Food and Drink

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  • 1980s Retro Candy Gift Box


    Lemon Heads, Atomic Fireballs, Pixy Stix, Jolly Ranchers… how long has it been since you ate a piece of candy that turned your tongue completely green? This Retro Candy Gift Box brings the Quickie Mart to your doorstep. Just skip the soda when you break open your Pop Rocks. We all know what happened to Mikey.

    $24 at Amazon | Buy

    | Posted 20 Jul, 2005 in Food and Drink by Margaret Mason
  • Aphrodisiac of the Month Club


    Looking to spice things up? You could position a trampoline at the foot of the bed, install a pole near the closet, or bolt a trapeze to your bedroom ceiling. On second thought, try uncorking some champagne to accompany this month’s selection from the Aphrodisiac of the Month Club. A little less wild perhaps, but it greatly reduces the danger of anyone ending up in the emergency room with some uncomfortable explaining to do.

    $108 at Aphrodisiac of the Month | Buy

    (For three months.)

    | Posted 11 Jul, 2005 in Food and Drink by Margaret Mason
  • Flower Crystallization Kit


    Cupcakes look so much more dignified with boutonnieres. You can buy sugared flowers from this site for around $2 a pop, or you can learn to make them yourself with this handy kit. Includes directions, a sample crystallized flower, and everything you need to crystallize about 75 flowers.

    $24 at Candied Flowers | Buy

    | Posted 27 Jun, 2005 in Food and Drink by Margaret Mason
  • Love Nuts


    Love Nuts aren’t nearly so risqu’e as they sound, though they do come in a close second to sex.

    The lightly caramelized nuts are covered in silky milk chocolate, and then dusted with dark cocoa. They’re crunchy, creamy, a tiny bit salty, and more effective than Prozac. If have a touch of PMS, an irritable boss, or a tantrum-prone kid, these babies will pull you back from the edge.

    I like the cashews, but you can also get them in almond, hazelnut, pecan, and macadamia. At only ten bucks a bag, they make excellent, unique host gifts.

    $10 at Comparte's Chocolatier | Buy

    | Posted 13 Jun, 2005 in Food and Drink by Margaret Mason
  • Grandma’s Chicken Soup


    Have you ever been far away from a loved one who’s sick and wished you could do something to make them feel better? Now you can send them some homemade chicken soup. This one comes with or without matzah balls.

    $30 at Grandma | Buy

    (For half a gallon.)

    | Posted 02 Jun, 2005 in Food and Drink by Margaret Mason
  • BYO Lunchbag


    This grownup neoprene lunchbox holds a drink in one compartment, and food in the other. It insulates, and opens to form a placemat. Also, you can throw it in the washing machine without incident. Pretty cool digs for your PBJ.

    $12 at Amazon | Buy

    | Posted 13 May, 2005 in Food and Drink by Margaret Mason
  • Fruit Forward Wine Club


    Spend less, drink more. Who could disagree with the concept behind Fruit Forward, the wine club that offers small-winery selections and shipping for $10 a bottle? Each month, you get two reds, two whites, or one of each, shipped to your doorstep. The package even includes unpretentious tasting notes. Best of all, you can select the exact number of months you’d like to subscribe. Takes the guesswork out of buying on a budget. (via Budget Living)

    $20 at Fruit Forward | Buy

    (Per month)

    | Posted 09 May, 2005 in Food and Drink by Margaret Mason
  • Good Earth Teas


    Tuck a few Good Earth teabags in your purse and you’ll never have to submit to the indignity of Lipton again. Their original Sweet ‘N’ Spicy Blend, is like a chai without all the calories and prep work. It also makes a feisty, satisfying iced tea. Their Green Tea Blend includes lemon grass, which gives it a mild tang.

    $3 at Amazon | Buy

    | Posted 01 Apr, 2005 in Food and Drink by Margaret Mason
  • Girl Scout Cookies


    When I moved to a big city, it never occurred to me that I’d be sacrificing my Girl Scout cookies. The wee green ones don’t come to my door or stake out the grocery stores I frequent. My cupboards are cookie-free, and I’m starting to have withdrawal symptoms. The Girl Scouts don’t sell cookies online, but I did find a site where you can download a mail-order form and have Lemon Cremes delivered direct to your door. You have until the end of April to stuff your freezer with Peanut Butter Patties and Caramel deLites before the cookies disappear for another year. Stock up.

    $4 at Girl Scouts, Patriots' Trail Council | Buy

    | Posted 29 Mar, 2005 in Food and Drink by Margaret Mason
  • June Taylor Jams


    Heather can’t stop raving about June Taylor Jams. She mentions them whenever we see each other, and she sent me this note: “June Taylor has a booth on Saturday morning down at the farmers market where you can taste them all… Heaven in a spoon. I have three jars at home that you’re welcome to sample: Apricot, Pluot and Lavender and Rhubarb. All so good you might want to skip the toast and butter.” She’s right. So good, they make your tastebuds hurt.

