All of the restaurants in the Napa Valley area of Northern California make it a great vacation destination for food lovers, but if you’re like me, you probably still want to do some cooking when you get home from that vacation instead of just going out to eat! One of the great things about Napa and the surrounding areas is that there are lots of amazing kitchen stores that stock cool gadgets, specialty ingredients and anything else that you might want to add to your home collection. I visited quite a few on my last trip, so here is a rundown of some of the spots you might want to stop at if you’re visiting the area.
In Napa itself, you’ll find Shackford’s Kitchen Store. The shop looks unassuming from the outside and you’ll probably notice the big collection of cookie jars in the window before you go in, but you’ll be amazed at how much stuff is packed into this store. They have all kinds of equipment for professional bakers and cooks, as well as plenty of stuff for the home cook. I saw several people ordering restaurant equipment on my visit, people picking up several chefs coats, as well as a few people just checking out the cookbook selection or the latest Wilton pans.
Unless you want to spring for express shipping, it’s getting a little close to Christmas to do any more online shopping for the holidays. You’re going to have to look a little closer to home for gift ideas for your favorite foodies. Fortunately, there are lots of great gifts that you don’t need to order way in advance.
A gift card to a favorite cooking store, like Williams Sonoma, is easy to pick up and easy to give – and it is something that allows your giftee to pick up something that they can really use in their kitchen.
Along similar lines, you can also give the gift of a cooking class to your favorite foodie. You don’t need to book this in advance, just make up a nice card with a “certificate” promising the class. Look up a couple of schools in your area – Sur La Table has excellent classes nationwide, but you’ll really have to look and see what’s available near where you live – to pick out a class. Alternatively, you can contact a private chef for an in-home cooking class for you, friends and family that can be a very affordable option and get you exactly the kind of class you want.
The holidays are a time of good spirits, great food and wonderful gifts. The gifts aren’t a requirement, of course, but there is a lot of satisfaction in seeing the look on the face of a loved one when they open up that package and smile with joy. And the shopping itself can be fun, too. Since we’re baking oriented at Baking Bites, here are some great gift suggestions for the baker in your life.
Bakers tend to like to share their creations, so a new cupcake carrier can actually be the perfect gift. They enable you to store baked goods in an airtight container, keeping them fresh, and they make it easy to transport goodies from place to place. A Collapsible Cupcake Carrier is not only a great carrier, but it doesn’t take up much storage space when it is not in use.
The Cooknook Cookbook Holder is something both bakers and cooks can appreciate. This holder mounts under a counter so that you can have your recipes at eye level. It also has a magnetic board to which you can attach recipe cards, notes or printouts from your favorite blogs. Like the cupcake carrier, it also collapses when not in use so it doesn’t take up much space.
If your baker is also a food blogger, then they probably have an eye for photography as well as for baking. The Food Stylist’s Handbook is a great resource, as well as an interesting read in general. It is sure to inspire bloggers to get their cameras out. And The Camera Lens Mug is just as good of a gift for the foodie photographer. The mug looks and feels like a real dSLR camera lens!
Father’s Day is just around the corner, so if you haven’t started shopping for a little token of appreciate for deal ol’ Dad, now is the perfect time to start. Grilling stuff always takes center stage for Father’s Day gift lists, but if you’re dad is anything like mine, he probably already has a whole bunch of grilling stuff he doesn’t use. That is why I’m focusing on non-grilling foodie gifts this year!
- One top pick would be a Chef’s Case, especially for the dad who travels or spends a lot of the time at less-than-gourmet business lunches. This secret agent-style briefcase is stocked with gourmet ingredients, spices and sauces that will make any meal memorable. Plus, it’ll make him look like a secret agent.
- Forget organic beer – did you know that dad can Grow His Own Beer with a kit that lets him grow hops, barley and wheat in a mini greenhouse! I’m not sure that he’ll be able to launch his dream microbrewery on such a small scale, but he will be able to drink his very own brand of beer at least once!
- I already have a Vinturi Wine Aerator and it really does seem to work well, turning ordinary (and inexpensive) wines into fruity, flavorful ones with its unique aeration process. Of course, it can bring out the flavors in pricier wines even more, too. You’ll have fun testing it out with dad, doing side by side comparisons at home!
- For a dad who likes tools and pizza, the Bialetti Pizza Chopper is a great gift. The chopper lets you slice up a pizza in a way that is both manly and efficient. With a slight rocking motion, this pizza cutter will cut through thin and deep dish pizzas in the blink of an eye – without moving any toppings or cheese out of place.
- If you’re looking for something smaller, a bar of Bacon Soap should fit the bill. This bar of soap isn’t made of bacon – it just smells like it. I think that many bacon fans would argue that the smell of bacon is a great one to wake up to in the morning.
Maybe it’s because I ate too many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as a kid, but this Peanut Butter & Jelly Pouch is just too cute to resist. The soft fabric is stamped with a photo-print of a freshly made peanut butter and jelly sandwich that looks just as tempting as the real thing – it even captured the swirls that a butter knife makes in a thick layer of peanut butter! The sandwich opens like a book, and each side of the bread unzips into a roomy pouch. The two halves of the sandwich are held shut with a magnetic clasp – which is much less messy than using real peanut butter – when not in use. It measures just 4.5×5-inches (about the size of a small piece of white sandwich bread) and is a good size to tuck all the odds and ends that usually sink down to the bottom of a purse, including change, lipstick, compacts, etc. Since it’s reminiscent of childhood anyway, it would also function as a cute purse for a kid to tuck into a backpack during the school day.