« SF Urban Holiday 2008 | Main | The Very Last Minute Holiday Gift Guide Part 2 »

December 18, 2008

The Very Last Minute Holiday Gift Guide

by guest writer, Brooke Cheshier

Maybe you didn't know your brother was bringing his fiance home for the holidays. Or maybe, like me, you looked up from your overstuffed desk and realized - oh s#@$! - it's December 18th. Before you rush out and spend your hard earned money on a dozen iTunes gift cards, check out our last minute gift ideas. Not only do they seem thoughtful. they actually are.

Re-Consider the Catalog. All I want for Christmas is ANYTHING from Corti Brothers but, especially the rare shoyus (soy sauces) and deep sea salts. And the stamped pasta cutters, the Luxardo Box of Cherry Delights and the 750 mL bottle of Hayman’s Old Tom Gin…

If this were Japan, Darrell Corti would be a living national treasure.

He is also a walking encyclopedia when it comes to culinary culture, which is why every item in Corti’s food and drink web catalogue will engage your senses and please your palate. Darrell seeks out only the very best producers. As longtime customer Pam Hunter says, “You can order any product from this catalog knowing you will come to love it.” Food Blogger Elise Bauer of SimplyRecipes.com says her father has made daily pilgrimages to Corti Bros, for as long as she can remember.

If your holiday budget took a hit this year, don’t underestimate the value of a Corti Brothers newsletter subscription (It’s FREE!). The prose alone is enough to make your mouth water, although I’m personally dreaming about a stocking stuffed with sherries from Garvey Sacristia’s bodega in Jerez. Just In case anyone was wondering.

  • For subscription and ordering information – and to pick up the recipe for the Martinez Cocktail (the ancestor to the martini and a classic Old Tom Gin concoction)– go to www.cortibros.biz.

Give the Gift of Knowledge. Everyone’s got to eat, right? Now everyone –well, everyone you love in NoCal– can know how and where to fill their bellies with the Bay Area’s juiciest brisket, beefiest meatballs, and leafiest vegetarian cuisine. All you have to do is give them a subscription to "Unterman on Food."

Patricia Unterman has been publishing her bi-monthly newsletter on food, wine, dining and travel for five years. It is safe to say that the restaurant reviewer for the San Francisco Examiner and chef/co-owner of Hayes Street Grill knows a thing or two about eating and drinking. And where to go to do the best of both.

With Unterman as their guide, your friends and family will find real joy at Five Happiness (where a banquet for 10 could cost less than $200) and superior pisco cocktails at the Embarcadero’s La Mar Cebicheria Peruana. Unterman is also an expert on where to find the best West Coast version of an East Coast crab shack,  the cheapest 7-course beef Vietnamese beef dinner and the most comforting fusion of Indian, Chinese and Southeast Asian flavors.

This is one of those gifts you send out that comes back to you threefold. Karma, baby. Karma.

  • A subscription runs about $32. Send checks to Unterman on Food, c/o Hayes Street Grill, 320 Hayes Street, San Francisco, CA 94102. Unterman is also the author of the San Francisco Fooder Lover’s Pocket Guide, which makes a sweet little stocking stuffer.
    Go to

Embrace The Pleasure Principle:  If there’s one wine that will spice up your life, it is petite syrah. It’s important to remember, however, that not every petite syrah is created equal. On a bad day, it’s baggy, flabby and way out-of-proportion. But on a good day – and with a great winemaker behind it, every day is a good day– it’s rich and voluptuous, even slightly zaftig.

That’s right, we said zaftig. As in erotically ripe and round. Think Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, Elizabeth Taylor at her peak ripeness, or Quixote Winery’s 2004 Petite Sirah and you’re on the right track. 

The Doumani family has always believed in making wine with both structure and personality.  At first glance, this petite syrah from Napa Valley’s Stags’ Leap Ranch Vineyard is a hedonists’ dream. It’s all satin and silk, blackberry brambles and earth-covered fruit. And yet, it possesses a robust tannin structure and enough acid for some quality aging.

In other words, a bottle (or a case) of the ’04 Petite Syrah has the potential to keep on giving for years to come. Since Quixote made less than a thousand cases of this wine, the gift has the added allure of being precious and rare.  It tastes mighty fine, too.

  • To order the 2004 Quixote Petite Syrah, visit  www.quixotewinery.com and click on “Purchase Wine.” If you love the flavor and patina of older red wines but don’t have the patience (or the cellar) to wait for them to properly age, Quixote’ also has an incredible selection of library wines. They sell out quickly, however, so don’t hesitate too long to scoop up some of these juicy treasures.

Brooke Cheshier spends most weekends watching SEC Football and stealing blackberries from the neighbors. She is the wine correspondent for G -The Magazine of Greenville, making heavenly matches between southern eats and the world of drinks. Visit her blog at:  http://aficionada.squarespace.com.

Posted by Pamela at December 18, 2008 8:13 AM| Share on Facebook | Books

Studio 707 Blog