    $11 at June Taylor Jams | Buy

    (Prices vary, $25 minimum.)

    | Posted 10 Mar, 2005 in Food and Drink by Margaret Mason
  • Xocolatl Hot Chocolate


    Delicious. Xocolatl (pronounced Choco-la’tl) emphasizes the “hot” part of hot chocolate. It’s based on a traditional Aztec drink that combines chocolate with a whomp of chilies and a little cinnamon. If you need a gallon of water to get through a tamale, don’t try this at home. But if you can appreciate a dessert with some kick, this cocoa is the spice of life.

    $9 at Dagoba | Buy

    (12 oz.)

    | Posted 01 Mar, 2005 in Food and Drink by Margaret Mason
  • Single Origin Varietal Chocolate Bars


    Guittard recently launched a line of origin-specific chocolate bars. They offer three 65 percent bittersweet varietals. The Sur del Lago comes from Venezuela, the Ambanja from Madagascar, and the Chucuri from Columbia. Each has it’s own unique and delicious flavor. Pick up a bottle of wine to match each region, and have some friends over for a tasting.

    $4 at Guittard | Buy

    (per 2 oz. bar)

    | Posted 17 Feb, 2005 in Food and Drink by Margaret Mason
  • Toasted Head Chardonnay


    I know it’s not particularly sophisticated, but I’m a sucker for a good wine label. Toasted Head wines have an adorable fire-breathing bear that’s smashing at a party. And, best of all, they’re relatively cheap and yummy. This chardonnay smells like apricots. It’s sweet, fruity, and bright. The name Toasted Head derives from the process of burning the barrel heads to give the wine a caramelized flavor. I don’t taste any caramel, but I can taste a bit of the oak. A great match for the chicken wings at your backyard BBQ.

    $10 at BevMo | Buy

    | Posted 10 Feb, 2005 in Food and Drink by Margaret Mason
  • Droste Cocoa


    Throw away the Nestle Quick. This unsweetened cocoa from Holland will make your toes curl. Whisk it into hot milk and sweeten with Bailey’s Irish Cream or Frangelico. If you can get your hands on some homemade marshmallows you might be able to ascend. It’s also amazing in baked goods.

    $10 at | Buy

    (About 9 oz.)

    | Posted 26 Jan, 2005 in Food and Drink by Margaret Mason
  • Spice Gift Boxes


    Penzey’s spice boxes make fantastic housewarming or wedding gifts. Prices and sizes vary. You can get a small package of four spices or go for broke with the Grand Spice gift crate that includes 19 spices. You can choose your spices based on the recipient’s cooking preferences: baking spices, Indian curries, grill and broil, spice, and several more.

    $34 at Penzey's Spices | Buy

    (For an eight-pack of spices.)

    | Posted 19 Jan, 2005 in Food and Drink by Margaret Mason
  • Tomales Bay Deluxe Collection


    Cowgirl Creamery makes some dreamy cheeses. I feel nothing but tenderness for their Mt. Tam Triple-Cream Brie. It’s rich, indulgent, and ever so friendly. Cowgirl Creamery offers all kinds of cheese clubs, but my favorite product is their sampler pack of three tasty cheeses, all made in the Tomales Bay region. You’ll get the Mt. Tam, a bum-fortifying triple-cream brie, Point Reyes Original Blue, and Matos St. George cheddar. With this in your picnic basket, don’t bother with sandwiches.

    $50 at Cowgirl Creamery | Buy

    | Posted 10 Jan, 2005 in Food and Drink by Margaret Mason
  • Mr. Beer Premium Edition Kit


    Instant beer, just add water. Well, actually you have to wait a week for the beer, but you can make up to twenty bottles every week. You get a brew keg, beer mix, a booster, a recipe book, and eight plastic amber quart bottles with screw caps. Once you use up the malts and hops that come with the kit, you can buy additional blends separately. If you’ve ever wanted to brew your own beer, this kit will let you check out the process without a huge investment.

    $40 at Target | Buy

    | Posted 13 Dec, 2004 in Food and Drink by Margaret Mason
  • Sofia Mini Blanc de Blanc


    Brilliant! I’m completely charmed by these flirty individual servings of bubbly. Ideal for celebration of personal triumphs. The design is entirely too persuasive. They come in a four-pack and have tiny telescoping straws attached to the sides. It’s the much giddier alternative to grabbing a six pack on your way to ladies night. Yes, you’re thinking, but does it taste like can? No. It’s actually quite good. I found it light, with a faint taste of green apples. If you like sparkling wines, you’ll enjoy this. I will say that when I tried sipping without the straw, I found the smell of the can a bit distracting. If you pour it into a glass, there’s no lingering aluminum scent. One can holds about two flutes’ worth. Finally, an inexpensive way to enjoy a glass of sparkling wine without ruining a whole bottle. I’m keeping a few in the fridge for Sunday-morning mimosas, but I expect to see the pink cans showing up for wedding toasts, bachelorettes, showers, beach picnics, and girls’ nights on the town. (Thanks, Amanda!)

