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Essential Gift Guide

Our editor-tasted and expert-tested choices of the most spectacular food, wine, design and tech gifts of the season.

Taste-Test Winners

By Kate Heddings

Buttery palmiers
Creative flavors like Earl Grey tea and French cocoa from Anna's Puff. DETAILS $45 for 30; 708-386-4780; yummypuff.com.

Giant grapefruits
Juicy Texas Orange-Sweet ruby reds from Red Cooper weigh more than a pound each. DETAILS $25 a dozen; 800-876-4733; redcooper.com.

Best fudgy brownies
Miles of Chocolate's come in dense, fudgelike blocks and are even delicious frozen. DETAILS $60 for 4.5 lb; 512-323-5900; milesofchocolate.com.

Ultrarich coffee
Remy Sol's silky-smooth coffee is fresh roasted and hand packed on a set of farms in Costa Rica. DETAILS $23 (including shipping) for 2 lb; 805-878-5005; remysol.com.

Southern sampler
Lee Bros. Boiled Peanuts Catalogue's food-of-the-month club offers pickled peaches and more. DETAILS $240 (including shipping) for 12 months; 843-720-8890; boiledpeanuts.com.

Wild-boar bacon
D'Artagnan's lean, smoky, incredibly crisp, nitrate-free version. DETAILS $7 for 1/2 lb; 800-327-8246; dartagnan.com.

Crunchiest pickles
Bread-and-butter cukes to spicy green beans, all from Rick's Picks. DETAILS $11 for 16 oz; 212-358-0428; rickspicksnyc.com.

Stellar salad trio
From New York City's Il Buco restaurant: fruity olive oil, intense balsamic and sea salt. DETAILS $110; 212-533-1932; ilbuco.com.

Affordable caviar
Kelley's Katch domestic sturgeon and paddlefish caviar—briny, plump, fresh and firm. DETAILS $20 for 2 oz; 888-681-8565; kelleyskatch.com.

Fat blue crabs
The meatiest hard-shells from the Chesapeake Bay and North Carolina, shipped either live or steamed, from Harbour House Crabs. DETAILS From $24 a dozen; 888-458-8272; ilovecrabs.com.

Gelato party
Four sensational flavors (pistachio and strawberry are the best) from Il Laboratorio del Gelato, plus cones, a scoop and six brownies. DETAILS $120 from Manhattan Fruitier; 800-841-5718; mfruit.com.

American Kobe beef
Juicy steaks from Snake River Farms in Idaho. DETAILS $210 for a 3-lb sampler; 877-987-8696; snakeriverfarms.com.

Kitchen Finds

By Charlotte Druckman

Art Deco knife sharpener
Chantry has reissued its chrome knife sharpener, which was created by British butchers in 1929 and redesigned in 1960. DETAILS $49 from Broadway Panhandler; 866-266-5927 or broadwaypanhandler.com.

All-metal knives
Each of the beautifully balanced "Type 301" knives from Chroma is honed from a single piece of stainless steel. DETAILS From $59, from the Conran Shop; 866-755-9079 or conran.com.

Nonslip bowls
These OXO bowls coated in rubber won't slip. DETAILS From $15 for a 1.5-qt bowl; 800-545-4411 or oxo.com.

Ice cream add-on
KitchenAid just introduced a bowl that can turn its stand mixer into an ice cream maker. DETAILS $100; 800-541-6390 or kitchenaid.com.

Sleek pepper mill
This 5-inch-tall mill from MoMA Design Store can be used one-handed. DETAILS $24; 800-447-MOMA or momastore.org.

Retro canisters
The 13-piece set from Retro Lounge comes with a custom three-tiered white shelf. DETAILS $185; 800-731-5633 or retrolounge.com.

Nonstick pin
A silicone coating on the Sil-pin prevents dough from sticking to it. DETAILS $50; 800-243-0852 or surlatable.com.

Style & Design

By Lauren Fister

Sculpted bud vase
Custom clay vase from potter Frances Palmer. DETAILS $150; francespalmerpottery.com.

Victorian tray
"Victorian Gothic" 14-inch melamine serving tray by Thomas Paul. DETAILS $20 from Gracious Home; 800-338-7809.

Tropical vase
"Palm" by Michele Oka Doner for Pavillon Christofle. DETAILS $240; 877-PAVILLON or christofle.com.

Chic candy dish
Unglazed black porcelain by Danish ceramist Ditte Fischer. DETAILS $49 from Clio; 212-966-8991 or clio-home.com.

