Need to dazzle someone? At Swarovski you'll find gorgeous lead crystal cocktail glasses designed by Steven Weinberg. They're a bit pricey at $285 for the pair, but they're also stunning. The hollow crystal stem is banded at the top and bottom with sterling silver while the length of the stem is filled with miniature crystals. Also in wine and champagne flutes. Swarovski, SouthPark Mall.
For your friend who drags you to all the best Asian restaurants in town, repay him or her with twisted chopsticks. Designer Shige Yagi's Chopsticks from the Museum of Modern Art are joyous confections of frivolity in eight translucent colors. $32 at MoMA: www.momastore.org.
If the tedious task of peeling summer peaches or tomatoes from the farmer's market falls to someone you know, give them a Messermeister Serrated Peeler. Forget the boiling bath to loosen the skin. This time-saving peeler, with the added advantage of a cushy handle, has an extremely sharp serrated blade which can effortlessly remove the skin from either a peach or tomato. $5.50 at Sur La Table, SouthPark Mall.
Many men reach a point in life when they get serious about steaks. For those friends, and the rest of the population who are on the Atkins Diet and just can't stop yammering about their incredible weight loss, order some USDA high-prime, dry-aged beef from Lobel's of New York, the Big Apple's noted butcher shop. Order the hefty, two-pound cowboy steak with a frenched rib bone, or a Porterhouse, containing both strip steak and a full portion of filet mignon. They are expensive, but worth it. Shipping is $26 for orders less than $100, $30 for over $100. www.lobels.com or 1-877-783-4512.
For those friends not on Atkins, send a box of almond and coconut macaroons, plain or chocolate-covered, from G. Carl Tripician from the Jersey shore. Started on Atlantic City's boardwalk in 1910, Tripician uses the original marzipan recipe for their tasty treats. Gift boxes of one dozen to three dozen range from $7.95 to $24.95. Also sugar free taffy and sucrose free fudge is available. Call 800-645-4815.
Nothing beats the flavor of vine-ripened tomatoes. With the Italian Tomato Press you're just a grind away from adding fresh tomatoes to a sauce. This handy gadget separates the pulp from the skin and seeds. The press is constructed of red acrylic, has a stainless steel strainer, and adheres to a countertop via suction. $25 from Williams-Sonoma, SouthPark and Birkdale.
For the person who wants the food to look great, give an easy-to-hold Kinpira Julienne Peeler. To julienne a carrot or other produce, run the peeler down the vegetable and the results are positively professional. The serrated teeth and flat edge of the peeler produce finely julienned strips. $14.95 from Sur La Table.
Need another hand in the kitchen? For those in need of a sous chef, or if you know someone with tennis elbow -- or somebody who's just too lazy to live -- give him or her the Stir Chef, a battery-run pot stirrer that conforms to fit most sauce pans. It runs on four AA batteries and has three paddles. $29.95 at Sur La Table.
As luxuries go, marshmallows may not be an ultimate indulgence, but the hand-crafted ones from Williams-Sonoma may surprise the hot chocolate or S'More lover on your list. Each marshmallow weighs over one ounce, has 120 calories, and will cover the top of a mug or graham cracker. And if your friend forgets about them after opening the package, these handcrafted marshmallows would probably make great snowballs. $17.50 at Williams-Sonoma.
In the event one of the folks on your gift list has decided to start making coffee passionately, few coffeemakers are capable of revealing the full-bodied taste and aroma of high-quality coffee beans. But Bonjour Maximus French Press Coffee does the trick for $40. This pot has a fine mesh filter to prevent grounds from seeping into the coffee and an adjustable knob to increase or decrease the strength of the coffee per individual taste. At Williams-Sonoma.
Also from Williams-Sonoma online is the Melted Chocolate Cake Batter by pastry chef Jean-Yves Charon. All you need to have that restaurant molten chocolate cake taste at home is to fill ramekins and bake. The batter serves 8-12 and can be frozen for four weeks. $38 at Williams-Sonoma.com.
The Caroliva Gourmet Spanish Sampler contains a Sherry Vinegar Reserve, aged 12 years and made in Jerez; extra virgin olive oil; and balsamic vinegar, aged 18 years. All products are 8.5 ounces and estate grown and bottled. $39.95 at Sur La Table.
For the person on your list who enjoys those rounds of fabulous champagne cocktails, wrap a bottle of Belle de Brillet ($38), a pear cognac, and a bottle of champagne.
One of San Francisco's most popular dining spots is Restaurant LuLu, which features a seasonal Provencal menu. But you can give their full-bodied Fig and Meyer Lemon balsamic vinegar to drizzle over grilled holiday vegetables for $11.95. At Sur La Table.
Have a restaurant tip, compliment, complaint? Do you know of a restaurant that has opened, closed, or should be reviewed? Does your restaurant or shop have news, menu changes, new additions to staff or building, upcoming cuisine or wine events? Fax information to Eaters' Digest: 704-944-3605, or leave voice mail: 704-522-8334, ext. 136. Note: We need events at least 12 days in advance. To contact Tricia via email: tricia.childress@ creativeloafing.com.