Here's what the F&W staff is giving this year: extraordinary serving pieces, pantry finds and themed gift basketsat a discount!
Custom-made steel-and-enamel kitchen clock by John Borin Fine Hand Made Clocks ($225; 972-243-6955 or www.johnborin.com). "Nectar set" pitcher and cup, made of the superhard mineral corundum, from Modus Design ($450 for pitcher, two cups and mixing rod, in bone, pink or blue; 212-966-3151 or www.modusdesign.com). Striped-green pearl ware mug from Rural Residence ($38; matching cups, beakers and bowls also available; 518-822-1061 or www.ruralresidence.com). Rosewood, horn and silver hors d'oeuvres set from Saigoniste ($40; 212-925-4610 or www.saigoniste.com). Hurricane ceramic bowl from the Sawblade series by artist Erik Bright ($900; 401-521-0378 or www.erikbright.com).
Grand Avenue laces peppermint with chocolate-cookie pieces for its Chocolate Mint Tumbles, then dunks them in dark chocolate ($19 for a pound; 877-812-6235 or www.williams-sonoma.com). Lollipops from L'Atelier Douceurs come in French flavors like bergamot ($4 to $5 from Formaggio Kitchen; 888-212-3224 or www.formaggiokitchen.com). Davide Barbero's Piedmontese-style torrone combines nougat and superfresh hazelnuts ($30 for 500 grams from A.G. Ferrari Foods; 877-878-2783 or www.agferrari.com). Zingerman's Dulce de Leche gift box packages the company's own Buenos Aires brownies, Vosges Chocolates' truffles filled with dulce de leche and crowned with cashews, plus a jar of the gooey stuff from La Salamandra farm ($45; 888-636-8162 or www.zingermans.com).
We searched out the most amazing baskets for the holidays and even scored discounts for readers. (Simply mention FOOD & WINE.) The basket from Vino e Olio is one of the best assortments we've seen: three boxes of artisanal pasta, a trio of stackable bottles of regional olive oils, mild white artichoke pesto and meaty tuna packed in olive oil, along with four other Italian specialties ($99, discounted from $110; 877-846-6365 or www.vinoeolio.com). Chelsea Market Baskets' English assortment includes pleasantly not-too-sweet Oaties biscuits; Rosebud Preserves English Herb Jelly, an unusual condiment for lamb; buttery, crisp Stilton wafers; Ahmad English Afternoon Tea; and five other foods for Anglophiles ($59, discounted from $65; 888-LEMCURD or www.chelseamarketbaskets.com). The Ritz Escoffier crate features six items that chefs at Paris's famed Ritz Escoffier restaurant use, including oversize Helix snails, Madagascar green peppercorns for steak au poivre, unfiltered olive oil, vinegar, verjus and herbes de Provence ($80, discounted from $90; 866-343-8634 or www.nextdaygourmet.com). Zingerman's Portuguese-Spanish basket holds earthy Spanish chorizo, smoky piquillo peppers, sun-dried sea salt, plus five other staples ($75, discounted from $85; 888-636-8162 or www.zingermans.com). Olivier & Co.'s Mediterranean box packages Mantinea & Avia Greek olive oil, almond tapenade, Jordanian pink sea salt, a bouquet garni and three other treats from the region ($56, discounted from $62; 877-828-6620 or www.oliviers-co.com).
Here are six exclusive items to give awayor to covet for yourself: Antiqua's limited edition balsamic vinegar from Modena has been aged for 15 years and packaged in a handblown glass bottle ($43 for 8.5 ounces from Formaggio Kitchen; 888-212-3224 or www.formaggiokitchen.com). Franchia Wild Green Tea uses first-picked leaves from the mountains of Korea ($100 for 3 ounces; 212-532-5788 or www.franchia.com). Acquerello organic carnaroli rice has been aged to develop a firmer consistency ($7 for 500 grams; 800-777-9137 or www.samswine.com). Extra-virgin Italian olive oil by Armando Manni comes in two versions: "Per me" (for me), with notes of sweet fruit and almond, and the more delicate "Per mio figlio" (for my child), with hints of cardoon. Both are tested to ensure that the health-enhancing components are intact ($52 for one 3.4-ounce bottle; www.manni.biz). Tart apricots in sugar syrup from Cuniberto Michele taste home-preserved ($16 from A.G. Ferrari Foods; 877-878-2783 or www.agferrari.com). Vintage sardines packed in olive oil come in numbered and dated tins ($6; at Dean & DeLuca, 212-226-6800).