Your Holiday Shopping Guide 2016: Food & Drink


For Jews with a sweet tooth

Chelsea Market Basket or Economy Candy treats

Hanukkah and Christmas coincide this year, with the first round of latkes and chocolate gelt arriving the same night as Santa. For anyone lighting menorahs instead of trees this December, food is always an appropriate gift, so long as it will fit into eight little packages. If money is no object, head to Chelsea Market Basket and scoop up boxes and bags of expensive delicacies like the Leonidas patés de fruits or the Bequet caramels ($19 for a 30-count box). If you’re a little short this month, your preferred destination will be Economy Candy on the Lower East Side, where nostalgia combines with thrift to everyone’s delight. (The crowded shop even has a great selection of dried fruit, nuts, and bulk halvah, starting at $5.49 per pound, for the traditionalists on your list.) If you make your decision too late to have your items shipped, gather your recipients and take them with you; that way you fill a day of vacation and they get to choose exactly what they want. — Elizabeth Zimmer

Chelsea Market Basket: 75 Ninth Avenue, Manhattan,

Economy Candy: 108 Rivington Street, Manhattan,

For the Bowery barfly

Kings County Distillery whiskeys

Kings County Distillery keeps its whiskey offerings as simple as its stark labels: Moonshine, bourbon, and other whiskeys are handmade from New York State grain and traditional distilling equipment. It’s the city’s oldest operating whiskey distillery, housed in the 117-year-old Paymaster Building in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Giftees who know their spirits will be impressed with Kings County’s bona fides: The distillery’s whiskeys have won a dizzying number of awards, including the American Distilling Institute’s 2016 Distillery of the Year. The classic bourbon is strong and robust considering it’s aged for only two summers, boasting a strong caramel-and-vanilla base that gives way to flavors of molasses and a smooth finish with hints of spice. Check out three- and five-bottle gift sets ($70-235), or get fancy with the chocolate or winter spice whiskey. If your giftee has a DIY streak, add The Kings County Distillery Guide to Urban Moonshining to the package. — Julianne Pepitone

299 Sands Street, Brooklyn

For your bubbe

Kossar’s cinnamon babka

If there’s ever been a time to visit your grandmother, it’s now. Yes, in part it’s that she’ll give you some comfort in a topsy-turvy world, but maybe she needs comfort, too. Imagine for a minute all the incredible social changes she’s lived through — the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act, Roe v. Wade, my god, possibly even women’s suffrage — and now she’s facing a future where many of the rights, and much of the simple compassion, she’s seen gained may be threatened. So if you haven’t been doing it all along, go see your bubbe, and bring a babka! This classic from Kossar’s is tender, not overly sweet, and has what seems like a million flaky layers of cinnamon filling. If she’s not in the city, rest assured, as Kossar’s does mail-order — ship her a sweet taste of New York, and then give her a call already. — Mary Bakija

367 Grand Street, Manhattan

For a high-end chocoholic

Raaka First Nibs monthly chocolate subscription

At this point, we’re not going to judge anyone who needs the daily comfort of chocolate. (Honestly, we never would have in the first place.) If your special someone has a taste for something more than Hershey’s, Brooklyn’s Raaka is a local cocoa mecca, dreaming up creative flavors like ghost pepper, smoked chai, and bananas foster. And yet, thanks to a delicate touch, the flavors never overpower the chocolate itself, but complement and elevate it. While the deliciousness is enough, it’s also nice to know that Raaka strives to be environmentally and socially conscious, dealing with sustainable cooperatives and farms. An individual bar makes an excellent stocking stuffer, but a subscription (price range $75-$280) is the gift that keeps on giving, shipping three different bars on the fifteenth of each month for three, six, or twelve months. But if you really love your gift recipient, you’ll ensure the subscription is renewed until at least November 2020. — Mary Bakija

64 Seabring Street, Brooklyn

For someone homesick for NYC

Katz’s Delicatessen pastrami

If you’re not in New York City, good luck finding a good nosh at 2 a.m. on a Saturday night. Or so you thought. Turns out Katz’s Delicatessen is here to serve those NYC expats who are suffering away in pastrami wastelands. One of the last remaining old-school powerhouse Jewish delis in the city, Katz’s will send its pastrami (whole, $80, or sliced, $32 per pound) — or corned beef, latkes, matzoh ball soup, and several other tasty items — via two-day shipping anywhere in the U.S. With their first bite, your long-distance friend will be transported back to a cafeteria table after just having been hurried away from the counter by the notoriously cranky staff, as if they’d never made the mistake of leaving. — Mary Bakija

