Lots of these gift guides are floating around, but they’re mostly geared towards home cooks. Of course, the home cook and restaurant patron populations overlap considerably, but given that we deal in restaurant menus, we’re targeting the latter specifically. So here are a few ideas for that person on your list who loves a good meal, especially when it’s prepared by someone else:
• A Day At El Bulli
This 600-page tome features recipes, but it’s less a cookbook than an inside peek into what exactly goes on behind the scenes at the world’s best restaurant. It’s pretty fascinating, and the 800 photos alone are worth the money.
More after the jump…
• Restaurant.com gift certificates
We wrote about these earlier this year after learning of a nifty code that got us an 80 percent discount at checkout. There are a number of strings attached with these certificates, but if your restaurant of choice does accept it, you basically turned $2 into $25. They could make great stocking stuffers.
• Restaurant gift cards
This is a pretty obvious one. Do you know of a restaurant your friend has been meaning to try? Or is there a place that he or she already absolutely loves? Call up the restaurant and ask about gift certificates. We usually like to give an amount that would be at least enough for a meal for two, without wine. And be careful which restaurants you select; with the tanking economy, the last thing you want is to spend money on a gift card and then have the restaurant go under before your friend can use it.
• Wine bottle carrier
How about a nice bag to carry the wine bottle from home (or liquor store) to that BYO restaurant? Brown paper bags don’t quite cut it sometimes. Here are a few eco-friendly options from Jute. Or choose from the many furoshiki (a Japanese cloth used for wrapping) options at this site and study how to use it to make a two-bottle carrying case. Wrap up a bottle or two in a pretty furoshiki, and it could make a lovely gift.
• What to Drink with What You Eat
Though most restaurants can recommend which wines to pair with their food, it’s still good to have an idea of what wine pairs well with what food. The best way to figure this out, of course, is to taste taste taste, but a good book can help steer you in the right direction. And if that foodie on your list often brings his or her own bottle to a restaurant, then this is a great tool. You could even wrap the book in a furoshiki.