One of the most challenging things about giving kitchen gifts to food-focused friends is the "Dang, I'm Never Going to Actually Use That" factor. Meandering through the massive amount of kitchen stuff out there in search of the holy grail of "fun plus useful" can be a slog; here are five shortcuts to the end of the process, priced from modest to Santa-level generous.
$20 and under-Microplane Zester Grater - $14.95
Never underestimate the power of the microplane. Mine gets frequent use as a zester and whole nutmeg grater, but they come in handy time after time, offering far more precision and speed than a traditional box grater. This is the sort of gadget that seems silly until you use it on a day-to-day basis; then it floats to the top of your utensil drawer.
$50 and under-Beer Connoisseur Gift Set - $41.65
Earlier on Tablespoon, I wrote about the legitimate usefulness of having the right beer and wine glassware
; a great gift for a budding or newly serious craft beer drinker is an assortment of quality glasses. Fortunately, just such an assortment totally exists.Manhattan Cocktail Shaker - $44.95
A good stainless steel cocktail shaker, blessed with real heft and quality materials, does two things: it helps a bartender mix cold drinks quickly, and it looks cool both in use and hanging out on the bar. The difference between cheap and high-end becomes quickly apparent to anyone who hosts and mixes.
$100 and under-Reversible Double Burner Grill / Griddle - $71.95
Perfect for pancakes, faux grilled hot dogs and sausages, chicken tikka masala, you name it -- the double burner grill is a great way to bring real carbon-kissed flavor indoors. If you're giving this to a serious home chef, it'll soon become a workhorse for entertaining and day-to-day batch cooking.Immersion Hand Blender - $99.95
There are two ways to make rich, creamy soups: with the power of an immersion blender, and the wrong way. This thing saves endless hassle with a food processor, and can be used for a host of applications -- think milk shakes, chopping nuts, whipping egg whites, and so forth. It doesn't take up a ton of shelf space, but it's a kitchen powerhouse nonetheless.