Gifts for Yourself

Relax with Spiced Wine -- hot, cold or room temperature.

Relax with Spiced Wine — hot, cold or room temperature. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)


If all that cooking, entertaining and shopping over the holidays has run you ragged, it’s time you gave yourself a little present, don’t you think?

Here are a few definitely worth considering.

Spicy Vines

There’s little that’s more relaxing than kicking off your shoes with a glass of red wine after a long, hard day.

Imagine one crafted from Zinfandel, Syrah, Petit Syrah, Granache and a bit of Sauvignon Blanc brandy, and imbued with heady spices to snuggle up with.

That’s what you’ll discover in Spiced Wine by Spicy Vines, which Bay Area founders Crystalyn Hoffman and Anders Pederson modeled after mulled wine or glogg.

Surprisingly, the sample I tried was not the over-powering, ultra-alcoholic, hit-you-in-the-face sweet mulled wine I’m accustomed to. Instead, it’s quite balanced and enjoyable.

At room temperature, the orange, clove and cinnamon are quite evident on the nose. It’s a festive-tasting drink with good structure and flavors of warm baking spices and deep, dark fruit.

When warmed — which you can do easily in the microwave — the citrus become more muted and the tannins more present.

Spiced Wine can be mixed into cocktails or combined with hot apple cider or even used in sauces for meaty dishes.

A 750ml bottle is about $23.

Off the Grid T-Shirts

Get comfy in a soft T-shirt — one touting your favorite street food gathering.

Off the Grid, which has been bringing food truck vendors together for the past three years to locations near you, has just introduced a retail line.

Off the Grid announces its first retail T-shirts. (Photo courtesy of Off the Grid)

Off the Grid announces its first retail T-shirts. (Photo courtesy of Off the Grid)

You’ll find scarves, totes and T’s, including this baseball-style one emblazoned with a whimsical design of voracious critters chowing down on delicious truck offerings. Five dollars from each of these $30 shirts will benefit La Cocina, the minority food business incubator in San Francisco’s Mission District.

Ladies, just be aware that the shirts are cut on the large size. But then again, your boyfriend or husband may just steal it first, as my own husband did when my sample came in the mail.

Chefs’ Holidays at The Ahwahnee

Yosemite in the winter is a serene paradise.

It’s actually quiet. The crowds aren’t there as in the summer. Half Dome and everything else is covered in fluffy snow, giving it the look of a storybook wonderland.

The Ahwahnee in winter. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)

The Ahwahnee in winter. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)

A memorable way to experience Yosemite in winter is at the annual Chefs’ Holidays at the majestic Ahwahnee Hotel.

Eight sessions are offered from Jan. 12 through Feb. 6. Each session, made up of two or three days, features cooking demos, a behind-the-scenes kitchen tour, a chefs reception and a gala dinner.

I’m thrilled to be returning as a host again. I’ll be moderating the events, Jan. 19-21, which will feature chefs Kent Rathburn of Abacus in Dallas, Jesse Cool of Flea Street Cafe in Menlo Park, and Mark Estee of Campo in Reno. I’ll also be hosting the session, Jan. 22-23, entitled appropriately enough, “TV’s Rockin’ Women Chefs.” That’s because the headliners will be Elizabeth Falkner, formerly of San Francisco’s Citizen Cake; Ariane Duarte of CulinAriane in Montclair, NJ; and Duskie Estes of Zazu Kitchen and Farm in Sebastopol. All three are familiar faces from the Food Network.

Dinner-only tickets are $199 each. Two- and three-night packages also are available, which include access to all the events those days. Packages range from $319 per person to $574 per person.


More: Scenes From Chefs’ Holidays January 2013

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