Cuddly Kettle Corn?
Motivational posters feature babbling brooks and soaring eagles. Lesser Evil holiday kettle corn ($15 gift packs, lesserevil.com) is the audible crunch heard down in the valley. This kettle corn is made from ingredients found at a French boulangerie, like evaporated cane juice and brown-rice syrup. It encourages snacking as you overcome your obstacles (before they overcome you). (BC)
Easy Does It!
You may wonder about the feasibility of cooking a deep-dish truffle and lobster pie in an Easy-Bake Oven. But 26 world-class chefs have not asked why. Instead, they have come up with 32 gourmet recipes compiled in David Hoffman's book, The Easy-Bake Oven Gourmet ($15.95, Hello, Portland, 525 NW 23rd Ave., 274-0771). His tome is filled with delicious recipes from savory to sweet, but novice chefs needn't be afraid. Remember, all you need are two light bulbs! (SR)
Poketo's compact, metal bottle openers feel nice in your hand, even when you're feeling angry. Or shocked. Or happy. Express your emotions while cracking open a cold one with Poketo "What's Your Mood?" bottle openers ($12 each or $32 for set of three, poketo.com). The openers, another example of Poketo's quirky approach to housewares, make a unique gift individually or as a set of three, and help to bring a little more art to everyday life. (SR)
The Spirit of the Holidazed
Back in colonial days, rum was consumed regularly by every man, woman and child, creating a demand that fueled the slave trade and gave rise to sugar plantations. These days, however, rum drinkers can purchase Indio Spirits' Coral Bay Spiced Rum ($22.95, available at most area liquor stores), distilled right here in Portland. Mix with apple cider or eggnog for a classic holiday libation with a local twist. (SR)
Pumpkin! Pumpkin! Pumpkin!
Haven't had quite enough of that delicious fall gourd yet? Bring it back one more time with this delicious and easy-to-make pumpkin bread and muffin mix ($2.99, Trader Joe's, 2122 NW Glisan St., 971-544-0788, and other locations).(SR)
Quit Your Wining!
All together now: "Montepulciano d' Abruzzo! Aglianico del Vulture! Sagrantino di Montefalco!" How not to look like a dumbass when ordering Italian wine is just one of the things you'll learn from local wine critic Matt Kramer's practically titled Making Sense of Italian Wine ($24.95, Borders, 708 SW 3rd Ave., 220-5911). The thirsty scholar will also learn about regions, traditions and recommended food pairings to match each variety, making him or her a hit during holiday feasts. Bellissimo! (SR)
Bag, That Is
Ditch the grimy carts at Freddy's and bring your own stylish Blue Q Shopper ($12, Greg's, 3707 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 235-1257), complete with overstated graphics and vintage charm. Big enough to fill with all of the essentials—milk, mascara and money—little pocket pouch included.
Pandora's Favorite Box
Moonstruck Chocolate Company makes delicious, creative chocolates and truffles packaged in beautiful, handcrafted boxes. You can choose from a variety of chocolate-filled keepsake boxes like Moonstruck Advent Calendars, Chocolate Novels, Crescent Moon Boxes and Dragonfly Chests ($30-$59, Moonstruck Chocolate Cafes, 608 SW Alder St., 241-0955, and 526 NW 23rd Ave., 542-3400), each of which makes a great holiday gift. Check out the selection of decadently filled truffles great for people with a sweet tooth on your list this year. (SR)
You're stuck in the kitchen all day long baking rugalach and latkes for Hanukkah family dinner. Brighten up the monotonous mix of chopping, shredding and stirring and treat yourself to a set of Rae Dunn's charming mixing bowls ($98, Anthropologie, 1125 NW Couch St., 274-0293), which includes small, medium and large classic cream-colored dishware. (EB)
Good Enough for Our Forefathers...
Nothing could be more delicious than pumpkins and beer in one. Buffalo Bill's Brewery in Hayward, Calif., thoroughly understands this maxim, and has created a seasonal amber ale ($6.99, New Seasons Market, 5320 NE 33rd Ave., 288-3838, and other locations) brewed with roasted pumpkin, malted barley, cinnamon and nutmeg. George Washington also knew his stuff, and somehow found time between staying honest and not cutting down cherry trees to invent this delicious holiday libation. (SR)
Italians look better in jeans, play better soccer and talk with their hands better than us. And the Sicilians make better marzipan than anyone ($37.95 a pound, Martinottis' Cafe and Deli, 404 SW 10th Ave., 224-9028). Forza!
Kate Moss vs. Chocolate MariBelle's Pin-up Girl Chocolate Bars ($16, Cacao, 414 SW 13th Ave., 241-0656) may weigh about the same as Kate Moss—3.5 ounces—but the milk or dark chocolate makes them better to eat (sorry, Kate, you were tastier before this Pete Doherty thing).
Chocolate Deserves Plenty of Quotes
Il Etait une Fève translates to "once upon a bean." It's a chocolate-tasting party in a box that gives a "sensorial introduction to the different stages of chocolate creation" ($38, Cacao, 414 SW 13th Ave., 241-0656).
Hasta la Vino, BÉbÉ Argentina, the country of tight male butts, makes pretty fantastic wine. Experience the region of Men-doza at the School of Cork (Cork, 2901 NE Alberta St., 281-2675). Classes are about 50 bucks.
While Christians drink eggnog, Jews drink beer. It took 10 plagues to let the people of Moses go, and almost 10 years to get a pint of HE'BREW—"The Chosen Beer"—in Oregon. Dust off the yarmulke and sip a pint of Monumental Jewbelation (the only Chanukah beer in America) at the Horse Brass Pub ($4.25, 4534 SE Belmont St., 232-2202).
COFFEE WITH A CAUSE
Buy some coffee to help fund the construction of a schoolhouse in Papua New Guinea. Portland Roasting's Holiday Estate Coffee ($12, Fred Meyer, 100 NW 20th Ave., 273-2004) wakes sleepy parents, aids its farmers and makes great garden compost.
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