It’s hard to shop for the foodies in your life because, well, foodies are picky. If foodies weren’t picky, you could just buy them a Chili’s gift card and be done with it. Dads are even harder to shop for because they’re usually not impressed with a last-minute flower arrangement (love you, mom). But have no fear; we’ve compiled a list of things your foodie father needs yet probably doesn’t even know exist. We’re here to help guide you in the general care and maintenance of your foodie, because we all know who reaps the rewards. We love our foodies because they feed us and let us drink their fancy wines and whiskies. Let’s keep the dream alive, shall we?FOR THE WHISKEY LOVER
Balcones Baby Blue Whisky
Perhaps the simplest Father’s Day gift for a person with a refined palette is a good bottle of whiskey, and while there are many quality bottles at various price points, consider the gift of this scotch-style whisky. Balcones’ award-winning Baby Blue is proudly touted as “the first Texas whisky on the market since Prohibition,” and (depending on where you shop) costs somewhere around $50 a bottle. Though the Waco company’s leadership had a bit of a shake-up the past two years, the quality has not suffered, and this youthful, award-winning whisky is sure to become a quick favorite.
In addition to a good bottle, many whiskey drinkers will appreciate a step-up in the accouterments department with some fancy new tools. These Whiskey Stones for Dad ($14) might look like alphabet soup in a rocks glass, but the chilled soapstones will cool their drink down without adding unnecessary water. If your whiskey lover needs some fancy glasses for their wet bar, consider a set of the Riedel H20 Whiskey Glasses ($24.95 for a set of two), made by the same crystal company that makes fine wine stemware. The thin and delicate walls make for an elegant rocks glass fit for any beverage, but they turn a well-made old fashioned into a fashion statement.
Ice cube accessories
In case you’re wondering, artisanal ice cubes are a thing, and while we’re not going to comment on where to draw the food-snobbery line, perhaps we can’t all afford pristine, hand-chiseled ice cubes delivered to our door. Beverage ballers who want to up their ice game will appreciate the ability to make those large, fancy-shaped ice cubes at home. Wanna make it rain? Buy them the ridiculously unrealistic Ice Baller for making perfectly spherical, crystal-clear ice cubes. Sorry... make that cube. The Ice Baller ($85) makes a single ice cube at a time. Ridiculous? Perhaps, but for some people, cocktails are a serious business. For a way more affordable option, this kit on amazon costs under $15 and contains everything your foodie needs to make large spherical and square ice cubes that probably won’t turn out crystal clear, but will impress guests nonetheless.
FOR THE FOODIE ON THE GO
Stanley Vacuum Coffee System
Does your foodie travel? Are they the type to lament the lack of decent beverage options on the road? Have they ever gotten stranded in a small town where the definition of “coffee” is questionable? The French Press Vacuum Coffee System ($44.98) brews an entire bottle of coffee in an integrated press/pot system, has a hidden dry-storage space in the stopper for more coffee and the lid separates to become two travel cups. Your foodie will never be grouchy on the go again.
Leather drink caddies
Do you love a hipster-biking foodie with a palette for good wine? This Leather Wine Caddy ($44.95) is a must for the cycling sommelier. If beer is more their thing, the Leather Six Pack Caddy ($59.95) makes for hands-free beer delivery, and it's sold locally at spots like Local Hub Bicycle Company in Deep Ellum.
The Stanley Flask
Flasks have come in and out of style over the years, and while the concept of a good hip flask is retro in and of itself, double down on Stanley's old-fashioned inspired insulated flask ($25) that reminds us of the days our grandfathers worked the rail yards and built highways fueled by nothing but coffee and doughnuts. Like most Stanley products, this flask redefines “rugged.” Fill it with rye whiskey and take it to a hockey game or something. ‘Murica.
ACTUAL FOOD GIFTS FOR YOUR FOODIE
Local Eats: Sausages from Jimmy’s Food Store
If you're local to Dallas, you've likely heard of or been to Jimmy's Food Store, the iconic neighborhood Italian deli/specialty grocery store run by Mike and Paul DiCarlo. If you haven't been to the store on Bryan and Fitzhugh, you've probably had their sausage had their sausage anyway, since many Dallas restaurants feature their goods. Make this father's day an excuse to visit the neighborhood store and grab your foodie some of their famous homemade Italian sausages or meatballs — both are considered the best in the city. The sausages are a steal at $5.49/lb., and we'd wager they make a great addition to any weekend grilling plans.
