More Christmas giving, in more ways than one
very year, I watch and marvel, more than a little horrified, at how ostensibly sane people turn into gibbering wrecks at the thought that Christmas might pounce upon them before all their perfect presents are perfectly wrapped. And I know that I probably made the same cynical lament last year, but if I'm repeating myself, it's only because humanity has a nasty habit of repeating its actions, right or wrong. But 'ere you accuse me of ranting, I offer instead my services as recherché gift matchmaker, if only so the present perfectionists amongst yourselves are not left with your knickers in a twist come Christmas eve. Accordingly, herewith part two of my gastronomic-centric gift suggestions that your foodie friends would be more than happy to lay their Williams-Sonoma kitchen mitts on. You're welcome.
1) Forget the cast iron woks we've all been trained to trot down to the Chinese china store to buy. This gift (handhammeredwoks.co.uk) is sure to distinguish you from the rest of the madding crowd. Not only are these babies handmade by Chinese artisans from fast-heating carbon steel—and any foodie worth her salt knows that hand hammered woks yield a far superior wok hei than their commercial counterparts—they're also part of an increasingly rare phenomenon whose time, thanks to the omnipresence of said commercial woks, is nigh. Let's just say that if you don't make it onto the dinner invitation speed dial of your wok recipient once they've received this gem, it's time to look for new friends who are more appreciative of your efforts.
2) Yes, yes, I know, it's hard to compile a Christmas list without the inclusion of a coffee implement, but let me assure you that this ceramic coffee bean roaster is truly superlative and worthy of mention. Since any coffee aficionado is aware that coffee stays fresh only for three days after roasting, unless you've got a Mormon brood of coffee addicts at home, ensuring your daily java is at its optimum best can be a bit of a challenge. That is, unless you're the proud owner/giver of the zenroast (zenroast.co), a home roasting tool that promises to revolutionise your coffee habits in a most positive manner. Fired in one of Japan's six ancient kilns at temperatures of 1472˚, your zenroast isn't just handy for roasting coffee beans, it's also an all-singing implement that roasts tea leaves and sesame seeds, and it works on electric and gas stovetops. Now tell me that's not bloody amazing.
3) And because I've heard the mutterings that I seldom cater for folks with a predilection for the great outdoors, herewith what's quite possibly my favourite gift suggestion for 2016: the Wonderbag (amazon.com). No, ladies, it's not a handbag that becomes a shopping bag when unfolded (that's called a Longchamp pliage), nor is it a whoopie cushion that produces a gamut of celebrity farts. The Wonderbag, dear readers, is the ideal companion for the person who has chosen the path less trodden, but who refuses to settle for canned food whilst getting in touch with nature. How does this miraculous tool work? Well, you bring your pot of chosen dinner ingredients to a boil over a camping stove, then remove it from the heat and tuck the whole lot into this shower cap/cushion/duvet mutant of a device for several hours. By the time you're ready for tucker, the Wonderbag—call it the crockpot for discerning travellers—will have cooked your dinner to gustatory perfection. But that's not even the best bit: when you buy a Wonderbag, you'll also be an armchair philanthropist, because the company will also send one to the Wonderbag Foundation in Africa, which distributes bags to families in need. Compelling? I thought so, and remember, it's not just what you give, but how you give it that matters. Let's show a little less road rage, a little more consideration, and a whole lot more compassion to each other this Christmas, and maybe we'll be in better shape for the new year than we were last year. Have a good one, y'all.