I was given an Armando Batali salami at my bridal shower. When I brought it home, my dog tried to run away with it. I fought that dog. I fought him hard. The only product still shipping for 2012 is the future delivery of a different salame on Easter, Mother's Day and Father's Day throughout 2013. Accept that, and ensure salumi-scented dreams until the fateful day of their arrival. And consider sending the dog into another room. -- Salumi Cured Meats ($99)
- Gifts for drinking -
Super smoky Scotch
My husband and I took a week-long trip to Scotland last year. We stayed at an old country estate with a single-malt library overseen by a Scotch sommelier named Beth. Beth taught us things. When we emerged from the peat bog at the end of the week, it was with a single word upon our lips: Corryvreckan. It takes its name from the famous whirlpool that lies to the north of Islay, and it tastes like a rich, heady, forest fire that takes ages to put out. Get ye some. -- Ardbeg Corryvreckan (Approx $85)
Best bloody mary mix EVER
Bloody marys are usually a maintenance beverage - a cursory nod at healthy vegetable delivery on a damaged Sunday morning, while still being a delivery system for more alcohol. McClure's confounds that notion with a spiced-up, tomato paste laced, pickle brine that (gasp!) can stand up on its own, or even be cut down with some seltzer. A case of 12 might seems like excess - until you actually taste the burn and realize that's what your heart has been missing. -- McClure's (Case of 12 for $120)
- Gifts for reading -
Organize your cookbooks
Does your food lover have stacks of cookbooks and no idea what recipes are in them? A membership allows cooks to store a registry of the titles they own, so when life hands them lemons, they can easily figure out which books in their collection contain lemonade recipes. -- Eat Your Books (1 year $25)
Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic is a lifelong picky eater who feared she would pass those habits down to her son. This led to an in-depth and deftly-written and frequently hilarious exploration into the curious science behind food aversions and what we can do to overcome them. -- Suffering Succotash: A Picky Eater's Quest to Understand Why We Hate the Foods We Hate ($15)
Back to nature
Stockbroker-turned-Gourmet Magazine test kitchen chef Ian Knauer wasn't quite sure what to do with himself when the august publication folded, so he went back to tend the land that had been in his family for generations. The result is an earnest, honest, practical cookbook that's a celebration of the seasons and the simple gifts of the earth. -- The Farm ($30)
A woman's place is in the kitchen - the restaurant kitchen. In this engaging (and often enraging) book, journalist Charlotte Druckman wove together first-hand accounts from a stunningly smart panel of over 70 female chefs who are holding their own in a male-dominated field, and commanding only a fraction of the recognition they deserve. -- Skirt Steak: Women Chefs on Standing the Heat & Staying in the Kitchen ($24.95)
Even if you're not familiar with Ruth Bourdain - the unholy Twitter-borne mash-up of Ruth Reichl and Anthony Bourdain - the food freak in your life is. RuBo, as she(?) is known to fans, won the inaugural James Beard Award for humor writing, and brings ever bit of that biting wit to this send-up of modern-day food fanaticism. -- Comfort Me with Offal: Ruth Bourdain's Guide to Gastronomy ($19.99)
Steve McDonagh and Dan Smith won the first season of "The Next Food Network Star" and went on to write my single most favorite entertaining book of all time, "Talk With Your Mouth Full." Their newest book expands on their big-hearted and easily elegant hosting techniques, and include techniques and recipes to make even novice bartenders feel like master mixologists. -- The New Old Bar: Classic Cocktails and Salty Snacks from The Hearty Boys ($19.99)
- Gifts for saving the world -
You've fed your loved one's mouth, mind and soul. How about spreading some of that love around? Everyone has their favorite causes, but I'm a particular fan of the International Rescue Committee's New Roots campaign, which enables refugees to grow foods from their homeland and stay in touch with their culture, while sustaining themselves and their families.
CNN's Impact Your World has more ways to help you channel your time, energy and cash to where it will feed the most people where it's needed most.
Have a delicious holiday season!
*Yes, I know you can make rose petal syrup, chocolate-coated rose petals, etc. I just don't care for them.