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 world traveler.
We all have that friend who jumps from Vietnamese pho shack to Russian deli to Mexican bodega effortlessly, always chasing new flavors and unique experiences. Shopping for adventurous eaters can almost be more daunting than picky ones, but there are a few hotspots in town that can inspire even the most well-traveled home chef.
See also: This Week's Market Pick: Parsley Root
All Things Bento Box from House of Rice Revolutionize your gift recipient's lunchtime regimen with one of House of Rice's adorable and functional bento boxes. This Japanese-style lunch box lends itself to creativity with pretty much any combination of meat or fish served with rice and pickled or fresh vegetables. Not only is it a healthy, cheap and unique alternative to fast food, whoever walks into the lunchroom with a bento box is assured to get an automatic +10 cool points. House of Rice sells an array of colors and sizes for $20 to $40, plus you can pick up the Just Bento Cookbook for $19.95 for some helpful hints.
Rose Water and Orange Blossom Water from Baiz Market Speaking from personal experience, these two bottles of floral essences can completely revamp baking doldrums. Commonly used in Middle Eastern and Indian cooking, the flowery flavor is slowly making its way on to more and more Western menus. We've experimented with rose water in frostings and cocktails and orange blossom water in chocolate cake, each time being pleasantly surprised with the result. Depending on your affinity for rose or orange blossom, you can easily vary the intensity by adding just a little more or a little less to any recipe. Plus, at Baiz Market, bottles of both can be bought for under $2, but your friend doesn't have to know that.
Indian Cooking Classes from The Dhaba Give the gift of culinary knowledge with cooking classes at The Dhaba. The five-session course includes lessons in spices, appetizers, vegetarian cooking, non-vegetarian cooking, and desserts, with a final student showcase at the end. With the next session beginning January 9 and continuing on Thursdays throughout the month, the timing is perfect for Christmas presents. Individual classes can be purchased for $49 or $20 if bought before December 22 or you can splurge for the whole series for $199 by visiting The Dhaba's website, calling in at 480-557-8800 or simply going into the restaurant.
An Assortment of Asian Sauces from Lee Lee's Oriental Supermarket Make your own Asian inspired gift basket with a host of sauces from Lee Lee's that are sure to add some pizzazz to your globe trotting friends' cooking. Plum sauce ($4.29), fish sauce ($1.99), oyster sauce ($1.99) and black bean sauce ($3.68) are all great additions to any pantry. The fish sauce in particular, which is standard in dishes like Thailand's pad gra pow and pretty much every Vietnamese dish you've eaten, comes from many different sources including squid and shrimp based. Chances are you've eaten it unknowingly and loved it, so don't shy away. You can also add a spicy element to your basket with Sriracha, chili garlic sauce or Sambal Oelek fresh ground chili paste ($2.38). Grab a pho/ramen bowl a few aisles over for a functional and beautiful display.
Ceramic Cookware from Pro's Ranch Market Cooking authentic Mexican fare starts with your cookware. Pro's Ranch Market specializes in fresh salsa, roasted chiles, handmade tortillas and agua frescas. While these little treats can make a great party favor for hosts of holiday parties, a more substantial and impressive gift of Cinsa authentic Hispanic cookware is one of those gifts that your friend will use time and time again. The ceramic pots come in a variety of sizes for all purposes and range in price from $4 to $45. The dutch oven, stock pot and mug are all great options in our opinion.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.