The Pittsburgh Foodie Gift Guide: 2014
Brazen Kitchen's annual list includes the perfect local presents for spirit enthusiasts, avid cooks and everyone in between.
Every year, I love to put together a wish list for Pittsburgh foodies. Some of them are classics; check out my list from last year and the year prior. Bandy Woodworks’ wine holder, Garbella Design’s aprons and tea towels and Pittsburgh Winery wines are among the gifts I keep on giving.
This year, I picked the brain of Lauren Urbschat, the curator behind Lily & Strum, a Pittsburgh company that helps you to remember important birthdays and anniversaries and recommends the perfect presents to give.
Together we came up with this list that every Pittsburgh foodie will LOVE. We include unique work from local artists that will complement beautiful food from local artisans and the food you cook with love.
The plates look like old Willow-pattern china but . . . look closely. Aliens are attacking! Giant robots! Flying monkeys! I love this series of whimsical plates made by Don Moyer. They are definite conversation starters.
Before you do anything, check out this amazing Made in Pittsburgh video about artist Reiko Yamamoto. I saw it and immediately wanted to get one of her pieces. The Shop in East Liberty carries some of Yamamoto’s pottery. I love the “Simple Spoons” and “Simple Scoop” — so beautifully and delicately organic.
As Urbschat says, “I actually first came across Stak Ceramics at The Shop [in East Liberty,] and they have won my heart over and over. My top foodie gift pick is the Kitchen Dock.” Just looking at this iPad dock makes me feel giddy — I always use my iPad for recipes, and this is the perfect way to prop it up in the kitchen.
Riverwood Trading products are handcrafted by an artist in Harmony, Pa. The beautiful wooden spoons are, as Urbschat says, “thoughtfully crafted, unbelievably smooth, every piece just begs to be touched.” I can’t agree more. The tasting spoon is a unique but useful kitchen item — essentially a two-ended spoon where you use one end to cook and one end to taste. Ta dah!
Something for the kiddies! Local artists Allison Glancey and Craig Seder make this screenprinted, recycled cotton lunch bag that is perfect for kids’ (and, well, adults’) lunches. The bag is washable, which is a magic word for parents of young children.
Beer and Spirits Enthusiasts
Can I stop talking about my favorite distillery in Pittsburgh (er, the world)? No. Because who else makes truly local and organic spirits that are perfectly crafted? No one. And Wigle never ceases to innovate — from what I saw when I visited their research lab last month, we need to prepare for the many interesting spirits that are still to come. This year, you must not miss the sampler kit. It’s the best way to initiate someone to the Wigle party. I also love the cocktail kits — which are great for home mixologists (especially beginners like me who prefer their cocktails crafted by an expert). Best part? You also can order online to have the goods delivered to anyone in the country, to show them one example of how cool Pittsburgh has become.
You decant wine so why not whiskey? This set, made by local artists Ryan and Amy Hamley, is a porcelain whiskey decanter and tumbler that is slip-cast from two separate handmade molds. Perfect present for your whiskey enthusiast!
Pittsburgh Dutch pint glass from WildCard ($10)
If you’ve never been to WildCard in Lawrenceville, you must hightail it over there this shopping season. It is, hands down, the best local gift shop in town. Among the many cool ’Burghy things the store has is this fun Pittsburgh Dutch Pint Glass. We have a craft-beer renaissance going on, and we need something to pour all those growlers into. This is it.
Urbschat couldn’t have put it better: “Who knew your favorite local brewery also made soap?! At just $7, this would make a great stocking stuffer for any diehard East End Brewing fan or regular old craft beer enthusiast.” It goes without saying that growlers of East End brews always are perfect presents. And just like Wigle, I don’t think I can like East End Brewing much more than I do — but I keep on finding more ways.
PHOTO BY LAURA PETRILLA
E2’s Sunday Sauce ($40)
Kate Romane puts it best: “Sunday sauce is a big, fat, family-style dinner designed to get people together to eat great food. It's just like eating at Grandma's house with lots of red sauce and lots of yelling! The last Sunday of each month, we get together, share a meal, some wine, eat some meatballs and generally have a great time.” The best $40 dinner you’ll ever have. Tickets are available through November 2015.
DINNER PHOTO BY JENNIFER BARON
The good news is that farm dinners have become de rigeur in our region. And Churchview’s series is the classic one. I wrote about one of them earlier this year. The farm announced the 2015 dinner series lineup this week (including a kick-ass vegetarian one by yours truly and chef Daniel Aguera on July 19) — and you can get the early-bird price until the end of the year. See the full lineup here.
The Ultimate Yinzer Foodie Gift
Sebak is My Homeboy shirt from Commonwealth Press ($15)
This requires absolutely no other words.