Chow Bella's Gift Guide for the Food Geek
Clockwise From Left: Go Lb Salt, Aeropress, Molecular Gastronomy Kit, Modernist Cuisine Excerpt, Star Trek Pizza Cutter.
Clockwise From Left: Ando Muneno, Sandwich Video, Molecule-R, Modernist Cuisine, Think Geek.
What? Not done with your holiday shopping? Yeah, neither are we. But we've been making lists -- and checking them twice -- and we've got some suggestions for the nice people on your list. Today, Chow Bella's Gift Guide for the Food Geek.
It's like a French press coffee maker but more or less self-cleaning and much more compact. Load up a filter ( $5 buys 350 of them ) boil your water (you're using a thermometer for optimal brew temp right? Right? ), pour water over grounds, give it a quick stir and press. The company claims you'll press out a cup of espresso. That's not exactly true but you will end up with a coffee concentrate suitable for dilution and immediate consumption or for use in recipes calling for fresh espresso.
Custom Chicken Coop from Rise & Shine Custom Coops We know you're already using Google SketchUp to layout plans for a 500 gallon aquaponic system. The promise of creating a mostly closed loop self-sustaining fish farm/garden is just too great for you. But have you thought about diversifying your protein a little? Why not throw a couple of chickens into that plan? Better yet, why not shower your money on a local business that'll deliver a custom designed coop to your door rather than buying one of those mass produced coops that look like re-purposed playground equipment? These are coops any chicken would be proud to live in.
Walking J Farm Meat CSA and a Chest Freezer Quality ingredients are the key to fine cooking, that's the trend being championed by food geek avatars like David Chang . Finding quality, locally produced meat on the cheap is hard and often not economical. But it could be if you're willing to pony up the down payment on a significant fraction of a entire cow or pig. While the pricing is excellent (around $7 a pound for grass fed beef) you're going to be receiving this cow in 100 pound increments once a year. That's what the freezer is for. The price and quantity are probably too much for a single food geek so you could consider making this a shared gift to cross several food geeks off your list.
A true alpha food geek is going to be hip to the molecular gastronomy movement. But the costs of buying into the scene can be a little daunting to say the least. A good hot water bath for slow, low-heat cooking can run you upwards of $500 . Outfitting a full molecular gastronomy kitchen can easily costs thousands or more. So why not give a gift that will let the food geek test the waters before plunging into to spherification ? These kits start at very reasonable $60 and provide a very solid sampling of molecular gastronomy techniques and recipes.
Clockwise from left: Hawaiian black, Sel Gris de Guérande and Hawaiian red salt.
While Go Lb Salt is a local company, their salts are sourced from all over the world. You can get delicate sel gris from France or Hawaiian Red that's actually infused with red clay of the islands where it's harvested from. The "Epicurious" gift set is probably your best bet since it offers 12 different kinds of salt which run the gamut of what Go Lb Salt has to offer. They also offer a smoking set which is perfect for someone thinking of getting into their own bacon making.
Camp Brisket BBQ Camp Summer camp is fun, barbecue is awesome. Together? An unstoppable culinary vacation. Camp Brisket is hosted by Texas A&M's Department of Animal Science and is an intensive BBQ course of study. And by study we mean study, these classes are taught by A&M food science professors who have peer reviewed papers on the intricacies of barbecue. You'll find out what works, what doesn't, and exactly what chemical processes go into forming the almighty smoke ring. As the name implies they focus primarily on briskets but they also provide information applicable to all instances of raw meat being transformed by smoke and heat. It might sound an awful lot like going back to school but you have to admit, lectures that end with smoked meats probably keeps attendance up.
Subscription to Lucky Peach Don't just give the gift of food porn this year. Give the gift of the hardest-core food porn ever produced. But it's not all just eye candy, Lucky Peach is like 60's era Playboy for food. Sure, everyone is here for the sweet bao on bao action but you can't help but get intrigued by some of these articles between the pretty pictures. It's like Saveur if Saveur wasn't afraid to drop an f-bomb in the service of describing just how good something tastes. The most recent issue has an in-depth piece on Anthony Bourdain, a beginner's guide to the world of dim sum and even some food-centric fiction.
A great geek gift should be both practical and awesome. Bizarrely, this Trekkie friendly pizza cutter is both. Not only is it a sweet looking replica of the Original Series Enterprise but it's also one hell of a pizza cutter. When the description says it has a "laser etched stainless steel blade" they aren't joking around. The cutting blade is shockingly sharp and capable of parting even the thickest of pizzas with ease. It's a gimmick gift without the gimmick!
The bleeding edge of cooking right now is molecular gastronomy and this 40 pound box set of books is the Holy Grail for the geek cook. Molecular gastronomy approaches cooking as the fusion of science in the service of art. Generally speaking, molecular gastronomy seeks to deconstruct the process of cooking and understand, literally at a molecular level, what's going on. Armed with that knowledge they can reconstruct old dishes in novel ways or engineer completely new eating experiences. You like ice cream? How about hot ice cream ? That's the promise of molecular gastronomy and this set explores them all with painstaking detail and gorgeous, often surreal photography.
Chef's Choice at Posh Improvisational Cuisine
Molecular gastronomy is neat and all but what happens when your geek friend isn't ready to embark on a 2000 page journey through Modernist Cuisine? Maybe it'll be better if they just eat somewhere that does molecular gastronomy before they or you, buy in. Of course Posh doesn't just do molecular gastronomy techniques but they're one of only a handful of places in the Valley that have worked it into their regular line-up. Plus, they take the "improvisational" part of their name pretty seriously and you can expect surprises throughout their Chef's Choice menu.
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