wine

Foodie Gift Guide 2012

Since just about everyone and their mothers is making a gift guide this holiday season, I decided to hop on the bandwagon. Of course, all of my favorite and most lusted after gifts revolve around food, but each is specifically tailored to a different type of foodie or food lover. Hopefully you’ll be inspired to get your foodie friend one of these awesome gifts, and friends/ family if you’re reading this, please take the hint!

1. For the adventurous foodie who puts Sriracha on everything: KimKim, $10

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We all have that one friend who never thinks “spicy” is spicy enough. They may be addicted to sriracha, but I’ve found a new miracle sauce. KimKim is a Korean hot sauce made in Richmond, Virginia. I discovered this sauce at Union Market and after one sample, I was hooked. Its not as spicy as sriracha but has a hint of buffalo flavor. It’s perfect for dipping (plain or mixed with greek yogurt or sour cream), marinating (chicken, fish, steak, you name it) and drizzling over eggs, and your friend with the atomic palate will thank you dearly.

2. For the hardcore baker: Cuisinart Artisan Stand Mixer, Boysenberry, Williams-Sonoma, $349.95

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I have literally had this mixer on my wish list every year for the past 5 years. It does everything you could possibly ask out of a mixer, and if you get the right attachments, you could be making fresh pasta, ice cream and even juice! Your options are endless, and I love the boysenberry color for the holidays.

3. For the hardcore baker who has already baked their way through Martha Stewart and Carol Walters: Bouchon Bakery Cook Book, Amazon.com, $24.99

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I just purchased this book for myself and I’m already so excited to work my way through it. Bake some of Bouchon’s most popular pastries, cookies and breads, and you’ll feel like you’re learning from Thomas Keller himself!

4. For the student or YoPro in need of some lunch money: sweetgreen gift card, in stores or online, $15- $100

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Sweetgreen just introduced gift cards and as a hardcore sweetgreen fan, I felt particularly obliged to endorse them. If you live in the D.C. or Philly area, grab one for your friends, coworkers or teachers. They’ll definitely thank you for it.

5. For the mixologist: Patron XO Cafe Dark Cocoa

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This is the newest addition to the Patron family, and I’ll be the first to tell you it’s going to become the favorite child. On the rocks, mixed into coffee or a frappe, the dark cocoa flavor is present enough to satisfy your sweet tooth while still feeling like you’re sipping on something sophisticated and special.  Serve it at your holiday party, or just keep it for yourself on those cold winter nights.

6. For the chocolate lover: Whole Foods Peppermint Bark, $8.99

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I love this peppermint bark because it has just the right amount of white and dark chocolate compared to peppermint. Its easy to break into any size piece and is great for those nights after you’ve eaten a heavy meal but want something sweet. This bark is the sole reason I fell in love with mint-chocolate.

7. For the entertainer: C Wonder Snow Flake Coasters, $12

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How cute are these?! If you’re from the northeast you can probably get about 4-5 months of use out of these coasters before it becomes seasonally inappropriate. If you live on the west coast or in the south, these coasters will at least help you feel like you’re celebrating a white Christmas or the first snowfall.

8. For the foodie who basically has everything: Gourmet Attitude Truffle Honey, Gilt Taste, $19.95

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The first time I had truffle honey I was in Florence and I fell in love. I was so happy to see this product on Gilt Taste. It goes great on cheese with crackers, or even drizzled over ice cream. Plus, your friends will think you’re super sophisticated and well-traveled.

9. For the wino: Architect Air Dry Wine Glass Drying System, Amazon.com, $14.35

Screen Shot 2012-12-07 at 1.15.45 PMI found this product on BuzzFeed’s 30 Gifts for Winos, and I immediately ordered one for my dad- the ultimate wine connoisseur. Its sleek, portable, yet amazingly useful for drying wine glasses, and goes well in any kitchen or bar.

So there you have it- my nine favorite products of the season. Happy gifting, and happy holidays!

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Happy Hour at Hank’s Oyster Bar

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that for 21 years of my life, I went despising oysters. Slimy, chewy and salty, the small and delicate mollusk just wasn’t my thing. However, one summer night at a luxurious Huang family dinner at Eataly, Rick Huang, Chelsea’s dad, changed my mind forever. With just a sprinkling of lemon juice and cocktail sauce, my pallet was overwhelmed with a pleasing and unexpected combination of flavors and textures that I had never experienced before. I began shooting oysters like I was a pro.

This newfound love has lead Chelsea and me to seek out DC’s best oyster happy hours, and needless to say, I think we have found it at Hank’s Oyster Bar in DuPont Circle. Offered Monday through Friday from 5- 7, the happy hour specials truly can’t be beat: $1 oysters, $4 bar snacks and discounted cocktails aim to please any hungry oyster-loving patron. Already well into the Thanksgiving mindset, we decided to go on Monday after class.

The Hank’s atmosphere is a welcoming one, with a narrow entranceway and bar leading to an intimate lounge that seats about 16. The dim lights and relaxing music set the mood for an aphrodisiac-filled dining experience. Chelsea and I went pretty hungry but left satisfied after ordering- and devouring- 2 dozen oysters, truffle popcorn, chips and pan roasted onion dip and a selection of three cheeses. We had two different types of oysters from Virginia, both uniquely savory and briny, naturally accompanied by lemon wedges, oyster crackers, homemade cocktail sauce and vinegar. The potato chips were visibly homemade, perfectly salted and crisp, without being too greasy, and the onion dip was sweet and rich. The truffle in the popcorn was more prevalent in scent than in taste, but was still delicious, and the selection of cheeses offered a wide variety of taste and texture. We also shared a beer flight complete with five different beers of what Hank’s considers to be more of their “hoppier beers,” and a wine flight of a Tinto, Malbec and Cabernet. I was quite pleased with the drink selections.

12 beautiful Virginia raised oysters

Truffle popcorn and chips and onion dip

Our beer flight: yet another example of why I dislike dim lighting in restaurants

I genuinely have no complaints about Hank’s Oyster Bar, and am already looking forward to returning for another happy hour. I have heard they have a phenomenal brunch, as well, so you can bet that I will be checking that out- once I’m back in DC and digested from Thanksgiving!