Gift Guides

50 Awesome Gifts for the Food and Drink Lover

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 lists -- no matter who they are. Here (divided by category for your convenience) are our 50 favorite gifts this holiday season.

5 Gifts for the Serious Restaurant Goer Laura Hahnefeld


For restaurant hounds with a Twitter account and an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, give them this free stocking stuffer of the app kind. It not only helps them discover their next favorite dining spot, but what to eat there as well. Called Forkly, the app lets users search for restaurants, find out "what's good" there via photos and ratings, and submit and share their own reviews.

See also: Make Puerto Rican Egg Nog Now, Enjoy It Later

Oversize Scrapbook for Menus

If you've got a truly serious restaurant diner on your hands, chances are they've got a "trophy case" (see: drawer) full of menus signifying their most noteworthy conquests. Give them the gift of organization as well as a trip down memory lane with an oversize scrapbook. Given that my largest menu is 12 inches by 18 inches, I like the newspaper-size scrapbooks (20 inches x 25 inches) that range around $135, but there are several styles and sizes to choose from, depending on your budget. And if you've got the time, you can set up the pages yourself. Available at your local craft, art, or office store or online.

Foodie Top 100 Restaurants Worldwide

If your favorite restaurant diners double as globetrotters, give them a guide that helps them find the best restaurants in the world. Selected by notable food critics such as author and former New York restaurant critic Gael Greene, Los Angeles Times restaurant critic Jonathan Gold, and former Gourmet editor Ruth Reichl, the guide offers details on menus, atmosphere, and service and includes critics' tips, color photographs, and bonus lists of the top 100 restaurants in France, Europe, Asia, and the United States ($19.95 at Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe)

Food Storage Containers

Serious restaurant eaters dine out a lot and given the choice of two dishes they really want to try, they are apt to order them both. Translation: leftovers. Give them the gift of food storage, and they'll get a functional, surefire way to keep their leftovers fresh. A good bet is Snapware. Given the nod of approval by Cook's Illustrated magazine, this line of food keepers offers stain-proof Pyrex glass storage containers or BPA-free plastic containers in six different sizes, all with airtight, leak-proof plastic lids. Find them at your local housewares store or order online. ($29.99 for the 10-piece glass storage set.)

DIY Project: The Restaurant Diner's Must-Haves Kit

For a highly personalized gift that won't break your holiday bank, give your restaurant hound the essentials he or she needs in a convenient, take-along package that you put together yourself. First, pick up dining-out must-haves like travel-size stain remover and antibacterial soap, breath mints, a pen (half the pens at restaurants never work), and a wallet-size tip card. Then, scour your favorite vintage shops and boutiques for a stylish but durable case to put them in. Got a little extra dough left? Drop in a gift card to their favorite restaurant.

5 Gifts for the World Traveler Heather Hoch

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.

5 Gifts for the Craft Beer Lover Zach Fowle

A Brew Day at O.H.S.O

Brewing a beer is an important step in the life of any beer nerd. The act of creating an alcoholic beverage connects us with the brewers of the past who've gone through the same exact process across millennia. It can be a transcendent experience. It can also be frustrating as hell. The ingredients can stick together in giant, unbreakable clumps; the process of moving the fermented liquid from the fermentation vessel to the keg is an accident waiting to happen; and everything -- everything -- has to be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized.

The folks at Arcadia restaurant and nanobrewery O.H.S.O offer a shortcut: Come brew with the,. All you have to do is make an appointment on O.H.S.O's iTunes app -- which you can download for free from the iTunes store -- and the resident brewers, like hop-scented sherpas, will guide your beer geek through the process of creating his or her own beer. They'll even keg the brew and put it on tap.

A Copy of Brewing Arizona: A Century of Beer in the Grand Canyon State

It should be too hot to brew beer in Arizona. It should be too dry. It should be too difficult to ship grains and hops through the desert safely. But human ingenuity can't be overestimated -- especially when it comes to alcohol. Brewers have been plying their trade in our state since 1864, and Brewing Arizona, the first book focused on the Grand Canyons State's beer and breweries, captures this history. History buffs will love this one, as will anyone who's cooled down with a beer on a 115-degree day and thought, "How?"

