Last Minute Gift Guide for Foodies & Skincare Lovers

I love giving (and getting) culinary items and skincare as gifts. Making meals and entertaining more exciting… protecting the body’s largest organ from the dry winter weather… what more can you want? Here are a few great consumable gifts that will be used with pleasure, rather than contributing to clutter.

Famed for its premium fish sauce, Red Boat has worked on some intriguing collaborations as of late. Red Boat Caramels, made in conjunction with Pasadena’s Little Flower Candy Company, boast an umami note thanks to the inclusion of anchovy and sea salt. Made with simple, high-quality ingredients, these silky caramels are creamy and subtly flavored (and didn’t stick to the teeth, unlike many caramels). A ¼ pound bag is $9. Red Boat’s Salted Cashew Chocolate Bar, a collab with Valerie Confections, also contains a hint of anchovy, along with roasted cashews, and sea salt. This delectable bar costs $10.

Finding good cookware can be frustrating. Nonstick pans scratch easily and can release toxins. Stainless steel requires copious amounts of fat to keep food from sticking, while cast iron is heavy, tends to rust and isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing. Hexclad cookware is different. Triple ply, the pans sandwich aluminum between layers of stainless steel. Laser etching creates small hexagonal peaks that sear food beautifully. PFOA-free, it’s nonstick without using toxic chemicals and is both oven and dishwasher-safe. I’ve caramelized onions and cooked quesadillas and fish in my Hexclad wok and was blown away by the perfect sear every time. Though pricey, they’re guaranteed for a lifetime and are currently available at Costco.

Loaded with superfoods, the WASO skincare line merges nature with technology. A recent release from Japan’s Shiseido, the world’s oldest beauty company, WASO products are made with simple, pure ingredients, including honey, carrot, loquat, tofu, yuzu, and white jelly mushroom. Among its offerings: a Beauty Sleeping Mask, Clear Mega-Hydrating Cream, and the remarkable Color Smart Day Moisturizer, a tinted moisturizer that adapts to your skin color. Clear Mega-Hydrating Moisturizer helps achieve the “glass skin” effect currently trending in the beauty world. WASO is available at Sephora, as is Shiseido’s Modern Matte Powder Lipstick. Housed in elegantly giftable magnetic packaging, it feels light on the skin and boasts a case that is both durable and luxurious.

Woodford Reserve has been distilling great bourbon in Kentucky since 1812.  The winner of numerous awards, it’s hand-crafted, features more than 200 flavor notes, and is regarded by experts as both iconic and an affordable luxury. Find it in a one-liter Holiday Edition bottle, retailing for $45, while supplies last. Or go all-out with Woodford’s Masters’s Collection Chocolate Malted Rye. A premium 90-proof bourbon in which the rye malt has been roasted so that the natural sugars caramelize, creating notes of dark chocolate, cherries and toasted oak, it retails for $130. Both can be found at numerous outlets, including Costco.

Expect nothing less than high-quality, authentic Italian food and wine from Eataly. This Italian marketplace located in Century City offers artisanal products from Italy in a variety of gift baskets and boxes for the holidays. Baskets start at $79.99 and can include olive oil, candy from Amalfi, coffee beans, limoncello, chocolates, pasta and more. You’ll find baskets focusing on truffles in its many permutations, along with sweets, elevated entertaining and more.

One of the world’s finest, most in-demand coffee varietals, Ethiopian Gesha is renowned for its unique flavor profile. Caffe Luxxe is currently offering a special, limited supply of this vibrant, smooth premium coffee featuring notes of Canadian maple syrup and Concord grape. Housed in an elegant black glass container that filters out UV light and is priced at $42 for 4 oz., it’s a luxurious gift for the coffee lover in your life that can be found at Caffe Luxxe’s six Los Angeles-area locations or on its website.

Infused with licorice root for brightening and coffee seed extract (an antioxidant), the  Daily Cleanser from BX glow helps bring radiance and hydration to the skin, while the brand’s Exfoliator, fine-grained and rich in quality oils, sea kelp, and green tea, purifies and brightens the skin while being extremely gentle. BX glow products were created by Evelyn Lozada, a model, star of reality show ‘Basketball Wives’ and owner of a luminous complexion. Find them on Evelyn’s website and on Amazon.

Uniting spicy habanero peppers with the sweetness of pineapple and mango, along with garlic, lime and cilantro, makes for a potent mix from salsa aficionado George Lopez. Salsa Chingon’s Habanero Pineapple Mango is great with shrimp tacos, grilled fish or simply some tortilla chips.

Karin E. Baker

About Karin E. Baker

Karin E. Baker is a native Angeleno who loves the eateries, history, nature, architecture, and art of her hometown. When not exploring poke shacks in Kona, tascas in Córdoba, and konditoris in Malmö, she writes about food, culture, lifestyle and travel. She obsesses over comma usage and classic films and is always happy to find an excuse to open a bottle of champagne.
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