I have a Christmas Eve ritual that I indulge in every year. Once I’ve wrapped all the presents I pop the top off a bottle of sparkling wine, assemble some snacks, and slip Love Actually into the DVD player.  For the next 135 minutes I’m in a state of pure joy – laughing, crying, smiling, and singing along to one of the most uplifting soundtracks in recent history.

Mia and Harry, Love Actually, 2003

Mia and Harry, Love Actually, 2003

There’s another holiday ritual I take part in with my family that puts me in a less euphoric state of mind; something I like to call The Great Christmas Wish List Email Exchange. I put off writing mine like an appointment at the periodontist’s office.

When it comes to wish lists at Christmas, I share the sentiment of Love Actually’s resident home wrecker, Mia.

“I don’t want something I need. I want something I want – something pretty.” – Mia, Love Actually

To make matters worse, I want something I want but I don’t actually know what I want until that precise moment when I peel back the wrapping paper and gasp with delight.  How can I make a list of my heart’s desires when I have no idea what my heart desires?

Do you have a hard-to-buy-for (but loveable) foodie on your shopping list? Someone like me? If so, let me try to ease your pain with a few unique Christmas gift ideas.


A Delft blue singing floating egg-timer is just the kind of thing I’m talking about when I say I don’t know what I want until I see it. In fact, I didn’t even know the BeepEgg existed until I boarded a flight out of Amsterdam, then sat stranded on the tarmac while the ground crew worked to resolve an issue with the navigation equipment. With nothing better to do, several extra hours to kill, and a few hundred euro burning a hole in my wallet, I did what any sane person trapped on an airplane would do. I went tax-free shopping. On that particular flight, the BeepEgg was KLM’s way of saying thank you to anyone who spent more than €100.00 onboard. The BeepEgg is an intelligent, temperature based egg-timer that produces precise results. You just place it in the pot with the real eggs and once they’re cooked to the desired doneness, it plays a traditional Dutch tune; a different song for each level of hardness. If you had asked me a month ago, I would have said I’m not much of a gadget girl but the BeepEgg has me reconsidering. Seriously, who wouldn’t love a singing egg?

€18.15 home delivery (€15.00 in-flight)

Delfblue singing floating egg timer

Venice On A Plate: But What A Plate!

With an introduction from Pierre Rosenberg, President and Director of the Musée du Louvre, and stunning photographs by Jean-Pierre Gabriel, this bold new concept cookbook from Enrica Rocca is as much about art as it is about cookery.  Venice on a Plate is a visual feast that marries the traditional seafood-centric cuisine of Venice with exquisite Murano glassware. Gourmet World Cookbooks Awards 2013 recently chose Venice on a Plate as Italy’s Best Local Cuisine Book for 2013.

Enrica autographed my copy while I was attending her cooking school in Venice (named one of the 10 best cooking schools in the world) and I have yet to decide if it belongs on my coffee table or on my kitchen counter. It’s available for pre-order from Amazon.com for release on March 4, 2014.

$45.00 List Price ($39.69 USD Pre-Order)

Sarde in Saor from Enrica Rocca

Sarde in Saor, Venice on a Plate, Enrica Rocca, 2014

Heifer International

There’s nothing like giving a water buffalo for Christmas – except maybe giving a camel. A heartfelt gift like this empowers people to change their lives for the better and it is a wonderful way to honour a loved one. Shop from their online gift catalogue and Heifer International will send a free card to your loved one with every donation.

Heifer International FB Cover

Himalayan Salt Plate

Thick, hand-cut slabs of mineral-rich pink Himalayan salt can be used for everything from cocktails to candy, curing to grilling, ceviche to pizza. The possibilities are limited only by your culinary imagination. Whether you use it hot or cold, the Himalayan Salt Plate will help you create beautifully seasoned food.

$34.95 US

Kebabs sizzling on a Himalayan Salt Block

New York Culinary Experience

For a gift that will put you in the gift-givers Hall of Fame, why not send the passionate culinarian in your life on an intimate weekend of hands-on master cooking classes with more than 30 of the most prominent chefs in the world. This year’s fantasy camp for foodies takes place on Saturday and Sunday, April 5–6, 2014 in New York City. The roster of participating chefs includes Jacques Torres, Lidia Bastianich and more!

 $1495.00 US


New York Culinary Experience 2013

Naomi Pomeroy and a guest, 2013 event. Photo credit Getty Images for the New York Culinary Experience

Love Actually

Feel the love this holiday season with the Love Actually 10th Anniversary Edition DVD – complete with a collectible Christmas ornament. Share the joy and stuff it in the stocking of someone you love!

$9.99 US

Love Actually 10th Anniversary Edition


Wishing you and yours the very best of the holiday season!


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Christmas Gifts for Food Lovers

by The Culinary Travel Guide time to read: 3 min