What to get the cook who has everything? Or the cook who lives in a small space? Not another gadget to clutter up the cupboard, surely. What about something edible? Something delicious? We've shared some edible treats in our budget-friendly roundup, but today we're hitting the splurges! Come along for some seriously spendy treats — and some others that are actually within reach. Some of these are just over-the-top eye poppers — a fun browse in anticipation of that day you win the lottery and can shell out for caviar. Others, though, are smaller splurges that while still expensive justify the spend. Spend a little bit extra on a specialty oil or vinegar and your gift recipient can enjoy it all year long — a little goes a long way.
• 1 Bone-In Jamón Ibérico Ham by Fermín ($599) with Deluxe Solid Hardwood Ham Holder - 'Salamanca' ($890) - La Tienda. Jamón Ibérico de Bellota, from free-range, acorn-fed pigs raised in Spain, is supposedly the finest ham in the world, with a price to match!
• 2 Russian Osetra Caviar - 8 oz - $919.99, iGourmet. The finest Russian sturgeon caviar has a clean, crisp taste, and even when bought in quantities to serve 12, has a steep price per serving!
• 3 Alba Truffles - Fresh Winter White Truffles from Italy - Large Size - 2 oz each - $732, Gourmet Food Store. It's the season for white winter truffles from Italy, and I have to admit that they are pretty extraordinary. Their scent is powerful and aromatic, and it infuses everything it comes into contact with. (There are less expensive ways to get white truffle goodness, though — read on to see...)
• 4 Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio-Emilia - Gold 100ml - $250.95, Formaggio Kitchen. The truly amazing balsamic vinegars of Emilia-Romagna have been aged for many years, developing flavor slowly and naturally (not through caramel coloring and sugar additions). This is a superb treat, but fortunately very good vinegars can still be had for much less.
• 5 1998 Krug "Clos du Mesnil" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne - $749, K&L Wine Merchants. Let's close this portfolio of high-end luxuries with the greatest one of all — a really good Champagne. Delicious.
All right. Now, on to the rest of us 99% folks! Here are a few splurges that, while more than you're going to usually spend on a single grocery item, can justify themselves with pure pleasure or long-lasting practicality.
• 6 White Truffle Butter from Savini Tartufi - $58, Market Hall Foods. Oh this stuff is just splendid. Splurgey, yes, but lasts a surprisingly long time. Great on pasta and eggs, and just about everything else. It's 80% butter, 20% fresh white truffle and a dash of salt.
• 7 Smoked Olive Oil - $26.95, Williams-Sonoma. I know I rave on and on about this stuff, but it's so worth the price for this slender little bottle. It's the thing for the cook who already has everything. A touch of it deepens salad dressings and does wondrous things to potatoes and pasta.
• 8 Duck Magret and Confit Combo - $124.99, D'Artagnan. This is actually quite a generous package of duck goodness, combining 6 portions of duck breast Magret (the "steak" of duck!) which makes a gorgeous holiday meal, with 6 pieces of duck leg confit. Cook one and gift the other, or split up the duck legs into little freezer packages for fellow cook friends who know the value of a good piece of confit!
• 9 Nielsen-Massey Vanillas 1 Quart Mexican Mexican Vanilla Extract - $40.55, Amazon. Give your favorite baker a serious yearlong treat with a whole quart of this vanilla. It's so good — spicy and rich.
• 10 Syrup Trio - $65, Dean & DeLuca. I love this trio of fig, ginger, and pine syrups, which are each unusual and long-lasting — a gift for a friend to play around and experiment with in her kitchen.
What are your favorite food gift splurges? Any big ones on your wishlist this year?
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