Are you struggling with what to get the foodie on your list who already has a stainless steel composter or an Olivator, that nifty gadget that allows you to stuff your own olives? You know the person we mean, the one who received two pairs of silicone-tipped tweezers for stir-frying last year. Here are a few suggestions to lead you in the direction of something unique and something that will be greatly appreciated.
A few of the balsamic vinegars are GauchoGourmet.com.
Paella party packs and more
If someone on your Christmas list is a devoted paella maker but lacks the ingredients to make it, then check out the Spanish items on GauchoGourmet.com. The San Antonio-based website specializes in gourmet foodstuffs from Argentina, Spain and Italy that are not available anywhere else in the region.
From Italy are artisan olive oils, some of which are organic, cold-pressed bottlings. One from Puglia comes in a hand-painted jug that can be reused. Honeys, chestnuts in grappa, handmade pasta, balsamic vinegars and coffee are also available, along with cans of truffle shavings. Keep your breath fresh with Amarelli, pure licorice candies that have no sugar added.
Spanish delicacies range from cheeses and sausages to La Chinata pimentón and El Faro anchovy-stuffed olives. Order an entire boneless jamón serrano or piquilla peppers. For the paella lover, GauchoGourmet.com can put together one of its gift baskets, one that includes the paella pan, rice, chorizo, saffron and oil needed to make this iconic dish.
The Argentine foods include jarred chimichurri sauce, empanada dough mixes, sausages, dulce de leche and Terma Amargo Cuyano. Not familiar with the latter? The website offers information about each product, explaining that Terma Amargo Cuyano is an herbal mixture you drink with ice, water and maybe a slice of lemon. It "contains herbs from the Andes range in Cuyo region, such as juniper and gentian" and is thought to have "invigorating and energizing qualities."
There are also dozens of varieties of yerba mate and related accessories for those who love the herbal tea from the Argentine.
If you order more than $50 worth of food, GauchoGourmet.com will deliver it to you. Or you can arrange pickup at its warehouse on North Loop 1604 near Stone Oak Parkway.
Embroidered linen towels from Volant
"America's first embroidered art studio" is Volant at 315 E. Commerce St., and it is offering three towels bearing humorous depictions of chefs at work that will leave you in stitches (sorry, we couldn't resist the pun). This handsome set is made of fine linen and sells for $15.
There are also fine linen cocktail napkins with Texas icons, from peppers to cactus, stitched in.
For more information, call 210-212-2333 or click here.
Cataplana has kitchen items galore
Cataplana, 810 Hwy. 90 E., Castroville, has recently moved next door to a larger space, which means more room to house its lineup of kitchen goods.
You'll find a large array of cookware from Emile Henry, appliances from Viking and specialty items, such as the store's namesake, a Portuguese dish make for cooking an intoxicating mixture of clams and pork. (Below is a video of proprietor Cecilia Fetty talking about her selection of Emile Henry products.)
You'll also find items for every budget, including great stocking stuffers such as Trudeau slotted spoons with crooked handles to rest on the side of jars or a series of multi-colored salts.
Fetty also offers its own line of jams in a host of flavors including pineapple mandarin, cranberry jalapeño and strawberry rhubarb. Other food items include oils from coconut, spearmint and anise as well as Peruvian hot chile or ginger in safflower oil.
Want something fresher? Fetty also works on a food co-op that brings fresh vegetables from the farm as well as grass-fed beef, lamb and goat. For more information, call 830-538-3300.
Inflatable meatloaf? Yup.
Looking for a great foodie gag gift, such as a voodoo doll-shaped toothpick holder or a zombie brain gelatin mold?
Then check out the options at PerpetualKid.com, the home of the reluctant groom cake topper and Rubik's Cube salt and pepper mills.
There's even a Gin and Titonic Ice Cube Tray that makes it seem as if the Titanic is sinking amid the ice cubes in your drink.
Beyond the kitchen items, there are bacon-shaped bandages and even a lump of coal-shaped soap, for those on your list who have been more naughty than nice.
From birdseed to ... wine aerators and free trade coffee?
We were surprised and pleased to find coffee beans and wine accessories in an unexpected location. At Wild Birds Unlimited and Nature Store, 14602 Huebner Road, you can find some pretty nifty holiday birdseed feeders as ornaments — such as bells and "gingerbread men" to hang outside for the birds. We found a wine aerator that fits into the top of a wine bottle and aerates as it pours, as well as coffee, wine glasses and coffee accessories.
What's the connection? Backyard birdwatchers take their coffee outside with them in the morning to watch birds and have a glass of wine at the end of the day. Lots more is in this store for nature lovers and those who love them. www.wbu.comVisit Michael Flores's Web store for Christmas Gift Baskets, too
San Antonio chef Michael Flores makes gift giving easier this holiday season. For a limited time, his Chef Michael Christmas Gift Baskets include free shipping for San Antonio residents to meet holiday budgets.
You can create your own basket with gourmet items, or choose from nine pre-made baskets ranging in price from $12 to $94.
"Surprise that foodie on your shopping list with my Gift Sampler Basket, Sweet & Spicy Christmas Gift Set, Holiday Border Dash and more," says Flores. He also offers three different felt stockings which you can fill with one of his seasoning blends.
Shoppers can find the complete list of Chef Michael's Christmas Gift Baskets at www.cookwithmichael.com/baskets. Order before Dec. 22 for guaranteed delivery by Dec. 25.
Paesanos spice blends available
Chef Clark McDaniel of Paesanos 1604 has introduced a line of spices that he uses at the restaurant. They make great stocking stuffers.
There are two blends, his signature herb blend and Black & Blue. The spices are for sale only at the restaurant at 3622 Paesanos Parkway for $9.95 per bottle.
You may also purchase the spice blends online at www.paesanos1604.com.