Food & Drink

UrbanDaddy's 2023 Food and Drink Gift Guide

Only The Finest In Caviar, Wagyu, Mezcal, Neverlasting Gobstoppers, and More

By Hadley Tomicki ·

Santa Claus.

He’s great at making toys.

But absolutely terrible at making caviar.

Which is why you still require the necessary, but no less magical intervention of UrbanDaddy’s 2023 Holiday Food and Drink Gift Guide. 

It’s a helpful exploration of all the finest luxuries in life that go into your mouth, from usually unobtainable Japanese Wagyu beef and prized pearls of caviar to just a damn perfect pot of coffee.

And it is conveniently landing right here with 100% less clattering of noisy reindeer hooves.

In a world gone wrong, these adorable Christmas-postcard butter cookies from Mackenzie Limited will remind you of simpler times, through their quaint scenes of vintage holiday hi-jinks. Hey, there’s Santa riding his sleigh. And there’s Santa sounding a bugle. And there’s sweet little Santa, being crushed and torn asunder between our world-weary 21st century incisors. Anyway… great stocking-stuffer.

Stick a bottle of Tumie Coco into the stocking of the most particular hot sauce adherent you know. It’s an addictive, all-natural blend balancing flavor and heat, with elements like turmeric and coconut oil, from chef Jason Fullilove, and it tastes great on everything. Not everything. Food everything.

Ojai, California-based knife artists Messermeister foraged a 6.5-inch oyster knife unlike all others. Designed by Dutch oyster shucking champion Marcel Schouwenaar, it fits hands comfortably while shucking, has a thumb groove for greater torque, and is extremely easy to clean in hot water. You refuse to let a lack of torque ruin anyone’s 2024.

Nio crafts elegant, ready-to-drink cocktails and puts them in sleek packages that resemble floppy disks. And now, the Milan-based company has a 12-drawer advent calendar, bearing different drinks-for-two like dry martinis and Mai Tais. All they’ll need is ice and a warm plus-one. In case you’re interested in the job.

For the person that invites you over for dinner the most: Kung Pao & Beyond: Fried Chicken Recipes from East and Southeast Asia, collecting writer Susan Jung’s favorite food memory recipes, including Vietnamese butter wings, chicken poppers with Instant Noodle coating, and coconut milk-and-curry nuggets. See where we’re going with this idea?

Oh this? It's a Neverlasting Gobstopper, a sugar-based, 3-D-printed treat inspired by the doubtlessly copyrighted, everlasting one from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, as crafted by Sugar Lab, L.A.'s beyond whimsical digital-confectioner. You can eat it, you can keep it, you can give it to a kid or a kid-at-heart. Assured that no Oompah-Loompahs were harmed in its making.

There’s a lot to love about gifting the 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon from Sonoma’s Red Bear Winery. 1) It’s a full-bodied blend of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from the Alexander Valley. 2) It’s a father-and-son-owned wine business representing one of the fewer than 1% of Black-owned U.S. wineries. 3) Bears. We like bears, okay?

First Light Farms wasn’t content simply feeding everyone grass-fed New Zealand wagyu of impeccable standards. Now it’s making micronutrient multivitamins, collagen, and supplements from their elk and wagyu cattle. It's almost like they want you to live forever or something.

Punch Edibles & Extracts is so good at making tasty, strong, and consistently dosed edibles, they've won awards for it. And if you're living California, New York, or Oklahoma, you can get your mitts on their lab-tested potent, handcrafted gummies, chocolates, fruit snacks, cookies, and malt balls. Or if not, maybe Santa can pick some up for your while flying through Manhattan.

Gingerbread houses are fun. Up to the exact point that you consider putting one anywhere near your mouth. Today’s food-savvy kid-types will prefer I’m a Chef Too’s Fudgy Fossil Dig, in which they’ll build and bake a miniature paleontologist’s dig site composed of chocolate fudge soil, hiding little chocolate dinosaur bones and chocolate fossils. Kids. Always with the dinosaurs.

Beehive Cheese's “Pour Me a Box” comes with three large wedges of award-winning cheddar that some genius thoughtfully plied with alcohol. One cheese is infused with Basil Hayden’s bourbon, another marbled with rum and raisins, and the last: an espresso-and-lavender-rubbed, Cabernet-marbled cheddar. It all comes with an artisan salami and cheese knife, which are not infused with alcohol. But we can’t all be perfect.

Face It. This whole holiday thing would all be for naught if people didn’t bestow epic proportions of caviar on each other. Win the fish roe row by sending Moveable Feast’s Holiday Caviar Party, which ships straight to your giftee with canapes from Michelin and James Beard Awarded chefs like Jeremy Fox of Birdie G’s and Nina Compton of Compere Lapin, all paired with servings of caviar, from 50 gram tins to three kilogram tins that feed 100.

If they haven’t heard of Bee Ulmo raw honey yet, they will. It comes from the forests of Chile’s Patagonia region, is totally unprocessed, and contains the highest antibacterial properties of any honey brand on the market. So ordinary honey gets a massive inferiority complex when it’s around.

