Holiday Wish List Part I: Gourmet Ingredients

December 9, 2009

We may get funny looks from friends and loved ones when we put these specialty items on our holiday wish list, but we do it anyway. We do it because we believe that somehow, there’s always a better bite ahead. The following is a list of my top 10 favorite gourmet gifts for under $60.

  1. Dean and Deluca Pepper Collection
  2. Nothing says spice like a signature tin of assorted peppers from Dean & Deluca. For $55, you will receive about a year’s supply of white peppercorns, green peppercorns, tellicherry peppercorns, pink peppercorns, azechuan peppercorns, aleppo pepper, hot red pepper plakes, cayenne pepper and half-cracked black pepper. Visit Dean & to order.

  3. Columela Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  4. Made from the highest quality spanish olives, this premium EVOO is an excellent base for vinaigrettes and is also a superior finishing oil. Rated best olive oil by Cook’s Illustrated, America’s Test Kitchen and Consumer Reports, it is known for it’s strong olive taste and slightly fruity, medium-to-heavy texture. Find it at for $34.

  5. Benegas-Lynch Cabernet Franc 2005
  6. Wine shop owner, Chuck Warinner calls this wine “sex in a bottle.” Stephen Spurrier from Decanter magazine describes it as having “great presence and length, with a stony finish.” From vineyards over 100 years old, this wine is known for its profound ruby red color and scents of fresh mint and chocolate. Smooth in the mouth with mature fruits and velvety tannins, it leads to a long, cool finish. Buy it for $49 from Dilli Delli Wines & Gourmet in Mariemont.

  7. Wild Fennel Pollen
  8. Harvested from fennel flowers collected in the wilds of Umbria, Italy, this product is more subtle than standard fennel seeds. With touches of anise and curry, it creates a whole new flavor dimension sprinkled over fish, pork or vegetables. You can buy it for $18.99 at

  9. Chtoura Garden Grenadine Molasses
  10. Get a bottle of this Middle Eastern syrup to add zing to meat glazes, sauces, and soups. Also use it to make a topping for ice cream or mix it with soda water to make a tasty drink. Buy it from Dean’s Mediterranean Imports at Findlay Market for $3.50 a bottle.

  11. Fleur de Sel by Esprit du Sel
  12. This salt comes from the sea surrounding the island of Re on France’s Atlantic coast near La Rochelle. Get it for $13.99 from and use it as a final touch before you present a dish. It’ll help bring out the flavor of your food and it’s subtle texture will not disappoint.

  13. Demi Glace de Veau
  14. If you don’t have time to reduce home made stock for days at a time, consider this veal demi glace from Williams Sonoma. Made from natural ingredients, it is simmered for more than 20 hours until it achieves a rich taste and intense color. One scoop of this stuff adds amazing depth of flavor and complexity to any sauce. Buy it for $29 at

  15. 4 Leaf Private Stock Balsamic Vinegar of Modena
  16. This balsamic vinegar is manufactured by Acetum, Modena’s most trusted producer of balsamic vinegar. Acetum actually developed the “4 Leaf Quality Certification” system, which was officially adopted by the CTAB (Balsamic Vinegar Consortium) in 2002. Thick and syrupy, it is perfect drizzled over meat, greens and even icecream. Get it from igourmet for $49.99.

  17. Parmigiano Reggiano
  18. If I could only eat one cheese for the rest of my life, it would be this one. It’s a name-protected raw cow’s milk cheese and is aged for at least 18 months. Parmigiano has a crunchy, nutty, spicy, salty interior and a distinct caramel finish. To ensure authenticity, make sure that the rind has the words “Parmigiano Reggiano” stenciled around it. Get it for $19.99 per half pound at Murray’s Cheese in their first-ever location outside of New York City — Fresh Fare by Kroger.

  19. Bissinger’s Courvoisier Truffles
  20. These sophisticated truffles are smooth and intense, with hints of fine, aromatic cognac. They finish with the characteristic Courvoisier XO warmth and a lingering, distinctly chocolate notes. Buy an 18 piece set for $39.99 from Hyde Park Gourmet in Hyde Park Square.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Raphaela January 25, 2010 at 8:08 am

Having parmagiano reggiano cannot be substituted in any way, shape, or form. It is highly concentrated and some say a small amount goes a long way, but it is the only way. No substitutes. The stuff in the shaker containers are for those who think the Olive Garden is Italian food. It is, not quite sure, but what it is not is Italian. My family makes it in Campotosto, Italy, so I have my source.
You can also slice it paper thin for sandwiches and salads, grate it for soup, the list is endless. Plus it has medicinal qualities!


Courtney January 25, 2010 at 8:34 am

You are preaching gospel! You are Italian by blood and I am Italian at heart! Abandoned the green can and Olive Garden when I discovered true Italian food and can never go back. So envious of your source of the real stuff. I buy it at various places but always make sure it’s the real stuff — aged and stamped on the spine.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: