Spaghetti with bottarga, the must-order at La Ciccia.
Am I alone in the fact that the holidays make me want? Yes, of course, I want to give to others, but I’m talking about something more selfish. After sifting through a million present ideas for friends and family and being deluged with publicists’ pitching me holiday gift lists, I find myself making a mental list (and checking it twice) of things that I’d like to receive. Of course, I do want for things not food (jewelry from Esquelto or Love & Luxe, facials from Caroline at Stork’s Skin Therapy, a massage from ass-kicking Yoyo at the Korean spa Imperial Day), but I always want something to eat, cook from, or cook with. So, in the spirit of wanting, here are some ideas for you to give or to keep for yourself.
Rulli Bakery Panettone ($36)
Every year Rulli drops off one of their panettones for pre-holiday sampling and every year I’m tempted to horde it all for myself. On their website, you can see a video about the making of this traditional sweet yeast bread, which is apparently named after some guy named Tony (I’m not kidding). Rulli makes theirs with a starter brought over from Italy 30 years ago, so maybe it’s not the tons of egg yolks and butter and sugar. Maybe it’s not the chocolate or the citron. Maybe it’s so good because you’re getting a bite of Italy, circa the 1980s, right around when "Like a Prayer" came out and Madonna dedicated it to the Pope. Order yours now. They ship or you can pick it up at their SF locations such as Ristobar.
2010 Occhipinti IGT Il Frappato ($37)
I know a lot about food, but a sad pittance about wine. When it comes to wine, I just know what I like once the glass is set in front of me. But something clicked when I first had this great Sicilian wine at Italian restaurant Oenotri in Napa—enough that I looked up the wine when I got home and felt like I had clearly connected on some female level with Arianna, the cool, young woman who makes it. Apparently, I'm not the only member of her fan club. Since then, I order it whenever I see it on a wine list (A16, for example) and wouldn’t mind having a case of it around the house one bit. You can find a good selection of her wines at the San Francisco Wine Trading Company.
Biscuits from Big Bottom Market ($8/nine biscuits)
I also wouldn’t mind starting off the day with a bunch of these Big Bottom Market biscuits from Guerneville. Made from a sticky dough of butter and cream, they’re crumbly and rich and moist (a word I loathe to use, but it must be used here) and just begging to be warmed in the oven and slathered in more butter and honey. Or more dangerous—smothered in gravy. Luckily you don’t have to drive to Guerneville to get them. They’re sold frozen at Bi-Rite.
California Olive Ranch Limited Reserve Olive Oil ($18/500 ml)
In a world swimming in olive oil, it’s tempting to go for the most expensive choice just because it seems to promise quality. But California Olive Ranch has been making olive oils beloved by chefs for their fair prices and good quality too (Alice Waters in included in this). The Limited Reserve oil is fresh off the press and $18, it’s practically cheap enough to be a stocking stuffer.
Dumplings from Kingdom of Dumplings ($6 for 22)
This spot is one of my family’s go-to’s that we find ourselves rarely going to because it’s far away from home, out in the Outer Sunset. Though Kingdom has a funky little restaurant on Taraval, they also have a dumpling store on Noreiga where they sell all their handmade dumplings frozen and ready to make at home. In an ideal world, I’d like someone to set up a regular delivery for me of frozen dumplings from the store, plus the excellent, orange-colored chile sauce that they serve at the restaurant. (Though I don’t think they sell the sauce, someone that really loved me would just go in there with an empty jar and beg them to fill it up.)