Gifts for your favorite foodies

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving….and that means Black Friday follows, with the stress and frenzy of finding just the right gift for those on your gift list. Remember, Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights is early, with the first candle being lit on Dec. 2, so time is short for those on your Hanukkah list.

Each year, I look forward to helping you find the perfect kitchen gadget, food product and cookbooks for foodie friends and relatives, and perhaps yourself. I know these suggestions will fit the bill. Throughout the year, I attend food-related trade shows and events, returning with lots of ideas of what to include here. It is difficult to choose what to suggest.

Best wishes to you this holiday season and let the shopping begin. As in past years, to make it easy for “one stop shopping,” I have asked WAVE, 1046 Chapel St, New Haven 203-782-6212 to carry some of these gifts.

Stay tuned for my cookbook recommendation column for those on your gift list…you’re bound to find one you will want to add to your own shelf.

I have been using Butterie, for almost a year. I met Butterie’s inventor and company founder, Joelle Mertzel, at a trade show. She said, “I learned a few years ago that butter does not need to be kept in the refrigerator; that butter can be stored on the kitchen counter for several weeks without spoiling. Having soft butter always available is such a pleasure, there is nothing more frustrating than ripping your toast while trying to use a cold, hard, stick of butter. Yet it amazes me that scores of products, from butter bells to butter graters, have been designed over the years to make butter easier to spread, when the answer was so simple: just keep your butter on the counter.” Available in eight colors, it is dishwasher safe, shatterproof, holds two sticks of butter and includes a matching spreader. Once you use Butterie, you will wonder how you ever lived without it. It is available at Bed Bath & Beyond stores or online at

“Booze Cubes” are made with the recycled cores from production of the Stone Beverage Dispenser, a Funky Rock Design product I wrote about in a past gift column. Freeze for 3 hours, add 2 cubes to your glass and pour over your favorite spirits or soft drinks. Using these stones instead of traditional ice cubes won’t dilute your beverage. They are handmade in Eliot, Maine, from Natural ocean and river stones and locally sourced granite. These cubes bring a little bit of nature indoors in a unique form of functional art. More at

I had to try the RapidSlicer to believe it. It will be the recipient’s (or your) favorite kitchen gadget. It was invented when Cindy Fox had it with slicing tiny, roll-y cherry tomatoes one by one for a salad. So her husband Rob began tinkering to make his own kitchen slicer that did the job faster and easier. Rapid Slicer is the result of Cindy’s frustration and Rob’s ingenuity. The made in the USA tool lends a hand when you’re slicing tricky foods—like grapes, cherry tomatoes, olives, and Brussels sprouts. It can even help with chicken breast and shrimp.

Non-slip feet give the base better grip, and the lid holds foods firmly in place so you can neatly slice through everything in one pass. Makes a great stocking stuffer. More at

Another stocking stuffer for the cooks on your list and will be appreciated is the Odor STEELer. They rub their hands with this stainless steel “soap” and it will be like they never touched fish, onions or garlic. A new feature to a product that has been around for years is the bristled silicone sleeve that can be used to clean up with sudsy soap after use, or used to clean vegetables. More at

The Cuisinart Air Fryer Toaster Oven is a workhorse in my kitchen. The full-size toaster oven additionally serves as an oven, convection oven, broiler and an air fryer. The latter function is a healthier way to prepare “fried” favorites like French fries, shrimp and wings…..all without the messy cleanup and those extra calories. Many times, I don’t need to light the regular oven. It does a great job baking cookies and small cakes. And for pizza lovers, there is an 11-inch pizza stone sold separately. Once this appliance is used they will wonder how they lived without it.

Cold brew coffee is the craze and can be costly in the coffee shops. Cuisinart’s Automatic Cold Brew Coffeemaker will be a welcomed gift for cold brew fanatics. The coffeemaker saturates coffee grounds in cool water, never exposing them to the high temperatures that release oils, creating an acidic taste. Being sensitive to acidic coffee, I can attest to the difference in cold brews. Three flavor strength options allows the choice of flavor strength. Coffee can be refrigerated in the 7-cup carafe for up to two weeks.

