I’m never sure if culinary gifts are a Christmas tradition, or if my parents secretly enjoy fueling my love of cooking. Regardless, most years I receive a dope assortment of gourmet food items and utensils. This year, Mary and Pete went above and beyond and totally hooked me up. I’m so excited about all my new toys that I wanted to share them with the world! My parents were crazy generous, and I can’t wait to start using all these around the kitchen.

Gourmet Gifts

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1. Chicago Cutlery Walnut Tradition 8″ Chef’s Knife

Growing up, my mother had a set of Chicago Cutlery walnut-handled steak knives we used with every meal. After a few years, the grips smoothed out and felt almost soft to the touch. They began to feel like home when in the palm of your hand. She used to rave about them being the greatest cutlery she ever bought, and her gifting them to me this year was a metaphorical passing of the torch. I already know I will have this knife for the next decade or more, and I can’t wait to put it into action.

2. Hammer Stahl Santoku Knife 5.5″

Woah is this knife cool. In direct contrast to the Chicago Cutlery chef’s knife, this Santoku knife seems more built for speed and versitility. One a broadsword, and the other a katana. The rivets in the blade prevent veggies from sticking to the blade and reduces weight. Less sentimental, but comes with a sweet box! This is a sexy cooking weapon.

3. Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc At Home Cookbook

I’ve become shamelessly enamored with gourmet food lately and it’s Thomas Keller’s fault. I had a phenomenal meal at his bistro Bouchon  while in Vegas on Christmas night, and may have slipped to my Dad late that I was obsessed with his cooking. Now this is my bible and I’m making up for lost time. Fortunately, this cookbook is all about bringing good cuisine into your home kitchen! Stay tuned for my review of my experience that night in The Venetian on the Vegas Strip.

4. 20 oz Stainless Steel Milk Frothing Pitcher

See number 8, the beast of an espresso maker. This turns espresso into cappuccino, in style.

5. Red Handled Utility Whisk

So last year my roommate and I got motivated one afternoon, probably from HGTV, and painted one of our kitchen walls red. Some called us misguided because we didn’t necessarily get permission from our landlord beforehand, but you would be surprised how much a little color accent can add style to a room! Regardless, red is our jam. This goes perfectly with the kitchen, and can you really have too many whisks?

6. Tuscan Kitchen Olive Oil Collection

At a young age, my mom made the horrible mistake of making me fall in love with good bread, dipped in olive oil, with salt & pepper. As a result, I go through EVOO dangerously quick. Variety pack with chill wooden holder? Yes please.

7. Moscow Mule Copper Mug

Now this one was my girlfriend knowing me too well. We will admit proudly that our favorite hobby is to go out and get a drink somewhere dark and full of hipsters. Everyone knows all the cool bars have copper mugs now for mules! I’ve been envious of them for a while, and I’m like a little kid now that I finally have one. If I could only get some nice vodka….

8. De’Longhi Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Maker

I’m freaking out a bit about this. I am a huge fan of coffee, and start every morning with a steaming french press. However, that was before I got this monster. Now I am making cappuccinos on the regs and can feel the caffeine in my veins. I feel like Wolverine, but instead of adamantium, there’s molten espresso being injected into my bones when I take a sip. Still working out the kinks and figuring out the best technique, but this is my new best friend.

9. William Sonoma Monogrammed Espresso Cup

My dad got my girlfriend Emma and I a pair of monogrammed espresso cups, and I could die they are so cute. She was visiting when I first fired the machine up. It was absolute bliss sitting in the morning at the kitchen table, sipping piping hot mud, and letting the sun pour in through the blinds.

10. Rufus Teague “Fixed Up This” Dry Meat Rub

My dad got me some of this a couple years back and it did not last long. I remember it being so smoky and tasting great on anything.  A full spice rack is a chef at peace.

11. Ken Hom 20cm Mini Wok

I have a confession to make, I have never owned a wok. My mom wasn’t super into Asian food when I was young, but lately I have been getting educated. When in New York visiting Emma, it is impossible to not end up in a cramped and delicious Thai, Japanese, Korean, or Chinese spot.

12. OXO Good Grips Jar Silicone Spatula

Was there ever a time that silicone utensils didn’t exist? I’m glad I never lived in those dark ages. People as crazy and obsessive as myself get off from the satisfaction received while wiping a mixing bowl clean of dough with this tool. This one feels great. Baking is my guilty pleasure on a boring afternoon, this will be used very soon.

13. 2009 Domaine de L’Echevin Cotes du Rhone Villages Saint-Maurice Guillaume de Rouville

My dad came out of left field and gave my girlfriend and I this superb bottle of wine. He has a personal cellar, and it was generous of him to part with one. I am a huge craft beer guy, but lately Emma has been turning me onto this more eloquent, refined beverage. I am completely joking, I’m a huge rookie. I do know it gets you drunk quicker though!

14. Allegheny Coffee – Dark Espresso Roast

If there is one thing I have a soft spot for, it’s local coffee. I take pride in my knowledge of brewing the stuff, and like to think I can tell the difference between beans. It’s always great to find a delightful roast from a hometown shop. Allegheny Coffee in the strip is a gem in an area with countless coffee shops and gourmet food stores. My family is constantly gifting me bags from them and I am always pleasantly surprised. A little nostalgic about my first espresso grounds coming from them!

15. Simon Pearce Norwich Collection Chalice

This is actually kind of hilarious. Simon Pearce is a glassblowing company that is known worldwide for their quality. Ironically, they chose to put a studio and retail outlet a few miles south of my family’s Bed & Breakfast in middle-of-nowhere Deep Creek Lake, MD. We are always telling our guests to head out there, where there is a observational catwalk over the working master glassblowers. My mom said she got suckered into buying this one day by the clerk while picking up a stack of brochures.

This was the year I realized my mom and dad are those classic American parents who love to make Christmas special for their kids. The holidays always feel special to me, and it’s because they worked so hard every December to make it a magical evening come the 25th. I am so thankful for my gifts, and even more excited that they are all helping my recent infatuation with gastronomy.