But don’t stop there. Why not treat your foodie to a veritable cornucopia of gourmet and artisan foodstuffs by crafting a gift basket full of goodies? Jimmy’s offers a number of imported specialty products your foodie will appreciate ... and possibly share. Choose from a variety of imported cheeses, homemade cakes and cookies and a wide selections of Italian wines.
Artisinal olive oil
If you live far away from your foodie, have something delivered to their door. Why not treat them to some fancy artisanal olive oil? The Alziari family has been crafting this exceptionally light and fruity extra-virgin Niçoise-style olive oil since 1868 in their shop, Miason Alziiari, on France’s Côte d’Azur. The delicate and flowery oil makes a lovely addition to any summer salad or cheese & bread plate. We’ve been buying ours by the liter from Williams-Sonoma ($44.95) for years; considering we’d have to pay shipping to buy it direct from the Alzieri family and, you know, speak French and stuff, that’s not such a bad deal. Bonus: it comes in a brightly-colored whimsical bottle that's so decorative, it needs no wrapping.
Possibly the best bang for your buck when it comes to the latest fad of monthly food subscriptions, Raw Spice Bar delivers fresh-ground spices and spice blends plus kitchen-tested recipes to your door every month for a mere $6/month. The spices are often globally-inspired, and each month follows a theme developed by an award winning chef inspired by a particular cuisine. Recipients get three single-serve spice packets that correspond to the included recipes (usually a side dish, entrée, and sometimes dessert), that turn dinner into an evening of culinary discovery. A great gift for the experimental foodie who likes to tinker with new dishes and explore global cuisine, or maybe just home cooks obsessed with fresh-ground spices.
Maldon Smoked Salt
If a spice of the month club is too much commitment, or you're looking for more of a stocking-stuffer sized gift, a box of fancy salt can cost under $10 and goes a long way. Maldon Salt is a must for any aspiring home chef, but their smoked sea salt really ups your favorite foodie’s kitchen game exponentially. Maldon is harvested from beds along the River Blackwater in England (you can’t make this stuff up), then hand drawn from boiling pans with expert precision to create the large, flaky, pyramid-shaped crystals touted by chefs worldwide. Their traditional sea salt flakes are a gateway drug to artisanal salt use, but their smoked sea salt is your basic gourmet necessity turned up to 11. Cold smoked using traditional methods, the subtle smokiness adds a delicate woodsy aroma to just about anything. Try sprinkling it on top of your next batch of chocolate chip or peanut butter cookies for a subtle flavor enhancement, or make it the final touch on pan-seared fish. It’s a fantastic way to add some depth of flavor when you’re stuck cooking indoors.
Your foodie will need a place to store and display their growing selection of artisanal salts. Why not get them a wooden salt cellar? These come in a variety of styles, some are factory made from affordable materials, others are handcrafted from olive, walnut or teak. Chances are your guests will be equal parts amused and curious at this clever presentation, and your dinner parties will go from “shake it like a salt shaker” to “pinch it like a salt cellar.”
For the Chocolate Lover
Askinosie chocolates are a great gift for the socially and environmentally conscious chocolate lover in your life, The Askinosie model is based on fairness and sustainability, their chocolate is sourced using both fair trade and direct trade, and they’re committed to a program of community enhancement and minimal environmental impact. Oh, and they also make really amazing chocolate. Big spenders should splurge on their “Year of Chocolate” Collection ($100), featuring a year’s supply (12 bars) of their single-origin chocolates, plus a tin of their scratch-made natural cocoa powder. The CollaBARation Collection ($44) is less splurgy, but still impressive, and contains OUR favorite Askinosie product, the Dark Chocolate + Malted Milk Bar.
PRACTICAL GIFTS THAT KEEP ON GIVING
We've saved the best gift ideas for last, but these are the tried and true winners. Some are pricey, some are affordable, but all three will last you a lifetime. Make the investment and show your foodie how much you truly care for them.
