It’s that time of the year. Most of us are still searching for a fun, unique Gift for our loved ones. Do you have some foodies in your circle of friends? Or an uncle who loves trying new delicacies? And do they like Italy and Italian food? I just might have some ideas for you. Here is my guide to Italy-inspired gifts for foodies. And they are all available online. That means you can get them even if you don’t live in Italy or travel here before the holidays. Happy shopping! And if you have any other ideas I should add to my list, please let me know. I’m always happy to learn more about fun foodie gift ideas from Italy.
Cookbooks for Foodies
There are so many good cookbooks from Italian chefs or cookbooks about the Italian cuisine. I have a whole long list in another article I wrote a while ago: The Best Italian Cookbook? Take Your Pick! If you want to go classic Italian food, I would suggest either Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking or Never Trust A Skinny Italian Chef. For a more regional and modern take, I would suggest Extra Virgin: Recipes & Love from Our Tuscan Kitchen. And if you know a foodie who prefers to read about food rather than cook it, I would suggest the travelogue Pasta, Pane, Vino: Deep Travels Through Italy’s Food Culture.
Balsamic Vinegar of Modena
Since moving to Modena I have rediscovered balsamic vinegar as a condiment. And the real deal is quite different from the cheap stuff found in most supermarkets. If you want to learn all about the different kinds, check out this article: Balsamic Vinegar of Modena (and More). I also have a purchasing guide for you. And here is your shortcut: an article about the best balsamic vinegars around. And if you don’t want to read, here is the quick and dirty tipp: If you stick with the “Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena”, either aged for 12, 18, or 25 years, you really can’t go wrong. Here are a few examples.
Parmesan (aka Parmigiano Reggiano)
How about a nice chunk of cheese? The real deal is so much better than the pre-grated version most people buy at the supermarket. You can easily get a high-quality piece of parmesan at your local food market if you live in a bigger city. If not, you can even order it on Amazon these days. When buying parmesan, keep in mind: the longer the parmesan has been aged, the more precious and more expensive it is. The youngest parmesan that is sold is 12 months. Before that, it cannot be called parmesan. Parmesan aged for 24 months is a great age as it is a little more intense, but not too much so. Keep in mind, that the older parmesans (24 months and more) are not usually used for grating purposes. They are served as an appetizer or at the end of the meal on a cheese board. Try it with some traditional balsamic vinegar on top. So good!
I’m also adding this parmesan grater on the list as it’s super convenient. We have it at home. You can just add a piece of cheese in there and let people serve themselves at the table.
I think the two most common types of Italian cookies are cantucci and amaretti. Both are delicious as a little treat with your coffee. Equally famous and delicious are the Perugina Baci. And they’re also a kind of romantic gift as “baci” means kisses. Ferrero is available almost everywhere these days. And I’m not surprised. They make some of the best chocolaty treats around.
Is your foodie a coffee lover? Maybe you can surprise them with some Espresso imported straight from Italy. You could go with Illy, Borbone or Lavazza which are three of the most popular Italian espresso brands in Italy. Or go with a smaller, local roaster. I personally love Cagliari which is an espresso roasted right here in Modena. I’ve been buying it for my family as a gift and on order ever since moving here. You might also check my article on how to pick the coffee that’s best for you for more inspiration.
Italian Espresso Makers & Espresso Machines
Would you like to go a little bit further? Maybe consider an Italian espresso-maker. The most classic, simple version is the stovetop espresso maker, the Moka. The step up would be the manual/pump espresso machine. With this version, you add a small coffee pod or the ground coffee in the metal filter and make your own coffee. They also let you steam milk. A big step up in convenience (and quality) are the automatic espresso machines that grind fresh beans for you as they prepare your espresso. You still have to foam the milk on the side, but I actually like it better than the fully-automatic versions as it’s easier to make just one cappuccino at a time. And it makes cleaning easier. I like the Italian brand Delonghi. We have had different versions and they all lasted a long time without giving us any trouble. Check the reviews to find out which one you like best.
Pasta and More
If you have a hands-on foodie on yours hands, maybe a fun kitchen gadget is the way to go. For gnocchi lovers, the gnocchi board would be fun gadget. And for hardcore pasta lovers, the pasta machine is the way to go. Or how about a ravioli cutter? Oh, and for people who handmake spaghetti (or other long pasta), the pasta drying rack is a great idea.
Salumi and More
Another idea comes from the ever present salumi aka cured meats. You could go with a nice Italian dry salame. Or the delicious San Daniele prosciutto. Another nice gift for foodies is a salumi board which they can use to serve all their delicacies in the future. And if you really want to spoil your foodie, consider a professional meat slicer.
Another gift idea for your Italian foodie are Italian liquors. Some are served as an aperitivo (before the meal) and others are strictly digestivi (served after the meal). One of the most famous apertivi is the Spritz, a mixture of Aperol, Prosecco, and sparkling water. There is even a book all about the Spritz including many recipes and stories. One of the most famous amari, the bitters, which are after-the-meal drinks, is Fernet Branca. Again, there is a neat book about these type of drinks as well: Amaro. Equally famous is the grappa, a clear, strong liquor which is served in a specific type of glass which could be a cool gift for a foodie.
If you feel weird about giving your foodie a chunk of parmesan by itself, you could always combine different gifts into a bigger themed gift basked. You could have a gift basket for your foodie/reader for example: the travelogue Pasta, Pane, Vino: Deep Travels Through Italy’s Food Culture, a small Moka pot, some Cagliari espresso, and some amaretti cookies. Like I said, happy shopping! And if you have any other ideas, let me know. Maybe I can get some new ideas as well!
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