December 14, 2010

Megan McArdle’s annual Kitchen Gift Guide

Filed under: Randomness, Wine — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 07:50

I don’t cook, except for very basic things, so this isn’t the sort of list I’d be able to compile for myself. Megan has been doing it for several years:

Yes, it’s that time of year again. Back by popular demand, expanded with the accumulated bounty of one moderately large wedding, it’s the kitchen gift guide. As usual, I am organizing by price, since everything on this list is something that I specially like having. [. . .]

Butter boat This uses evaporative cooling to keep butter at room temperature without spoiling. There’s a well for water, and then a butter dish that rests on top of it, and slowly wicks water through the ceramic. The upshot is that as long as you change the water every few days, you can keep butter in the dish for weeks — longer than a stick of butter usually lasts in our house, anyway. I have two, a white one for unsalted, and a green one for salted. It’s really a nice little present — who doesn’t like nice, soft, fresh-tasting butter?

We’ve got a couple of these, and they’re very useful . . . when we remember to refill them after using up the last of the current stick of butter.

Rabbit Corkscrew I’m a big fan of this — it makes opening a wine bottle basically foolproof. I feel it’s especially good for people who are losing hand strength, although you might also want to consider an electric corkscrew, which gets decent reviews. We’re also extremely pleased with the wine aerator that a friend got me for a bridal shower gift; it allows you to rapidly aerate red wine that you don’t have time to decant, improving the flavor. It would be a lovely gift paired with a corkscrew.

I’ve heard mixed reviews about the Rabbit — some people really love them, while others think they’re vastly overrated. I’m still happy with a simple lever-style corkscrew I picked up at the Williamsburg Winery on a trip to Virginia several years ago. The aerator is a good idea for those of us who don’t remember to decant the red wine far enough in advance. It won’t miraculously change the quality of the wine, but it will make up for a bit of the time you forgot to allow it to have for breathing.


  1. Megan’s bio does not mention that she was — she must have been — a copy writer for the Lee Valley catalogs. Her ability to describe the most banal products in terms that convince one that giving such trinkets as gifts marks one as a thoughtfully sophisticated and stylish dude is quite remarkable.

    However, I find her advice, and perhaps dare I say her finely cultured taste, to be inconsistent. She warns of of the terrifying social blunder to be made with the mixer and its colour —

    …so I don’t have to issue my standard warning about buying a mixer that will last for decades in an adorable color like Buttercup or Mint

    — but she approves of the prominent placement of poultry:

    …it looks like a penguin, which is pretty stylish on the counter

    Buttercup or Mint: how gauche.

    Penguin: high style and gracious living.

    How rarefied the air must be at The Atlantic offices.

    Comment by Lickmuffin — December 14, 2010 @ 10:39

  2. Ah, you missed out on a chance to slag Lee Valley for buying Chinese knock-offs and having a ballistic missile submarine named for them. (The aircraft carriers are to be named “WalMart”, “Target”, and “CanadianTire”, presumably).

    Comment by Nicholas — December 14, 2010 @ 12:30

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