FLOOD Holiday Gift Guide 2015: Food and Drink
Stumped on what to buy someone on your gift list? Here at FLOOD, we polled the staff and put together our own picks for what we’d like for the holidays. Humble? Hm, not exactly, but here are a few helpful hints for the foodie friend who has everything. And we brought along a few pals from the LA chapter of the Best Friends Animal Society to help us model some of the goods.
1. The Nordic Cookbook by Magnus Nilsson
Magnus Nilsson, the wunderkind chef whose restaurant Fäviken is a culinary landmark in his native Sweden, travelled across the Nordic countries collecting traditional recipes, eventually compiling them into The Nordic Cookbook, a compendium of over 700 recipes from Denmark, The Faroe Islands, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. While you may know some of these dishes from, uh, IKEA, others may throw even your closest foodie friends for a loop: think rose-hip soup or herring and potato pudding. Nilsson’s work in the rural town of Järpen was highlighted in Netflix’s fantastic Chef’s Table series, and the cuisine here is treated just as lovingly as it was on that show, courtesy of Erik Olsson’s stunning photography. You’ll never look at Norwegian cheese curds the same way again. $50 at Phaidon.com
2. KOVAL Bourbon
We know, we know: a bourbon from Chicago? If the Bourbon Boom has given us anything (other than a dearth of available bottles of Pappy), it’s an incredible variety of distilleries outside of Kentucky all working to perfect their distillates. And while it’s easy to scoff at all the carpetbaggers (at least Jack Daniels has the decency to call their stuff “Tennessee Whiskey”), the fact of the matter is that KOVAL’s bourbon is remarkably smooth and flavorful. That’s thanks in part to the simple mash bill—51% corn, 49% millett—which gives it a sweet, mapley flavor with a pleasant burn at the finish. But it’s also due to the company’s insistence on only using the purest “heart” cut of their distillate. And besides: if Chicago was a good enough market for Al Capone’s bootleggers, it oughta be good enough to support a quality bourbon. $39 at Binnys.com
3. HotBox Roasters Coffee in a Can
From the same people behind Oskar Blues—the company that puts delicious craft beer into a humble can—comes HotBox Roasters, a similarly unpretentious coffee. With names like Frank Sumatra, Bolivia Newton John, and Kenya Dig It, HotBox brings a playful attitude to the often hoity-toity world of specialty coffee. Packaged in recyclable cans that keep the beans as fresh as the day they were roasted, this is the perfect gift for your java-loving friend who can’t stand boutique barista snobbery. $17.43 at HotBoxRoasters.com
4. Sosu Srirachup
French fries, meatloaf, eggs, and cheeseburgers all have two things in common: one, they are all delicious, and two, they all need ketchup. This year, give your favorite foods a condiment with some fire in its belly. Sosu’s Srirachup is made with natural ingredients—early girl tomatoes, chili peppers, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, sea salt, and garlic—and it heats up any diner-quality dish. Just make sure to not let your grandma use it on her home fries without warning. $7 at SosuSauces.com
5. A Girl and Her Greens: Hearty Meals from the Garden cookbook by April Bloomfield
If you were a bit intimidated by the image of April Bloomfield holding a dead pig over her shoulders on the cover of her well-loved first cookbook A Girl and Her Pig: Recipes and Stories, then perhaps her second release might be more up your alley. A Girl and Her Greens: Hearty Meals from the Garden takes quite a different angle from her breakthrough book—as the title implies, this is a collection of recipes based on things you would find in your garden—but is just the same in terms of execution: both practical and imaginative. Wilbur sends his regards. $24 at Amazon.com
6. Leafs by Snoop marijuana products
In the least surprising career move of all time, Snoop Dogg recently announced that he would be entering the weed business—like, legally. Leafs by Snoop, the new boutique marijuana product line fronted by Tha Doggfather, launched just this past month, and with its carefully crafted design scheme and sampler-inspired approach, it’s something of a revision of what recreational pot looks like. Packaging aside, this is still the same quality of sticky icky that you’d expect from professional dispensaries. It’s just that if you want to provide the gift of Doggified herb to your friends and family, you have to currently be in Colorado (those in other legalized states will have it soon—everyone else, write your governor). Participating retailers and medical marijuana facilities can be found here. Oo-wee.
7. SunBasket prepared meals subscription
Incredibly, we live in a time in which numerous companies will deliver a pre-assembled meal to your doorstep multiple times per week. But SunBasket doesn’t drop off some boring old cardboard box of Omaha steaks. The San Francisco–based company’s produce is all picked from farms along the Pacific Coast, and they promise organic and GMO-free products in all of their boxes. Plus they offer options for paleo, gluten-free, and vegetarian dining. Oh yeah—the meals are pretty tasty, too, with menu items ranging from Middle Eastern turkey meatballs with cauliflower couscous to a smoked-salmon egg scramble. $69 for three two-person meals per week at SunBasket.com
8. Lucky Peach Presents 101 Easy Asian Recipes cookbook
Arguably the best culinary publication around (even though it’s so much more than that), Lucky Peach has consistently been a source for great recipes since McSweeney’s initially began publishing it about five years ago. Now, in an overdue move, the editors have just published their first cookbook—Lucky Peach Presents 101 Easy Asian Recipes. In addition to matching the high standards of design and intelligence already present in the quarterly, the book promises to bridge the divide between gourmet Asian dishes and relatively straightforward options. Safe travels, folks. Just remember: you can never burn the Sapporo. $20 at Amazon.com
9. Golden Road Back Home Gingerbread Stout
What is it about the holidays that makes people willing to drink a concoction that they would normally consider, well, disgusting? Anyone in their right mind would scoff at the idea of downing a pint of pumpkin beer or a glass full of eggnog in July, but for some reason, the minute December rolls around, we’re nuts for the stuff. This year, why not give your booze-loving friends a seasonal beverage that’s actually delicious? Los Angeles’s own Golden Road Brewing has just canned its 2015 Back Home Gingerbread Stout, and it’s worth your coin. With a warm and heavy flavor like other Russian Imperial stouts—and the added delight of fresh ginger brewed right into the beer—Golden Road’s seasonal offering is the best way to say “I love you. Drink this before 2016.” $4.50 per can at Craftshack.com
Best Friends Animal Society is the only national animal welfare organization focused exclusively on ending the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters. A leader in the no-kill movement, Best Friends runs the nation’s largest no-kill sanctuary for companion animals, as well as lifesaving programs in partnership with more than 1,300 rescue groups and shelters across the country. In LA, Best Friends leads the No-Kill Los Angeles (NKLA) initiative, which is focused on ending the killing of dogs and cats in city shelters by 2017, and it operates two centers: the NKLA Pet Adoption Center in West LA and the Best Friends Pet Adoption and Spay/Neuter Center in Mission Hills. Since its founding in 1984, Best Friends has helped reduce the number of animals killed in American shelters from 17 million per year to an estimated 4 million. For more information, visit BestFriends.org.