editors picks

What New York Magazine Editors Will Be Gifting This Holiday Season

Alan Sytsma

Editorial Director, Grub Street

Laguiole Steak Knives

“We try to keep a pretty lean kitchen chez Sytsma — we don't want a lot of unnecessary gear or ornamental tableware. These insane Laguiole steak knives are the exception. I know: Who even owns steak knives anymore? Is this 1965? It doesn’t matter. Every time I open the box and take one out of its little protective plastic sleeve, I just love it so much.

First, get the juniper-wood handles. The “ebony and ivory” handles look like Beetlejuice's suit, and horn handles are for people who decorate their living rooms with taxidermy. Stick with the wood. They look great, they smell like some perfectly maintained hunting cabin in France (I'm guessing), and they just feel so smooth and luxurious. That’s kind of the best reason to spend $300-plus on a set of knives. Sure, they’re sharp and they cut things well and they have a nice balance and all that jazz, but they don't make food taste any different. What they really do is make dinners feel totally ridiculous and great. Use them for prime rib or something, sure. Or, like we usually do, break them out when you roast a chicken. Also exceptional with something like roasted broccoli, I’m sure. It will all just feel better, and in some little way, you probably will, too.”

Neil Janowitz

Editorial Director, Vulture

The Nomadkey

“I’m an ardent believer in maximizing keychain utility. At various times, I’ve had on my key ring mini-screwdrivers, a bottle opener shaped like an old-timey key, my CitiBike fob, a flash drive, and a key-shaped multi-tool that got confiscated at airport security on account of the tiny knife inside. Without question, though, the most useful keychain companion has been my NomadKey. There’s an obvious missing element: the USB adapter that plugs into the wall, the power grid bridge without which the NomadKey is inert. But if you have a phone with a battery on the wane and a NomadKey at the ready, you’ll be surprised how easy it is to find USB ports in the world. All computers have them. Most new cars and airplanes have them. Some cabs have passenger-facing ones. The occasional wall outlet will have them integrated. Even many flat-panel TVs have them, as I discovered during a moment of phone-induced panic in a chain restaurant, where an understanding manager allowed me to dangle my phone from the side of the 42-inch LCD. In short: If you need power, you’ll find a USB port. The cord, though — that’s on you to provide. $25 is a small price to pay to ensure you always can.”

Stella Bugbee

Editorial Director, The Cut

Josie by Natori Women’s Bardot Three-Quarter Unlined Bra

“First and foremost, an everyday bra should be something you don't mind throwing in the laundry (we're working women. Who has time to hand-wash their underthings?). And since you'll be treating it to rough stints in the washer-dryer, it should cost less than $50. Over the last two years I've purchased five white and five black Bardot bras. They wear out in about three months and I keep clean ones in constant rotation. The lace panel under the cups can give the impression of a camisole if you're wearing sheer tops, and it looks a bit like a tank-bra if you happen to find yourself standing around semi-dressed in a room full of strangers at a sample sale. It's not too sexy for a weekday but it's sexy enough to stand in for La Perla if you have an unexpected Tinder date.”

Jessica Silvester

Senior Editor, the Strategist

Squatty Potty

“Before I describe the transformative powers of the Squatty Potty, I want to note that I purchased it about a year ago, on a doctor’s recommendation, well before it appeared in a viral ad with an ice-cream-pooping unicorn. (Because that totally makes it less embarrassing.) Pooping in a squatted position, the logic goes, allows the abdomen and colon to relax, while our modern way of sitting upright causes the pelvic floor to choke the rectum, thereby straining and/or slowing down the whole process. As Jimmy Carter’s proctologist, perhaps an early adopter of the Paleo lifestyle, put it after the president’s bout with hemorrhoids in 1978: ‘We were not meant to sit on toilets. We were meant to squat in the field.’ Enter the Squatty Potty. It looks like every other As Seen on TV product ever made: a hunk of cheap white plastic possibly intended for a toddler. But in this case it’s molded to fit perfectly around the base of any standard toilet bowl and raise your feet seven inches off the ground, tilting you on the seat at a 35-degree angle. For the first few seconds you think nothing different is going to happen — which is to say that nothing at all is going to happen — until suddenly it does. Which feels amazing. It should be mentioned that I have to hide this supposedly inconspicuous footstool in the shower before guests come over (those who drop by unannounced walk out of the bathroom saying things like “I don’t even want to know.”) And my husband routinely bumps into it when peeing in the middle of the night (“I hate the Squatty Potty,” he often tells me in the morning). But I make no apologies. Easier bowel movements, I’ve determined, are well worth the occasional embarrassment.”