A Bottle of the World's New Strongest Beer

If not just any bottle of beer will appease your geek, go for the biggest, baddest brew available. Snake Venom, hatched by a Scottish brewery called Brewmeister, attains its legendary 67.5 percent ABV through the use of peat-smoked malt, beer and champagne yeast, and a freeze distillation process. Each bottle costs 50 pounds (which is $81 in real money), but can you really put a price on something so extreme?

Beer soap

Maybe you love your beer geek, but you're tired of the aromas malted barley and beard fungus and yeast farts that tend to linger around him. Say "I'd like you to not smell like a homeless Bavarian" softly with beer soap. The Beer Soap Co.'s products have all the cleaning power of mass-marketed body washes but are made with your favorite beers, from Dogfish Head 90 Minute to Rogue Dead Guy. Lather with lager! Scrub with saison!

The Dogfish Randall Jr., a French Press for Beer

Ever been drinking a beer and thought, "This would be really good with some cinnamon?" Dogfish Head Craft Brewery's Randall Jr. gives you the ability to infuse your beers with whatever flavors your little heart desires. Dogfish first developed Randall the Enamel Animal, a contraption with chambers that can be filled with ingredients to enhance the flavor of a beer, in 2002. Since then, the invention's dropped a lot of weight -- Randall Jr. is just 16 ounces, allowing you to spike a single beer with hops, spices, fruits or whatnot. Mmmmm, whatnot.

5 Gifts for the Hostess Katie Johnson

Macarons from Essence Bakery Price: regular are $2.59 each; minis are $1.40 each or $16.80 for a dozen For the hostess with too much on her plate (or not enough) up the BYOB to BYO-Sweets with macarons from Essence Bakery. With flavors like French Chocolate, Pumpkin Spice, Hazelnut, and Caramel, your gifted dozen, much like her party guests, can be a mixed batch.

And bonus: they now have a second location, making your last minute holiday handouts a lot more convenient.

Hot Chick Aprons at Jam Price: Adult $35-$45; Child $25-35 "Kiss the Cook?" You might as well kiss your next party invite goodbye. For the hostess who likes to get her hands dirty without looking it, your best bet is to buy her a custom made apron from Hot Chick. Available in both half and fulls styles with sizes for children and adults, Hot Chick aprons can incorporate everything from colorful patterns and vintage threads, to recycled fabrics from family hand-me-downs.

The newest edition of Kinfolk at Frances Price: $18 The well-read hostess with trendsetting taste will have plenty to absorb with the newest print issue of Kinfolk. The ad-free, quarterly magazine with coffee table book potential is a contemporary collection of ideas, styles, recipes, creative works and more centered around intimate gathering and innovative entertaining. While issue nine is currently available at Frances, the boutique should have Kinfolk's final year-end issue by December.

Glass bird tumblers from Paris Envy Price: $10 each We know, we know, "put a bird on it." But honestly these tweety tumblers deserve to be doled out at your hostess's next cocktail mixer. Like all good entertaining-ware they're cute conversation starters, that probably only leave their display perch for special occasions and to remind you that no, they have not given them away.

Vintage kitchenware from Sweet Salvage Price: varies For the vintage-loving hostess who believes all things are salvageable -- from antique soda crate to your sad excuse for a honey baked ham -- get her something Sweet Salvage. The store which opens the the third Thursday through Sunday of each month offers an eclectic selection retro kitchen finds and re-purposed industrial ware perfect for tabelscaping and party-decorating.

