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Gifting for Your Foodies

Unique Gifts for Those with Discriminating Taste

If you have friends or family who claim to be foodies, chances are they are always hip to new restaurant openings and have extremely discriminating tastes when it comes to dining and cooking. The good news is San Francisco is a town full of foodie resources for hunting down that perfect gift for your gourmand.

Take the simple gift of chocolates. A box of chocolates is so much more when they're from Recchiuti Confections. This house of artisan hand-crafted chocolates creates beautiful morsels of art that are sublime to the taste. For the sophisticated chocolate lover, give the herb and tea-infused chocolates, nestled in the Green Box ($20), or the Fleur de Sel Caramels ($20), a complex tease to the palate from French sea salt enhanced caramels.

Home chefs who always seem to keep their kitchens well-stocked always have room for interesting additions to the pantry. I personally live by family-owned Eatwell Farm's Lavender Salt ($5). They can be sprinkled on tomatoes or used as a seasoning for meats (especially chicken and lamb). Other great gift ideas from Eatwell Farm include Rosemary Salt, and Pure Lavender Honey.

Food lovers love food literature. Your foodie most probably subscribes to some if not all of the food magazines -- Bon Appetit, Gourmet, Saveur, Food and Wine. Sure you can always renew their subscription, however, new cookbooks and food memoirs are always springing up on bookstore shelves. The latest and most hyped one is Bouchon ($50) by Thomas Keller of the famed French Laundry (and media-frenzied Per Se in New York). It is a presentation of bistro cooking at its finest, with gorgeous frame-worthy photographs to boot. After the unwrapping, make sure to suggest some recipes to try on you, such as the Stuffed Quail with dandelion greens, followed by profiteroles with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce! For the armchair gourmets who prefer to enjoy the results rather than stand at the stove, Fork It Over by Alan Richman is a promising read. The collection of short stores is a humorous regaling of Richman's culinary adventures that include eating the most expensive sushi in Los Angeles, and a failed candle-lit dinner with Sharon Stone.

Finally, the gift of cooking classes will bring sheer joy to the hands-on gourmets. And the wealth of cooking classes in the Bay Area makes the gift of educating simple and personal. Tante Marie's Cooking School offers one-day workshops with hands-on experience ($150) in fun areas, such as The Art of Sunday Breakfast. The California Culinary Academy offers the Weekend at the Academy program with an abundance of classes from which to choose, also all hands-on. The essential series includes knife skills, baking skills, and classic sauces. Courses in regional cuisine include Brazilian, Cajun & Creole, and Moroccan. Classes are offered either individually ($175) or can be taken in a series ($625 for five classes).

These ideas should get you in the right direction to making the gourmet amongst your friends and family merry. I'm certainly hoping my loved ones are reading this!