If you’ve waited until now to buy your special somebody a gift for the holidays then you’re probably in a little bit of a jam. Just think, you have no idea what to get him or her, will need to contend with traffic and super cranky shoppers, and are probably a little stressed overall.
In order to provide you with a bit of stress relief, however, I’ve put together my list of top,
last minute, Italian themed gift ideas. It’s probably a little too late to secure some of the items, but you may want to keep them in mind for next year! Heck, you may even be able to find some of the items at a nearby shop!
I’ve personally tried every product recommended below and they all pass the rigorous Scordo testing procedures; that is to say, my incredibly snobby palate and overall refined taste ; – ) . All joking aside, the products below are tremendous in their unique categories and I highly recommend every item (as a stand alone purchase or maybe a few included in an Über, Italofile, gift package).
Caffeine Addict: For the Coffee Lover
Making good coffee requires a bit of an investment in terms of beans, equipment, and time. However, there are a few great products on the market that can help anyone make a great cup of coffee. For the espresso lover I recommend the 1. MyPressi Twist Portable Espresso maker. The unit retails for $169.00 and makes a fabulous shot of espresso. If you’re into standard coffee, but hate the watery cups that emanate from drip coffee makers try the elegant 2. 10 cup Chemex coffee maker or, for single use, the cheap and functional, 3. Aerobie AeroPress Coffee maker and/or Hario Slim Mill (burr grinder) which produces my favorite everyday coffee (outside of proper espresso found at fine cafes or bars).
Italian Staples: Olive Oil, Vinegar, Pasta, and Everyday Snacks
My favorite everyday extra virgin olive oil this past year is the 4. Gargiulo Sorrentolio Venus Organic (2009). The Gargiulo is great with warm bread, in salad dressings, and to finish pastas and soups; I like to refer to this oil as a great entry level extra virgin olive oil! If you’re looking for more complex extra virgin olive oils that will blow your mind in terms of flavor profile then have a look at following 5. brands all imported by Manicaretti. Finally, 6. click here for some great red wine and balsamic vinegars.
My two favorite pasta brands on the planet are 7. Rustichella and 8. Pastificio Vicidomini; both brands represent how pasta ought to taste and behave; by taste I mean notes of grain and subtle texture and by behave I mean how the condiment or sauce interacts with the pasta.
Tarallini are the potato chip of Italy. Specifically, tarallini are little bread snacks flavored with hot red pepper, fennel seed, garlic, etc. The best I’ve tried here in the US, and outside the homemade variety made at Italian specialty shops, is the 9. Aroma Antico brand (the fennel and hot red pepper are my two favorite flavors and are great with cheese, salame, wine, and/or beer.
Cured Pork Perfection: Salame
Salame has come a long way in the US and there are a ton of artisanal producers in the US making high quality salumi. Two of my favorite producers are 10. Creminelli based in Utah and the Columbus Artisan line produced in California. Other very good brands include Olli and La Quercia.
Cook and Think Like an Italian: Italian Cookbooks
There are both good and bad books on the market when it comes to Italian food. We’ve 11. reviewed some great books this year, however, and not only will you learn how to prepare authentic Italian dishes but you’ll learn about Italian culture, history, and life.
If there’s nothing that interests you above, see our full list of Italian themed product reviews.