5 Gifts for the Gluten-Free Eater Judith Nichols

Gift basket of GF goodies from Sprouts Farmers Market, $50

Make the gluten-eaters jealous of us with a basket of sweet and savory munchies. Head your cart down the GF aisle and just start grabbing. With $50 and 15 minutes, you can load up with enough to satisfy our holiday cravings right through New Year's Eve, including some crispy cookies, hot, spicy chips and nuts, some bake-it-yourself mixes to make the house smell like home, and even a good substitute for Pete's Schweddy Balls. My basket's filled with:

Pamela's Peanut Butter Cookies Annie's Cocoa and Vanilla Bunny Cookies Schar Shortbread Cookies Pamela's Chocolate Brownie Mix Pamela's Biscuit and Scone Mix GoPicnic Hummus & Crackers Dang Toasted Coconut Chips Glutino Pretzel Twists Hail Merry Chimayo and Chile Pecans The Good Bean Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas, Smoky Chili & Lime Lucy's Cinnamon Thin Justin's Peanut bar with dark chocolate, and Betty Lou's Coconut Macadamia Nut Butter Balls

Cooking class at Nourish, $40

Nourish calls itself the place where you won't feel like the freak at the table. Talk about a gift. They give some examples of our freakiness, like "You ask no fewer than five questions of restaurant service staff before you even consider options on the menu," or "You measure the success of a meal by how you felt after you ate it, and then consider how it tasted," or "Your friends and family make you choose where to eat because you have the most food restrictions." Ouch.

So they've created a freak-friendly restaurant where all the dishes are gluten-free. No need for five questions. And the food's delicious, too.

Even more, Kirstin Carey, the owner, and Dan Santos, executive chef, are on a mission to help teach everyone, even those who CAN eat gluten, how to eat a more healthy, more nutritious diet. One way they're attacking that mission is through cooking classes.

November's choices include: Holiday Meals for Plant-Based Eaters, with raw mashed sweet potatoes, quinoa stuffing, creamy spinach with crunchy onion topper, freaksgiving protein burgers, and pumpkin torte, or Desserts: Raw, Plant-Based and Paleo, with apple crisp, chocolate torte, lemon bars and coconut macaroons. All gluten-free. Sweet.

Get a $40 gift certificate and let your sans-gluten loved one pick their favorite.

Cookbook: The Gluten Free Girl and the Chef, $15

Take the cooking thing to a whole new level with Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef: A Love Story with 100 Tempting Recipes, my favorite gluten-free cookbook.

It was the first gluten-free cookbook I bought after my diagnosis, and it gave me hope.

It reminded me of Martha Stewart's Pies and Tarts, my pre-diagnosis favorite, from which I baked pear tarts, lemon-curd tarts and persimmon tarts, all while reading heartwarming stories about Martha's childhood, like how she picked the tomatoes in the neighborhood garden before they were ripe and so her mother had to come up with a recipe for a green-tomato pie, stories I later learned were total crap, but I loved them anyway.

Maybe I'm still naïve, but I believe Shauna James Ahern's story about how she met and fell in love with chef Daniel, who eventually converted his restaurant to completely gluten-free because he didn't want to make anything Shauna couldn't eat. Double sweet. I read it cover to cover, identifying with Shauna's illness and hoping for a similar recovery.

In between the love-story installations are yummy recipes, like multigrain waffles, apple rosemary muffins, and risotto with English peas, fava beans and prosciutto. And a pinch of cooking lessons from Daniel, like how to work with gluten-free flours, cut an artichoke, and make vinaigrettes.

And after you've read the beginning of their story, you can continue to follow the gluen-free family online on their blog, The Gluten Free Girl and the Chef: Playing With Our Food.

Gluten-free love for your loved one.

A Subscription to GF version of The Fresh 20, $54 for one year

Help make your friend/loved one's GF cooking easy-peasy with a subscription to the gluten-free version of The Fresh 20. It's an online meal-planning service, that sends you recipes and shopping lists for budget-conscious, healthy recipes with 20 fresh, seasonal ingredients each week. They offer several versions: vegetarian, kosher, meals for one and lunch, in addition to their classic meal plan, and, of course, gluten free.

When I discovered this, it felt like I simplified my way-more-complex eating life. I was cooking kale and corn enchiladas and carrot slaw, and my family was loving their gluten-free meals.

