A friend who's perpetually broke went to Chinatown and bought some inexpensive and inspiring ingredients--dried lemongrass, green and red curry pastes, kaffir leaves. The gifts and the meals they helped create brightened my whole winter.
A kaffir lime tree. My parents had it shipped to friends in Oklahoma, then drove up to get it for me. One is not able to ship fruit trees to Texas (or California or Florida). The tree is now eight years old and has provided wonderful flavors for our Thai dinners over the years.
Cooking class gift certificates for Mirabelle Restaurant in St. James, NY. What a blast, and the best salade nicoise I have ever had.