Holiday Gift Guide - Under $25

Holiday Grab Bag? Stocking stuffers? We’ve got you covered! I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite gifts in the shop for under $25!

TrueTrap Waiter's Corkscrew: Not only is this corkscrew gorgeous (yes, corkscrews can be gorgeous), but it works so well too! This TrueTap waiter’s corkscrew by True Fabrications is always at the top of lists for best corkscrews. It’s small enough to fit in a stocking as well as tucking it away in a kitchen drawer. Why would you want to though? The copper & gold are too pretty to hide!

True Fabrications TrueTap Waiter's Corkscrew (Gold & Copper): $6.99

Fortessa Forte Red Wine Glasses: I love these wine glasses because they’re such quality glasses at a great price! For $10 a glass you’re able to get someone two glasses, which should be more than enough of a hint that you should be the one they test them out with.

Fortessa Forte Red Wine Glasses: $10/glass


Corkcicle Tumbler (12 oz.): These tumblers are perfect for the person always on the go! Corkcicle tumblers have triple insulation, meaning it keeps your hot drinks hot and your cold drinks cold. Did we mention the colors are also pretty amazing?

Corkcicle Tumbler (12 oz.): $22.95

Allen Designs Studio Coasters (Set of 4): If you’ve followed us for any length of time then you know about our serious love affair with Allen Designs. Not only do they make the amazing clocks we have hanging up around our shop, but they make adorable coasters as well. The best part of these cork-backed coasters is that each coaster is a different design.

Allen Designs Coasters (Set of 4): $8

New Metro Angry Mama: In my opinion, the Angry Mama is absolutely hysterical….and it works! The Angry Mama is a microwave cleaner that only requires water, vinegar and about 10 minutes to perfectly steam clean your microwave. Where does the name “Angry Mama” come from? The steam to clean your microwave comes out the top of her head!

Angry Mama Microwave Cleaner: $9.95


Carolyn's Holiday Gift Guide

Gift buying for the cook in your life can be difficult when they already have so many culinary related items! To provide a little guidance here are a few of my favorite items that combine a love of cooking with a little whimsy.

Allen Design Clocks and Aprons: If you have ever been in the store and expressed an interest in our clocks, you have probably heard the story of how we came to carry them. For those that haven’t, here’s the story: We originally only had the teal mixer clock at the store, it was a gift I got for Sam from my favorite bookstore in Rehoboth Beach, Browse About Books. The clock received so much attention and so many customers wanted to buy it that we started carrying that clock and a few others. We now carry over 30 clocks and love them all! When you come in and check them out, believe me one of them will just call out someone on your list’s name! Not interested in a clock? Allen Designs just came out with a full line of aprons that are equally as whimsical and fun!

Allen Designs Clocks: $55-59; Allen Designs Aprons: $19

Golden Rabbit Baking Pans and Serving Trays: I love everything that Golden Rabbit puts out, but I am particularly fond of the baking pan. It is carbon steel with an enamel overlay. It retains heat wonderfully (making it a perfect baking dish), it washes up easily and looks beautiful on the table. I love the swirl designs they have in an assortment of colors.  Their serving platters are equally as beautiful and functional; the rooster platter is a particular favorite.

Taupe Swirl Baking Pan: $50.50; Cobalt Swirl Petite Colander: $21

J.K. Adams Trilogy Cutting Board Set: As a librarian I had to go with this set!  A stack of three cheese boards in the shape of books with the titles, A Moveable Feast, Food for Thought and The Art of Charcuterie. How can you go wrong? It’s the perfect gift for the book lover in your life.

J.K. Adams Trilogy Collection: $55


GrowlerWerks Growlers: I’ll admit I’m not much of a craft beer drinker, but these growlers are so beautiful, functional and clever that I had to add them to my list. Their sleek design makes you want to leave it on the counter for everyone to see, but it fits nicely in the fridge and has the perfect pour tap. These Growlers keep your craft beer fresh for up to two weeks, they have a double-walled vacuum insulated stainless steel vessel and a sight glass so you can see just how much beer you have left. Each one comes with two CO2 cartridges and we carry boxes of 10 refills.

