Naughty? Nice? Hungry? However you'd describe the food lover on your holiday shopping list, we've found some fantastic gift ideas that will make shopping a lot more fun. After all, at least you can grab dinner outside a mall food court.
Hands-on lesson at The Butcher Shop. The burgeoning nose-to-tail guru in your family will appreciate a tutorial at star chef Barbara Lynch's South End spot. The package ($300, pictured) includes a private hands-on lesson, three-course lunch, and discount of 15% off retail items. It's presented alongside a 5-inch boning knife, gift-wrapped with butcher's paper and twine, so you have something representative to leave under the tree. If you'd rather leave out the knife, the lesson and lunch package is only $200.
Cookbooks from top chefs. Help your favorite home chef build a library of recipe-filled tomes from Boston's top toques, available at their restaurants. Some of our old and new favorites: The New England Kitchen: Fresh Takes on Season Recipes by Jeremy Sewall (Island Creek Oyster Bar, Row 34); The New Charcuterie Cookbook: Exceptional Cured Meats to Make and Serve at Home by Jamie Bissonnette (Coppa, Toro); Maine Classics by Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier (M.C. Spiedo); and In the Hands of a Chef by Jody Adams (Rialto, Trade).
Jackson Cannon's bar knife. Nascent bar stars can zest lemons like a pro with a bar knife ($79) designed by Jackson Cannon, bar director of Eastern Standard, Island Creek Oyster Bar and The Hawthorne, and manufactured by 163-year old knife maker R. Murphy Knives. Years in the biz informed its super-sharp, stainless steel squared-off tip and pretty polished handle of tropical wood.
Famed Bloody Mary mix. That knife will come in handy for slicing celery to make a Bloody Mary using the same mix used for the famed build-your-own menu at Stephanie's on Newbury, Stephi's on Tremont, and Stephi's in Southie. Each bottle ($10) features the same blend of tomato juice, Sriracha, tobacco, horseradish, cayenne, and other signature spices.
Juice cleanse from Mother Juice. Given the inevitable health-related New Year's resolutions on the horizon, perhaps a detox is in order. The just-opened Cambridge juice bar offers home-delivered 1-, 3-, and 5-day cleanses ($55/day); each cleanse day consists of six 16-ounce cold-pressed juices of carrots, beets, lemon and other fitness-minded fruits and veggies.
Legal Sea Foods swag. The brand is a Boston-born icon, so Hub ex-pats will appreciate the reminder of home when you mail them Legal-branded chowder mugs, lobster spots, or t-shirts, which feature retro designs and some cheeky sayings like, "Crabs here, good. Crabs here, bad." (One arrow points to the stomach. The other - well, you know.) Grab the swag at the Legal Harborside location.
Baby gear. Because the little one got good taste from your side of the family. Beloved brand Anna's Taqueria sells logo bibs and onesies in which to swaddle your little burrito, and Shake Shack sells cute and clever onesies too: "If crying, insert burger."
Commonwealth cookie dough. The market side of the Cambridge restaurant is stocked with both chef Steve "Nookie" Postal's house made goodies and packaged noshes from local artisans. Best of all: gift boxes of 20 frozen homemade cookie dough balls ($12), available in chocolate chip or "holiday flavors": 5 each of cranberry ginger, chocolate candy cane, oatmeal fruit cake, and chestnut crunch.
Strega sauce. The best pasta sauce? Mom's. The second best? Nick Varano's mom's, probably. The restaurateur sells jars of the same sauce ($7.95) passed down through his family's matriarchs and used at Strega, Strega Waterfront, Nico, and Strega Prime.
Basically everything at Liquid Art House. The food isn't the only thing for sale at this restaurant-slash-art gallery. If you feel so inclined, all the artwork can be brought home too: from the small objets d'art in the foyer display cases to the framed pieces lining the walls - to the $18K Murano glass chandelier hanging over the bar. You know, in case Beyonce is on your shopping list.