Adam Platt

Restaurant Critic

Dorothy Thorpe–Designed Cocktail Glasses

“Lately, I find myself obsessing over cocktail glasses. Not just any cocktail glasses, mind you, but vintage glasses – tall Tom Collins tumblers tinted green, or little shot glasses hand-painted with game birds, or Art Deco sets of high-ball glasses, hand-blown in Tokyo and patterned with bands of gold. There are many places to ogle this kind of thing on the internet, but my favorite is one called the Hour (“dedicated to all things cocktail!”). In between meals, I like to surf around the excellent vintage “cocktail glasses and sets” section and dream of sipping a bracingly dry martini (with a twist) from a set of crystal coupes etched with rose petals ($450 for the set of six). Or maybe I’ll sip the perfect Tom Collins from a set of glasses emblazoned with gold dancers ($240) or atomic pink and gold stars ($250 but, alas, sold out). If I had to choose one gift, it would be something by the mid-century designer Dorothy Thorpe, like the set of eight round-bottomed “roly polys,” which cost a cool $800 and are banded on their rims with sterling silver. I’d also happily take a bottle (or two) of 18-year Yamazaki single-malt whiskey to fill these little beauties with, but that’s another gift, for another year.”

Izzy Grinspan

Senior Editor, the Cut

Sangean H201 AM/FM Shower Radio

“I am completely obsessed with my Sangean shower radio. It’s not especially cute, and it’s certainly not glamorous, but hand to God, it has changed my life – at least the part of my life that I spend in the shower, which is a not-insignificant chunk of time. The sound is good, it’s impervious to steam, and with ten pre-sets, you can switch back and forth between NPR and Hot 97 with minimal frustration. Not infrequently, I’ll wind up taking it out of the shower with me because I’m so engrossed in whatever’s playing, and because the sound quality is so nice, it travels from room to room without a hitch. The best part is that because pretty much everyone showers, it’s truly a one-size-fits-all gift. Buy one for your mom who is obsessed with public radio, and one for your brother who wants to listen to the game. It’s an especially good gift for people who live in New York, where apartment bathrooms often leave something to be desired – an instant upgrade to that tiny little space.”

Rob Patronite

Food Editor

Zingerman’s Reuben Sandwich Kit

“I’m a fool for Zingerman’s Reuben Sandwich Kits. My official line is that they make great gifts for anyone who lives in a culinary backwater without good Reubens. The truth is that I like to send Reuben Kits to myself. I also send them as gifts to friends and family whose homes I will be visiting during the holidays, timing the delivery to coincide with my own arrival, then nonchalantly volunteering my advanced Reuben-assembling services, and also offering to help eat the Reubens.

Another confession: I like Zingerman’s Reubens better than the ones you can get at New York delis. I’m not saying you can’t get good Reubens in New York, or that our pastrami isn’t superior to the kind available in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where Zingerman’s is located. But the Reuben is an ensemble piece, and each component of the Zingerman’s Reuben Kit shines. The corned beef or pastrami (your choice) is top-notch. The rye is made with actual rye flour. The Swiss Emmentaler has a big, smooth, nutty flavor. The pickles, coleslaw, Russian dressing: all shockingly good. There’s a proper way to make a Reuben, too. Melting cheese over sauerkraut in a microwave, then plopping the mess onto a sandwich the way they do at a certain downtown deli-mecca does not a Reuben make. A Reuben should be griddled like a grilled cheese, which is how the Zingerman’s instructions advise you to do it. The simple directions yield excellent results even if I’m not around to help.”

Kyle Buchanan

Senior Editor, Vulture

Super Mario Maker

“For many of us of who grew up on Nintendo, the bleeps and bloops and runs and jumps of the Mario franchise are burned into our brains. (I may have forgotten the periodic table, but I'll never forget where to find the secret 1-Up mushroom in World 1-1 of Super Mario Bros.) It's delightful, then, to boot up the new video game Super Mario Maker, a level-design creator that reminds you just how ingeniously put-together those eight-bit worlds were, then challenges you to take all of those tools and make magic of your own. Do you want to create an impossible gap that Mario can only survive by bouncing off hapless, flying turtles? It can be done. If Mario's archenemy Bowser poses little threat to you after decades of digital dexterity, why not stack three Bowsers on top of one another for some added heft? As a whimsical remix of the games I grew up on, Super Mario Maker is a blast of candy-coated nostalgia, but as an accessible, inclusive peek behind the curtain, it's invaluable.”