Celebrate Connecticut (or any other state) with a Fish Kiss plate or platter. Anne Klein creates the state-centric scenes on platters. Made with ThermoSāf® polymer. this durable material is microwave-safe and BPA and melamine-free. The print is also available on tea towels, perfect for kitchen or bathroom. Her whimsical illustrations have a quirky, retro vibe that sweetly capture a state’s highlights, like its birds and flag, tourist attractions and historical landmarks. Design is also available on prints, greeting cards, baby blanket, one-piece jumpsuit and hat. More at

Selected as one of Oprah’s Favorite Things, The Spice Lab’s Tequila Salt Shooters have an insert that keeps the tequila from getting too salty. Holding 1.5 ounces, these 3- inch shot glasses have the finely veined look of marble or rose quartz and actually are carved from the finest quality, food grade Himalayan pink salt. Salt is a long-lasting, naturally anti-bacterial mineral so these glasses require just a little care to become a favorite party starter for years to come. More at

The Spice Lab has created four Seasoning Collections featuring some of their most popular premium spice blends. Each set includes a themed selection of four seasonings in shaker jars packaged in a gift box. These careful-crafted seasonings are all natural, kosher and most are gluten-free. These Seasoning Collections are ideal gifts for your favorite foodie, make great hostess presents; and don’t forget to treat yourself to add flavor and flair to your holiday cooking. One of my favorites from the Taste of America Collection is Everything+More; all the popular bagel toppings with pepper flakes for heat. The possibilities are endless with this toasty topping. Slather crackers, toast, or celery sticks with cream cheese and top with the blend. Or, sprinkle halved hard-boiled eggs or buttered popcorn or roasted vegetables.

Who doesn’t love delicious and unique treats for the holidays? River Street Sweets, a family owned and operated company in Savannah, GA for over 45 years is the world famous maker of Southern pralines and confections that have been shipped all over the world.  I remember those pralines when I visited the shop several years ago. After savoring the confection, I knew why their pralines generate millions of dollars in annual sales and making them the leading supplier of pralines. The Sweet Treat Assortment contains some of River Street Sweets favorite goodies: their World Famous Pralines®, Milk Chocolate Bear Claws®, Glazed Pecans, Praline Pecans, and Carmel Corn. This delicious package comes in a beautiful red gift box. The Southern Cake Trio (praline cake, Bear Claws® Cake and red velvet cake) offers a sweet taste of the South. Some of their items ship for free! 800-793-3876

Bear Paws are sturdy meat shredding claws that can turn the recipient or you into a culinary Edward Scissorhands. Made in the USA, the claws easily shred pulled pork, chicken, or other food you want to tear up. To do such a sensational job shredding, the Bear Paw prongs are super sharp. I find them useful for lifting roasts or turkeys, or to add stability while carving and slicing. The ergonomic shape contours to your grip. Another great stocking stuffer. More at

The recipient of Nest™ Lock Multi-Size Containers will thank you for helping them to be organized in their kitchen. The problem with most storage containers, (mine included), is that they take up precious cabinet space when not in use and usually require lids and bases to be stored separately, which make finding and pairing them a hassle. This is solved though with the stacking design of as the container bases nest neatly inside each other and lids clip together. The covers and bases are color-coded, making it easy to match lids with bases. I think you might be purchasing a set for yourself too. More at

Three health conscious brothers invented Pressa Bottle after they realized that fruit naturally doesn’t want to release juice when you put a few slices in a water bottle. They found out it did the opposite, absorbing water with very little, if any fruit flavor in the water. They began to imagine how beneficial and satisfying it would be to press that flavor filled fruit and tap into it. They created a water bottle to flavor water naturally. Just add a couple pieces of your favorite fruit, twist the dial on top of the bottle and press real flavor into your water bottle. Bottle available in glass or plastic. More at

Paella is growing in popularity on restaurant menus. The CarmencitaPaella Kit, made in Spain takes the fear of making paella at home. The kit includes a paella pan, extra virgin olive oil, fish broth, rice and spices. You just need your favorite shellfish fish or chicken. Watch how easy it is to make. More at

Fred & Friends are always coming up with whimsical gifts. Fill up Fred’s SOUP BONE with fresh herbs and whole spices and drop in your soup pot. It delivers flavor as well as laughs. For the children on your list, The Dinner Winner tray provides eat-as-you-go action winding them through an adventure. A special covered “surprise” awaits at the finish line so even fussy eaters will clean their plate. It is available in five styles: Dino Time, Supper Hero, Enchanted Forest, Pirate; Retro, and Original.

What chef would you like me to interview? Which restaurant recipes or other recipes would you like to have? Which food products do you have difficulty finding? Do you have cooking questions? Send them to me: Stephen Fries, professor and coordinator of the Hospitality Management Programs at Gateway Community College, at or Dept. FC, Gateway Community College, 20 Church St., New Haven, 06510. Include your full name, address and phone number. (Due to volume, I might not be able to publish every request. For more, go to