The Gourmet Traveler Gift Guide

Do you have a friend or family member whose travel fantasies revolve around local restaurants, markets, or street food? The kind of person whose dream dinner is with Calvin Trillin or Anthony Bourdain? If so, read on for our favorite gifts for food-centric travelers.

Stocking Stuffers ($25 and Under)

081212_baggu.jpgBaggu collapsible shopping totes come in an incredible number of bright colors. The ripstop nylon bags are light, sturdy, and pack into five-inch-square pouches, so they’re very suitcase-friendly. Baggus practically beg for a farmers’ market.

Roadfood, by Jane and Michael Stern, is a mouthwatering guide to America’s classic casual eats. The authors have driven all over the country to find the best local specialties, from barbecue to pizza to, of course, apple pie. Add on a gasoline gift card and you’re golden.

Snug-fitting, bubblewrap-lined Wineskin pouches protect bottles of wine in your luggage. No more risking pinot-soaked PJs.

Mid-Range ($50 and under)

The Mobile Foodie Survival Kit racks up 17 small jars of seasoning plus a mini-bottle of Tabasco. With spices and herbs like cinnamon, basil, and curry, it might even make airplane food a bit more palatable.

Boisterous chef Mario Batali and polished celeb Gwyneth Paltrow make an unexpected couple. But their TV series Spain… On the Road Again is a fun, freewheeling ride around Spain, as they hunt down exceptional paella, tapas, and more. The DVD is out this month, with extra recipes and outtakes. We’re assuming your foodie friend has already salivated over every episode of No Reservations.

Snap up one of the destination-themed spice sets from Penzeys. The Indian curries and Mexican chiles can conjure up memories of a trip or inspire a new journey. There’s even a gift box inspired by the ethnic neighborhoods of Milwaukee.

Kiosk, a shop-slash-gallery in Manhattan, is a trove of locally unique and well-designed items discovered by the store owners during their travels. You’ll find all sorts of charming odds and ends, like the red-and-white Finnish Airam thermos, which looks like the kind of thing Santa would keep in his sleigh’s cupholder.

Vosges Haut Chocolat’s Exotic Truffle Collection was sparked by far-flung locales. Black sesame seeds and wasabi evoke Japan, for instance; pasilla chile and pumpkin seeds nod to Oaxaca.

Splurges ($75 and up)

Pork fans, rejoice! The ultimate Spanish ham, jamon iberico, can finally be imported to the U.S. Jamon iberico de bellota from Despaña comes from the free-range, acorn-fed pigs that make this intensely flavorful ham so legendary.

Take a world tour of wine with a special selection from a top-notch wine shop, like
Sherry-Lehmann. These samplers usually include wines from the Old World (France, Italy, Germany) and the New (Chile, New Zealand, Argentina).

–Jennifer Paull