The guests are gone, the dishes done, and there’s yet another couple of days before Monday. I can’t help staring out my window at all the lovely parking available in our quiet, turkey-sedated city, but I’m avoiding the shops for now. The weekend after Thanksgiving is one my favorite times to stay in my pajamas and catch up on my reading. Forget award-winning novels or the latest treatise about the end of the world, though. For now, it’s all about fun and fantasy while browsing lifestyle porn rags like I.D. magazine, blogs like bLavish and the websites of local companies such as rose and radish.

For those of you still putting off your holiday shopping binge, here’s a short list of gifts for the lucky foodie in your life…

Drinks in Hand

Designer Jean-Marie Massaud created this ingenious, portable bar for the leather company, Poltrona Frau. Modeled after a classic steam trunk, the portable mixing station stands only 46 inches high and has discrete wheels, saddle leather exterior (your choice of 90 colors), walnut-veneer folding shelves, and enough chrome and glass to make it glitter beneath the chandeliers. Call one of the showrooms in New York, Miami or Washington, D.C. to order. $10,400.

Global Service

Munich-based Nymphenburg commissioned English designer Barnaby Barford for limited-edition, signed tableware to add to their 2007 line-up. His Global Service collection consists of 14 porcelain plates, each showing a different section of the globe. Available in three soft hues: turquoise, green and beige. Dandelion on Potrero Avenue might be able to reserve a set of the dinner plates for you, though they probably won’t arrive from Germany before the year’s end. $10,350 for the complete set.

My Coffee Maker’s Bigger Than Yours

From Dacor in South San Francisco, you can get your very own automatic coffee system to install in your kitchen wall. Once it’s hooked up to your plumbing system and programmed to your hot beverage specifications, it’ll grind, brew, steam, froth, and dispense upon command. It even makes tea and hot chocolate, but my favorite part is the integrated storage for keeping cups and saucers warm. Siemens also offers a built-in, fully programmable coffee system. Both companies request that you contact them for prices.

Grill Alert

Melding high-tech with the high life, Oregon Scientific came up with a gadget that geeky grill masters of the world can use with pride: a remote wireless temperature probe to signal meat doneness. It speaks in five languages, can sense up to 572 degrees F before passing out and can be programmed for all the basic animals: beef, lamb, veal, hamburger, pork, turkey, chicken and fish. As long as you don’t wander more than 330 feet away from your grill, you’ll be able to hear its verbal alerts of almost ready, ready or overcooked. Batteries not included. $60.

Braising with Bling

This premium quality, gem-studded pan from Fissler made an exclusive appearance last month at Harrod’s in London. The handles weigh in at just under one pound of solid gold and the diamonds number over 200. Your limited-edition pan will come complete with a high-class box made of rootwood and a document certifying exclusive quality. Fissler has already sent an application to the Guinness World Records’ office for the “most precious pot in the world.” $203,000.

Sinking into Style

To help take the edge off kitchen chores, install one of these laser-cut drain covers in your sink. Brazilian-Isreali designer, Joana Meroz of Ornamented Life appropriates flowered lace patterns to help evoke love and romance while you scrape and rinse. While you’re at it, get a nipple-shaped plug to cover your new, pretty drain. $86.

The Ultimate Dinner Cruise

There’s a listing right now on Classic Yachts for the Sierra Rose, a 2005 Finney yacht on Lake Tahoe. Though it measures a modest 86 feet, the architects were able to fit in a helicopter landing pad and an on-deck hot tub. You’ll be able to zip away from work and relax with comfort and ease. Of course, while you’re at the lake, you won’t need to sacrifice a good meal: “The Kitchen is a gourmet cook’s dream with granite countertops, three ovens, 4-burner Viking range with griddle, four under counter SubZero refrigerator and freezer drawers, ice maker, and two under-counter dishwashers…Storage is provided throughout the kitchen with mahogany-stained, raised-panel cabinets. Entertainment continues at the Stern, where a granite countertop extends from the kitchen through a large pass-through window to the Rear Terrace.” Call for a private viewing. Asking $7,000,000.

What’s on your fantasy foodie wish list?

Kitchen Vogue: A Taste of Luxury 9 April,2008Thy Tran

  • Mick

    Um, how about some affordable kitchen luxury that is actually attainable for the gift-giving season? I can’t even see where to buy the drain cut-outs.

  • Tana

    I don’t think it’s just the Grinch in me, but the idea of spending $200K on a freaking PAN just makes me physically ill. I would not want to know the person who coveted such an item, nor eat a meal which came from it. It’s disgusting to waste that kind of money when people are starving in the world.

    Christmas in my house is for children, not a competition to see who can be the most shameful and garish consumer.

    Presents for grown-ups in our family come from (Flocks of chickens to families in Cambodia.)

    I wish the world could be cured of the malady of greed.

    : (

  • Thy Tran

    Mick–You can get on the waiting list for the lace drain cover at Rose and Radish in Hayes Valley.

    Tana–I’m glad to know your house is not part of the consumer crush. That diamond-studded pan was what prompted me to write this entry, actually. I was freaking out when I first misread its price as $20,000, so you can image how amazed I was at the full price. Amazingly, sadly…Harrod’s sold out of them completely.

    My family has for years been pooling our money for Heifer, too. Thanks so much for giving the link to their site!

  • Tana Butler

    Darlin’, write about THAT: your family, free of bullshit holiday stuff. PLEASE.

    Do you have any idea how many people would be glad to be free of the prison of this snobby stuff?

    THINGS are worth nothing, unless they are useful. A grater is good. A sharp knife is good.

    And we all know about the greater good. : D

    Stop selling. Start helping. That is my mantra when it can be. I try to turn people on to good things that carry a torch to someone else.

    Best wishes for now,

  • Thy Tran

    Okay folks…just to clarify:

    I was writing this piece as commentary, not to hock this stuff. It’s certainly in the voice of all those wish lists appearing in magazines everywhere, but I was hoping that bling pots and floating kitchens were over the top enough to stand in bright light by themselves, without my need to hand a judgement over to you on a silver platter.

    I threw in the thermometer and drain to show that unnecessary products fall on a continuum of prices.

    But I obviously missed my mark. Note to self: Work on your facetious tone.


Thy Tran

Thy Tran writes literary nonfiction about food, the rituals of the kitchen, and the many ways eating and cooking both connect and separate communities around the world. She co-authored the award-winning guide, Kitchen Companion, and her work has appeared in numerous other books, including Asia in the San Francisco Bay Area: A Cultural Travel Guide and Cooking at Home with the Culinary Institute of America. Her writing has been featured in The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Fine Cooking and Saveur. A recipient of a literary grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission, Thy is currently working on a collection of essays about how food changes in families across time and place.

Though trained as a professional chef, she works on cookbooks by day, then creates literary chapbooks by night. An old letterpress and two cabinets of wood and lead type occupy a corner of her writing studio, for she is as committed to the art and craft of bookmaking as she is to the power of words themselves. In addition to writing, editing, teaching and printing, Thy remains active in local food justice and global food sovereignty movements. Visit her website,, to learn more about her culinary adventures.

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