A passion for food + fashion

Posts Tagged ‘hostess gifts’

Ginvent Calendar

In Drink on December 12, 2012 at 10:56 pm


It’s 12.12.12, which means that we are halfway through our advent calendars. For many of us, like my four-year-old son, advent calendars look a lot like this faux chalet, below, that I got at Barneys years ago, hiding See’s foil-wrapped milk chocolates (I’m a California girl, after all) behind each door.

advent calendar barneys


If you’re like me, your advent calendar looks a little more exciting. It looks like the most GENIUS present you may have ever received in your life. A GINVENT CALENDAR! Last month, my friend Missy Suicide bestowed me with this inspired and splashy gift of 24 3cl bottles of top-shelf gin. Each evening after the boys have gone to bed, I’ve opened up the day’s door to discover a little splash of gin for a nightcap gin & tonic. Day One started off with a familiar favorite:


But best of all, I’ve made some fun new artisanal discoveries, as well as revisiting a couple of forgotten stalwarts. Here are Days 6-12:



Can’t wait to unlock the remaining 12 as we countdown to Christmas. And for those of you still searching for that perfect gift for the gin loving lady (or gent) in your life, you can thank me—and Missy Suicide—later. First, gin up.



Plum Delicious

In Food on December 2, 2012 at 10:27 am

I just got my shipment of small-batch Stuck-Up Jams, which are AWESOME and made by my chef cousin, Klee. There are just a few jars left on Etsy, which would make great hostess gifts for the holidays. My very favorite is the tart Santa Rosa Red Plum jam, which I like to spread on whole grain toast with butter and a sprinkling of salt.

Stuck Up Santa Rosa Red Plum Jam

For apricot jam lovers, the Apricot Clove is divine. Tonight I’m riffing off an old technique that my butcher taught me when I lived in Paris in my early 20s. I used to mix marmalade with a dollop of spicy dijon mustard, and spread over a small roasting chicken. I’m thinking the apricot clove will be a delicious stand-in for the marmalade. Chef Klee says he also uses the tart plum jam for a glaze on duck or pork, which sounds like a perfect plan for dinner tomorrow night.


Take Me Home for the Holidays!

In Design, Food on December 1, 2012 at 10:21 am


This morning my husband and I got up in the wee hours to finish baking two Goat Cheese & Prosciutto Stratas for the Larchmont Charter West bake sale, organized by my cooking club amigas Carrie and Jessica, whose children go to school to there. (An aside: It’s a little intimidating to be cooking for a school bake sale at which Suzanne Goin is also a parent, but I digress.) Carrie had asked that we decorate and label our baked goods, a small detail I’d overlooked until 11 o’clock last night. Fortunately I had a stash of paper grocery bags from Whole Foods that read “Take Me Home for the Holidays,” which I’d not previously registered until scrambling for some brown paper last night.


I cut up the bags and wrapped them around the baking dish with some bakers twine. I’m so happy with the results, which cost nothing and are an easy, eco-friendly way to wrap holiday and hostess gifts. Added bonus, I am now officially in the Christmas spirit!

White Christmas Dream Drops

In Food on December 18, 2011 at 9:20 am

Imagine coming home from a day of holiday shopping and parties to find an artfully decorated plate of cookies on your doorstep. Everything about this picture is RIGHT. It shouldn’t surprise you to know that the creator of this gift also makes spectacular Halloween costumes for her kids—her son was a blueberry pancake this year and her daughter a gorgeous bouquet of flowers—and is a former Vogue editor. The most delicious cookie on the plate (and the competition was fierce) was this White Christmas Dream Drop, currently gracing the cover of Sunset magazine. (One of the best kept secrets of the West Coast isn’t the weather, but the cookie recipes from Sunset magazine.)

Honestly, I can’t stress just how delicious these peppermint white chocolate meringue puffs of goodness are. And, they’re super easy to make. First you start with a whipped bowl of frothy egg whites.

Per Christine’s advice, we scaled back on crushed peppermint candy canes by about half.

After folding in the crushed candy canes and white chocolate chips, drop meringue onto parchment lined cookie sheets and bake for about half an hour.

Spread the love and deliver a plate of these to your neighbor’s doorstep, though you will definitely want to hide a few for the elf that made them.

Hostess Gifts: Made in L.A.

In Food on December 6, 2011 at 1:48 pm

My friend Zinzi, who is literally a rock star, brought me two precious jars from Squirl—Gravenstein Apple Butter and Elberta Peach with Lemon Verbena jam. Squirl is Jessica Koslow, an LA-based jam maker who uses locally sourced ingredients, many of them heirloom varieties. Her products are all hand-crafted and they are just beyond belief. You can find them in L.A. at Broome Street General Store and Proof Bakery. Her apple butter kind of blew my mind. Take a taste:

It’s not too sweet with just a minimal amount of fair trade organic cane sugar, and is made with Gravenstein apples that are slowly cooked for six hours until rich and concentrated. It’s going to be my new go-to hostess gift—and will also be heading back east on my next visit to see family as I have such a hard time finding great locally produced products that will travel. In the meantime, it is the only sanctioned jam I’ll use in my toddler’s peanut butter and “jelly” sandwiches, made with love…


Hostess Gifts: Caviar Powder

In Food on December 5, 2011 at 9:27 am

File this under “Top Gift I’d Like to Receive.” I’ve always said that the best hostess gifts are those you can eat for breakfast the next morning, but this Petrossian Caviar Powder takes the concept to a whole new level. My friend Trisha brought me a mill of this precious stuff as a hostess gift this weekend—”for your eggs tomorrow morning,” she said. The next morning my husband scrambled some eggs and we liberally ground the powder over them (it works like a pepper mill).