They have a book now, too, that has lots of recipes and great tips, but I still like the simplicity of the downloadable shopping list and new recipes each week. They carefully pick the ingredients so you use one item for dinner, and the rest of it for the next day's lunch. Less fuss, less waste, no gluten, perfection.

Vitamix and Gift Certificate for 21-day cleanse from, $425

This is the big-love holiday gift, inspired by my most recent obsession,, and is perfect because everyone will be looking for a way to kick-start the New Year with a post-glutton-holiday remedy.

This amazing machine and program are really a gift from my nephew, who recently enticed me into taking a sip of his bright-green-Vitamix concoction. I thought I would hate it but, turns out, I loved it, and now I'm drinking one every morning.

I'm leaner, greener, and I'm sure, more nutritionally fulfilled.

The basic idea is throwing a couple of big handfuls of spinach or kale or other greens into the Vitamix with some water, coconut water or other liquid and pulverizing it beyond recognition. Then you throw in some fruit, an avocado, maybe some chia seeds and, voila, a really tasty (I wouldn't kid you.) glass full of antioxidants and vitamins.

I've also used my Vitamix to puree the soups on the cleanse, which are delicious, too.

Go for it. Share the veggie love.

5 Gifts for the Food Geek Lauren Saria

Miracleberry Tablets at

Miracleberry Tablets will be as much fun for a food geek as the biggest box of Legos you can buy for your five-year-old nephew. Thanks to Synsepalum dulcificum, a berry also known as the miracle fruit, these little tablets make sour foods taste sweet. The freaky phenomenom is caused by miraculin, a commercially used natural sugar substitute. At a neutral pH, miraculin binds and blocks the tongue's taste receptors, but at low pH (as in, when you eat sour foods) miraculin binds protons and activates the sweet receptors. In other words, bite a lemon and it tastes just like lemonade. The sensation lasts for about 60 minutes.

Food geeks will love "flavor tripping," which is when you pop a tablet and taste all sorts of flavors like never have before. Chicago's Michelin-starred chef Homaro Cantu offers flavor tripping menus at his iNG restaurant and has authored a cookbook called The Miracle Berry Cookbook that eliminates sugar from the diet without having to compromise on flavor thanks to these little tablets. And don't worry they're 100 percent natural and classified as a food additive (not a food product) by the FDA.

Modernist Cuisine at Home eBook at App Store

It's taken nearly a decade, but Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking is finally available for purchase in a form that will neither break the bank or your book shelf. As of this November, mad culinary scientist and former Microsoft Chief Technology Officer Nathan Myhrvold has teamed up with Inkling to create an eBook/app version of the Modernist Cuisine at Home, as in the simpler, single-volume version of the original six-volume tome.

The eBook can be purchased on the Inkling website or through the Apple App Store and can be purchased in its entirety for $79.99 or in single chapters for $4.99 each. The app includes 416 recipes and 1,683 hi-resolution photos that are sure to blow your mind. Would-be molecular gastronomists can watch videos of complex cooking techniques, add items to a grocery list that will sync to your smartphone and get product and ingredient recommendations all through the app.

Chef's Knife from Phoenix Knife House

Every cook or even just wanna-be chef needs a good chef's knife, or preferably a set of good knives. Phoenix Knife House is the place for all things sharp or in need or being sharpened and specializes in professional kitchen cutlery. The store has every thing from hundreds of different types of knives to knife rolls, sharpening stones and repair services.

For the starter chef there's a wide selection of basic chef's knives that will help keep his or his kitchen skills, er, sharp. And if you're dealing with a kitchen pro, go for the sharpening services. The Phoenix Knife House offers two types of services: standard sharpening done by the belt or waterstone sharpening done by hand. And for a gift that will truly last a lifetime, try the Sharpening Course, a two-hour class that includes a Kanetsune Meisho carbon core santoku knife for $85.

