For the Craft Beer/Cocktail Companion — A Gift Guide

As a kid, I loved crafts. I truly couldn’t get enough of popsicle sticks that were dripping with Elmer’s white, runny glue and glitter. There was so much potential. So much whimsy.

It turns out that as an adult I continue to foster a love for crafts: craft beer, craft coffee, and craft cocktails, for instance. What can I say? I’m a creature of habit. I, like many of my friends (and yours, I’m sure), aspire to have a flourishing home bar with many tools and trinkets and bottles to boot.

Giving gifts to craft beer and cocktail lovers doesn’t have to be hard. Here are some of my recommendations:

Let’s start with some literature, shall we?

  • The Complete Beer Course – Do I need to type a description here? I think the cover saison you need to know (that was a bad beer pun).
  • The Canon Cocktail Book – Canon is one of the BEST bars in Seattle, not to mention the U.S., and they’ve just put out a cocktail recipe book! If you want to step up your game then THIS is the way to do it.
  • The 12 Bottle Bar – Buy this book and make a night of it! Stock the bar. Learn to make cocktails. This is a great pick for those people in your life who are bound and determined to get into home bartending but juuuuuust haven’t found the time to start yet. (Spoiler alert, the time is now.)

[Side note: this book is great because it not only teaches you about the basics of a home bar, but also how to maximize those basics. My boyfriend and I have been making our way through it this year and it’s been awesome!]

West ElmCrate & BarrelWest Elm

Another good place to start with gift giving is with the essentials, and for a home bar, bar tools are just that. Whether you are giving to someone who is looking to beef up their tool kit or perhaps someone who wants upgrade their collection with pieces that have more personality and pizazz, there are a lot of options out there and plenty of places to look.

Specific individual tools could include:

  • A muddler (customize it!)
  • A strainer for a cocktail shaker
  • Jiggers
  • Bottle openers
  • Etc.

e0bba6d8e97655dedd3a3729e40701eb

Beer Brewing Kit from Midwest Supplies

Home brewing is America’s new favorite hobby, but how does your Lager-loving dad get started? With a beer brewing kit of course! While I’m not an expert in the topic  THESE GUYS are and they can help you find the kit you need. [Pictured above is their top recommendation for a beginner].

For both the traditional and adventurous mixologists in your life, bitters make great gifts and also great stocking stuffers. What even are bitters? Bitters have a lot of purposes, but for the sake of this post: Bitters are punchy, flavorful liquids that are made from herb/botanicals. Just a few drops can drastically change the taste of anything they are added to. For example, and Old Fashioned would not be an Old Fashioned without bitters (Angostura, to get specific).

These from Scrappy’s, a Seattle brand, are some of my favorites. [Their website is down right now, but just do a quick internet search for “Scrappy’s Bitters” and you should find what you need]

And finally, a few trusty gifts for the ones in your life who just like to kick it with a cocktail in hand. Any of these will be phenomenal additions to that stylish new bar cart:

  • Cocktail Shakers* – These are everywhere, for everyone.
  • Unique barware* – Cocktail glasses come in many shapes in sizes, but all serving the same purpose: to make your drink taste its best. They also come in many different patterns, colors, and with different metallic rims (did somebody say rose gold?). Think about which cocktails are most popular with your buddies and start with some glasses made just for that.
  • Cool coasters* – Guys, where there’s a drink there’s a risk for a cup ring! Coasters, obvi. Everybody needs more coasters (especially cool ones).
  • Interesting ice molds – Ice plays a huge role in the cocktail world. The shape and cut of ice can determine the way a drink tastes, looks, and lasts. Molds are available in traditional shapes as well as quirky shapes—like Death Stars — and even in kits that allow you to manipulate the ice into whatever form you need.[While the kit above seems a little bit superfluous, I think we all know that we have a friend who will be MAJORLY STOKED on it. The crew at Wired seems to think so, too.][Why didn’t you include any of those trendy stones? While the stones and rocks available are less likely to dilute your drink, my friends have found that they are also less likely to get as cold as you might like.]
  • Decanter* – Because bar carts look even cooler when the booze is on display in sleek glass bottles. These are great for liquor or wine (see, I haven’t ENTIRELY neglected the winos).
  • Import booze from abroad — Maybe it’s the specialty of a country that your person is dying to visit, or maybe it’s from their old home town. Either way this is a thoughtful option and your friend will appreciate it (and likely get a good, heartwarming buzz courtesy of you.)

*Go vintage! A lot of this stuff is easy to find at thrift stores and online. Hot tip: search for “MidCentury Barware” on Etsy and feel your heart take flight.

None of these are givin’ you that post-cocktail buzz? Why not plan a cocktail bar crawl in your city or a city near by?  Or maybe find a cocktail class to take with a friend? Like I’ve said before, some people would rather receive an experience than a gift. Have a drink and think on it.


