Ah yes, Christmas is in the air and despite the absurd amounts of panettone and pandoro that are the in the shop windows, I still haven’t finished my Christmas shopping yet. Have you? If you have then you’re amazingly organized and I kind of hate you for it. If you haven’t, then you’re awesome because it means you’ve been too busy enjoying life to care about Christmas shopping. But seriously friends we need to get on this because Christmas is NOT that far away.
Being an Italian foodie myself, I thought to prepare a list of gifts for the Italian food lover to help some of you out (you’re welcome). Many of these products I have in my home and LOVE to use on a regular basis. I’ve also included some things that I don’t have yet but are certainly on my Babbo Natale list. The great thing about all of these gifts is that you can find them on Amazon, which means no hassle, no waiting in long lines and no fighting the crazy Christmas shopping crowd. Plus they deliver super fast so even if you’re a last minute shopper, there’s still hope with Amazon! Seriously amici, its not worth it. STAY IN YOUR PAJAMAS, eat an extra cookie (or two) and let Amazon work its Santa magic.
BOOKS FOR THE ITALIAN FOOD LOVER
- Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan – If Julia Child is the goddess of french cuisine in America, then Marcella Hazan must be the goddess of Italian cuisine. This book is essentially a must-have manual for anyone looking to practice the basic of italian cooking. It has step-by-step recipes with loads of tips and advice from Marcella herself.
- How Italian Food Conquered the World by John F. Mariani – This book has been on my shelf for a long time, mainly because the I always refer back to it when I’m looking for some information on the origins of Italian food in America. It’s a delightful mix of fun historical tid-bits and recipes about many internationally known Italian dishes.
- Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well by Pellegrino Artusi – For me this is the Bible of italian cooking, as its one of the first written accounts of traditioanl Italian recipes from varying regions. First published in 1891, Artusi’s goal was to provide a comprehensive manual on Italian dishes and how to “eat well” – an important aspect both now and then to the Italian diet. It’s an interesting book to have on your shelf as a reference, particualrly because so many recipes are quite similar to the Italian recipes today.
- The Wedding Officer: A Novel by Anthony Capella – I love this novel, not only for the story itself which is a mix of historical ficition and romance, but also for the many mouth-watering dishes described throughout. The story is based on a British military officer assigned to work in Naples during WWII. His assignment is to discourage marraiges between British army men and the tempting women in Naples However, when he meets a Lidia, a Neopolitan woman and amazing cook, he find himself in trouble, seduced not only by her beauty, but also her delicious dishes.
- Mastering Pasta: The Art and Practice of Handmade Pasta, Gnocchi, and Risotto by Marc Vetri – I still haven’t quite mastered the technique of making pasta by hand, but I know this book will come in handy when I’m ready to take on the challenge. It’s got all sorts of explanations and photos to guide you through the process.
- Gastronomy of Italy by Anna Del Conte – A more modern day account of the cuisine of Italy. This is a great reference for anyone looking to learn about Italian cuisine in depth. It contains a list and explanation of almost every single dish in Italy, even the most obscure ones.
FOR THE ITALIAN CHEF
- Pasta Machine – For anyone trying to learn a how to make handmade pasta, this useful machine is a life-saver. Believe me, I’ve tried to roll out pasta with a rolling pin before and it took a REALLY long time to get it to the right thinness. This pasta machine is great because you can adjust the thickness and also change the cutting attachment depending on the type of pasta you want. Also, it’s not that big and easily attaches to your kitchen table or countertop without taking up too much space.
- Corkcicle Wine Chiller – Andrea and I use this wine chiller ALL THE TIME, especially during the warmer months when we want to eat outside and keep our wine cold. It’s great because it’s really small so it doesn’t take up any extra table space and you can just store it in your freezer and take it out when you need it. I find that it usually keeps the wine cold for about 1 hour on a really hot day, and 2 hours when it’s sitting at room temperature. Works well for big bottles of beer too!
- Stainless Steel Food Mill – I know most people don’t use a food mill anymore, but if you want to make quality tomato sauce from fresh tomatoes, the best way to do it is with a food mill. It removes the seeds and skins from the tomatoes which can make the sauce bitter and gritty.
- Italy Teatowel – ADORABLE tea towel to add a little Italy love your kitchen.
- Gnocchi Board – This nifty little tool will help you make those create the lines in your gnocchi pasta (which, by the way, are ten times better when they’re homemade). Believe it or not, those little lines on pasta actually have a purpose: they soak up all the sauce, giving it space to seep into. Without lines on your gnocchi, they just kind of slip around in the sauce and then end up sauceless on your fork. If you want better tasting gnocchi, get this gnocchi board and make those lines!
- Marble Mortar and Pestle – Love pesto? You might think using a food processor is the best way to grind up all that basil but ask any Genoese and they will tell you that the secret is in the mortar and pestle. This ancient cooking tool gives a distinct texture to pesto sauce that can only be made by crushing the ingredients by hand. It also comes in handy if you just need to grind up a few ingredients quickly and don’t want to go through the hassle of dirtying the food processor (i.e. crushing nuts or mint and sugar for a mojito). Plus, it’s just as decorative as it is functional.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Antico Frantoio Muraglia – I recently read about this olive oil producer in La Cucina Italiana magazine and loved their authenticity and story. A family owned business based in Puglia, Antico Fantoio Muraglia makes top quality olive oil made from 100% Italian olives (many other olive oils mix in olives grown in other places in Europe). This particular olive oil is cold pressed giving it a cleaner, more intense and pure flavor.
FOR THE ITALIAN COFFEE LOVER
- Bialetti Espresso Maker – I’ve had a Bialetti espresso pot ever since I moved to Italy. I even had to buy one for my mom’s house in the U.S. so that when I go home and I can continue to enjoy my espresso. This little pot is an essential item to many Italian homes and given the low price, it makes a pretty decent cup of espresso!
- Nespresso Espresso Maker – Last year my boyfriend got one of these for Christmas and we have used it almost every day since. While we still use the Bialetti espresso pot to make a slightly longer coffee in the morning, the Nespresso Machine is our go-to after lunch time when we’re looking to make a quick espresso before going back to work. While I recommend using the Nespresso capsules (which come in many different flavors), there are also many discount compatible capsule brands out there.
- Espresso Cups – Obviosuly if you’re going to drink espresso it’s pretty silly to do so in a giant American coffee cup. It just seems wrong. I bought these espresso cups for my Dad last year for Christmas and he loves them. They’re simple but durable and go great with every kitchen set.
- Milk Frothing Pitcher Milk AND
- Electric Milk Frother – Cappuccino calling you? If you’re like me and don’t like to leave your house until AFTER you’ve had your coffee, then these two tools will help satisfy your cappuccino craving. After you’ve made your espresso, just heat up some milk in the milk frothing pitcher. Once the milk is hot (but not boiling) and use the electice milk frother to give it some foam. Pour over your espresso (if you’re feeling fancy you can make a design) and voila! Cappuccino at home.
- Espresso Tea Towel – A whimsical textile to keep near your coffee bar area. It explains the different types of Italian coffee you can make (espresso, americano, cappuccino, latte) so you can study up while waiting for your coffee to brew!
Happy shopping my friends!
*This post contains affiliate links. In other words, if make a purchase through one of these links, I make an eensy weensy profit. I only recommend products that I personally use and/or love.