In our homes growing up, our grandparents and parents didn’t splurge on big expensive items. The gifts they gave were from their heart. It was hours spent in the kitchen making Italian cookies. Tray after tray, in and out of the oven; my little Sicilian grandmother and mother would bring their homemade treats to every friend and relative they had. What special memories!
The Italian way of life is family and food anytime and when you can strengthen family ties and experiences, you have succeeded.
Over the years, we have given and received gifts that are quintessentially Italian and we are beginning to understand that our perspective as an Italian family may be of value to many of you out there. What comes easy for us, may not for others. And vice-versa. A community of collaboration allows us insight into one another’s worlds, expanding our very own. And that lies very close to the heart of why we do what we do in our travel consulting business. So here we go; our favorite go-to products that make great gifts for the people in your life (or you!)
1. Every home should have a pasta machine, especially if you’re Italian.
Our favorite is the Marcato 8334 Atlas 150 Machine. We’ve hosted many pasta-making nights with friends, families and travel guests. Including a group of friends through the process together is so much fun. It’s just part of our DNA and comes easy to us. But that isn’t the case for everyone and some may be very intimidated by making pasta from scratch. Without a doubt, dry-boxed pasta cannot hold a candle to fresh pasta. We encourage everyone to go for it and have a good time doing it. There’s no need to be put-off by hand rolling or hand making fresh pasta. A fantastic machine like this one leads an amateur pasta-chef through the process with very clear instructions. It’s called the ‘Ferrari of the pasta machine world’ and it’s our go-to for friends and relatives.
You clamp it on your counter, crank out pasta sheets and either use for lasagne or cut into fettuccine or spaghetti. A friend and his wife, having recently traveled to Italy through our company, came back with a fervor to replicate some of the experiences that they’d had. We purchased this for him and he loved it. It has a 10-year warranty and other attachments for different pasta shapes are available & sold separately. If you want to shell out another $100 to this already great gift, buy the compatible motor attachment to go from a hand-crank to motorized for another $100. (You can find it on Amazon.)
One word of advice after use? Only clean with a dry brush or cloth. You can also find this on Amazon.
If you want to round out the gift, add Antimo Caputo’s 00 (double zero) Pasta Flour.
And lastly a flour scraper. Don’t leave any pieces behind. 😉
2. Hostess gift: Repour Wine Savers
For years, Anthony traveled extensively and he’d be gone for days at a time. There were many times that I wanted to have a glass of red wine so I’d grab a ‘cheaper-looking’ one from our collection, pour one glass, and stick the cork back in. He’d come home a day or two later, only to see a very nice bottle of wine sitting on the counter with the cork stuck in and he’d nearly cry. 😬Well, this was the first time my husband semi-patiently schooled me that once the cork has been removed and the wine comes in contact with air, the wine drops or begins to change, losing integrity over time. That cheaper bottle of wine wasn’t actually cheap and it had gone from a very good glass of wine to not so great just a day later.
There are a few options for how to stop your bottle of wine to guarantee a great reseal but for us, the value and ease of Repour cannot be beat. And it’s also a big win that a chemist designed this trusted stopper used by sommeliers and wine enthusiasts. The Repour wine savers are excellent wine preservers. Inside of each Repour wine stopper is an FDA approved (non toxic) oxygen-absorbing material that removes 100% of the oxygen from the air in the bottle above the wine, and from the wine itself. They are easy to store and use and they are so convenient to pack if you are traveling. Repour is sold in packs of 4, 10 or more than a hundred Unseal one, stop your bottle and you can enjoy later. It’s a great gift to give to someone hosting a dinner party over the holidays or anytime.
**P.S. Totally unsponsored 😉
3. Red wine lovers? Aervana Aerator
We rarely open expensive bottles of wine unless we are sharing it so no worries over having to bother with resealing. But this is where it can be interesting to learn about wine. Removing the oxygen when you reseal wine is a must and yet adding oxygen into the wine as you pour it is a must as well. The more air that can get into each pour of your red wine, especially bold wines, improves the aroma and flavor. There’s a whole science behind it I won’t get in to but you get the idea. The longer a wine has been bottled up and corked, the more time it needs to air or decanter to “breathe” and come to the fullness of its glorious taste. We’ve been using the Aervana Aerator for years because Aervana adds air to the wine as it’s being poured. It’s easy to clean, battery operated and easy to use. It’s our go-to each time we open any red wine. The difference is notable using the aerator vs not. This is a great gift idea that will certainly be appreciated & used.
Panettone is a delicious leavened Italian bread with candied fruit inside. You must be sure to buy the variety with raisins, orange peel & citron as there are a few variations of the Panettone. It’s one of our favorite after dinner-treats that we’ve grown up with on our family’s tables, especially on Easter & Christmas holidays. It’s colorful, dome-shaped box is unique and you’ll see them everywhere from Costco to TJ Maxx. Panettone originate in Milan and since we are in America, we make do with the mass produced choice but the artisanal bread available in Italy is something you must try when there. Panettone are best unwrapped and cut in slices. I prefer my Panettone fix as is but many, Anthony included, prefer it toasted with butter. If left out for a day or two, it’ll dry out, which makes it just right for a delicious bread pudding. When I give Panettone as a gift, I love to add a bottle of Amaretto.
Disaronno Amaretto is the first choice when shopping for the almond sipping drink after dinner drink. Whenever we went out for a special occasion, my mom would order a Disaronno on the rocks & she’d always give me a tiny sip so I grew up with an appreciation for it. My daughter-in law or I will buy a bottle every Christmas to share over the holiday season since we both find it yummy! These two Italian products together in a basket look beautiful together. And if you have any doubt that the gift receiver would not like them, add a handwritten copy of Giada’s Panettone Bread Pudding with Amaretto Sauce.
This is a yummy gift that’s sure to please anyone in your life.
5. Gifts for the family: Scopa Card Game
Scopa is an Italian card game of skill and chance and encourages lively interaction between players. It’s super fun to play and introduces the family to Italian words and characters. Our next-door neighbors are Italian and we made up a big basket filled with all kinds of treats since their house is always full of family and guests and we stuck Scopa in the basket. What better way to bring the whole family together than with a card game. Playing cards has always been a wonderful way for couples and families to interact around the table. Of course, we’d throw some biscotti on the table to snack on as you play.
6. Coffee Lover: Espresso machine
If you are going to buy one espresso machine and you want a serious maker, this is your baby. The style and quality is second to none and you could certainly pay more for other high-quality machines. Not only will you be able to pull a great shot of espresso, you will be able to make a great cup of American coffee. Using bottled water and high quality beans, such as Lavazza Super Crema Espresso beans.
For a lower price point, we also recommend this one!
Maybe you don’t want to spend more but want to be sure it’s a quality product. We own this model and have always loved how easy it is to use for everyone in the family. Our favorite coffee bean is the Lavazza we mentioned but sometimes, when I’m going to have a house full of people, I’ll buy Lavazza super Crema single serve pods. The younger crowd can self-serve themselves without asking all the questions. A great gift for sure!!
Whatever you decide to get for that special someone, give it to them with great zeal, love and a great huge hug!
~ Denise 🌻