Mattbites Gift Guide 2012


Iit’s that time! And since we’re all in Giftland this month I wanted to add my personal favorites to all the holiday gift guides that are out there.

However, I wanted to let you know one little thing: this Gift Guide is not entirely food-focused but made up of the things I love. As in absolutely adore. No kind of ‘meh, they aiight” kind of gifts here but all things that I personally use and would give as gifts. Heck, many of them have been given as gift, and now that I am looking at it I’m realizing it’s pretty darn tech-y, if I do say so myself!

1. Empire Mayonnaise Company
Um, hello, jars of mayo as gifts? If they’re from Brooklyn’s own Empire Mayo Co. than yes. I was given a jar as a gift and I’ve been a repeat customer ever since. Do yourself a favor and try the Black Garlic Mayo. Earthy, creamy, full of the umami goodness you get from black garlic. My favorite way to eat this stuff is with French fries or on a sandwich made of big fat slices of soft bread, pieces of roasted chicken and ample amounts of mayo. Heaven.

2. Piebox
Adam was on a CB2 shoot in Chicago when he met Adrienne Blumthal. She is the creator of PieBox and when I saw it my jaw dropped: gorgeous raw pine, handcrafted into the perfect pie transportation system! I love ours, it always elicits the best oohs-and-ahhs and just gets better with use. If you love pie, well, you’re going to love Piebox.

3. Further
A chance handwashing post-pizza at Mozza left me obsessed with this soap. In fact, I got up from my table and walked back into the restroom to find out more about it. And that’s how my love affair started. But the best part is Further’s story:  made here in Los Angeles from waste grease from restaurants where it’s refined, processed, scented naturally then returned to the restrooms of restaurants from where it came. Can you believe it? But if you’re a scenthound like me it’ll be the gorgeous clean, aromatic scent of olive, bergamot and grasses that’ll hook you. I love this stuff!

4. Whitelines Note Book
As computery-and-social-media-Mac-y as I am, I am a HUGE writer. As in penmanship and paper, I am forever a copious notetaker.  I get antsy if I don’t have a way to jot down my ideas as I travel, as a way to take notes during pre-production calls, and to remind myself of the things that I tend to forget. Yes, I can remind myself electronically, but I actually love writing and I’ve got the handwriting to prove it, too! That’s where Whitelines come in, as I’m a fan of the lightly ruled paper that doesn’t distract.  And the paper itself is tinted a light grey which is easy on the eyes.

5. Travel Smart Conair Adapter
I’ve got a bag of strange adapters with missing parts, broken prongs and empty travel cases that accumulates every time I travel. Every Single Time. However, I’m pretty happy about this adapter, which came very highly recommended from a friend. All in one. Which is great since sometimes I don’t remember what I need when I travel and I no longer need to do the “what plug will I need for Asia/Australia/South America” google search.

6. Roku Streaming Projector
Oh goodness, how much do I love this gadget? Part Roku-box, part projector, it’s so small and compact, allowing me to put it into my bag and take places. Places where I want to take it out, hop onto a wifi signal, and fire up Roku and Netflix for instant movie times.  A part of me still feels it’s a novelty gadget, but I’m fine with that. It’s fun.

7. Fireside Candle from Anthropologie
I’m not much of a scented candle guy at home but there’s something about this candle from Anthropologie that’s drives me wild.  Notes of patchouli and cinnamon live slightly underneath cedar wood and smoke, and it smells like the world’s best fireplace. Plus I love the colors of the candle tin, making it a welcome addition to my office and living room.

8. K-tor Pocket Socket Hand Crank Generator
I’m going to tell you one thing about me, and it’s embarrassing: I have this unnatural fear of not being able to charge my iphone.  I have a million chargers in every bag, in every place I work, not to mention a variety of battery packs tucked along the way. I purchased the K-Tor Pocket Socket Hand Crank Generator to add to my arsenal, and then something mighty awful happened called Hurricane Sandy. So many people were without power and unable to access their technological lifeline, and it made sense to me: I live in Earthquakelandia and this device will be added to my emergency supply kit. No, I’m not a Doomsday Prepper by any means, but I did grow up in Texas with hurricanes and it’s an easy thing to miss, that power thing. This handcrank generates electricity and can power a phone, ipad, digital camera, rechargeable light, etc. (but it does take work, fair warning). It could make a useful gift.