Convite’s website is available in Zapotec. A good sign that it takes mezcal artesanal seriously. Another one? Its true connoisseur’s range of agave expressions, including jabali, tobala, tepextate, and coyote, as well as its cochineal-tinted “una” and special celebration-style mezcal pechuga. Perfect upgrade to the bar of your friend who’s just getting into the spirit.

Before your mom sends you another N.Y. Times article about the benefits of the Mediterranean lifestyle, you’re going to send her a trio of epic olive oils from Kosterina, which comes from olive oil sommelier Katerina Mountanos, using olives harvested early for a greater concentration of powerful polyphenol antioxidants. That should show Mom who knows more about stuff around here

Of course, if you’re going to give a friend some great olive oil, you can’t leave them without an equally epic balsamic vinegar. So you’ll send nothing less than a balsamic from Carandini, aged and bottled by the noble Modena family that’s mastered the craft through 382 years. And really, everything is less.

You no longer need to look to Scotland to procure an exceptional whiskey that will blow someone’s socks off. Westward Whiskey Milestone is made using a 21-barrel Solera system with the Oregon distiller’s oldest, rarest, and most prized whiskies, planning on drawing off a small portion each year and adding another for the most limited of its offerings; one of the most remarkable products in the world of U.S. whiskey today. And you’re just going to give it away. Just like that.

You can’t stuff a porterhouse steak into a stocking or wrap up a ribeye. Which is why a gift card to one of Morton’s The Steakhouse’s more than 65 U.S. locations really comes in handy. Don’t make the same messy mistakes that we did. 

Halter Ranch’s The 2020 Ancestor is an organic, French oak-aged blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Petit Verdot from Hansjörg Wyss’s Paso Robles winery and estate. It’s a California wine you’ll be proud to bring to anyone’s holiday feast. Silently praying to yourself they’re going to open it while you’re there.

Your biggest asset is time. And if you had more of it, you’d totally teach your giftee everything you know about West African cuisine. But since you don’t, you’ll buy them Simply African: Easy, Joyful Recipes For Every Kitchen, Pierre Thiam’s collection of recipes from across West Africa, instead. Ultimately, you do what you have to do.

It’s the Magnum Party Park from Napa’s Lang & Reed and it’s got a magnum of 2018 Two-Fourteen Cabernet Franc and a magnum of Hawkbox Rose. Enough to sustain a whole holiday party. Or one extremely drunk uncle.

It’s like mama always told us, if your friends don’t want a cache of freshly made pork, chicken, corn, and shrimp dumplings sent frozen to their door from Washington’s MiLa, then they weren’t really good friends in the first place. Our mom is weird.

David Chang is a microwave’s best friend, consistently touting the benefits of making great from-scratch meals inside the boxy kitchen appliance. Chang’s Everyday Set of microwave and oven-safe dishes is a microwave’s best friend’s best friend, trapping in steam, splatter, and flavor for some enviably even cooking. All in a snap. Snap!

Enroll your ale-loving friends in Firestone Walker’s Brewmaster’s Collective. They will get 21 of the brewery’s most exclusive small-batch, barrel-aged beers in four different special releases, along with extensive member benefits. In return, you will get a friend for life. Or at least until next holiday season.

People just aren’t sticking enough wine jelly in other people’s stockings these days. We read that on the internet. Maybe you can get something going by spreading some of Clif Family Winery’s red wine-and-cracked pepper-infused jelly around town.

Biodynamic Coffee by Holistic Roasters highlights single-origin, highest-grade Arabica beans raised through regenerative farming on exclusive family-run single estates and co-ops. It even comes in 100% compostable material. And it’s just begging to be given to the conscientious coffee fanatic in your life.

Presumably, your wine collecting giftee deserves a unique red from one of California’s oldest vineyards. Pali Wine Co.'s Tower 15 brand uses what may be the only Cabernet Pfeffer grapes grown in the state in its remarkable 2022 Cabernet Pfeffer, which bears notes of strawberry and peppercorn. Or as we’re now calling it, pfeffercorn.

Your years of loyalty and companionship were great, of course. But sending sets of actual Japanese Wagyu from the Government of Japan’s JFOODO? That cannot help but prove your value as a friend.  Consider Meat n’ Bone’s collection, which includes Champagne and a skillet with A5 Miyazakigyu Japanese Filet Mignon and A5 Miyazakigyu Japanese Wagyu Ribeye. Or the A3-A4-A5 Wagyu sampler from San Francisco’s Pursuit Farms for a tour of prized cuts and grades. There’s also Wagyuman’s set with A5 striploin and chuck roll skewers. Omaha Steaks misses you already.

We’ve never actually seen a sugar plum, dancing in our heads or otherwise. But we can recommend Kanha’s seasonal, fast-acting sugar plum gummy edibles, which are inspired by the holiday treat and come in bags with 10 candies, each bearing 10mg of THC. So they should get something or other dancing in your head.

Martingale Cognac is the first release from a fourth generation legend who’s been making eau-de-vie for iconic brands for over a century. You’ll probably need to include that information in your card or something.

Hadley Tomicki

Hadley Tomicki lives in Los Angeles. He is probably going nowhere on the 10 Freeway this very second.

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