Monday, May 31, 2010

Great Foodie Gifts for Guys

Yes, men in general and dads in particular are notoriously hard to shop for. But if there's a dad on your gift list who's into food—whether mixologist, cook, wine lover, pit master, or just good old gourmand—you can stop dithering about what to give him for Father's Day (or any day you want to give him a present). Here's a list of on-line gifts ranging from budget-minded to budget busting, from practical to pie-in-the sky, from predictable to way out there to help you come up with something he'll really like and maybe actually use. (Note that these ideas are perfect for guys who aren't dads, too.)

The good news is that you can do the shopping without ever leaving your computer chair.

For more gift ideas for foodies--not just dads--go here.

Bartending and Grilling Doodads for Dads
If you’re trolling for gift ideas, check out http://www.homewetbar.com/ for lots of predictable as well as some novel but truly handy grilling and bartending doodads in a wide range of prices. For the family grill man who’s already got all the basics, choose from assorted digital meat thermometers; personalized steak branding irons (really-see the pic on the right!); super-duper grill cleaning brushes; or cordless grill light here. For the household bartender, find the usual sets, plus extras like a flexible bottle or flask cleaning brush; monogrammed coasters; a beer 6-pack holster belt (for the drinker on the go maybe?); or a floating beverage cooler (so Dad doesn’t have to get out of the pool for his next brew, or course!) here.

Gourmet Bacon, Ham, and Smoked Poultry Samplers
Something for the serious meat-eating gourmet or gourmand: The late Johnny Apple of the New York Times once called the Neuske’s applewood smoked rashers “the Beluga of bacon,” so if you’ve got a dad who’s a bacon, sausage or ham fan, he’ll love a sampler of goodies from this storied Wisconsin family firm, found at http://www.nueskes.com/. Gifts start in the $20 range, including some “Dad’s Day Specials,” and on-line exclusives including smoked pork loin chops and a sausage gift assortment here.

Cutting Edge Ceramic Chef’s Knife
For the dad who not only enjoys eating and drinking but actually cooks, a top-quality, high-tech ceramic chef’s knife or two might be the perfect gift. Knives with zirconium carbide blades will especially appeal to the man who’s wowed by the latest “cutting edge” technology, as this ultra-modern ceramic material is just below rubies, sapphires, and diamonds on the hardness scale! Having used the sleek, super-sharp, “Black Diamond” (click here, picured at right) zirconium carbide knives myself for several years, I can attest that they cut effortlessly and never seem to dull. They are the knives I now reach for almost all routine slicing and chopping, and even though they do chip (don’t try to cut through bone!), they never rust and never need sharpening (at least not so far).

Only a couple manufacturers actually sell ceramic blades made from the top-of the-line zirconium carbide; this material is chemically darkened and hardened from the somewhat less durable white zirconium oxide using an extra firing, or hot isostatic pressing (HIP) process. The least expensive zirconium carbide knives I’ve found are available are from an American firm, URI Eagle, at http://store.urieagle.biz/ for well under $100. The much better known Japanese Kyocera company sells one line of the zirconium carbide knives, called KyotopHIP; these are usually highly-rated but much pricier. You can see what’s available and check Amazon.com prices here. Note that unless Kyocera knives are designated Kyotop HIP, they are not zirconium carbide, even if the blades are black.

Decorative Chi-chi Salt Slabs, Blocks, Bowls
Even the foodie dad with everything will likely not have this: Beautiful, translucent pink, Himalayan salt blocks, slabs, and bowls suitable for cooking, serving, or as kitchen/dining room decoration pieces. Your special man of the day can use them hot, cold, or at room temperature. The salt surfaces will slowly infuse moist foods such as meats and fish, or simply function as gorgeous presentation areas for dry foods like crackers, cheese, and chocolates. He can wipe them clean and reuse them repeatedly. Prices vary from $14 for a small sushi slab or salt cube, to $42 or for bowls and dishes, to over $100 for some large squares and blocks. Useful info/instructions for use and care provided here. Inventory/prices/pics are at: http://www.atthemeadow.com/

Gourmet Sipper's Equipment and Supplies
Whether your favorite dad is a wine collector, coffee or tea aficionado, home beer brewer, or cocktail maker, there are suitable small and big ticket items at http://www.beveragefactory.com/. If you’re budget conscious, check out mojito muddlers, tea infusers, and shot glasses. If the sky’s the limit, consider espresso machines, bar blenders, wine cabinets, ice machines, and bar refrigerators. Amazon also has a nice array of less expensive items like double-walled thermo glasses (shown right), stainless steel jiggers, and wine pourers/stoppers in the “bar tools and glasses” section here.
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