GrowlerWerks UKEG 64 (Copper): $125; GrowlerWerks UKEG 64 (Stainless): $115

Ice Cube Molds: Have you checked out our collection of ice molds? We recently expanded them to include a few new ones, think cacti and flamingoes! They are so much fun and the perfect stocking stuffer for everyone. They run the gamut from Penguins to Anchors and Owls to my personal favorite…Gin and Titonic! The Tovolo silicone ice molds are also oven safe up to 600°F so you can bake in them as well!

True Cactus Ice Cube Tray: $9.99; True Gin and Titonic Ice Cube Tray: $12

All-Clad Cookware: We have owned many of our All-Clad pots for more than twenty years and they remain our favorite pots and pans. We have all the essentials: the saucepans, the sauté pans and the fry pans, but the one I tend to reach for the most is the 5.5 Quart Dutch Oven with lid. I love it for soups, stews and even for sauces. It’s the perfect pot for all those one pot meals that are my favorites - it has a rounded bottom that makes stirring easy, keeps things from sticking to the bottom and its domed lid keeps moisture circulating and holds in the heat. This is truly my favorite pot!

All-Clad Cookware: prices vary; All-Clad 5.5 Qt Dutch Oven with Lid: $275


Sam's Holiday Gift Guide

When it comes to the holidays, sometimes we know exactly what to get someone. Other times, though, we need a little help and that’s where our gift guides come in! We’ve decided to round up some of our personal favorites from the shop for the upcoming holiday season. My favorite items in the shop are the ones that are functional, yet still look beautiful in my home when I’m not using them. So without any further ado, here's my list!

Fortessa Pure Wine Glasses: I have these glasses at my apartment and I can’t say enough good things about them. These glasses are so beautiful and unique looking they make me feel like I’m having a glass of wine at a fancy restaurant as opposed to online shopping in my pajamas.

Pure Cabernet $13/glass; Pure Champagne $13/glass; Pure Sauvignon Blanc glass $13/glass


Zojirushi Stainless Steel Vacuum Mugs: I have two of the Zojirushi vacuum mugs and they are amazing! I can make coffee in the morning before work and still have it be steaming hot hours (HOURS!) later. These mugs also keep iced beverages iced during the hotter months. Another great feature of these travel mugs is the lock on the lid ensuring my coffee stays in the mug not all over my backpack.

Zojirushi Vacuum Mugs: $30-40


Messermeister Oliva 8” Chef’s Knife: Not only is this knife gorgeous, it’s my go-to knife when I’m cooking at home. I love the weight of this knife and there’s something about the olive wood handle of the Messermeister that I really can’t resist. A gift that’s functional and looks great on a knife bar or in a knife block!

Messermeister Oliva Elite 8" Chef's Knife: $149.95


Bodum Copper Chambord 8-cup French Press: Oftentimes I’m running off to the gym, to work or to meet up with friends so on my days off one of my favorite things to do is hang out at home with my dog and a nice cup of coffee. There’s something about brewing coffee in my Bodum copper French press that makes me feel cozy. Another added bonus – it does double duty as a decorative piece in your kitchen as well.

Bodum Chambord Copper Coffee Maker (8c): $50


J.K. Adams Monogrammed Cutting Boards: I recommend J.K. Adams cutting boards as gifts for just about everything. They have a fantastic personalization program that allows you to choose from a wide variety of J.K. Adams products including cheese boards, servers, cutting boards, and slate coasters. There are so many ways to make the item unique and I think it’s such a thoughtful gift!

J.K. Adams Monogrammed Cutting Boards: prices vary


Staub 3.75 quart Braiser: It doesn’t really matter what color you choose for this braiser because all of the colors are stunning. This is the perfect pot for one-dish dinners and the domed lid makes it roomy enough to cook all different cuts of meat. As an added bonus, this pot is beautiful even when it’s not in use!

Staub 3.75-qt Braiser: $199.99


We Now Return to Our Regularly Scheduled Program...

