Archive for 'Travel'

Top 10 Christmas Gifts for the International Foodie

Does the foodie in your life eat food from around the world? Perhaps she’d like one of these gadgets in the kitchen

1. Spanish Paella Pan and Ingredients

Paella is the national dish of Spain. It’s a complex dish of rice, safron, seafood, chicken, rabbit, and other meats. Each region has their own specialty and there’s always a party when the paella pan comes out. This gift set includes a paella pan as well as a selection of Spanish ingredients to start the paella party.

Paella Gift Set with Spanish Delicacies

2. Sushi Kit

This sushi kit has everything you need to make and eat sushi, That is everything but the actual rice, nori, and fish. It has the wooden bowl for prepping the rice, the rolling mat, and service set.

Sushi Making Set

Sushi making also requires a good set of knives for precision cutting. This set of sushi knives are hand made in Japan, yet still affordable.
5 PC. SUSHI KNIVES, pro sushi carbon vanadium stainless steel, hand made in carrying case

3. Indian Thali Set

Meals in India are often served as a series of small dishes. These are served on platters with different containers or compartments. This thali server has an intricate pattern and several dishes to elegantly serve a meal.

Oxidized Stainless Steel Puja Thali with 5 Lamps and 1 Bowl for Arati

4. Party Size Brick Pizza Oven

This pizza oven is great for parties and families that can never agree on toppings. It’s got an earthenware dome with multiple openings that let each person create their own personal sized pizza and watch it bake. Think of it as an Italian fondue pot.

Wimmeley PD601 PizzaDome Portable Italian Brick Pizza Oven

5. German Spetzle Maker

Spetzle is a small dumpling-like noodle that is very popular in Germany. This tool works great for making spetzle, but can also be used for mashed potatoes, apple sauce, and other similar foods where you want a smooth consistency without lumps.

Kuchenprofi Potato Ricer/Spaetzle Press in 18/10 Stainless Steel

6. Electric Arepas Maker

An arepa is a dish made of corn and is popular in both Colombia and Venezuela. It is similar to the the Salvadoran pupusa. This arepa maker by Oster allows you to cook 6 of these at the same time. has a great recipe for Columbian Arepas:

These tasty cornmeal cakes can be found grilled, baked, or fried in several Latin American countries. We love this Colombian version—the outside fries up crisp and golden, while the cheesy middle stays wonderfully moist. They can be eaten as a side dish or paired with hot chocolate for an afternoon snack.

Read the full recipe: Columbian Arepas –

Oster 4798 Electric Family-Size 6-Cup Arepamaker

7. Persian Electric Samovar Tea Service

This electric samovar serves tea the Persian way. There are two pots, the one on top holds a concentrated tea, while the one below holds hot water. Pour some of the concentrated tea into your cup and then dilute it to your satisfaction.

Teasam Electric Samovar Teapot 4.5 Liters Cobalt Porcelain Handle

8. Polish Pierogi

Poland, like France, is a country where people really know food. One can stop at a wayside inn in the country or at a modest restaurant in a working-class city neighborhood and be served a meal worth remembering. This pierogi tray is sturdy and makes 6 of the dumplings at a time. You can also use it for making potstickers and other similar dumplings.

CucinaPro 135-03 Pierogi Tray

9. Turkish Coffee Set

Turkish coffee is strong. Real strong. It’s so strong, the grinds have their own psychic powers. This set includes the coffee pot and two cups. Just remember, don’t drink that last sip.

Turkish Coffee Set for Two

10. Stainless Steel Chinese Hot Pot

Many of the items on this list encourage family-style dining. This Chinese hot pot is no exception.

In the winter season, when chilly temperatures and frigid winds prevail over the land, people like to eat food that instantly warms their bodies and lifts their spirits. For that, the hot pot is a delicious and hearty choice. Families or groups of friends sit around a table and eat from a steaming pot in the middle, cooking and drinking and chatting. Eating hot pot is not a passive activity: diners must select morsels of prepared raw food from plates scattered around the table, place them in the pot, wait for them to cook, fish them out of the soup, dip them in the preferred sauce, and then eat them hot, fresh, and tender. They can also ladle up the broth from the pot and drink it.
Chinese Hot Pot – Chinatown Connection

Chinese Stainless Steel Hotpot

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10 Gifts for the Francophile

Are you looking for that special something for the Francophile in your life? These ideas will make them weep with joy like a kid in Pierre Herme.

1. Water and Iced Tea Pitcher with Toile

Toile decorative designs are very common in France. You’ll see them on aprons, wallpaper, linens, and this pitcher. It’s great for holding iced water, tea, and punch.

