Gift ideas for Vancouver cooks and food lovers

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When in doubt, choose savoury over sweet. December is so full of cookies and candy that edible gifts that aren’t sugar-packed stand out—think good-quality olive oil or a nice, fat artisan salami.

Goodies aside, here are 10 gift ideas for the cooks in your life. The first one just might pay dividends for your own pantry next year…

Sauerkraut fermentation kit
If you know someone who’s into DIY food projects, Homesteader’s Emporium is the place to shop. The store stocks the tools and supplies for things like preserving, sausage-making, sprouting, and fermenting. Intro kits for beginners make good gifts; for example, the sauerkraut fermentation kit includes a quart-sized Mason jar with a special lid and airlock, instructions on sauerkraut-making, and enough salt and spices for two batches. Gift certificates for workshops are also available. ($20, Homesteader’s Emporium [649 East Hastings Street])

Atlas 150 Wellness Pasta Machine
Vroom vroom! The Italians know how to make sexy machinery, and this pasta maker will rev any passionate cook’s engine. It comes in eight colours, including a gorgeous cerulean blue, and makes four types of pasta: lasagna, fettuccine, tagliatelle, and spaghetti. ($129.99, Gourmet Warehouse [1340 East Hastings Street])

The Truck Food Cookbook
Street-food fanatics who don’t have the opportunity to visit carts in other cities can now reproduce the dishes in their own kitchens. This book by John T. Edge has 150 recipes from street vendors across America, including the chickpea fries from Portland’s Garden State stall, the East L.A. Tacos from Kogi in Los Angeles, and cheesesteak sandwiches from MikeyD’s Grill in Philadelphia. Tons of photos and lively writing on city-specific culture and condiments make it a fun read. ($22.95, Workman)

Le Creuset cast-iron skillet
Good cooks know that it’s worth investing in high-quality cookware, and most know the value of the Le Creuset name. These cast-iron pans (23 to 30 centimetres in diameter) distribute heat evenly, and unlike nonstick pans, they can go from stovetop to oven to sear and finish meats and frittatas. Plus, their colourful enamel finish makes them oh-so-cheery to use. ($150 to $195 minus 25 percent until December 24, Ming Wo [various locations])

Pear-shaped salt dish
A nice saltcellar is an everyday pleasure at the table. This pear-shaped version, made from acacia wood, is simple yet elegant and comes in two sizes. ($6.50 and $14, Chapters and Indigo [various locations])

Jerusalem: A Cookbook
Jerusalem is a complicated place, and so is its food—in the most wonderful sense. Authors Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi grew up at the same time on opposite sides of the city—Tamimi on the Arab east side and Ottolenghi in the Jewish west—not knowing one another. They subsequently became friends in London, and their dual culinary perspectives paint a rich picture of their hometown’s cuisine. Gorgeous photos and manageable recipes encourage you to head to the kitchen. ($39.95, Appetite by Random House)

Emile Henry Flame pizza stone
Making your own pizza is easy, and once you start there’s no going back. Anyone who does so will appreciate this stone for making a good thing even better by facilitating a crispy crust. The bright-red version makes a pretty gift. ($34.99 until December 24, Ming Wo [various locations])

Asian Tofu
Andrea Nguyen’s latest book is perfect for those who want to take tofu beyond stir-fries to a more sophisticated level. The book demystifies the various forms at Asian markets—from tofu noodles to fresh tofu-skin packets to dried tofu sticks—and gives recipes inspired by traditional Asian cuisines. It even includes a tutorial on how to make tofu from scratch, as well as byproducts like soymilk lees, which are loaded with fibre. ($34, Ten Speed Press)

Dirty Apron Gift Boxes
This cooking school and deli offers a range of gift boxes, from simple to extravagant. For example, the Chambar spice box ($37) includes six 33-gram jars of spices used at the restaurant, such as coriander seed, turmeric, and za’atar. The Dude ($100) features a Stanley flask, Chambar ale, Oyama salami, Mediterranean pickles, and more. ($29 to $275, 540 Beatty Street or order online at deli.dirtyapron.com/)

Mauviel M’heritage 150 series copper saucepans
Ask any food lover to draw a picture of his or her kitchen after a lottery win and it will probably include a set of shiny copper pots. Give one to give a piece of that fantasy. These French saucepans range from 0.9 to 3.6 quarts and are stainless steel with a copper exterior. ($178.40 to $364 each until December 24, Cookworks [1548 West Broadway and 377 Howe Street])

Follow Carolyn Ali on Twitter at twitter.com/carolynali

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George Pollock
The Market Kitchen on Granville Island has the best products, selection and prices. Plus it is right across from the market. Check it out.
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