    $15 at Rosso & Bianco | Buy

    | Posted 10 Dec, 2004 in Food and Drink by Margaret Mason
  • Republic of Tea’s Ginseng Peppermint


    I don’t usually like herbal teas, they tend to taste like a bunch of sticks floating in warm water. Glah. This ginseng peppermint tea, however, is tasty. It contains eleuthero (no idea), peppermint, cinnamon, licorice, and echinacea root. It’s minty, of course, and the licorice flavor isn’t discernable, but it leaves a sweet aftertaste in your mouth. If, like me, you’re bouncing off the walls from your five or six “nice cups of tea” a day, give this a try. It will mellow you right out.

    $9 at Republic of Tea | Buy

    | Posted 08 Dec, 2004 in Food and Drink by Margaret Mason
  • Breakfast Basket Gift Pack


    There’s something hilarious about a gift of meat, and Niman Ranch makes some seriously good meat. They’re known for their humane treatment of animals, feeding them all-natural food, and allowing them to mature, so there are no hormones in your food. Their Breakfast Basket Gift Pack includes award-winning applewood smoked bacon; two different breakfast sausages, thier original link and their maple link; two ham steaks; and 4 thinly sliced New York steaks. They have several other meat packages (if you will), I just especially like the idea of sending someone breakfast.

    $105 at Niman Ranch | Buy

    | Posted 03 Dec, 2004 in Food and Drink by Margaret Mason
  • Dean and DeLuca Sugar Collection


    Go all out for this year’s cookie-decorating party. These sugar crystals come in such brilliant, rich colors, you’ll want to eat them right out of the tin. (Don’t do that though, because then you’ll have colored-sugar mouth, and no one will want to use the sugar to decorate their cookies because they’ll know you licked the tins, which is totally gross.) A luxurious gift for bakers, or artists who need a good pallette for baking inspiration.

    $35 at Dean and DeLuca | Buy

    (Eight 7.2 oz tins.)

    | Posted 29 Nov, 2004 in Food and Drink by Margaret Mason
  • Molten Chocolate Cake Mix


    You may not know a bundt pan from a garden rake, but if you can add water and melted butter to a mix, you can make this knee-weakening dessert. It’s a bittersweet chocolate cake with warm melted fudge in the center. If your mouth isn’t watering, you don’t deserve any. In fifteen minutes you get a dessert that will impress the toughest mother-in-law. A sound gift for the baking impaired.

    $24 at Williams Sonoma | Buy

    (Makes about ten cupcake-sized cakes.)

    | Posted 24 Nov, 2004 in Food and Drink by Margaret Mason
  • Gingerbread House Kit


    Have you ever made a gingerbread house from scratch? Before you can get all Martha on the decorations, you have to put the thing together. You bake the walls, and then they crack into useless (albeit tasty) gingerbread shards. This 11”x19” gingerbread house arrives fully assembled, which means you skip the frustrating breakage, and go straight to the fun-filled gumdrop roof. The kit includes icing mix, coloring, and candy. Now all you have to do is pour yourself an eggnog and explore your artistic side.

    $25 at Stonewall Kitchen | Buy

    | Posted 18 Nov, 2004 in Food and Drink by Margaret Mason
  • Lindemans Framboise Lambic


    I don’t like beer. I’ve tried to like beer, really I have, but beer and I just aren’t friends. That means I end up drinking a lot of flat cider in bars where no one orders cider. On occasion, I’m thrilled to find a place that offers lambic, and Lindemans Framboise Lambic is my favorite. It’s a fruity, frothy, thirst-quenching yeast beverage. The Framboise is an ideal balance of sweet and tart, with a pleasant, mellow aftertaste. Like a complex, tipsy soda pop.

    $6 at Beverages and More | Buy

    (12 ounces)

    | Posted 11 Nov, 2004 in Food and Drink by Margaret Mason
  • Amarena Wild Cherries


    I tried these for the first time at a friend’s wedding. The groom was a bartender, and these were the cherries they used as drink garnishes. They are nothing like maraschino cherries. The texture is dense, and the cherries have a rich, fruity flavor. They’re preserved in thick syrup, and are fantastic as an ice cream or cheesecake topping. Or drop a single cherry into a fizzing glass of prosecco or your evening Manhattan. They’re incredibly hard to come by online (in fact the site I’m sending you to doesn’t even have a photo of the product), but you can pick them up at Italian grocers, and Beverages and More carries them on occasion. Such a treat.

    $15 at A Taste of Italy Foods | Buy

    (18 oz. jar)

    | Posted 08 Nov, 2004 in Food and Drink by Margaret Mason

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