I always enjoy posting a holiday gift guide. I restarted the tradition last year after stopping for far too long. As in previous years, all of the items I’m sharing are things to get for loved ones (or yourself) that my darling wife S and I own ourselves and happily recommend.
Also, as in past years, I’ve chosen possible gifts that represent extreme ends of the cost spectrum, from cheap and cheerful to painfully expensive (but oh so worth it). So, without further ado, here are some wonderful things that I think would put a smile on any lifestyle loving gourmand this Christmas.
1. Vorwerk Thermomix TM31. Yes, this cool looking kitchen device is frightfully expensive, but given all the things it can do, might just be worth it. This thing chops, beats, mixes, emulsifies, mills, kneads, blends, cooks, stirs, and weighs. It’s pretty much the Swiss Army knife of kitchen machines and has a worldwide cult following made up of all kinds of foodies — from housewives to professional chefs. I recently got mine and love it. One you figure out how to best use it, it’s like having a well-trained sous chef in your kitchen. And it doesn’t talk back.
2. Dim Sum by Janice Wong. Singapore’s petite princess of pastry and winner of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants Award for Asia’s Best Pastry Chef surprised a lot of people when she recently released a book on Dim Sum. After all, she’s best known for ultra-Western, uber-modern, deconstructed dessert dishes. But this book is amazing, with clear step by step instructions to making beautiful dim sum. I particularly like that the chapters are broken down by kind of dough. Purchase this directly through Janice. Order here.
3. Lumio. Lumio is described as a “multi-functional lamp that unfolds from a book.” I discovered this project via Kickstarter and simply had to support it. It’s portable and beautiful. I use mine to shoot dishes in dim places.
4. Paddywax Candles. My son is obsessed with watermelon. It’s his favorite fruit. So when we spotted this hand-poured, artisanal, soy wax Watermelon Mint candle in Crate & Barrel, we simply had to have it. I also love the ceramic dipped vessel it comes in. A perfect cheap and cheerful gift.
5. Zillpa rope bowl. Aussie Clare Collyer handcrafts these beautiful rope bowls. She also makes gorgeous plant hangers and cool weekend market bags. Friends into artisanal and natural products will love these. In Singapore, you can get Zillpa products through Small and Able.
6. Breaking & Entering Bourbon. This lovely bourbon comes from St George Spirits, an artisan distillery in California. The thing is, they didn’t make the booze that goes into this bourbon. Instead, they combed through some of Kentucky’s best and most respected distilleries, purchasing several hundred barrels of the finest stuff they could find. Once they had the barrels back in their own back yard (so to speak), they then artfully blended this yummy, bright, spicy, not-too-sweet tipple. Perfect on its own or in an Old Fashioned, it’s the perfect gift for the Mad Man in your life. In Singapore, purchase through Proof & Company.
7. For him: New Balance M373 old school sneakers. Vintage cool. ‘Nuff said.
8. Ivan Ramen by Ivan Orkin. Probably the coolest cookbook to come out this year. Recipes and stories by the Jewish American ramen god of Tokyo, who inexplicably decided to move back to the USA this past year to open a branch of his cult ramen shop in NYC. The foreword by David Chang is also one of the best and funniest I have ever read. The perfect book for any foodie.
9. SLR Magic 35mm F1.4 MFT lens. If, like me, you or your loved one has switched to the Micro Four Thirds photography format, this very affordable (comparatively, I should say) and very bright lens is a must have. Nice heavy construction. Smooth focusing and aperture rings. It’s a tad long but it delivers great shots. Note, this is a manual focus lens.
10. Personalised calling cards and note cards. This is a bit of shameless promotion for my wife’s new business, Social Stationery. Using a restored antique letterpress, S creates beautiful bespoke stationery. She offers services using both typeset founts as well as custom designs which are molded onto a zinc plate and then printed. Really special stuff for old-fashioned types that still place value on hand-written notes.
11. St George Spirits Gin. So, while Breaking & Entering Bourbon isn’t exactly made on premises, St George’s gins are. There are three to try — Terroir Gin, Botanivore Gin and Dry Rye Gin. All are exceptional yet different. And each one makes for a very special G&T. The only problem I foresee is trying to choose which one to try first. Fortunately, St George makes a mini flight set, i.e. a box set with small 200ml bottles of each one. Perfect for your tipsy cocktail loving companion. Also available exclusively from Proof & Company.
12. Jabra Revo Wireless Headphones. I am a huge wireless headphones fan. I’m not an audiophile so I don’t spend hours worrying over minute audio distinctions that I am sure I wouldn’t be able to pick out on my best day. So, my criteria for a great pair of wireless headphones is comfort, battery life, then sound and style. These headphones are super comfortable, sound (to me at least) great and can get through a flight to Tokyo or Sydney on one charge.
13. For her: A dressy, super comfy pair of flats. We recommend the Roger Vivier Belle de Nuit Ballerina Flats. Classy and sleek, just like your honey bunny.
14. A pair of petite TWG Tea tea pots with silver and gold insulating covers. Perfect for that fussy couple with different tastes or for entertaining. Each can take 180ml of high quality tea.
15. Elephant Parade Artbox. Elephant Parade is a social enterprise with a unique combination of art, business and conservation. Life-sized and table top baby elephants are painted by famous celebrities and auctioned off to raise money. The Artbox is a way for you or your loved one to show some creativity while also giving back to a good cause.
16. Savour Chinatown by Annette Tan. This book was something my wife and I commissioned and helped publish. It’s written by veteran journalist Annette Tan and her partner, photographer Mervin Chua. And edited by another veteran food journo, Joyceline Tully. This beautifully designed book (I do admit I am biased here) tells the history of Singapore’s Chinatown through the food that has been prepared and sold there throughout its development. From early years to today’s hotshot chefs, this is a great way to learn history.
17. Hario Cold Water Dripper. My colleague Brandon reviewed this lovely cold brew coffee maker here last year. That same year, my sexy wife bought me one for Christmas, and I’ve been having an iced coffee almost every morning since then. I can’t recommend this enough. The perfect hot weather gift for your coffee loving loved one.