Tickets to Devoured Food and Wine Classic 2014

No food geek in the Valley would want to miss the annual Devoured Food and Wine Festival held each spring at the Phoenix Art Museum. The two-day event brings together the creme de la creme of our city's dining scene to eat, drink and generally hob nob. Tickets go on sale to the general public on December 1, meaning you can score a few and instantly become the food geek's new best friend. For Phoenix Art Museum members the deal's even sweeter since tickets cost just $70 a day or $120 for two days. For everyone else tickets start at $80 a day and increase on December 16 to $90. Purchase tickets on the Devoured website.

Saltware from go lb. salt

Not only are Himalayan salt plates quite beautiful to look at, they also allow you to try some really cool cooking techniques. Sourced from natural salt deposits found in the Himalayas, these blocks can be used to for everything from curing fish right before your guests eyes to displaying and lightly flavoring a dish. The saltware is chock full of mineral salt, which means it hold its temperature extremely well. The saltware can be heated in the oven and used to fry scallops or fish, or frozen in the freezer and used to serve ice cream.

Local salt purveyor go lb. salt sells Saltware in a variety of sizes. The smallest blocks, two by four inches, can be used to salt sweet cream butter and cost $7. For a more extravagant gift there's an eight by twelve inch slab that can be even be used to bake bread.

5 Gifts for the Home Gardener Kate Crowley

Fruit tree or gift certificate for a fruit tree

This is the gift that keeps on giving. Places like Baker's, Berridge and Moon Valley nurseries can guide you toward a memorable and personal purchase. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable, plus you can feel extra good about supporting a local business. There are different times during the season to plant fruit trees, depending on the type, so be sure to find out what your recipients are fond of and what they have room for in their yard.

A fancy birdhouse

Everyone loves garden accessories, and birdhouses add a touch of charm to any garden. Luckily MADE Boutique typically carries birdhouses year-round, like these, made of license plates by Greg Esser. In case you're more of a DIY person, his blog also gives instructions on how to make one. This is a gift that's easy to find a space in a yard for and since they come in a variety of sizes and styles, highly customizable.

Mud Season by Ellen Stimson

This is the book for the want-to-be farmer. The author's family picks up from the St. Louis area and moves to rural Vermont where high-jinks ensue upon purchasing a non-farmhouse, chickens, sheep, and an old-style country store.

An easy, fun, holiday read for the want-to-be farmer.It's an easy read, and perfect to curl up if you've made a little fire. The book actually leaves you longing for snow covered New England, which given our penchants for warm weather -- is really saying something.

Pocket hose, as seen on TV

If you're buying for a container gardener or patio home gardener, this is a great gift. Yes, it's "sold on TV," but that also means you can find it extra cheap and at convenience places all over the country -- in case you find yourself in a gift jam. It's super lightweight and easy to handle, which is great for an older gardener too.

Water trough for planting

While feed and water troughs can run anywhere from $60 to $200 they are a great and handy thing to have for gardens of all sizes. Give your local feed store a call, but typically places like Higley Feed or The Stock Shop will carry them. You'll need to have the recipient drill holes in the bottom for drainage and when planting, they can fill the bottom with something lightweight and use the top few feet for planting. Just be sure to use a truck or SUV to get it home!

5 Gifts for the Cocktail Lover Heather Hoch

Craft cocktailing has become as much a culinary art as any entrée in recent years, which means you likely know someone who falls into the category of amateur mixologist. While these drinks often rely on fresh produce and handmade syrups and tinctures, there are some great locally made products that you can buy for the aspiring bartender's home collection to spice up their imbibing life.

Figgy Pudding Bitters from AZ Bitters Lab

Almost every great craft cocktail bar in Phoenix uses one of AZ Bitters Labs boutique bitters in a drink or two. Inspired by bartenders' ingenuity in town, local couple Bill and Lill Buitenhuys decided to pitch into the scene and make some truly unique bitters combinations with explosive flavors. The figgy pudding bitters is a great addition to any holiday cocktail due to its intense cinnamon, cardamom and clove spicing with a fig and currant base. You can buy a bottle of figgy pudding bitters, along with the two other flavors, for $18.95 on the AZ Bitters Lab's website or pick them up in person at Wedge & Bottle, JAM, Sun Devil Liquors and the new Whole Foods in Phoenix.

