Santa already knows what I want for Christmas: The Bratz Tokyo-A-Go-Go! Sushi Lounge, complete with teensy toy-sized nigiri, chopsticks, soy-sauce dishes, wooden plates, and a...
Santa already knows what I want for Christmas: The Bratz Tokyo-A-Go-Go! Sushi Lounge, complete with teensy toy-sized nigiri, chopsticks, soy-sauce dishes, wooden plates, and a microphone stand (for karaoke, of course). Trust me: This 40-piece set is the kitsch-perfect gift-of-choice for your favorite sushi addict. Raw fish and Bratz doll are sold separately (Toys R Us, $29.99).
If sushi isn’t your interest, here is a list of other food gifts for folks on your list.
Not every restaurant is savvy enough to keep a pair of “cheaters” on hand for guests in need. Which is why, when the lights are low and the menu print small, an extra pair of reading glasses always comes in handy. Slender, sophisticated Hideaways sold in various colored tins (to keep them from breaking) in several magnifying strengths (the stronger the better) are the practical way to say, “Here’s looking at you, squid!” (Bartell Drugs, $14.99).
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Chinese food fanciers will love them. Dim-sum neophytes will need them. A box of 30 Dim Sum Flash Postcards offers full-color photos and descriptions of everything from siu my (steamed pork dumplings) to foong jow (marinated and deep-fried chicken feet), with a handy chopstick how-to included. Having a wonderful time! Wish you were here eating woo gock (taro balls)! (Postmark Gelato, 3526 Fremont Place, N., $8.95).
When the weather outside is frightful, what could possibly taste better than authentic cassoulet, eaten in the comfort of one’s own home? Not much. Which is why Cassoulet To-Go from Campagne makes a swell gift. Lamb, pork, duck confit and garlic sausage hide among the luscious white beans slow-cooked and sent home with breadcrumbs (for sprinkling) and instructions (for reheating).
Gift-givers place their order before 5 p.m. for pick-up after 11 a.m. the next day. Call the restaurant’s cassoulet haute-line at 206-448-7740, or order via the Web at www.campagnerestaurant.com (Pick up at Café Campagne, 1600 Post Alley, $18 per person).
If re-heated beans just won’t do for the French food fan on your list, there’s always a trip to Paris and dinner for two at the venerable French restaurant, Taillevent, courtesy of “A Meal Observed” by Andrew Todhunter. From l’aperitif (a kir royale ), to le dessert (fantaisie aux peches, mille-feuille, moelleux au chocolat), the author shares a course-by-course recounting of a magical evening, flagrantly spiced with his powerful food-stoked memories. Read it before you wrap it: Todhunter’s prose is even more delicious than the meal he describes. (Barnes & Noble, $23).
Friends don’t let friends drive drunk. Nor does the Alcohawk ABI Digital Breath Alcohol Screener. This small handheld breathalyzer accurately estimates blood-alcohol content in seconds. After a night spent wining and dining at area restaurants, the Alcohawk is willing to say what friends are sometimes unwilling to suggest: You’ve had too much to drink. Give the gift of life: a gadget that gauges whether it’s time to call for the valet or a cab. (Sharper Image, $99.95).
Conveniently sized for stocking stuffing and hot off the press, the 2005 Seattle Zagat Survey is (as they might say in quote-happy Zagatese ) a “must-have” for “diners on the go” if only for its “handy phone numbers and addresses” (www.zagatsurvey.com, $8.95).
Joining that maroon-colored volume is a new vegetarian competitor: Veg Out Vegetarian Guide to Seattle & Portland. Dressed in green, Veg Out was compiled by local chef George Stephenson, whose thoughtful reviews of vegetarian-friendly restaurants, presented geographically and alphabetically, run the gamut from the obvious (Gravity Bar), to the not-so (Rover’s). (www.gibbs-smith.com, $12.95).
Restaurant gift-certificates are always a welcome gift and a great way for you, as a gift-giver, to lend support to your favorite restaurants. Another intriguing option is a gift card from a multi-unit restaurant company including these local favorites: Chow Foods (www.chowfoods.com), offering cards in increments from $25 to $150 dollars, redeemable at Seattle’s neighborhood restaurants Jitterbug, Coastal Kitchen, 5 Spot, Atlas Foods, Endolyne Joe’s and the Hi-Life.
Restaurants Unlimited’s gift card (www.restaurantsunlimited.com) is accepted at the company’s restaurants nationwide and locally at Cutter’s Bayhouse, Maggie Bluffs, Palisade, Palomino, Scott’s Bar & Grill (Edmonds) and Stanley and Seafort’s (Tacoma).
Schwartz Brothers Restaurants (www.schwartzbrothersrestaurants.com) with cards sold in amounts from $10 to $500 can be used at the Atrium Cafe, Chandler’s Crabhouse, Daniel’s Broiler (Seattle and Bellevue) and Spazzo Italian Grill (Bellevue). Buy a $100 gift card redeemable at one of Tom Douglas’s restaurants (www.tomdouglas.com) and you’ll get two gifts in one: a card good at the Dahlia Lounge, Etta’s Seafood, Palace Kitchen, Lola or the Dahlia Bakery, plus a complimentary signed copy of one of Douglas’s fabulous cookbooks.
Talk about buying a pig in a poke. Those who think ahead may want to contact Armandino Batali at his Pioneer Square sandwich-shop and Italian meat-curing facility, Salumi, early next year. Turns out he’s been doing a brisk business with his Adopt-a-Prosciutto program, presently full-up (“There’s no more room to hang ’em!” says Armo.) What cured-meat junkie wouldn’t want a gift certificate entitling the bearer to a big, ugly haunch of pig plus visitation rights during the year-plus curing process? Of course, that also gives the adoptive parent an excuse to visit Salumi on a regular basis. (Call 206-621-8772 www.salumicuredmeats.com, $150.)