Chris Crowley

Associate Editor, Grub Street

Aeropress Coffee and Espresso Maker

“I first heard about the Aeropress through an old saveur.com column called One Good Find. I was working in restaurants at the time, and in the habit of making coffee at home as much as possible, but couldn’t afford – and certainly didn’t have room for – a real espresso machine. The Aeropress is lightweight, easy to use, even easier to clean, and it makes better coffee than home espresso machines that cost hundreds of dollars. It’s so excellent that even third-wave coffee companies like Blue Bottle and Stumptown offer tutorials on how to use it on their websites. But one of the best things about the Aeropress is how portable it is. It weighs next to nothing and is relatively small, so you can take it with you on business trips, vacations, or a visit back home – that first sip will let you know it was worth it, even if your family teases you.”

Jillian Mapes

Senior Editor, Vulture

Thymes Frasier Fir

“Sometimes I joke that my backup plan is to become a candle vlogger, subsisting on a meager cut of YouTube ad revenue and destroying my nostrils like I'm in Fleetwood Mac circa Tusk. With as much as I spend on fancy candles now, I'd probably make about the same after factoring in all the free wax I'd score in my new gig. For now, I'll settle for casually spreading the joy of Thymes Frasier Fir candles. I first found these potent votives at Annie's Blue Ribbon General Store in Park Slope, a shop that, while not stocking anything you necessarily need, is filled with many things you want but are alas overpriced. Depending on how many times I’ve watched White Christmas wrapped in an afghan, I can usually talk myself into splurging at Annie’s for gifts; last year I walked out with Thymes Frasier Fir candles for my godmother, my grandma, and a friend who seemed like she needed a little nudge toward holiday town (the piney scent will do that to you). I know a fancy candle seems like the least personal gift imaginable, but this one is just that lovely – heavily scented so you don’t have to burn it all night, but not overpoweringly so, owing to its complexity of scents (pine candles can be truly cloying). I will weep if they ever stop making this candle.”

Wendy Goodman

Design Editor

The Art and Technique of Color Photography, edited and designed by Alexander Liberman

“One of my most prized books that I return to all the time. I discovered it on my living-room bookshelf growing up, and it’s the first book that ever really had me spellbound. There were two photographs that especially mesmerized me: One was taken by Andre Kertesz, of the entrance hall in a house in Neuilly with a giant glass vase of wildflowers sitting right smack on the marble floor; the other was a fashion photograph of a woman all in white with diamond and ruby jewelry, by John Rawlings. I cherish the original copy from my parents’ library, now assuming pride of place, in mine.”

Rebecca Ramsey

Senior Fashion Editor

A Calvin Klein Slip

“An accidental turn as an almost-exhibitionist led me to this Calvin Klein slip. I had been wearing a sheer black dress last spring, perhaps leaning a little too NSFW, but in my mind, it was just a more directional choice for a Tuesday. But when a run-in with a revolving door put me in near-nude territory (really, the whole back of the dress was torn in the door), the dress became way too risqué for work. I ran a few blocks east to the Calvin Klein store in Soho and found sanctuary in crêpe de chine. This simple slip has since multiplied in my closet for many reasons: I like the small bits of lace and the slim cut is flattering. It’s easy to layer under my collection of black dresses (it’s the perfect length for a person on the shorter side) and the soft fabric feels luxurious on my skin. I love pairing it with a chunky robe while reading the Sunday paper, or making like Liz Taylor and wearing it while getting ready for a wedding, glass of cabernet in hand. It comes with me on all my travels, proving easy to pack and to sleep in. As a bonus, my husband likes it, too, so I have been inspired to give it to friends who are getting married, and they all report similar results.”

Abraham Riesman

Video Editor

Will Eisner: Champion of the Graphic Novel

“I was interviewing longtime comic-book writer, editor, and executive Paul Levitz a few months ago and he mentioned that he was about to put out a book about the late Will Eisner. I was skeptical about it. What could it say that hadn't already been said? After all, Eisner was one of the greatest comics creators of all time, and more ink has been spilled about his life and work than virtually anyone else in his medium. As it turns out, Levitz's Will Eisner: Champion of the Graphic Novel is something special. Levitz does a top-notch job of chronicling Eisner's journey from the impoverished Jewish tenements of Brooklyn to international renown, but the real treat here is the book's curation of work-in-progress sketches and pages — many of them never-before-seen — straight from the Eisner archives. He spent much of his life converting skeptics about comics' value into believers, and this book continues that tradition.”

