CTbites Editor Picks: 2013 Holiday Gift Guide

CTbites Team

Amy Kundrat, Executive Editor

A Day in the Litchfield Hills: Kent, Community Table & Arethusa Dairy Store

"I prefer an experience-as-gift over a gift-wrapped box any day of the week. One of my favorite local experiences is a day in the Litchfield Hills. It almost always begins with a stop for some book browsing and shopping in Kent, an early and always amazing dinner at Community Table (do save room for Tommy Juliano's desserts), and a late stop at Arethusa Dairy Store to load up on milk, cheese and ice cream."

Reservations at CommunityTableCT.com. Hours and information at arethusafarm.com.

Glengoyne Scotch

“I love collecting single malt Scotch of all styles. But my go-to dram is a 12 or 15 year-old bottle of Glengoyne. It’s unpretentious, unpeated, well-rounded, and nicely priced. A Highland Scotch, Glengoyne still use wooden “washbacks” for fermentation, air dries their barley (they'd would never dream of using peat smoke), and distills their whisky more slowly than any other Scottish distillery.

Explore Glengoyne’s offerings but make your purchases locally. Visit saugatuckgrainandgrape.com or any spirit shop with a decent whisky collection.

Jeff “Jfood” Schlesinger, Editor at Large

Dream Give / Receive Gifts

If there was a single dream gift I would love to receive is a month with my wife in Italy...learning, cooking, eating and touring. We would attend tons of cooking classes, eat in all the local and great restaurants and sightsee in between. Then the gift I would give to my wife is to take a train and do the same trip in France.

A Little More Down to Earth

I love flavored salts. This bamboo case contains 24 different salts each in a mini glass jar. $125.

Lou Gourfain, Contributor

The Lamborghini of Food Thermometers

"I love kitchen gadgets. They're toys for foodies, and the Thermapen thermometer is a luxe kitchen toy that's hardly a plaything. Its instant, blazing-fast read, surgical needle-point probe (no more holes punched into chicken breasts) and dead on accuracy combine to make the Thermapen a mainstay of restaurant kitchens, culinary academies, and food labs Ok, at 96 bucks, it's a bit pricey for the home cook, but worth every penny if you insist on done-to- temperature steaks, juicy but not undercooked pork and poultry, and caramel that won't harden into brittle. Plus it folds up like a pocket knife, another of my favorite toys.

ThermoWorks - Splash-Proof Thermapen® Thermometer 96.00Also check the King Arthur Flour website, they sometimes offer discounts at check out.

James Gribbon, Friday Froth Columnist & Master of all Things Beer

A growler of New England Brewing Ghost Pigeon. Long nights, dark winter days and darker moods can all be improved with a healthy dose of dark, rich beer. This Connecticut porter has some good espresso accents as well, so I'm calling that an excuse to drink it at breakfast, too. Whatever, man - it's cold outside and I won't judge. A beautiful sipper on its own, Ghost Pigeon will also pair well with any of the robust meals winter demands. 
New England Brewing Company; newenglandbrewing.com

p.s. - and possibly this Viking horn to drink it from.

Stephanie Webster, Editor in Chief

The Stretch

The ultimate gift for me would combine food and travel. A few days in the foodie haven, San Sebastian, Spain, a week of eating through Northern Italy or several nights exploring Ramen joints in Osaka. I’d be happy to oblige.

The Reality

Oh how I long for a Vitamix Blender. When you see one of these bad boys in action, it makes your heart stop. Vegetables to soup in 30 seconds.  

Modernist Cuisine At Home by Nathan Myhrvold. For any home cook who appreciates the science of food and exploring new techniques to enhance the eating experience. Plus, the photos are just gorgeous. 

Ellen Bowen, Director of Marketing & Invites Curator

“My dream gift would be a trip thru Napa and Sonoma...with a private driver so wine tasting would not be an issue, culminating in a dinner at the “impossible to get a reservation at” French Laundry.” But I guess I will settle for more attainable gifts like:

Hot Stuff

Sriracha Water Bottle- $8 & Sriracha Coffee Mug-$12

“Turn heads while working off those holiday pounds or just show how HOT you like your coffee with these Sriracha Hot sauce items from Urban Outfitters! “

Stay Calm and Eat Bacon

“Happy people live longer…Bacon makes people happy...therefore Bacon makes people live longer”

Bacon gifts that sizzle with humor...Iphone cases, t shirts, aprons, clocks, luggage tags, wrapping paper...and on and on! 169 pages online at Zazzle.com of Bacon Gifts! My favorite is the Bacon Flip Flops for $35.99 and a must for walking on those hot beaches!. Or grab a Bacon Scented Candle from Yankee Candle for a smelly $27.99.

Uncommon Goods for the Uncommon Foodie

Uncommongoods.com has always been my “go to” catalog for fun but functional, good quality gift items and this year my faves include a Stoneware TV dinner food tray for $24, a Ceramic Soup and Sandwich plate for $30- AND for the kid in you (or for kids in your life  the Mr. Food Face Plate for $12- allows you to customize the face using your food. Reminds me of that Wooly Willy magnetic face toy invented in 1955!

Tickets to see Play With Your Food

“This is a shameless plug as I am on the Board, but grab a couple tickets as gifts for the 2014 season of Play With Your Food; a buffet lunch, catered by local restaurant, short plays performed by professional actors and lively conversation after!” Single tickets to the lunchtime play series in Westport, Greenwich and Fairfield are $43.

Emma Doody, Wine Correspondent


Vinturi Red Wine aerator for $29.95 


One of my best friends from college gifted me with the Vinturi Red Wine aerator for my birthday.  While some bottles of delicious red wine can take hours (or even days!) to decant, the Vinturi promises immediate results.  The filtering system opens up a wine in the time it takes to pour a glass.  At first I greeted it with skepticism- but it really works!  It's the perfect present for red wine enthusiasts.  For white drinkers or spirit connoisseurs, Vinturi offers other aerators and products.