That does it for this gift guide! I’ve got one more up my sleeve and that one is a little more high energy (spoilers: it’s coffee-centric!).

If you’re still having trouble thinking of a gift, I am totally game to help you brainstorm. Shoot me a comment or an email and we can figure it out together.

Happy Holidays!

For the One Who Cooks — A Gift Guide

The holiday season is here and none of us started gift shopping in September like we’ve always been told to do. But who has time for that, truly? The good news is that you still have plenty of time, but if you’re stumped when it comes to the actual gift selection then you’re going to burn through that time quick.

Never fear! Gift guides are here to help. I’ll be putting out a few this year to assist you on your quest to find holiday delights for the people in your life who love consuming food and drinks as much as I do. First up?

A Gift Guide for the Ones Who Love to Cook

  • Retro inspired kitchen timers — Because we all need a kitchen timer, and they might as well make a statement.
  • Cookware with character — The accessibility of artisanal goods has been made SO easy through sites like Etsy. Find a unique, useful gift online that supports the Maker community. Some even have options for personalization. (Pro tip: this is also a good way to scout out vintage finds).
  • Copper cooking utensils — For your trendy friend who enjoys cooking, and having a very instagrammable prep space.
  • Mortar and Pestle — The more I cook, the more I understand the need for one of these. They’re used for crushing and grinding herbs and spices, and it doesn’t hurt that they look nice on display, either.
  • Ravioli and Tortellini starter set — Remember your friend who studied abroad in Florence? Firenze. They’ll love this.
  • Hot chocolate pot — Why? The better question is “Why Not?”.  At first glance this probably seems ostentatious, but check this out: the teak handle makes pouring a breeze, the lid can be used as a trivet while cooling, and think of how COOL you/your friend will look when they whip out this puppy for a cocoa sesh.

2ab75388322a18094011a131116006d5

Joule by Chef Steps — Sous vide is a cooking technique that’s really blown up in the last couple of years. While I’ve never done it myself, it has already sealed its reputation as being a modern cooking method that boasts ease of execution and perfectly prepared steaks. But it can certainly do more than just cook your meats to the ideal medium rare. If there’s someone in your life who enjoys learning new techniques in the kitchen, this is the gift for them. Learn more on the Chef Steps website.

If you’re a person who feels safer giving, say, socks than this years trendy tech, try some of these safer, more practical gifts on for size:

  • Wooden Cutting Boards — Make it interesting, though! Look for different compositions of wood, wood grain, shapes, and materials.
  • Mandolin — No, not the instrument. This kitchen machine cuts major time out of slicing (see what I did there?).
  • Oven Thermometer — Yes, it’s just a food thermometer, but you can never go wrong with All Clad, right?
  • Scale — Bingo. A practical gift, with a high tech touch. (Plus, who doesn’t need a scale in the kitchen?)

I know what some of you may be thinking, “What about a cookbook?”.  My friends, worry no more. I’ve got you covered:

Perhaps you’re giving to someone who’s less of a “things-person” and more of an “experience-person”, which I totally get! There are a lot of options for these people, too.

Look for cooking classes in your area for the two of you to take together, or for them to take alone or with someone else. Are they adventurous? Maybe a foraging excursion is more their speed. Learn, alongside an expert, about the edible ingredients found in nature around you (+10 points if it’s a mushroom tour because that’s DOPE).

Or maybe they’re the kind of person that just wants to hang out and be together. Why not get all the ingredients you need to tag team a meal, and a few bottles of wine, obviously. Even plan an outing where you go to the Farmer’s Market together and gather everything you need, while simultaneously sampling your community’s best ciders and spiced donuts.

Want to gift all your kitchen-dwelling friends at once? What if you invited them all over for a night of enjoying company and YOUR cooking? All they’re required to do is kick back and snack. Sounds like the makings of a special evening to me.


Hopefully this makes your holiday hunt for the Home Chefs (or Chef Chefs!) in your life a little less stressful, or gave you some ideas of your own! I’ve got more headed your way in the coming weeks.

Happy Holidays!

Where you should go during Dine Around Seattle [Fall 2016]

logo_das-home
If you’re anything like me, then you’re doing a real bang-up job of counterbalancing your election stress with delicious meals, snacks, and cocktails. And what better way enable yourself do that than by visiting and supporting local restaurants.
Enter: Dine Around Seattle. The bi-annual celebration of local food, chefs, and seasonal dishes from around The Emerald City. I’ve taken some time to break down the list and have determined what my top picks are and what I’d order if I had the opportunity to visit them all. Check it out below!
Key: (L) – Lunch, (D) – Dinner