Ashley Weatherford

Associate Beauty Editor, the Cut

A Mango Coat

“I spent most of the fall looking for the perfect fluffy coat, and I finally found it in this white Mango number. It’s warm, falls down my sides at mid-thigh, and is equipped with a cozy collar that keeps my neck warm when I forget to wear a scarf. When I wear the coat I feel like a relic from the Golden Age of Rap — like Lil’ Kim or Diddy — and I kind of act like it too. Let’s just say the coat has a built-in swagger function that instantly makes you look like a member of an elite rap squad or a sorority sister on Scream Queens. But overall, it strikes the right balance between functionality and fashion, which really makes all the difference.”

Sierra Tishgart

Senior Editor, Grub Street

Felt + Fat Plates

“Take Root’s Elise Kornack recently turned me on to Felt + Fat, a Philadelphia-based studio that makes beautiful tableware. My home-cooking skills are pretty average, but these porcelain clay plates (and bowls and mugs and vases) make even the simplest dish look like a restaurant-worthy masterpiece. There are plenty of nice plates on the market right now, though: What makes Felt + Fat’s special is that they aren’t at all precious, and since they’re not sold as a set, you can mix and match. The marbled series — my favorite — mixes in well with my boring white plates, and when I’m feeling ready to spend more, I think I’ll buy a solid-color plate, like pastel pink or Army green.”

Kathleen Hou

Senior Beauty Editor, the Cut

The Surratt Beauty Relevee Lash Curler

“If eyelash curlers were hugs, most would be uncomfortably effusive hugs given by your Great Aunt Something, who smells like a mix of baby powder and patchouli. Eyelash curlers tend to grip your lashes unnecessarily tight, giving them a “scared-straight” look. But the Surratt Beauty Relevee Lash Curler is like a warm hug by a close friend. Created by Uma Thurman’s makeup artist, Troy Surratt, the Relevee is manufactured in Japan, at the factory that once used to produce the Shu Uemura curlers. The gentle, wide U-shape of Surratt’s curler creates a softer, more natural curl, and a cloudlike eyelash bed allows you to snuggle the curler right at the base. With a double-prong handle, less force is needed to curl your lashes, ensuring that even the dainty little ones go undamaged. The curl it produces has no sharp right angles or bends but an easy-looking, Nike-style swoop. They were sold out for a while at Barneys, but they’ve since been re-stocked. I have three of them.”

Diana Tsui

Senior Market Editor, the Cut

Paul Smith Leather-Trimmed Cotton-Blend Twill Backpack

“For months I was on the hunt for a perfect bag for my husband. He wanted something that could fit both his gym clothes and lunch. That instantly eliminated any briefcase styles, because you can barely fit a laptop and a magazine in those, much less a pair of sneakers. Messengers were also out since he’s perpetually running around and hates the way it bangs across his body. Plus, it had to look professional enough to blend in seamlessly with his work clothes, but not so fancy that it’d look weird post-workout. This Paul Smith backpack ticked off every requirement: Combining twill with a leather trim, it’s vaguely sporty but also sleek and minimal. Given his active lifestyle and general hatred of umbrellas, opting for fabric versus leather means it’ll last longer. It has a padded back, so he won’t complain about discomfort, and most important, the bag has enough pockets to separate his laptop from his shorts, water bottle, and all of the other crap he insists on lugging around. I’m the best wife.”

Robin Raisfeld

Food Editor

A Box of Fruit

“Txikito’s Alex Raij tipped me off to the Kishu, an incomparably sweet and fragrant golf-ball-sized mandarin orange grown at Churchill Orchards in California's Ojai Valley. Procuring a box requires some effort: You need to register online for notification to preorder, and if you don’t respond immediately — sometimes within a matter of minutes — you miss your shot. But a ten-pound carton of these Little Wonders, as the fruit is nicknamed, brightens up the bleak tail end of winter (they ship in February). The puffy skin slips off almost by suggestion, revealing juicy, seedless segments, the sweetness balanced by vibrant acidity. Kishus, though, have a downside: Climate conditions easily imperil the crop, and when the harvest is small, farmer Jim Churchill and his wife, Lisa Brenneis, cancel mail order to focus on supplying local farmers’ markets and wholesalers. When that happens (which, my e-mail alert has only just notified me, it has for 2016), Kishu devotees have a Plan B — namely Churchill’s Pixie tangerines, a hardier, more durable fruit that’s larger than the Kishu, also organic and seedless, and nearly as sweet. There is no shame in giving a box of Pixies to any citrus lover on your list (or at least the promise of one; they don’t ship until April). But for my money ($44 plus shipping), I’d spring for the ‘party box,’ which contains six pounds of Pixies and a dozen of Churchill's superior Hass avocados. For the true Kishu fanatic, there’s always next year.”

