If you’re still trying to get gifts for people on your list this year, well, you’re just like me. Maybe also those people on your list having an abiding interest in food and drink. I am here to help with ideas for places to find something appealing, thoughtful and with a high certainty of being put to use by the recipient.
At this point, who needs another electronic gizmo or superfluous garment when you could have some tasty specialty food, a needed implement for an avid cook or a nice bottle of something elegant, strong or both?
Oh yes and if you’re also like me, shopping for others is best done with a little something for yourself. So I’m rounding up local wine shops where you can get a glass to sip while you shop.
1226 S White St., 504-702-8033
There are plenty of places to get wine, and these days (happily) more places with distinctive selections of small producers and quality labels. None, though, is quite like this stylish wine den, well hidden behind the Mossy Motors car dealership (and near the Restaurant Depot for another compass point). Between the wine racks up front and the wine bar in back, the Independent is teeming with delicious specialty foods, starting with a case stacked with some of the best cheese and charcuterie you’ll find around here, and running though imported chocolate and preserved seafood.
8600 Oak St., 504-475-5606
With a highly-selected collection of knives, Coutelier has been a hub for restaurant professionals and serious home cooks, who recognize the value of a knife that can play a role in their kitchens for a lifetime. The store recently expanded at a new location on Oak Street (close to the original) and its selection has grown with specialty loose teas, imported condiments, sauces and other pantry items and the brands and types of kitchen tools the chefs used at high-end restaurant kitchens.
801 Howard Ave., 504-523-7272
Though primarily a wine shop, with excellent selections around its library-like racks and a with a strong array of charcuterie and cheese, Keife & Co. is also an invaluable source for specialty ingredients for the cocktail lovers in your life. Bottles from artisan distillers and single-barrel projects, a lush array of specialty liqueurs and bitters and many types of amaro make this a place where you could stock your own craft cocktail bar.
3828 Dryades St.
I don’t know why anyone would give up their old cast iron, but they must have their reasons and you can be the beneficiary. There’s lots of heritage cookware (including old black pots and skillets) to be had at this second-hand culinary shop. They call it “experienced cookware,” which rings true; between the vintage tools and etched glasses and odd utensils that fit in your hand just they way you remember, it can also be a trove of memories and thoughtfully personal gifts specifically tied to the kitchens of our pasts.
3939 Tulane Ave., 504-875-3723
Though it was closed for a long stretch earlier this year, the return of 504 Craft Beer Reserve restores a clubhouse for specialty beer, all with its own taproom in the unlikely setting of a former bank branch. The shelves and coolers are filled with a curated range of brews, along with some spirits and wine. For beer lovers, one nice bottle goes a long way toward stuffing a stocking.
723 N. Rampart St., 504-529-4465
Head upstairs from the French Quarter’s resiliently, refreshing old fashioned hardware store Mary’s Ace and you find what feels like a homegrown version of a Williams-Sonoma store. It’s a showroom gleaming with Mauveil copper cookware, the crayon-box colors of Le Creuset enameled Dutch ovens, the sparkle of Riedel wine glasses and decanters and bright splays of Wusthof knives. There’s also a specialty in supplies for home-based makers, with mason jars for pickling, small bottles for hot sauce and such.
While we’re on the topic of shopping, if your rounds bring you to a local wine shop, consider taking a little time for a round for yourself. A number of local wine shops have their own in-house wine bars, which brings a fun way to multitask some holiday shopping with socializing (I can confirm this works year-round, by the way).
Above, I mentioned the wine bar at the Independent and the taproom at 504 Craft Beer Reserve.
Here are other shops with in-house bars to sip and shop:
Faubourg Wines, 2805 St. Claude Ave.
Swirl Wine Bar & Market, 3143 Ponce de Leon St
Next to Nothing Wines, 3928 Euphrosine St. (tucked within the ArtEgg Studio complex)
One hybrid is also Stained Glass Wine Bar (201 Huey P. Long Ave. 504-259-4050) in downtown Gretna, which uses self-serve dispensers for people to sample wines (along with beer and spirits) in tasting-sized pours, and sells wine retail as well.
Holiday grocery shopping is serious business, and New Orleanians have their own game plans well established.
Whenever I make an airport run these days, my eyes are peeled for good places to eat.
Dim sum arrive as small gifts. Sometimes they’re in circular bamboo or metal trays, and you lift the lid as if opening a decorative box. Many …