205 East Houston Street, Manhattan

For the adventurous cook who likes a side of sarcasm with their meals

‘Appetites: A Cookbook,’ by Anthony Bourdain

Bourdain fills his first cookbook in over a decade ($37.50) with his signature no-nonsense humor and (sometimes) profanity. This isn’t Kitchen Confidential or Medium Raw — he even says the recipes here aren’t his most “innovative” — but it is the chef at his most comfortable, sharing family recipes and what he calls “direct lifts from imperfect memories of childhood favorites.” Along with recipes for deviled eggs (he’s an “egg slut”) and meat loaf (which evokes his many meat loaf memories), you’ll find recipes for Vietnamese do chua salad and calf’s liver with flaming calvados. Recipes span no more than a page or two, so you won’t be flipping back and forth as you try your hand at Bourdain’s bastardization of poulet en vessie — a dish about which Bourdain comments: “If you don’t fuck this up, it will impress the shit out of your guests.” Plus, this book is made to be looked at, from Ralph Steadman’s inimitable cover art to the bright, in-your-face photography that makes you feel like you can almost smell what’s cookin’. — Tatiana Craine

For time-crunched cooks

Hamilton Beach Programmable Slow Cooker

Do any New Yorkers have too much time on their hands, or not love great food? A well-made crockpot is the perfect gift for anyone who wants to eat well and healthfully without spending hours in the kitchen or hundreds in restaurants. Though slow cookers can run you anywhere from $20 to $400, their performance varies so little that Consumer Reports no longer bothers to provide ratings. For just $50 (possibly less if you take advantage of holiday sales), this ultra-convenient six-quart programmable slow cooker will not only give a stressed-out pal the gift of time over the holidays, it’ll also help them fulfill their New Year’s resolution to stop wasting money on takeout. Toss in raw ingredients in the morning, and come home from work to a hot dinner and a week’s worth of stew, soup, or pot roast ready to be frozen in meal-size portions. To remove all guesswork, add a copy of slow-cooking guru Stephanie O’Dea’s 365 Slow Cooker Suppers. Bon appétit! — Jennifer L. Pozner

For the chef with a taste for garlic

Joseph Joseph Rocker

This garlic rocker ($10) is a great little gadget to add to the toolkit of either a rock star chef or a novice cook. Put a little pressure on the rocker’s unique curved design, and perfectly formed garlic pearls emerge, without leaving behind the unsightly mush (or smelly fingers) that you get with garlic presses. Its one-piece construction is durable, and it’s a cinch to store and dishwasher safe. And if you give it as a gift, there’s a good chance you’ll be invited over for dinner. Just saying. — Kate Pastor

For the person who’d like to chow down on the same ribs as Obama

‘The Red Rooster Cookbook: The Story of Food and Hustle in Harlem,’ by Marcus Samuelsson

Named for the Ethiopean-born, Swedish-raised chef Marcus Samuelsson’s eatery on Lenox Avenue, The Red Rooster Cookbook ($37.50) is a love letter to Harlem’s culinary and cultural past and present. Samuelsson waxes poetic about growing up in a household filled with the smell of roasted chicken and how he obsessed about the finding the perfect fried chicken recipe for Red Rooster. For two years. This book covers a lot of ground — from cocktail recipes and music playlists for every occasion to tapping into Samuelsson’s influences from Harlem, the American South, Sweden, Ethiopia, and more, so that a recipe for beef kitfo with awase appears alongside another for cornbread. Yes, you’ll find collards here, and not of the $66 Neiman Marcus persuasion — these are simple and flavored with Samuelsson’s special spiced butter instead of ham hock. Rich, sometimes candid snapshots of food and life in Harlem accompany the essays and interviews. And if you’ve ever wanted to eat like a president, Samuelsson details the recipes he made for a fundraising visit from President Obama, from short ribs to green beans and spicy sweets. — Tatiana Craine

For coffee snobs with time to spare

Six Cup Classic Chemex pour-over glass coffee carafe

You know how some products make you hear Jon Hamm’s voice narrating their benefits in a moving pitch at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce? With its polished wood handle and leather tie, this elegant Chemex pour-over glass coffee carafe will conjure Don Draper measuring and steeping the beans himself in his 1966 bachelor pad, taking a satisfying sip, and confidently reiterating the company’s claim that it delivers “the best cup you’ve ever had, every time you have it.” This classic coffeemaker’s non-porous glass is a healthier option than plastic alternatives, and décor aficionados will love knowing their carafe is on permanent display at the MoMA and was named one of the 100 best designed products of modern times by the Illinois Institute of Technology. — Jennifer L. Pozner