The best all-around kitchen utensil, Micheal Ruhlman's Offset Spatula
When award-winning cookbook author Micheal Ruhlman got tired of hunting down the perfect kitchen tools to fit his needs, he started making them himself. And while many consider his collaboration on the French Laundry Cookbook his greatest gift to mankind, we’re partial to his offset spatula. Ruhlman didn’t invent the offset spatula, but he certainly perfected it. Wood-handled, ultra-thin, flexible enough to slide effortlessly under a fried egg yet stiff enough to cut the perfect slice of lasagna, this really is the most useful kitchen utensil you might ever purchase. Clocking in at an unbelievable $14.95, it even comes with a wood-handled bench scraper for what is quite possibly the best deal of this entire list. Does your foodie cook? Do they bake? They need both these tools. We’re not even kidding when we say we have this spatula and use it on average twice a day.
The only downside is the shipping; at $15 for standard shipping, you’re better off bundling a few purchases into one order. But considering the high praise his other products receive (like the Badass egg spoon for making the perfect poached egg), you won’t need much of an excuse to buy something for yourself?
The most useful all-around kitchen gadget, the Thermapen
Does your foodie ever cook/bake/fry anything temperature-dependent? They need a Thermapen ($79-$99). Steaks done to a specific temp? Done. Perfect internal temperature for a loaf of banana bread? Done. Need an instant read to tell you whether or not those crème brulees are set so you can close the damn oven door already? Done.
The Thermapen is better than your average thermistor-sensing kitchen thermometer because it uses professional grade thermocoupling technology to produce a faster, more accurate reading for the times it really matters (which is pretty much always). To put it another way, parents use thermistor-based thermometers to take their kids temperatures. This process can take 30 seconds to a minute, has a very limited temperature range, and the actual reading could vary by at least a degree in either direction. Thermocoupling is the technology used for thermostat sensors and flame sensors in safety appliances, provides an accurate reading within seconds, and has a range of almost 600 °F. Yes please I want to cook with that, sir. The classic Thermapen has gone down somewhat in price ($79) since the company launched the new Mk4 ($99), but either would make a great gift for the scientifically minded wizard chef in your life.
The Best "Yes you can cook anything with this pan" pan, The Matfer Bourgeat Black Steel Round Frying Pan
A wise man once said the only tools a real chef needs to achieve culinary greatness are a good knife and a good pan, and everyone and their mom has an opinion on the pan. Copper, stainless, well-seasoned cast-iron, the options are endless. But if you want to get your foodie one pan to rule them all; an affordable, high quality uni-tasker that can do just about anything in the kitchen, we highly recommend a Matfer Bourgeat.
When Cook’s Illustrated ran a story on carbon steel pans last year (specifically recommending Matfer’s 11 7/8” Frying Pan), the hype was so well-received the company is still on backorder. For a year. Lucky for us, they’re available through other sellers, and last year’s price-gauging has finally died down. Even crazier, Amazon is offering a number of the pans in various sizes with free prime shipping, which is bananas because these pans are solid carbon steel. They are not light. The 11 7/8” pan is a bargain at $54, and is a pretty good size for an all-around pan. But if you have a serious chef on your hands, allow us to recommend the 14 1/8 inch pan ($79.99). Cooking with the 14-incher after wielding a standard pan your entire life is like Arya Stark trying to kill a man with Longclaw after poking people in the eyes with Needle for a year. It’s huge, it’s heavy, it’s goddamn magic. It spans two entire burners, takes up a whole oven rack all by itself, and is capable of accommodating an entire spatchcocked chicken in a single pan… with room for veggies. The pros: Transitions effortlessly from range to oven. Redefines the concept of “one-pot cooking.” No handle rivets, so there’s no place inside the pan for food to gunk up and crust. The handles are also VERY long and solid steel, meaning they usually stay cool to the touch on the range.
The cons: carbon steel, like iron skillets, needs to be seasoned before use and has similar care instructions: no soap, dry it every time, don’t let tomatoes or acidic foods sit around in the pan. However, seasoning carbon steel is far easier than seasoning an iron skillet, and you can usually achieve a shiny, nonstick surface perfect for frying eggs after one treatment if you follow the right directions (yes darling, it involves potato peels). Also, the 14-incher is big. It will live permanently in your oven because that’s the only place large enough to accommodate it.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.