Alexis Swerdloff

Strategist Editor

The Marpac Dohm-DS Noise Machine

“I once lived in an apartment with extremely thin walls — so thin you could hear the neighbors' phones vibrate. So thin that I knew their Thai takeout order. So thin that I would stay awake coming up with scenarios that could be construed as grounds for evicting them. One night, in a fugue state, I went online and blindly bought the Dohm; it had good reviews, and despite its slightly homely appearance, I went for it anyway. When the little Stormtrooper-helmet-like gadget arrived, it was maybe even less attractive than its photos. But when I turned it on, and the soothing whir enveloped my tiny bedroom, I truly did not care what it looked like: Not only was there no sign of anyone living within 100 miles of me, but my sleep immediately became sounder and deeper. Eight years and three apartments (with much thicker walls) later, the same Dohm has moved with me — because now I am addicted to the lull. It’s what puts me (and now my boyfriend) to sleep every night, like a warm cup of milk. I’ve since learned more about it: The genius lies in its simplicity— unlike newfangled noise machines, with their rainforest chirps and crackling fires, there are only two fan settings, and a volume control — both of which can be operated while you’re basically still asleep. And when I discovered that the design hadn’t changed since 1962, my whole Dohm narrative shifted: Instead of calling it ‘my jolie-laide bedside friend,’ I’ve started proudly referring to it as ‘my mid-century modern noise machine.’”

Kevin Lincoln

Senior Editor, Vulture

Netflix DVDs

“In the era of Netflix-and-chill, Netflix original programming, and watching garbage burn just because it’s streaming on Netflix, I always feel like I’m the steward of some dying religion whenever I insist that folks get DVDs by mail. DVDs by mail are so uncool, even Netflix tried to ditch them. It’s a cold world out there. But! This shouldn’t be. Choosing from most of video-recorded entertainment history, you can determine what you watch, in the order you’d like to watch it. Fancy a dive into the Coens so deep that you don’t come up until you’ve watched The Ladykillers? Queue it up. Trying to watch every episode of The Larry Sanders Show? Do it: Don’t let someone tell you it’s not available, that it isn’t streaming. Think of it this way — sure, you’re still paying a large corporation some amount of money every month. But this way, you’re telling them what you’re going to watch. Take back control of your viewing life. Just make sure you still have a DVD player.”

Maria Elena Fernandez

TV Reporter

iPhone6 Tech Armor Clear Ballistic Glass Screen Protector

“To have an iPhone is to know the pain of a cracked screen and the kind people who work at ubreakitwefixit.com. When I upgraded to the iPhone 6 earlier this year, I decided to give screen protectors a try because, well, it couldn’t hurt. But I quickly learned not all screen protectors were created equal, and I found myself in an online maze. My husband jumped in to help me with my search and he came across Tech Armor’s Clear Ballistic Glass Screen Protector. The reviews were mostly glowing, and I decided to go for it. This thing is my favorite thing ever. Since I bought it in January, I’ve twice dropped my phone face down very hard and picked it up to find the screen completely cracked — only then to realize it’s only the protector that was broken. The phone was intact. Hallelujah! And its lifetime guarantee is the next best thing about it. It’s so easy! All you do is email them a copy of your purchase invoice with a picture of your cracked screen protector and in a week or less, you have a replacement at no cost to you. Another plus: It was so easy to place on the phone — many protectors are not.”

Lindsay Peoples

Associate Market Editor, the Cut

J.Crew Collection Cashmere Sweater

“I have found that everyone likes a nice, quality sweater for the winter no matter who they are. I bought one of these J.Crew cashmere sweaters last winter for myself and have been obsessed with it ever since. It’s made from the softest Italian cashmere so it won’t scratch your skin all day, and it’s the easiest thing to wear — it has a classic relaxed fit, and is a comfortable staple that can be tucked into a skirt and heels for work or paired with jeans and sneakers on the weekends. I currently have it in heather-gray but I have been eyeing the light-blue as a treat for myself, or the navy-blue for a few of my girlfriends.”

Jody Quon

Photography Director

The Fuji X-TI

“This camera has the image quality that you’d traditionally find in a DSLR, but in a much more compact system. It has a real weight and quality to it — as opposed to the light plastic feel of most cameras. And it’s also a bargain compared to similar Leica models. Everything’s taken care of, but the pictures — which are in the eye of the beholder.”

What Our Editors Will Be Gifting