Smart Kitchen Art

“It might be a cliche, but I can’t help myself from decking my kitchen walls with food-related art. I’ve known the artist Mia Cabana for a long time, and I love her stitched, stamped prints: they’re an ideal mix of modern and old-fashioned, sweet dosed with the perfect amount of witty. Her triptych of fruits, veggies, and utensils — a gift from another great friend — looks fantastic hanging over my stove in bright silver frames.” –Helen Rosner, Online Editor _Pear, Cabbage, Four[ks]_, $30 for a set of three,

A Custom Leather Knife Roll

“A former boyfriend of mine had a leathersmith make a one-of-a-kind knife roll that fits my favorite knife (a Chinese cleaver from Martin Yan, whose blade stays perfectly flush with my knuckles when I’m chopping vegetables) and a variety of others. The leathersmith, Kahlila Johnson, used to design shoes in New York City and now lives in Truckee, CA, a ski town in Lake Tahoe where I used to live. She does amazing things with leather. My knife roll gets comments wherever I go!” — Ruth Selby, Kitchen Intern Kahlila custom leatherwork, price on request,

Cooking Classes for Two

“For Hanukkah last year, I got my husband and myself cooking lessons. He’s interested in cooking but doesn’t have much background, and when we cook together at home, I have a tendency to take over and relegate him to menial tasks like grating cheese or, um, setting the table. My hope was that taking a class together in a neutral kitchen with someone else in charge could be a good way to encourage his cooking skills while keeping my control-freak demon at bay. It worked! We took a soups and breads course and, while I still do most of the cooking, he now bakes bread regularly. Talk about a gift that keeps on giving.” — Leah Koenig, Acting Associate Editor Couple’s Cooking: Gastropub Grub, $70, The Wooden Spoon, Chicago

A Stylish Scandinavian Kitchen Towel

“The open-air museum of Skansen in Stockholm is the world’s oldest outdoor museum. I was there shooting a Christmas sweets story and one of the restaurants had these towels out for me to use. I coveted them — they told me I could get them at the store, but the store was closed, so I ordered them online when I got back to the U.S. They’re a true tea towel: 100 percent linen, they get softer with use, they don’t pill. They’re wonderful in the kitchen.” — Todd Coleman, Executive Food Editor Comfort Kitchen Towel, 179 SEK ($25 USD),

A Next-Level Dutch Oven

“This Christmas, my mom gave me the ultimate gift: a Staub cocotte. I’ve been dreaming of owning a Dutch oven for years now — It’s an essential but pricey item that I hadn’t been able to purchase on my own — and until now, I felt a little twinge of despair each time I came across a recipe that called for “a dutch oven or large, heavy pot.” Sure, I had a suitable vessel, but nothing compares to pulling the weighty, cast-iron cocotte out of the oven and finding that the contents are cooked to perfection. It makes me feel like I’ve graduated to the next level.” — Tyla Fowler, Editorial Assistant Staub 6.75 Quart Oval Cocotte, $239.95,

An Indispensible Three-Dollar Whisk

“I’ve always been opposed to superfluous, super-specialized kitchen tools on principle. And so, I confess, when my friend Heather presented me with a vinaigrette whisk many years ago, I groaned inwardly. A tiny thing with a u-shaped wire spring at the whisking end, it hardly inspired confidence at first glance. But I’ve since learned that this little whisk aerates admirably, and its diminutive size is a real boon when working with small volumes: dipping sauces, gravies, scrambled eggs, hot chocolate, and, yes, vinaigrettes. The best gifts are the ones that truly surprise — and it doesn’t hurt that this one can be had for less than five dollars.” –Beth Kracklauer, Deputy Editor Small Bent Pan Whisk, $3.49,

A Vintage Milk Glass Cake Stand

“A decorative cake stand is something I never would have bought myself, because it’s really not all that practical and thus hard to justify spending money on. But for Christmas last year, my sister gave me the most gorgeous vintage cake stand: it’s frilly and excessive perhaps, but it is the piece of dishware that I love the most. Every time I put a freshly baked cake on it, it elevates the dessert, and makes it feel important. After all the time I put into baking, it’s good to have something in my kitchen that reminds me to celebrate a successful cake.” — Anna Stockwell, Online Editorial Assistant Milk Glass and Sweetheart Vintage Dessert Stand, $32,

A Feast of Italian Desserts

“In case you don’t live in New York City, the fine folks at Eataly — the Italian food emporium from Mario Batali and Lidia and Joe Bastianich — have figured out a way to bring the store to you. Well, almost. The purveyors of all things Italian have put together several product samplers in time for the holidays, and the selection of sweets is by far the most festive. A box brims with enough confections, cookies, hazelnut spread, and coffee to keep you mindlessly grazing through the holidays. Highlights include Delicatezze from Piedmont, spheres of chocolate hiding a whole hazelnut and rolled in snowy pearls of sugar that look like Christmas itself. And the Michelis Melighe are some of the most delicious cookies I’ve eaten in recently memory: buttery, crisp biscuits with a hidden crunch of corn meal.” — G.G. Something Sweet from Eataly, $79,

A Sized-Just-Right Teakettle

“Le Creuset’s enameled-iron cookware is rightfully beloved — the G-stamped Dutch oven I inherited from a great-aunt is singularly my most prized possession — but their fantastic teakettles deserve praise, too. They ingeniously come in two sizes: there’s the standard two-quart model, and then there’s the perfect demi kettle, which boils just enough water for a solo oversized mug of tea (curled up on the couch, snow falling outside, Love Actually on the DVD player), or two normal mugs if you happen to find yourself with company.” –H.R. Demi Teakettle 1.25 qt, $49.99,

Want more SAVEUR?

Get our favorite recipes, stories, and more delivered to your inbox.