Wednesday, November 30, 2005

A few of my favorite things...

I try to keep a few special gourmet items on hand as back-up gift ideas, especially during the holiday rush. Perfect for your hosts, a grab bag or for treating yourself, here are a few of my favorite things.

Revolution Tea. I love all of their three variety boxes, about $12.75 each. The assortments are wonderful (caffeine and caffeine free) and contain 30 (5 flavors, 6 servings of each) of the most adorable individually wrapped boxes. They claim the individual wrapping bit is for freshness, but I like the thrill it gives my guest when they see the tiny boxes, ponder which flavor, and open the gift-like package. Oh yes, and the great experience continues. The teabag is silk-like to the touch and transparent, revealing the beautiful whole-leaf tea inside. People are starting to catch on as I have recently spotted this tasty tea in new places. Otherwise you can buy direct or from B&G Gourmet, where I buy mine. Holiday hint: the individual boxes make excellent stocking stuffers!

Spanish Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Man could live happily on bread alone as long as it was served with Spanish extra virgin olive oil. Its intense fruity aroma and flavor set it apart from its olive oil cousins. My favorite brand available in the USA is Columela, partially because their EVOOs are unfiltered. Even my favorite Italian gourmet shop in Boston's famed North End carries this Spanish olive oil.

If you are not already, ride the Malbec wine wave. Malbec (or Malbeck) is one of the traditional Bordeaux varietals and said to have characteristics that fall between Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. My favorites are from Mendoza, a wine region in northwest Argentina close to the Chilean border. These yummy fruit-forward bold red wines are typically also smooth to the palate so you can drink them young. And, priced at $12 - $15 they are too good to pass up. I am normally vintage year sensitive but since I have yet to experience a bad one here, I will not bore you with the numbers. These wines are now everywhere for the asking. Two of my consistent favs are Altos Las Hormigas and Norton Reserve. I am partial to B&GWines extensive selection and recommendations because they have already tasted them all.

Christmas always makes me think of cookies. If you can not bake your own cookies, then let Dancing Deer help. Not only do they make delicious baked goods, but they are also a company with a big heart. I am partial to their home-style cookies, and this year they offer a nice chewy assortment (2.6 pounds of goodness for $29.95) so you can avoid the dilemma of choosing between flavors. Holiday Warning: you may not be able to resist eating these yourself.

Happy Holidays!

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