This one is for the foodies out there. To some extent, each one of us is, by necessity, a food lover. We love to stay alive, after all. Some of us are more low-key about our quest for enjoyable sustenance than others but most of us at least have an opinion about what we shove in our maws. So, although this list is aimed at the foodie in your life, there are ideas here for everyone. But maybe especially for those who get really excited by thick-cut, organic bacon and French macarons.
Nordic Ware Bakeware
Is your foodie also a bakie? Then get them a Minnesota-made cake pan in an unusual shape from Nordic Ware! Here Iâ€™ve highlighted my personal fave â€“ the Platinum Fairytale Cottage Bundt Pan. The description online says, â€œReminiscent of Hansel and Gretelâ€™s cottage, this pan creates magical cakes sprinkled with powdered sugar or decorated.â€ Of course the holidays comeÂ to mind when you look at the pan but you could have fun with this all year long, decorating it and even adding little figures to it if you happen to have a lot of time on your hands and no other hobbies.
Here are some decorating ideas:
- Abandoned cottage overrun by raccoons.
- Star Wars Cantina
- Spooky house owned by woman on block suspected to be a witch.
- Expensive weight loss clinic in Palm Springs
- Mansion where the latest season of The Bachelor is shooting.
But if a cottage just isnâ€™t right for your bakie, get them an old-fashioned bundt cake pan. Or a popover tray. Or a pan in the shape of a snowman or a gift. Theyâ€™ve got it all, people!
Here in the Twin Cities we are incredibly lucky because we can go to the Nordic Ware Factory Store. They sell the full line of their cookware and bakeware at this store, in addition to irregular and discontinued items. You can, of course, find Nordic Ware at many cooking stores, Target (some items â€“ I believe they are selling a ginger bread house pan for Xmas) and, of course, online.
You can pickle just about anything. You can pickle eggs. You can pickle grapes, apples, onion, carrots, etc. And foodies in 2011/2012, pride themselves on loving pickled food. Of course, the best thing for foodie street cred is to pickle food stuffs oneself and then bring them out when guests are over.
â€œPickled beets from my garden, anyone?â€ the foodie says. â€œGoes great with a cold microbrew.â€
But the time for pickling homegrown veggies is behind us, at least in Minnesota. So what you need to do is turn to the people of northeastern Wisconsin, specifically Long Lake Specialty Foods (not to be confused with Long Lake, Minnesota). This is the company that prides itself on being your â€œhard to findâ€ pickled food resource.
From the Long Lake Specialty Foods website:
Order with confidence, we use your information only for filling your order.Â Credit card information is purged from the system daily. We replace any product damaged in transit at no charge to the customer and guarantee the quality of the products we sellâ€¦
Long Lake FoodsÂ is a purveyor of our many fineÂ LongÂ Lake Brand Products which include:Â Pickled Eggs, Red HotsÂ Pickled Eggs, PickledÂ Pork Hocks, Pickled Pigs Feet, Spicy Smoked Pickled Sausage, HotÂ &Â Spicy Pickled Sausage, Hot PickledÂ Sausage,Â Hot Cajun Pickled Eggs, Hot Cajun Pickled Sausage. We also sell selectÂ pickled productsÂ fromÂ the Porkie Company, Bayview Packing and Forest Floor Foods.
After reading that, how could you not order someÂ Hot Pickled Eggs? Or Pickled Pigs Feet? Hell, they even have pickled gizzards and pickled Polish sausage. A 26-count jar of the sausage is $23 and will last most of the winter, I imagine, unless you take it out to the ice fishing shanty to share with the gang.
While on their site, check out the Pickled Food News, a round-up of articles about whatâ€™s happening in the world of pickling.
If you donâ€™t want to order your pickled items, you can shop around at some foodie stores in the Twin Cities. I saw some interesting pickled items at The Produce Exchange, located within Midtown Global Market, in Minneapolis. You might also try any of the food co-ops, cooking stores like Cooks of Crocus Hill or a specialty store like The Golden Fig in St. Paul.
