The Ten (Well, 15): Best Gifts for Gourmands

So many choices, so little time. The Ten is your guide to the best of the best that D.C. has to offer.

For this installment we want to help make your holiday shopping easier by suggesting a few gifts for the gourmands in your life. If you want to pick up a few presents for yourself, too, we won’t tattle.

Destination Cellars

Finally, you don’t need to become a shoplifter to score one of the designer sneakers used to serve croquetas at Jaleo. This über-über José Andrés Collection Gift Package comes with the famous footwear, as well as Andrés’ cookbook and a brace of Spanish wines. $950.

Society Fair

Every modern mixologist needs this Leather Bar Kit filled with the tools of the trade hand selected by cocktail king Todd Thrasher. There’s a julep strainer, muddler, and bar spoon and more. The witty repartee and shaker flipping tricks are your responsibility. $185.

Red Apron

Joy Division’s classic Unknown Pleasures album cover gets a meaty makeover on this killer t-shirt, which is sure to please carnivores and mopey musos alike. Available at the Union Market on Saturdays and Dupont Market on Sundays. $25.

Sugar Magnolia

Who doesn’t want pie for Christmas? Haters and communists, who probably aren’t on your gift list anyway. Chefs Logan Cox and Alison Reed are baking up both sweet and savory mini pies, including rosemary accented smoked albacore tuna and purple potatoes ($11), broccoli prosciutto parmesan ($11), and bourbon caramel pecan ($10 small, $20 large). For advance orders or special requests, email Chef Alison Reed at

Hill Country

Want to classy up your loved one’s cold one? Then pick up one of this barbecue joint’s logoed beer koozies. Whether the recipient likes to toss a few back in a parking lot, the backwoods, or out on the dock, this red foam cup holder helps them look civilized while they do it. $3.

L’Auberge Chez François

Drop a not-so-subtle hint that you want a romantic dinner in the new year by picking up chef Jacques Haeringer PBS series Two For Tonight on DVD. It’s so easy to follow that even the most kitchen-averse loved one can figure it out. $59.95.

Co Co. Sala

Call it haute chocolate. The Penn Quarter chocolatier makes meltable pops in salted caramel, dark chocolate, and peanut butter to swirl in hot milk to create a decadent drink for the wintertime. These luxuriant lollis come packaged with house-made vanilla bean marshmallows and a mug. $20.

Red Truck Bakery & Market

Throughout the month of December, baker-in-chief Brian Noyes crafts limited batches of European stollen – a dense sweet bread pocked with candied orange and lemon, bits of almond, and a moist marzipan core. Simply divine. $22.

The Daily Dish

Sous chef Russ Ransom likes to jam out and keep things spicy. So he crafted a line of jellies that includes Peachy Chipotle & Blackberry, Jazzy Jalapeno, and Poppin’ Poblano & Apricot. En fuego! $6.50 each.


Pick up a copy of Mike Isabella’s cookbook, Crazy Good Italian, for the Top Chef junkie in your life. The Bravo star will autograph and personalize each copy, so it looks like you spent six hours waiting in line at a book signing to make this present happen. Available online at the link above or in Graffiato or Bandolero. $35.

Bayou Bakery

This Creole accented Arlington favorite will be offering up treats from chef-owner David Guas’ Candy Corner. There are Holy Trinity Pralines (classic, chocolate, chicory coffee, $8), Oreo-inspired Baby Dat-O’s ($7), and Peppermint Bark with bittersweet Valrhona chocolate ($7). They all sound like a sweet deal to us.

Sticky Fingers

The CoHe vegan bakery has created Pupcake Kits to help raise money for the best-named charity ever: Pinups for Pitbulls. Each pack comes with four chocolate cupcakes, peanut butter frosting, dark chocolate, and roasted peanuts, so you can decorate them at home. You must order them online and they’re only available until December 17. $18.

Woodberry Kitchen

Using locally sourced heirloom fish peppers, chef Spike Gjerde makes Snake Oil Hot Sauce that’s guaranteed to perk up whatever you put it on – a bowl of ramen, a rack of ribs, or your Bloody Mary. Order via email at or pick up a bottle at the restaurant. $15.

Blue Duck Tavern

Can’t decide what to get the foodie in your life? Get a gift basket filled with a little bit of everything – Zoe’s Chocolates, pumpkin seed brittle brownies, house-made pate, a pair of artisan cheeses, bourbon peaches, and much more. $110.

Pork Barrel BBQ 

These BBQ Party Packs are the perfect gifts for political junkies of all stripes. Whether you get the Tea Party or the  Loyal Liberal, there are two bottles of Original BBQ Sauce, two bottles of Sweet BBQ Sauce and three jars of Spice Rub. $35. 

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  • Don Rockwell

    Nevin, may I suggest as the *ultimate* culinary gift (or vacation), a guided trip to Spain with Gerry Dawes? I’m definitely not trying to pimp my website here, but I *am* trying to pimp Gerry, who is quite simply The Best in the world when it comes to Spain. With a small group of people, he will actually go with you, and guide you through the country’s best restaurants, markets, bodegas, and other tourist attractions that he has special access to. Expensive? No doubt. But also, the very, very best that money can buy. I’ve personally been to Spain with Gerry, and can enthusiastically vouch for his unique knowledge, contacts, and enthusiasm. This is a fun list you’ve compiled, btw. Here is the link to information about Gerry’s trips to Spain (as well as an enormously detailed “chat” he’s doing on Spanish gastronomy) – just go there, and then do a Find on the word “custom.”

    Always a pleasure to read your work. Best regards, Don.