Copper City Bourbon from Arizona Distilling Co.

The mark of any burgeoning cocktail scene is the advent of locally distilled spirits and thanks to Yucca Tap Room's Rodney Hu and his high school buddies Arizona has met that mark with the state's first legally produced liquor since Prohibition. The smooth bourbon is all about keeping it local, with locally made art gracing the bottle with a nod to Arizona's history. It also uses Arizona grown durum wheat and is the only bourbon to do so. After aging in oak barrels for about five years, this Tempe-made bourbon is a must-try for locavores and cocktail lovers alike. You can find it at Tops Liquor, Gilbert Convenient Mart and Sun Devil Liquors.

Recycled Wine Bottle Glasses from Refresh Glass

Reduce, reuse, recycle and imbibe with Refresh Glass' line of repurposed wine bottle tumblers. The Tempe glassware operation provides everything from unique lighting fixtures to glasses to candle holders to local spots like The Vig and Phoenix Public Market Cafe. The glasses come in four packs of both 12 ounce and 16 ounce glasses for $24 and $28 respectively. The best part is the glasses come in every color a wine bottle would, from dark green to amber to antique with a bluish hue. All of Refresh's glassware, including the glasses, carafes and candleholders, are available for purchase on the company's website.

Vintage Barware from Retro Ranch

Every home bartender needs a few pieces of decorative flare to set their cocktail collection apart from friends'. Retro Ranch has an ever-changing, but always impressive, selection of swizzles, shakers, carafes, glasses and decanters to jazz up any home bar. Prices range from $10 highball glasses to $15 tiki glasses to $20 shakers and $45 decanters, so it's really up to you what you'd like to shell out. The best part of Retro Ranch's barware is your eccentric imbibing friend is sure to stand out, guaranteeing no one else will have the same piece in their collection.

John's Tonic Syrups from John's Premium

Show that gin lover in your life some love with the recipe for the perfect gin and tonic courtesy of John's Premium tonic syrups. While tonic water is a standard bar mixer, John's goes above and beyond by making small batch syrups with cinchona bark and organic agave nectar. The flavor of the tonic syrup, in particular, is so sharp, citrusy and sweet that you'll have a hard time going back to Schweppe's after your first taste. It can be mixed with seltzer water or served straight up with your favorite spirit. Buy your own bottle to try, along with one as a gift, at Astor House, Wedge & Bottle and on the John's Premium website.

5 Arizona Wines to Buy the Skeptic Nathan Claiborn

A lot of people don't know that wine is being made here in Arizona and many who do know it look askance at the fact if not outright scoff at Arizona wine. But the truth is that really fantastic wine can be found within our great state's borders. So for those of you who have a skeptical wine lover on your holiday shopping list I suggest buying them one or more of these eye opening and surprisingly good Arizona wines to change their minds.

Winemaker Time White's Arizona Stronghold Chardonnay

Inside of the nifty, colorful packaging sits a solid, enjoyable Chardonnay by Arizona Stronghold. Fairly ripe with passion fruit and mango notes along with balanced acidity, this Chard deserves a seat at the table next to many Chardonnays from California in the same price range. You can find Arizona Stronghold's wines all over the place, I've even seen this one at Fry's, usually priced around $17 to $20.

Rob Hammelman's Sand-Reckoner Malvasia

You can't go wrong with any of Rob Hammelman's Sand-Reckoner wines. This full bodied and fragrant white Malvasia is for your friends who like to drink the big, fat, ripe California Chardonnays. Its nose is full of fresh flowers and ripe stone fruit, and the palate is rich, creamy, and a delightful mouthful. This one you'll have to search a little harder for but it's worth it, usually in the $25-$30 range.

Kent Callaghan's Callaghan Vineyards Mouvedre

Kent Callaghan is the grisly veteran of Arizona wine and his experience and hard work pay off with this Mourvedre. This wine appeals to the Pinot Noir lover in particular. It's light on its feet and bright with a pleasant white pepper spice. It'll pair nicely with a wide range of food thanks to the relatively high acid level. Callaghan's wines can be found most reliably at AZ Wine Merchants where the Mouvedre goes for $24.

