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Holiday Gift Ideas for the Food Lover

If you're holiday shopping for a food lover, you're in luck. Food lovers are among the easiest people in the world to satisfy with a gift.

First, consider a gift certificate to one of the finest restaurants in the country.

New York's Per Se is happy to sell you a gift certificate at a minimum of $550 (after all, a tasting, prior to wine, is $275 per person). Or, purchase a gift certificate to Per Se's sister restaurant in Napa Valley, The French Laundry, starting at $250. Chicago's Alinea offers gift certificates starting at $100, but if you'd like to give a complete, all-inclusive dinner, tastings for two begin at $700 and a tour is $1,050.

Or forego the restaurant experience in favor of something that can be used again and again. Take a trip to one of the two top kitchen shops in the country, Sur La Table, or Williams-Sonoma. They're both offering huge sales.

The most obvious and desirable kitchen gift is electronic. The several-thousand-dollar Jura-Capresso coffee center machines, or several-hundred-dollar KitchenAid professional standing mixer are coveted, while blenders and food processors feel as unsexy as vacuum cleaners. We might be in a recession, but during the holidays, be sure to give a gift, not merely a functional appliance.

Consider a classic collection of pots and pans, partnered with a few sassy cookbooks. All-Clad is the good, dependable brand, used on many cooking shows. Sure, there's nonstick varieties from brands like Calphalon, and Anolon, but that borders or functional again. Choose something sexy instead, like Mauviel, which makes elegant French copper cookware.

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