Phew! It’s been a busy month and we apologize for not posting sooner. We started the Culinary Square Cookbook Book Club in October and due to its popularity we hosted three separate events!! It was so much fun and we learned a lot…at least I did. Our first cookbook selection was the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman. Between the three nights there were barely any recipes in the book that Sam and I didn’t get to try, and they were all delicious.  Here are a few tips that I learned along the way; when dredging chicken in flour, eggs and breadcrumbs – if you put them back in the fridge to chill for at least an hour the coating sets up much better, if you soak raw onions in buttermilk it mellows the flavor for a great broccoli slaw, that if you are looking for hard to find spices, Nora’s Grocery in Latham on Troy-Schenectady Road as you are coming out of Watervliet is the place to go (and they are extremely helpful), a trick for making a perfect crust for a galette is to put the flour and salt in one bowl, the butter in another and place them both in the freezer for an hour prior to preparation,  I could go on and on. I loved Deb Perelman’s cookbook so much that I ran out to Market Block Books and bought her new one, Smitten Kitchen Everyday when it came out last week! We had such a great time sitting down, sharing these meals, getting to know each other and talking cooking! For the November selection we chose Hattie’s Restaurant Cookbook by Jasper Alexander…you know from Hattie’s Kitchen in Saratoga…and the most wonderful part is that he will be attending our meeting on November 14th at 6PM!


Which leads me to our other newest development. Jasper Alexander’s availability limited him to visiting the store once in November. We wanted to be able to have as many people from the cookbook club, who were interested, able to attend.  So, in order to accommodate everyone, we took down the final wall in the back of the store! If you haven’t seen it, stop in and check it out. It opens up the back so nicely, we have a beautiful view of the river and we are working on creating a permanent space for the meetings.  Well that’s all for now. Next up Sam and I are coming up with a list of our favorite cooking equipment items for the Thanksgiving feast!

Saturday Night IN!

Girls night! Sometimes don’t you all just need a night in with friends? Drinking good wine & having a good meal? I know I do. Not too long ago my friends and I decided to do just that! We pulled together items from our fridges, picked up some wine and made a time to meet up at my apartment on a Saturday evening. The dinner: Skinnytaste’s Eggplant Rollatini with Spinach. The wine: Tempranillo from our neighbors at 22 Second Street.

For the Eggplant Rollatini I used the Oxo V-Blade Mandoline. I really liked this mandoline because it has a straight blade and a wavy blade, which allows for crinkle cuts.  You can also adjust the mandoline to four different thicknesses by turning the knob on the side to 1.5 mm, 3 mm, 4.5 mm and 6 mm. Once you’ve chosen your blade and thickness settings you can lock the mandoline into place and you’re good to go.


This mandoline felt sturdy while using it and I really liked the food gripper that allows you to securely slice while protecting your fingers from the blade. I never felt like the mandoline was going to collapse in on itself and cutting through the eggplant was relatively easy. In the future, I’d really like to compare this mandoline to the Oxo Chef’s Mandoline Slicer, which has a steel base. After using the mandoline cleanup was easy – the mandoline’s body is dishwasher safe and since the blades are interchangeable you can easily take the blade off the mandoline to hand wash it.


On top of a great meal, we also enjoyed some great wine that we decanted using the Fortessa Pure Decanter. We at Culinary Square enjoy a nice bottle of wine and love the way a decanter looks on the dinner table when entertaining, but what are the benefits of decanting wine? For those answers we turn to our neighborhood wine shop: 22 Second Street. According to Corey over at 22 Second Street, decanting wine serves two purposes- aeration, and separation from sediment. Natural wines are often bottled unfiltered, so sediment can be found in the bottle. While completely safe for consumption, the sediment in a wine bottle can spoil a sip with a gritty/sandy texture that most find unpleasant.


In regards to aeration, allowing oxygen to come in contact with the wine can enhance aromas and flavors (which is why wine drinkers can be seen swirling wine in a glass, mixing oxygen into the wine, allowing the wine to breath and become more expressive). Pouring wine into a decanter not only allows for the wine to mix with air, but creates a larger surface area of the wine to be in direct contact with oxygen.

Too much oxygen can spoil a wine, so tread lightly. The best way to judge if a wine needs decanting is to take a couple sips from a small pour when you first open the wine. If the first couple sips seem dull, tight, waxy, or restrained, pour the wine into a decanter and revisit it every 15-20 minutes until it feels like it is starting to open up and hit a peak.

With all this information on a fun night in with friends with good food and good wine we feel we’ve equipped you with all the necessary information for a great night in. What meals do you like to make with friends? Let us know in the comments!