French Black Toile Porcelain Water/Tea Pitcher Featured in Country Living Magazine

2. La Rochere Goblet Set

The bee was a symbol for Napoléon and can be seen on everything in France. These glasses are a good example. They’ll provide a wee bit of 19th Century style to the dinner table. Here’s a bit of history about the icon

Napoléon I wanted to highlight Carolingian and even Merovingian heritage, a good manner to skip the Capetians kings’ heritage, and looked for new emblems in 1804.
The State Council followed Cambacérès and Lacuée, who proposed the bees, as “a republic with a chief”, with a sting but producing honey, which was the emblem of work for Ségur. The team, directed by Vivant Denon, that designed the imperial arms, proposed a semy of bees in “Merovingian style” on the imperial purple coat. The original design was deemed “too archaic”. Later, a bee with well-detached wings was selected, and appeared on the Emperor and Emperess’ clothes, as weel as on the hanging in the Notre-Dame cathedral during the coronation.
The Bees as the Imperial Symbol

La Rochere Bee Décor 12.5 Ounce Footed Water Goblet Set of 6

3. Extra Thick Copper Frying Pan

Every French kitchen has a thick copper frying pan. These utilitarian pans will become the centerpiece of every meal. This 10.2-inch frying pan has sloped sides for high-heat frying. The extra-thick 2.5 mm copper exterior heats quickly and evenly, yet it also features a non-reactive stainless interior lining that holds up to heavy use and cleans easily.

 6504.26-Cuprinox Extra-Thick 2-1/2 mm 10-1/2-Inch Round Frying Pan

4. Electric Crepe Maker

There was one thing I missed tremendously when I moved from Southern California to Paris: Mexican Food. That’s right, I needed my quick meals that were filling, greasy, salty, sinful, yet sooo good. Fortunately, there is a replacement in Paris; the crepe stand. You can get a sweet crepe or the savory version (gallette) that will warm your soul for just a few euros. Now you can recreate this dish at home.

But don’t think crepes are just for fast food. Take a trip through Brittany to explore the wide variety of crepes and finish the meal with a strong cider.

World Cuisine 13-Inch Diameter Tibos Electric Crepe Maker

5. Colorful Salt Cellars

These colorful salt cellars look like they came straight from the Bastille farmers market in Paris. Their whimsical shapes and fun colors will add a dash of spice to your table. These are meant to hold some nice finishing salt, such as the wonderful Sel Gris From Guerande.
Colorful mini ceramic salt cellars, set of 6 assorted colors, French

6. Laguiole Pearl Handled Spreader Set

Laguiole, a small French mountain town about 350 miles south of Paris, is famous for its cattle, its cheese, and its cutlery. The original Laguiole knife was made by iron smiths in 1829, as a farmers tool. This farmers tool was refined into the Laguiole Steak Knife, which is used today by many famous French restaurants. This pearl handled set is made just for spreading honey, confiture, or creme fraiche.
French Laguiole Pearl Spreader Set in Wood Drawer Tray

7. Bain Marie for Creme Brulee

Custards need to be baked at a consistent temperature. Normally you’d place your ramekin dishes in a pan half-filled with water. This set has special dishes and larger pan that lets you bake the perfect set of custards.  This set also includes a torch for creating a perfectly carmelized topping.

BonJour Bain Marie Set

8. Grand Dictionaire de Cuisine by Alexandre Dumas

My coworkers gave me this book when I left the Paris office to move back to the United States. It’s an amazing book by Alexandre Dumas, who is best known as the author of The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo . This book was a work of love for Dumas and consumed the last part of his life.

Grand dictionnaire de cuisine, by Alexandre Dumas

His massive Grand Dictionnaire de cuisine (Great Dictionary of Cuisine) was published posthumously – Wikipedia

The book is filled with charming line drawings and extensive descriptions. Please note: this book is written in French, although it is still very interesting for those that do not know the language.

9. Classic French Cooking with Dorie Greenspan

Dorie Greenspan has written some of the most accessible, delicious books about French cuisine. My copy of her book Baking with Julia is dog-eared and splattered with batters and doughs. Her latest cook book, Around my French Table,  promises solid French cooking that you can do in your kitchen.
Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours

Here’s an interview by Dorie with the Poilane boulangerie.

10. The Sweet Life by David Lebovitz

David Lebovitz is an internationally respected pastry chef that moved from Berkeley to Paris. He’s written a series of beautiful cookbooks that explore the sweet side of life. The Sweet Life highlights the greatest bakeries and candy shops of Paris while also telling stories of life across the ocean. You’ll quickly find yourself addicted to David’s humor and recipes.

The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World's Most Glorious - and Perplexing - City

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Duck and lobster carcass press extracts every last drop

While this looks like a beautiful brass object, it’s actually used for a fairly gruesome purpose. It’s used to press a duck or lobster carcass to create gourmet French dishes.

DUCK CARCASS PRESS  [Matfer Bourgeat]

WiseGeek has a good description of how this is used.

A duck press, incidentally, is usually made of brass or another heavy-weight metal. It stands about 20 inches (51 centimeters) tall and weighs somewhere around 25 pounds (11.3 kilograms). The press has a heavy disc attached to a turning screw, which ratchets the disc down into a container. The truly macabre ones stand on brass webbed duck feet.