Cooking Classesâ€¦ Erâ€¦ Experiences
Itâ€™s all about experiences now, right? Foodies love to eat but they also, many times, love to spend hours shopping for ingredients and cooking.Â But sometimes their repertoire can get stale. Like, how many times can you eat your foodie friendâ€™s paella that she learned how to cook while studying in Barcelona without being super bored? Right. So what you need to do is buy your foodie some lessons in how to make something new. Itâ€™s for everyoneâ€™s benefit.
In the Twin Cities, Cooks of Crocus Hill and Kitchen Window dominate the cooking lesson scene and they work hard to offer interesting classes in beautiful facilities. You can learn how to have a holiday fondue party or the fundamentals of pizza at Kitchen Window. Or, tackle Croissants 101 or a Sushi Crash Course at Cooks of Crocus Hill.
Maybe you donâ€™t have that much cash to drop on cooking classes for your foodie. Donâ€™t despair. Thatâ€™s what Community Ed is for. Minneapolis offers an array of Continuing Education classes for adults and I make a point of perusing the cooking classes each time a new brochure comes out (the new one wonâ€™t be out until after the holidays but you can always get out your paper, crayons and scissors and create one of those awkward but touching â€œIOUâ€ coupons for your foodie).
How about a class on how to make Pad Thai? They could learn how to decorate cakes or how to make Indian appetizers. And the best thing about community ed classes is that they are relatively inexpensive, making it possible for you to join your foodie for the class and bond over your shared love of Rugelach, which you can eat for dessert after you chomp down a few pickled eggs from Long Lake Specialty Foods.
Food Field Trip
Do you know how long the winters are in Minnesota? They are very long. They are so long that you can wear out a pair of gloves in one season. They are so long that, when you see it snowing at the beginning of April, you have to quietly tell your spouse to hide the knives in the kitchen so you donâ€™t do yourself bodily harm.
So sometimes one needs to break up the monotony with an outing thatâ€™s not, â€œLetâ€™s go outside and shovel. Again.â€ or, â€œLetâ€™s go to the gas station so I can get some more windshield wiper fluid.â€
What about a food field trip? Sometimes I like to wander the aisles someplace and discover food products I never knew existed (Iâ€™m not hard to entertain). So pick an interesting place filled with food (or alcohol) and take your foodie there as a belated holiday gift. The deal is that you agree to buy them some food or drink that looks interesting that theyâ€™ve never tried before as part of the fun.Â You might even assemble a meal.
Here are my suggestions for places to go, in no semblance of any order:
Midtown Global Market
Seward Co-op or The Wedge
Byerlyâ€™s on Park Center Blvd. in St. Louis Park (seriously â€“ a food sanctuary so hushed and well-stocked it seems as if there should be a chapel somewhere in there, where one can slip away to thank the Food Gods for creating such a place and giving it carpeting, to boot.)
United Noodles in Minneapolis
Kramarczukâ€™s (mostly known as a restaurant but they have a store, too.)
Ingebretsenâ€™s on East Lake in Minneapolis
Billâ€™s Imported Foods on West Lake in Minneapolis (Greek foodâ€¦ OLIVES!)
Surdykâ€™s in Northeast Minneapolis (not only for outstanding selection of wine and booze but for their deli full of imported cheese, chocolate and other items, including delicious sandwiches they make for you to take away somewhere and scarf down. You can check their daily deli offerings here.)
The Four Firkins in St. Louis Park (for that craft beer fanatic in your life)
The Odds And The Ends
You can always default to kitchen utensils and gear. I can tell you that the precision, German-made pizza cutter I bought many years ago has never disappointed me. And does your foodie have a Microplane? This tool changed my entire attitude towards grating Parmesan. How about some fancy, pink salt harvested from the sea? What about an ice cream maker and The Perfect Scoop, the ultimate ice cream recipe book, written by pastry chef, blogger and author David Lebovitz?
How about making it possible for your foodie to take his or her act on the road? These shatterproof but fashionable wine glasses by GoVino are perfect for the foodie who wants to go see that movie in the park this summer and share a bottle of Malbec with friends or one who prefers to sit on a blanket at the Lake Harriet Rose Garden enjoying wine and some pickled pork bits in peace.
When all else fails, try to track down the 1966 version of The First Ladies Cook Book.