Food & Drink Edition

The holidays are known to be a time of great indulgence in food and drink. So here we have some gift ideas to get the party started: a purse that secretly holds wine, books to tempt your palate and other goodies.

PortoVino Wine Purse

Porto Vino Black Classic Wine Purse

Oh the possibilities! The imagination of wine lovers will likely go into overdrive at the mere mention of something called a "wine purse." "What could it be and where can I get one?" Ladies will love PortoVino's line of wine purses and so will any wine drinkers that accompany them. Take the PortoVino Classic Black (also available in five other colors) for example; it's a fashionable purse made of 100% vegan leather, and at 15" X 5" X 12" it has room to hold all the essentials. But it also has a secret! There's a hidden zipper that when unzipped reveals a compartment that accommodates a bladder that you can pour 1.5 liters of wine (or any other liquid) into. The wine will retain it's temperature in the specially-lined compartment until you're ready to drink it; then just align the bladder's spout with the (also secret!) pouring hole (hidden under a flap) and voila, you've got a secret wine dispenser! The bladder can be rinsed out and reused or you can buy a supply of new bladders which are sold separately. Order the PortoVino Wine Purse here.

"American Cheese: An Indulgent Odyssey through the Artisan Cheese World"

American Cheese

If you don't know much about cheese beyond cheddar, Swiss and Velveeta, you're pretty much where Joe Berkowitz was before he wrote this book. Or more precisely, before he launched into an epic journey of cheese discovery. The book begins with an anecdote about asking people about to have their photo taken to say "cheese," because uttering that syllable provokes a smile. So by extension Berkowitz equates cheese with happiness while also hinting that the book's name came from a joke astronaut Bill Anders made upon his return from space when he referred to the Moon as being "made out of American cheese." If you haven't guessed already, Berkowitz is a pop culture specialist who loves to fill his writings with humor. So be prepared to giggle as you accompany Berkowitz to the Cheesemonger Invitational in Brooklyn (yes there is such a thing), to cheese operations in California's Marin and Sonoma counties, the Cheeselandia event in Austin (a Wisconsin group's efforts to raise the profile of Wisconsin cheese) and the American Cheese Society's annual conference. Of course the reader will learn all about the flavors, textures and nuances of dozens of cheeses along the way. So much fun and such a fast read that even those who don't like cheese (gasp!) will enjoy "American Cheese." Available at Amazon here.

Dreams Aren't This Good Craft Salsa

Dreams Aren't This Good Salsa

Well of course our food & drink gift suggestions would include some actual food. The Dreams Aren't This Good company was as they like to say, "Born on the bayou and perfected in the Big Apple." That means their products combine flavors of the South with the attitude of the city that never sleeps. So expect powerfully-good tastes from the line of Dreams Aren't This Good Craft Salsa, which began with The Original but has expanded to four other varieties, all of which are named after songs. The jalapeno pineapple Just Dance, for example, is a nod to Lady Gaga, while the garlic cilantro flavor of The Fighter is an homage to the Gym Class Heroes song of the same name. Other varieties from this lifestyle brand include Now or Never with avocado and pepper and Girls Girls Girls with blueberry and coconut. The bold flavors of Dreams Aren't This Good Craft Salsa are best enjoyed when served cold. Salsas and Dreams Aren't This Good tortilla chips to go with them are available here.

"Rising Hope: Recipes and Stories from Luminary Bakery"

Rising Hope

Luminary is a London-based bakery that's on a mission to empower some of the UK's most disadvantaged women. This book combines some of Luminary Bakery's most cherished recipes with the stories of women who the enterprise has helped, a baker's dozen in all. As the book's title indicates, all of this is meant to be uplifting, not scary. So when you read Tanya's story, for example, you'll find out that she was brutally attacked and barely survived, but it is not necessary to include the details here. Instead you'll learn how baking helped Tanya focus and go on to help other women suffering from domestic abuse. And then she shares her favorite recipe for banana fritters with cinnamon sugar! This pattern is repeated as the stories of other women are briefly told, appended with recipes for goodies like carrot bread with nigella seeds, pumpkin and chili cornbread muffins, cranberry, orange and white chocolate soda bread, coconut and fresh mint sandwich cookies, and, well, you get the idea. Dozens of Luminary Bakery's favorite recipes are included in this book that will warm your heart as surely as it'll tempt your taste buds. Put together by Rachel Stonehouse and Kaila H. Johnson, this unique cookbook is available at Amazon here.

El Tequileno Tequila

El Tequileno

The holidays include New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, both of which are occasions to offer a toast or otherwise indulge in the drinking of adult beverages. While champagne and other sparkling wines are usually top dog for New Year's Eve toasts, eventually the bubbly will run out and party-goers will want something harder. The folks at El Tequileno Tequila, who've been making tequila since 1959, use only blue agave from Los Altos de Jalisco and mineral-rich volcanic spring water from El Volcan de Tequila. And as to additives, there are none, which has been verified by Tequila Matchmaker's additive-free verification program, the industry standard. El Tequileno makes a Blanco with the taste of sweet agave, Reposado with hints of oak, Platinum with a slightly spicy and delicate finish, Reposado Gran Reserva with a taste of oak, vanilla, spice, toffee and macadamia nuts and Reposado Rare with a taste of spice, marzipan, sweet agave and oak. Find a purveyor of El Tequileno Tequila near you here.

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