After the duck carcass is placed inside the duck press, the waiter screws the metal disc down, down, down, pressing the carcass flat, in order to extract all the remaining juices and marrow. When this gruesome task has been accomplished, the waiter adds those juices to the wine reduction, along with a little brandy or cognac, and some butter. The resulting sauce and duck breast slices are then presented to the diner, along with the duck legs, with perhaps a shaving or two of truffle.

A man named Mechenet introduced the recipe in Paris in the early 1800s. It was a hit. Chef Frèdèric of the restaurant La Tour d’ Argent copied the recipe and even went so far as to number the pressed ducks served in his restaurant, since it was the establishment’s signature dish. Over 1 million pressed ducks have been served at La Tour d’Argent, which is still open.
What is a Duck Press? – WiseGeek

FXCuisine has an illustrated guide to duck press usage at La Tour d’Argent: Duck Tour d’Argent. Another good description comes from Cooking Issues: Pressed Duck: A Photo Diary.

Larousse Gastronomique is the bible of French cuisine. Here’s how they describe the press

This wonderful recipe was created at the beginning of the 19th century by a restaurateur from Rouen named Mèchenet. This recipe for pressed duck owed much of its success to the Duke of Chartres, who commended it highly in Paris. When the renowned cook Frèdèric took over the restaurant La Tour d’ Argent, he began numbering all the pressed ducks that he served, intending to make the dish the specialty of his restaurant. By the end of 1996, a million had been served; #328 was served to Edward Vll, the Prince of Wales. In 1890, #33,642 was provided for Theodore Roosevelt and #253,652 for Charlie Chaplin.

Pressed duck is prepared in front of the customer. Thin slices of breast are cut from the bird and placed in a dish of well-reduced red wine standing on a hotplate. The rest of the duck except for the legs, which are served grilled, is pressed in a
special screw press. The juice obtained is flavoured with Cognac, thickened with butter and poured over the aiguillettes, (the slices of breast) which finish cooking in the sauce.
Larousse Gastronomique

You could fly to Paris to enjoy this meal for around 100 euros or you could buy this lovely press on Amazon for about $2,200. That’s a discount of over $1,200! That’s a bargain compared to the cost of flying and hotel.

La Tour d’Argent
+33 (0) 1 43 54 23 31
15-17 Quai de Tournelle
75005 Paris

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Coasting at 40,000 feet with these airline gauges

Coffee, tea or me? Two out of three would fit on these coasters. I’ll need something just a wee bit bigger.

These are super cool for the pilot, flight attendant, and/or jet setter in the family.

Vintage Aircraft Instrument Coaster Set - Set of 6

This set is more modern and hip. It’s perfect for the first class martini.
Modern Aircraft Instrument Coasters - Set of 4

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Keep dad’s coffee hot with this thermos

Are you looking for a great father’s day gift? If your special dad figure is an outdoors type, he’d love this thermos. It’s extremely well insulated and is designed to make it easy to fill and pour.

Zojirushi Tuff Sports Stainless Steel Vacuum Bottle

You may have noticed that I’m using the lower case thermos without the thingamabobber that defines it as a registered trademark. You see, this is not made by Thermos. It’s a Japanese wonder. It may be better described as a Ninja-like stainless-steel super insulated wonder vacuum flask.

If this thermos is not what he’s looking for, maybe this one will be better.

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Japanese Tea Ceremony Bamboo Ladle and Whisk

These items are used in the Japanese tea ceremonies.

The Japanese tea ceremony, also called the Way of Tea, is a Japanese cultural activity involving the ceremonial preparation and presentation of matcha, powdered green tea. In Japanese, it is called chanoyu (茶の湯) or chadō (茶道; also pronounced sadō?). The manner in which it is performed, or the art of its performance, is called temae (点前?). Zen Buddhism was a primary influence in the development of the tea ceremony.
Japanese Tea Ceremony – Wikipedia

Japanese Tea Ceremony Bamboo Ladle/Hishaku

Hishaku (柄杓). This is a long bamboo ladle with a nodule in the approximate center of the handle. It is used to pour hot water into the tea bowl from the iron pot (kama) and to transfer cold water from the fresh water container to the iron pot when required. A tetsubin does not require the use of a hishaku.

Different styles are used for different ceremonies and in different seasons. A larger version that is made of cypress wood is used for the ritual rinsing of hands and mouth by guests before entering the tea room, or for use by the host in the back preparation area of the tea room (mizuya), in which case it distinguished as mizuya-bishaku.
List of Japanese tea ceremony equipment – Wikipedia

Japanese Tea Ceremony Bamboo Ladle/Hishaku

Chasen (茶筅) are bamboo whisks used to prepare matcha. They are hand-carved from a single piece of bamboo. There are differences in their style according to the type of bamboo they are made from, the shape of the tines, the number of tines, the thickness of the bamboo, the length of the bamboo, the color of the thread that is woven around the bottom of the tines, and so on.
List of Japanese tea ceremony equipment – Wikipedia

Japanese Tea Ceremony Chasen Bamboo Whisk 120-tate

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