Cocktail napkins
"Holiday" by Dransfield & Ross includes four different red styles. DETAILS $41 for a set of four; 212-741-7278 or dransfieldandross.biz.

Mini candlesticks
"Aphrodite" hand-cut glass with a flat front by Design Ideas. DETAILS $60 a pair from Cocoon; 800-842-4352 or cocoononline.com.

Electronics

By Peter Rojas

Space-saving TV
The undercabinet Sony ICF-CD555TV has a 7-inch LCD screen that can be closed up when it's not in use. There's a radio and a CD player too. DETAILS $400; 877-865-SONY or sonystyle.com.

Pro-wannabe camera
Six-megapixel digital cameras, once the domain of professional photographers, have become surprisingly affordable. Casio's EX-P600 also includes an infrared remote—a vast improvement over the old-style self-timers—and a shutter time as fast as just one-2,000th of a second, for n action shots. DETAILS $550; 800-836-8580 or casio.com.

High-tech toaster
Jasper Morrison, who has made chairs for Vitra and Cappellini, designed Rowenta's TL-90. A motor quietly raises and lowers the bread and an optical sensor turns the heat off before the toast burns. DETAILS $135; 781-396-0600 or rowentausa-morrison.com.

Digital DJ
Once you've (legally!) downloaded songs from the Internet onto your computer, the Apple AirPort Express beams them to your stereo so you can play them just about anywhere in the house. DETAILS $129; 800-MY-APPLE or apple.com.

Pocket-size video
Samsung's YH-999 is like an iPod with a small color screen. It can hold 80 hours of movies or TV shows, or up to 5,000 songs—almost anything you can download from the Internet. DETAILS $500; 800-SAMSUNG or samsungusa.com.

Wine

By Richard Nalley

2003 Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages ($10) For the Francophiles on your list or for your own holiday table. This vibrant Beaujolais from one of Burgundy's most esteemed wineries can be served chilled or, to release its full fragrance, at room temperature.

2003 Albares Bierzo ($11) For lovers of red meat and red wine. From Dominio de Tares, this fruity, peppery red made with Mencía grapes from 40-year-old vines lends the giver some insider credibility: Bierzo, in northwestern Spain, is fast emerging as an elite wine region.

2003 Bernier Chardonnay ($9) For fans of minerally Euro-style whites. This is one of the season's most appealing Chardonnay bargains. The three Loire-based Couillaud brothers of Muscadet's Château de la Ragotière give some of this wine a touch of new oak and keep the rest in steel.

NV Pol Roger Brut Champagne ($35) For those who share the British admiration for Champagne that's relatively dry with a high percentage of reserve wines. Winston Churchill's favorite, this elegant, medium-rich nonvintage brut comes from one of a handful of grand marque houses still in family hands.

2001 Newton Unfiltered Pinot Noir ($30) For those who prefer balance over bombast. This rich but nuanced Pinot comes from one of Napa Valley's great unsung wineries.

2002 Peter Michael Chardonnay "La Carrière" ($65) For Chardonnay aficionados. Sir Peter Michael, this Sonoma winery's urbane British owner, calls this the estate's "Baryshnikov" (versus, say, its "Schwarzenegger," Belle Côte Chardonnay). You'll rarely taste a more graceful 14.7 percent alcohol wine.

1995 Taylor Fladgate Quinta de Vargellas Vintage Port ($50) For port connoisseurs—although its mellow, plummy lusciousness can make anyone an instant convert. From a 312-year-old firm's finest vineyard, it's almost ethereally spicy and fruit infused.

1999 Château Pichon-Baron ($55) For someone you want to impress. Few wine gifts carry the "wow" factor of grand cru Bordeaux, and this one is wonderfully drinkable now for a fraction of the price of the 2000 or 2003.

2002 Maculan Dindarello ($18 for 375 ml) For a friend with a sweet tooth. This lively dessert wine comes from Fausto Maculan, a top producer in the Veneto. Made from the orange muscat grape, it's shot through with aromas of honey, orange marmalade and citrus blossoms.

Star Selection
2004 Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc ($13) This fresh, aromatic white from the gravelly soils of Marlborough, in New Zealand's Sauvignon heartland, wears its screw cap proudly in the silver-plate "Art Deco" bucket with rosewood handles by Puiforcat for Hermès ($1,200; 800-238-5522).

Published December 2004
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