Our favorite products, gadgets, restaurants, bars, wine, beer, and food websites and blogs.
If you know me, you know that I can be a bit of a food snob—not that I’m eating at the French Laundry every night, but I’m definitely not eating at McDonald’s. I love a good burger, taco, or ice cream cone; I just like to know where the things I eat come from. My guilty pleasure, however, is a surprisingly dangerous combo: Sea Salt & Vinegar Kettle Chips dribbled with Frank’s RedHot. I know, I know—it sounds like something you’d find in a college dorm room. I’m not saying I’m proud of it … but I’m telling you to just try it. JUST TRY IT! You’ll be a believer.
These handsome ceramic pears are beautifully handcrafted by California artist Jason Segall. They range in design from French Country amber to a contemporary green-and-white mosaic and are finished with “stems” made from horseshoe nails. They make a beautiful gift—or you could channel Martha and use them in a centerpiece.
Glazed Clay Pears, $30–$120
Made from green chile peppers grown in New Mexico’s famous Hatch Valley, these little packages of roasted, diced chiles pack quite a wallop. They’ll stay good unopened at room temperature for at least two years, so bring ’em along on camping trips or to spice up meals at your Aunt Helga’s (the poor dear just can’t cook). A tiny spoonful gives any dish a pungent sweet-sour flavor.
505 Southwestern Roasted Green Chile, $39.95 for 50 two-ounce packets
There are lots of sources for instruction on knife skills (not least of all our own easy-to-follow videos), but the new book Knife Skills Illustrated: A User’s Manual, by Peter Hertzmann, has one thing others do not: instructions for left-handed people. There’s nothing particularly innovative about the text or the black-and-white illustrations, but as somebody who has learned to read manuals as if I’m looking in a mirror, it feels positively welcoming to have every major section repeated in a left-handed version. Plus Hertzmann includes alternative methods for many cuts. The politics of inclusion come to cooking class!
Knife Skills Illustrated: A User’s Manual, $19.77
I’ve tried every single kind of granola from here to Hampi, India. And that is only a slight exaggeration (I did try granola in Hampi, though). I picked up the cranberry Udi’s Natural Artisan Granola from my local corner store. Not too sweet, great light honey flavor, and packed with cranberries. I’ve since tried the original flavor, and loved it too. Out of Denver, this granola outfit has its oats together.
Udi’s Natural Artisan Granola, $36 for a five-pack sampler
These handblown wobble glasses from Danish designer Rikke Hagen are like a grown-up version of spinning tops. It’s as if you’re a kid all over again, but even better because now there’s Cognac involved.
Wobble Cognac Glasses, $50 for a set of two
For more than 30 years Allan Benton has been making delicious bacon that is about as different from the supermarket stuff as you’ll find. Each slice is a quarter-inch thick and has an incredibly rich, smoky aroma that will permeate the house, tempting your guests away from the table and straight to the kitchen.
Benton’s Smoky Mountain Country Hams, $20 for four pounds (minimum order)
We first admired this item at Restaurant Gary Danko in San Francisco. Where to put a purse? No problem, ma’am, here’s an ingenious little device. One side grips the table, the other hooks the handbag. Finally, a nifty solution to a perpetual problem. Buy one for yourself, keep it in your handbag, and whip it out at restaurants less fully equipped.
The Dangle, $35
I just drank a O.N.E. Amazon Açaí, and the antioxidants are coursing through my bloodstream. I am alert, probably a bit smarter, and definitely more beautiful now. The health benefits of açaí have been so extensively touted that it seems like all you have to do is smell the berry, and your hair becomes more lustrous. I’m skeptical (but hopeful). What I can take at face value is that it’s good. It’s kind of velvety in the mouth—not thick like a smoothie, but rich. It’s got a cherrylike berry flavor that I love. And even though it comes in little shelf-stable boxes, it tastes fresh.
O.N.E. Amazon Açaí, $31.08 for a case
Niche tea companies seem to be arriving on the scene at an exponential rate. Chowhounds have a lot to say about tea, and Rishi is a favorite. Having partnerships with tea and herb growers around the world has made Rishi Tea a leader in organic cultivation, sustainable harvesting, and artisan processing techniques. These practices are reflected in the flavor and freshness of its teas; and with selections like Peach Blossom and Ancient Emerald Lily, even the non–tea drinkers among us are enticed.
Rishi Peach Blossom Organic White Tea, $18 for 1/4 pound