I have a wicked sweet tooth and I was so excited to be part of the legendary fifth generation pastry maestro Eric Kayser’s recent blogger holiday preview. I consider the ginger haired and affable Mr. Kayser the absolute king of bread in NYC and am lucky to live a stone’s throw from his upper east side store. His pastry designs are some of the most sophisticated in the world and each is like a work of art, but in the bread world, I feel that his stores have more varieties to offer than others and if you are nice, an employee will take a fresh loaf out of the back for you. You can tell that this Genius Of Baking has kept some of the successful bread and pastry business secrets of his forefathers. All the stores are welcoming and the feeling is leisurely. If you are going to a holiday dinner or tea, pick something up at an Eric Kayser store and watch your guests’ minds be blown!
In terms of food items to buy people for Christmas, my favorite stocking stuffers come from Loacker, an ages-old company in the Italian Alps that makes the best wafer cookies on the planet and is one of the best companies for creating anything with hazelnuts. Their chocolate bars are actually their bestsellers and you will know why because their chocolate is creamy and rich. You can find these products at Eataly and the more sophisticated markets that sell imported sweets. I love the fact that they have chocolates shaped like flowers from the Alps and that their bags of wafer cookies seem to stay fresh long after they are opened!
One of this season’s greatest gifts for any coffee lover is the iCoffee Machine, a machine that makes single cups. It creates the smoothest cup of coffee ever and comes with a reusable net filter so that you do not have to spend the money on K-Cups (you can buy any product that fits K-Cup machines if you want however). I find that this machine makes you use a lot less coffee so you will make back the 130 or 200 you spend to purchase it rather quickly. It’s the SpiNBrew system that makes the coffee so smooth and no other individual serving machine has it. These are a huge sellout in Bed Bath and Beyond stores everywhere. There are seven or eight different styles including the Opus which I personally use and I’m impress how the coffee comes out of the machine in only a minute!
For those who love to drink but hate the calories, the ultimate stocking stuffer is the individually portioned Maven Cocktails. They are colorfully bottled, love in sugar and taste delicious. Right now, you can get the Chardonnay and
Pinot Noir varieties anywhere wine is sold! If I was not clear, these are wine infused vodka cocktails that taste like a great glass of wine.
For kids and kids at heart, there are the whimsical Glowcicles which are tropical flavored freezer pops that come in many colors–but the best past about them is that you get matching glowsticks to insert at the side of the confection! You, of course, can save them and have fun long after the “icee” is gone. They are only 78 calories each, all natural, non GMO and you can get them with custom names and sayings on the packaging. I can’t think of anything more fun than a glowing party pop. For info on where to buy, go to gleowcicle.com.
Annie’s Caramels are super addictive for me, and they will be for anyone you buy them for. They are made the old-fashioned way and I admit that I have a strong preference for the salted and chocolate covered ones. I noticed some were on sale at hautelook.com as we went to press, along with my “fruit snack” choice for this holiday season, Mrs. Printable’s over the top chocolate covered apples. Honestly, if you put me on a deserted island with a year’s worth of products from both these companies, I would be a happy camper! I love New York a lot but being alone with just these sweet treats is enough to make me the happiest person in the world. Go to www.anniebs.com and www.mrsprindables.com for more info on both. The presentations are smashing as well. They come in gift boxes and there is no need to wrap. There are plenty of gifts that look very luxurious and are only priced at $35 bucks and under from each company.
Finally, Christmas and New Year’s both call for champagne–that is NOT news. I am a huge fan of Taittinger’s and recently tried their new runaway hit Taittinger Nocturne Sec in the stunning purple tile patterned bottle! It’s a bit sweeter than the average champagne and retails for about $64; i guarantee that the bottle alone (which you will want to save) will make your holiday evening memorable. This champagne has hints of both fresh and dried peaches and the scent of white flowers–trust me, it is a knockout!
HOLIDAY ’15 FOOD FRENZY: MY TOP PICKS!
I love root beer better than anything else to drink with the possibility of birch beer or sarsasparilla (which is very hard to find these days), so you can imagine how excited I was when I was given a Mr. Root Beer Kit to sample at Advance Public Relations recent holiday editors’ showcase at the New York Hilton in midtown. This kit makes two gallons of that old-fashioned creamy root beer that you cannot get anymore. It takes only 15 minutes to make the mixture and then pour it in bottles–you then refrigerate for three days. Nothing could be easier and it comes with reusable bottles that you can save. (Yes, you can buy refill packs of the mixture.) You can order this wonderful kit on staples.com for only $26 but it is offered for less if you compare prices on amazon.com. For more info on this and the company’s real beer making kits, go to www.mrbeer.com.
It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Babeth’s Feast–they have the highest quality of frozen food in the world (at least in my opinion) with classic French dishes as well as modern American cuisine. No place makes it easier to put on a fab dinner or cocktail party in a New York minute–they have appetizers, entrees, sauces, sides and more at great prices (usually $8 to $18 dollars). I was lucky enough to go to their Upper East Side store recently and check out their holiday goodies. They have wonderful three course complete holiday meals for only $20 a person with a choice of entree that includes tender grass fed lamb chops and Duck A L’Orange. I say that if you are going to go this route for the holidays, also pick up a package of canales (pictured on the right above) or chocolate souffles to end things with a bang! For more info or to order, go to www.babethsfeast.com.
No Christmas is complete in my family’s house without the inclusion of Divine Delights’ petit fours on our dessert table. There are many wonderful holiday shapes available this year including snow men and snowflakes. There are also the all time classic present-shaped petit fours….but the greatest thing about Divine Delights is the TASTE! These are handmade artisanal petit fours with fillings in every flavor (there is a guide sheet in each box shipped) but my favorites are any of them featuring wonderful homemade almond paste. Kids go crazy for these and you will find that they become a family tradition. Divine Delights also makes wonderful cookies and other treats. For more info, go to www.divinedelights.com and tell them Anne from LUXE LIFE NYC sent you!