Maynard James Keenan's Caduceus Cellars 'Kitsune' Sangiovese

Caduceus is probably the most famous label from Arizona thanks in large part to the high profile of rock star turned winemaker Maynard James Keenan. Its fame notwithstanding, Caduceus makes some seriously good wine. Their 'Kitsune' is 100% Sangiovese Grosso, which is the same clone used to make Tuscany's famous Brunello di Montelcino. A bit riper than its Italian counterpart this wine still has the bright cherry and cedar notes for which Sangiovese is known but has a bigger mouthfeel and is generally richer. Caduceus is a bit spendy at around $55-$65 retail, but if you're splurging on someone special this wine will not disappoint. Look for it at most of your specialty wine retailers.

Todd Bostock's Doz Cabezas Wineworks 'El Campo'

Finally, what I consider to be one of Arizona's iconic bottles. Dos Cabezas 'El Campo' is a field blend of a bunch of different grapes from the famous Pronghorn Vineyard in Cochise County which sits way up at 4800 feet above sea level. Sturdy, even a bit rugged with enough tannin to age for 10 or more years 'El Campo' is a special gift that should definitely turn an ardent Arizona wine skeptic into a true believer. I've seen it at several Valley wine shops including AZ Wine Co, typically for around $50.

5 Gifts for the Home Baker Rachel Miller

When we were kids, my sister and I would thoughtfully write out our Christmas lists each November. My brother on the other hand would confiscate the toy guides that came in the Sunday paper, putting together an elaborate cut-and-paste visual Christmas list that put our lists to shame.

Knowing what to buy the baker in your life can be challenging. For your shopping ease, here is my version of my brother's cut-and-paste list, complete with pictures, for the baker in your life.

Tartine Book No. 3 by: Chad Robertson, $27.59,

If you have never been to Tartine Bakery in San Francisco, or picked up any of their beautiful cookbooks, you are most definitely missing out.

Master baker, Chad Robertson and his pastry chef wife, Elisabeth Prueitt, wrote their first book, Tartine, with a taste of everything they create in their renowned Tartine Bakery. Tartine Bread arrived next, teaching us how to create beautiful loaves from our home ovens. Tartine Book No. 3 promises the use of ancient grains and the reformulation of many favorite Tartine recipes to utilize whole grains, sprouted grains, alternative sweeteners, and nut milks.

Tartine Book No. 3 will be released on December 17, 2013, and can be preordered on

Superstone Covered Baker, $59.95,

Since you are giving the baker in your life a new book on bread baking, you may want to give them the gift of an all-natural stone covered baker. This baker mimics a brick-lined oven, without having to schlep bricks to your backyard and construct an oven.

7" Pie Plate with Cobalt Rim, $60.00,

As with many good things in my life, I discovered Studio One Studio on twitter. Lindsay Emery produces all her stunning ceramic line by hand, in small batches.

I am obsessed with Lindsay's gorgeous pieces, and how they make every dish I make look amazing. This pie plate is the latest piece that I'm lusting after.

Hayden Flour Mills Red Fife Bread Flour, $10.00,

Hayden Flour Mills is our local Arizona flourmill that is grinding up beautiful heirloom wheat, to create an exceptional line of flour.

I am looking forward to trying out the Red Fife Bread Flour for my at home bread experiments. Check out their online store or at various local farmers markets, to pick up a couple bags for your baker to experiment with.

Ball Heritage Collection "NEW" Pint Jars, $12.99,

Vintage lovers and preservers will flip over the re-release of the blue mason jars. Typically only available searching through flea markets or antique malls, the blue mason jar has made a comeback for its 100th birthday. Get these mason jars before they are once again gone, as these are limited edition release.

Use them for décor or to can your favorite preserves or jam, the perfect accompaniment for any bread testing you may find yourself obligated to consume.

Happy shopping, and eating!

Follow Chow Bella on Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Phoenix New Times