Needless to say, there weren’t many words exchanged over breakfast that morning. Just savoring the pure decadence and generosity of the ultimate hostess gift.

Elf Help: La Dolce Vita Edition

In Food on November 29, 2010 at 12:27 pm

Yup, the Christmas lights are up at our house and I can’t believe that Hannukah starts on Wednesday! Herman Miller asked me to share a holiday gift guide on its LIFEWORK blog, which you can check out by clicking HERE. But that’s just scratching the surface, so in the coming weeks I hope to share some of my favorite ideas for giving—and receiving! Starting with this:

Oh yes, a gift box from Olio & Olive! Talk about la dolce vita. My friend Gaia brought over this gorgeous handmade wooden basket of Italian indulgence and I nearly died. Though Olio & Olive offers gift baskets in all price points, this particular splurgy basket retails for $189.90, so that special someone on your list had better have been exceptionally nice this year. I don’t even know where to start—it’s loaded with classics like aged balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, red sauce, penne, parm, olives, polenta, salami—all of it the stuff the pros use. And I loved experimenting with the jar of Tartuflanghe Parmigiano Reggiano and Truffle Cream ($24.90) tucked in there, which by itself would make a great hostess gift or stocking stuffer.

Gaia added that it’s best to save some of the starchy pasta water to mix with the sauce and pasta, which we tried. She was right. It totally helps the sauce coat the pasta better.

We enjoyed the sauce both with a bowl of bucatini and some farro pizzichi from Rustichella d’Abruzzo (you want a fairly toothy pasta to stand up to the richness of the sauce):

But what I loved best about the rich and aromatic sauce—and in fact this basket—is that it has the true hallmark of a perfect gift. That is, something that makes someone’s day just that much better while reminding them that friendship is the most nourishing gift of all.

More on Hostess Gifts

In Drink, Media on July 20, 2010 at 1:05 pm

© Meg Perotti via rororoyourblog.blogspot.com

Over on Glamour.com, Rosemary Brennan blogs about the dos and don’ts of hostess gifts. For those of you in LA, follow Rosemary’s lead and stop off at Galco’s Soda Pop Stop, which offers more than 450 different bottles of soda. (They also feature more than 500 beers and esoteric candy.) I love the idea of bringing your hosts an array of something unexpected like bottles of D&G Sorrel Fizz from Jamaica or Jeff’s Diet Vanilla Egg Cream Soda from New York. It’s all about consumables!

And while you’re at it, check out Rosemary’s personal blog (a Foodinista favorite) at rororoyourblog.blogspot.com.

The Morning After A Torrid Spanish Affair

In Food on July 18, 2010 at 7:07 pm

And what is bound to follow a passionate affair—in this case, one fueled by Lopez Heredia rosado—is The Morning After. Which is why in the pantheon of hostess gifts, my favorites involve something to eat the next morning after a dinner party when the last thing you want to think about is making breakfast. Our friend Katie once brought individual sweet potato bundt cakes with brown sugar icing as a hostess gift to be enjoyed with our coffee the next morning; my friend Carolynn a box of unbaked homemade chocolate chip cookies to pop in the oven the following afternoon. You see where I’m going with this…

Enter HJ & Bill. They have chickens!!! In the garden of a gorgeous house that backs up onto the golf course. Chickens that lay beautiful eggs with bright orange yolks. And so when they walked in the door on Friday night with half dozen of these oeufs I almost forgot about the Lopez Heredia.

And so the following morning, we lightly toasted thick slices from a rosemary boule from La Boulangerie, and then cut out a hole in the middle. (The top of a champagne flute works well.) In a skillet over  medium-high heat, melt a pat of good butter, being careful not to let butter burn. Place your toast in skillet and crack an egg into the hole.

I cook only for a minute or so a side because I am all about the yolk, particularly when the eggs taste this good. And I like to slice up some tomato and sprinkle with salt. We grew up calling this Eggs in a Basket, but I’ve also heard it referred to as Toad in a Hole (which, when I was a kid in England, meant a sausage/Yorkshire pudding situation). Whatever you want to call it, it’s genius. And probably the most exciting hostess gift a girl with a hangover could dream of. Thank you, HJ & Bill! ¡Salud!

Whey Hot!

In Food on December 6, 2009 at 12:25 am

At last year’s holiday bash, my friend Carolynn brought a stunningly thoughtful hostess gift—a beautiful box of uncooked chocolate chip cookies with instructions for baking, so we could enjoy the next day. This year, she somehow outdid herself and brought not only fresh burrata (Italian for butter, yum) from Di Stefano but Mimmo Bruno, the cheesemaker himself! As soon as Carolynn and Mimmo handed me this precious cargo—and before everyone around me starting speaking Italian—I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it. Another merry reveler, Kate, had brought a gorgeous homemade jar of Habanero Gold Jelly. Hot-sweet with habaneros and apricots, this piquant jelly is phenomenal with the creamy burrata. Kate also recommends it with peanut butter or cream cheese. Thank you, Carolynn, and thank you, Kate! And lucky, lucky me!