BALLARD
  • Pork Chop and Co (L) (D) –  3 for $33, 1st course is a beverage, I’d order the: mole braised beef cheeks
  • [TOP PICK] Skillet (L) (D) – $3 for $33, Most excited about the: Like, literally everything sounds really flavorful and awesome
  • Bramling Cross (D) – 3 courses $33, Most excited about the: For The Table course
BELLTOWN
  • Local 360 (D) – 3 for $33 – Most excited about the: porchetta and the dessert selection
CAPITOL HILL
  • Anchovies & Olives (D) – 3 for $33 – Most excited about the: For The Table Course (honestly everything sounds great)
  • [TOP PICK] Poppy (D) – 3 for $44 – I’d order the: Herbed Rabbit Sausage with Glazed Shallots and Tart Cherries and the Braised Pork Shoulder with Vanilla and Pear (…and also everything else wow)
  • [TOP PICK] Rione XIII (D) – 3 for $33 – Most excited about the: for the table course and the Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe
  • [GOOD DEAL ALERT] The Saint (D) – 3 for $22 – I’d order the: sopa de tortilla and the yuca frita
  • Terra Plata (D) – 3 for $33 – I’d order the: rabbit terrine and the butternut squash cake
  • Skillet (L) (D) – $3 for $33, Most excited about the: [same as Ballard location]
DOWNTOWN
  • Cha:n (D) – 3 for $33 – Most excited about the: 5.3 bulgogi and ALL of the desserts
FREMONT
  • Chiso (D) – 3 for $33 – I’d order the: dungeness crab sunomono and the local fish omakase sushi
  • Pomerol (D) – 3 for $33 – I’d order the: pork shoulder steak
KIRKLAND
  • Trellis (L) (D) – 3 for $33 – Most excited about the: great choices all around (really doesn’t look like you can go wrong)
PIONEER SQUARE
  • [TOP PICK] Girin (L) (D) – 3 for $44 – I’d order the: grilled babyback ribs and choice of ssam (second course…any of them)
QUEEN ANNE
  • LloydMartin (D) – 3 for $44 – I’d order the: Hamachi crudo, vanilla salt, lemon oil, foie gras and the black truffle risotto, parmesan, truffle (menu changes daily)
  • Toulouse Petit (L) (D) – 3 for $33 – I’d order the: french onion soup and the wild shrimp and housemade andouile
WOODINVILLE
  • Barking Frog (L)(D) – 3 for $44 – Most excited about: the Woodinville wine and the second courses
If you want to learn more about Dine Around Seattle or view the entire list of participating restaurants, click here : http://dinearoundseattle.org/restaurants/
Need to make reservations? Try Open Table http://www.opentable.com/seattle-restaurants or Resy https://resy.com/ (where available)
Get out and get eatin’! If there’s one cause I can get behind, it’s supporting local restaurants.
Cheers!

UPCOMING: Holiday Giving Guides for the Hungry People in Your Life

When I was in high school, scouting out unique holiday gifts was one of my specialties. I could cross the threshold of Target’s big red doors with a mission in mind and be back out in 10 minutes flat, arms full of thoughtful randomities sure to make someone in my friend group (or my mom) shimmy with excitement.

As I’ve gotten older (and more aware of expectation and whose taste is what) it turns out that gift hunting has lost a little bit of it’s sparkle. It’s not quite the exciting quest that it used to be, in fact, I think we can all agree that sometimes it can get a little frustrating. There have been desperate moments when I’ve walked into, what I’ve deemed is, the last store of my sad attempt to find a gift for someone and have picked something up, sighed as I settled on something mediocre, and felt guilty that I didn’t start shopping in September like I meant to.

And let me tell you something else, there’s truly nothing like quickly, softly whispering, “There’s a gift receipt in there if you don’t like it,” to really get someone excited for what awaits them in your haphazardly wrapped package. My favorite part is the hyperbolized excitement they show afterwards to prove how stoked they are for the thing you have ~blessed them~ with.

For those of you also feeling overwhelmed, clueless, like you’re blindly combing the shelves at the Very Posh Store That You’ve Always Meant to Go Into for the perfect something…these upcoming seasonal gift guides are for you. Of course, it’d be worth mentioning that these are for the people who hold my same interests near and dear to their hearts. Those interests, of course, are the consumable kind: food, cocktails, coffee, restaurants, cooking, recipes, kitchen supplies (ok, less consumable), etc. I’ll be listing them all!

Another thing that’s happened since I’ve gotten older is that I’d rather receive an experience, like an outing or a trip, than a thing (unless that thing is a mandolin slicer because SHE is currently burning a hole in my Amazon wishlist). That means I will not only be sharing my ideas for things you can buy for someone, but also things that you can do together.

The holidays shouldn’t be all about gifts, but I hope the ones you do give are received graciously and produce imminent hunger pangs.

Be on the look out for the first one next week!

PS: Throughout the holidays I’ll be posting some of my recommendations for where to eat and drink around The Emerald City as well. Stay tuned!