You love to eat; your beloved loves to cook. And it's lucky, too, because you don't know a China cap from a coolie hat and you've never seen a mandolin that didn't have strings. So, how are you supposed to shop for someone who's already got more gadgets than Bond, James Bond. I asked a few local foodies what topped their holiday wish lists. Their best suggestion was books. If you're not sure, give the cook a cookbook.
Tony Nethery, chef at Monte Vista Fire Station, told me all he really wanted was PlayStation 2. (I then had to remind him that my story was for the food section.) But he also desires Frank Stitt's Southern Table. "He's from Alabama," Nethery says of Stitt, "and he cooks French southern cuisine crossed with Southern American food." Monte Vista's chef is also hoping he'll unwrap Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook. "My other big wish is for a new Shun knife, made by Kershaw. They're Japanese knives, unbelievably good and reasonably priced." They're available at Cookworks in Santa Fe (505) 988-7676, or at www.altonbrown.com. Nethery also says he's into baskets filled with different cheeses, relishes, spices and herbs. Hell, he's easy to shop for!
Nancy Chavez-Berg, the owner of Nantucket Shoals fishmarket, says she would love to have a pair of Mikimoto pearl earrings, or better yet, a man with a big red ribbon around his ... (Again, I had to remind the interviewee about the food thing.) Brought back to the topic, Nancy suggested that an impoverished foodie might appreciate the gift of live lobster or a whole salmon. If fresh fish would be impractical, she recommends Simply Salmon by James Peterson, or Seafood Celebration by Sheryl London. "Those two I live by," she says.
Ray Trombino of Trombino's Bistro Italiano really wants new knives. "I've been over at Williams Sonoma, looking at them," he says, "and I'm giving hints that I'd like an entire set." Though he hasn't made a final decision, Trombino is leaning towards a wood-handled version of the plastic-handled Forschner knives he uses at the restaurant. Aside from cutlery, Trombino thinks all cooks would appreciate some really good olive oil, which they also carry at Williams-Sonoma (in Cottonwood Mall). The chef also shops at Now We're Cooking (Wyoming at Academy, near Whole Foods). "I just like to go in and look at all the pots and pans." Speaking of pots and pans, Trombino remembers his fondness for Le Creuset enameled iron cookware, also available at Now We're Cooking.
Claudie Zamet-Wilcox, the chef and owner of La Crêpe Michel, will be spending the holidays in France for the first time in 17 years. The trip is the chef's gift to her mother. But what does Zamet-Wilcox want for herself? She was totally unprepared for the question. "I never make a list," she says. But when she follows with "What's the point? I'm not going to get it anyway!," I can tell she's laughing, not bitter. Pressed further, she says she'd ask for caviar, which she loves so much she'd eat it straight out of the jar. Whole Foods sells one ounce of highly prized Russian Osetra caviar for $50, but more affordable options are available from American and Australian fish for less than $25.