 9.  Joos Portable Solar Charger
Ok, so see item #8. But I swear I purchased this for that camping trip I have yet to take, but no matter, I love this thing. Especially here where it’s sunny, all it takes is 1 hour of sun to charge my iphone and ipad.  It’s so easy to use, constructed well, and I can use it just about anywhere.

10. The Strongheart Fellowship Program and the Akawelle Necklace
I met one of the founders of the Strongheart Fellowship Program on a photoshoot recently and was quite captivated by their mission. They identify the most resilient, brightest young people that have been affected and displaced by the world’s conficts and brings them together in a safe place to learn, heal, nurture and excel. I was given a necklace created by Lovetta Conto of Liberia, who creates a line called Akawelle Jewelry of leaf pendants made from spent shell casings that were fired during the war. To take something from such a violent act and turn it into a thing of beauty is to be reminded that it’s “possible for new life to arise from something as terrible as war”, as Lovetta says herself.

 11. Chevron Napkins from Pine Cone Hill
I am obsessed with these napkins. Bold and graphic with a wonderful weight, they photograph beautifully but of course that’s not why I plan on giving them to friends this holiday season. They’re just bright and cheerful, and the orange rocks my socks. Thanks to Pine Cone Hill for sending me samples!

12. Fifty One And A Half Ceramics
Full Disclosure: Yes, those plates in the photo actually say “mattbites” because the wonderful Monika Dalkin made them for me. She is the mother of my bestie Gaby of WhatsGabyCooking and a very wonderful artist. Her pieces not only photograph well but make superb gifts, for the plate-lover or ceramics-collector in your life. They make me happy.

13. X-Rite Photo ColorChecker Passport
There’s this thing in digital photography called Color Temperature, which is the scale in which light is measured. It’s sometimes blueish in color, sometimes yellow, depending on the light source and environmental conditions. This tool allows photographers to set their color temperature to a neutral point by snapping a photo of it and adjusting it in camera or computer. And when you shoot with natural daylight in a variety of conditions, it’s important. In fact, I never travel without this little hard case swatch of colors. It’s a great tool (and gift!) for photographers.

 14. Anything From American Spoon
First, this catalog. OH MAN THIS CATALOG. It’s beautiful. Second, their products. Their artisanal fruit preserves, spreads and condiments from Northern Michigan are so well loved and revered that you cannot go wrong sending anything from them to your friends and family. I love them. I love Michigan.

15.  Grado Labs SR 80 Headphones
It couldn’t only be the retro minimalist styling of these headphones that grabs me, it’s their sound, too. And I was on a mission to find a pair of great-sounding headphones for under $150 (because yes, they can be expensive!). Crisp treble, deep base, light and comfortable, these work great at home or on the road as their light and easy to store. Definitely a nice treat for a music lover on your list.

16. C Salt Gourmet’s Pistachio Cherry Chocolate and Pine Nut Pistachio Brittle
This hometown product from Long Beach, California, was a revelation the first time I tried it. As far as brittles go, it’s hands down my favorite these days. You can email C Salt for special orders or find it locally in Southern California at a handful of retailers. You’ll love it, trust me.

17.  Focus On Food Photography For Bloggers
Excuse me, could you pick up that Shameless Plug I just dropped? Right there, behind you. Thanks. Now, forgive me for saying so, but there’s this book that someone just wrote about creating food photographs for blogs. And the book, while aimed at bloggers, has tons of tips and examples that not only apply to the beginners but to everyone else. And it’s cute and little and was written and photographed out of love. For you. And for anyone else that might appreciate reading about food photography. I’m pretty sure the author will thank you for buying it.