Family life in LA


Foodie and hostess gifts for the season

If you want to bring your holiday party hostess something more exciting than the usual potted poinsettia, or if you have a foodie on your gift list, here are some exquisite, tasteful hostess gifts that your host will appreciate and savor.
Hit oil
A gourmet household cannot live without olive oil, and the most discerning of restaurants and kitchens and world-class chefs like Chef Ori Menashe of LA’s Bestia prefer the exquisite taste of Ranch Olive Oil. With so many flavor varieties there’s a blend for every dish, but for the true connoisseur, there is Reserve Collection, which includes 500 ml bottles of fruity Arbequina, the nutty and complex Arbosana, and the robust Miller’s Blend, in a three-bottle gift box ($59.99) perfect for a hostess of good taste.
Daily grind
Every gourmet cook uses plenty of salt-and-pepper, but that doesn’t mean the most common of spices must be contained in ordinary shakers. Trudeau’s elegant Professional Stainless Steel Salt and Pepper Mills not only could look fabulous in the kitchen or on the table, but they precisely grind and distribute just the desired amount of spice. These sleek mills are constructed of resistant 18/8 stainless steel and feature a unique carbon steel grinding mechanism for peppercorns and spring-load technology to ensure a consistent grind selection.  A stylish piece to add to any kitchen, each set comes in an attractive gift box. $119. At gourmet cooking stores or
Warmth by chocolate
With temperatures dropping below freezing, warm up inside with legendary GODIVA premium Dark Chocolate Hot Cocoa.  Made with highest quality all-natural ingredients, this hot chocolate mix is the ultimate hot chocolate indulgence that delivers a rich, smooth, and velvety drinking experience. If coffee is more your taste, GODIVA’s Chocolate Truffle Coffee, made with specially selected coffee beans from around the world, features melt-in-your mouth GODIVA chocolate flavor with a medium-bodied roast. $15 for 10-servings canister of cocoa or $14 for a 10-ounce bag of ground coffee. Available at GODIVA stores nationwide or
Raw and unfiltered
Honey is always a sweet gift, and Rice’s Lucky Clover Honey Raw and Unfiltered Honey is even more special because it is not processed, therefore it retains all its flavor, vitamins, minerals and delicious taste. Locally sourced from family beekeepers and available nationwide online, this completely raw, unfiltered delicacy is naturally high in antimicrobial and antibacterial properties and delivered pure honey taste in both hot and cold drinks and in recipes from desserts to entrees. $6.50 for 16-ounce squeezable bottle.  Available at locations from Whole Foods to Walmart and online at
A real charmer
Make your party guests feel special with their own glass charm that expresses their unique personality with distinct Simply Charmed magnetic wine charms.  Using strong magnets to keep them in place on just about all drinking glasses or mugs, these tiny ornaments help guests know which glass is there’s when they set it down. The charms come in cute and quirky designs, such as emojis and seasonal or hobby related ornaments and even charms made from Swarovski crystals. Though the magnets are strong and generally do not move, these are not recommended for children because of the danger of accidentally ingesting magnets. Available for $5.99 to $26.99 at
Greet and Meat
Bring the treat of meat to your next party with Hickory Farms Signature Party Planner Gift Box filled with hearty treats that satisfy their carnivore and gourmet cheese tastes.  Each box includes three sausage flavors, four cheeses, two nut mixes, and condiments.  Available at $42 at
A cut above
Foodies can be snobs about their cookware and cutlery, but Crisp Cooking Tools make precision cooking tools accessible and affordable to all.  Fashioned from durable plastic materials in bright stylish colors, Crisp tools are specifically designed and engineered to save time during the food prep process, making them the perfect addition to any kitchen. In the, “Why didn’t I think of that?” category, Crisp makes unique tools for food prep tasks, such as the Zester ($12.99), a spring-loaded Cherry Pitter ($9.99), and an innovative Citrus Squeezer ($19.99) featuring a twist on collection cup, as well as standard tools like an all-purpose Straight Paring Knife ($9.99).  Available at
Pasta for all
Pasta began as a staple of Italian cuisine, and now it is an American favorite and beloved around the world. Explore Cuisine has created the next generation of pasta with nutritious and innovative products noodles such as Edamame Spaghetti, Brown Rice Fusili, Green Lentil Lasagne, made of beans and other clean, organic ingredients that are certified gluten-free and non-GMO, and are high in protein, fiber and iron. Some of their products include Pulse Pastas, Bean PastasThai Rice Protein Pastas, Thai Rice Noodles, and Instant Soybean Noodle Soups. Not only are these pastas great if you are watching your weight or looking to cook nutritious foods for your family, they are tasty and satisfying like a true pasta should be.  Available at natural food and general grocery stores nationwide, $2.49 – $4.99 each, or $21.99-$25 for a six pack.
Dreaming of a white wine
As the weather gets colder outside, many of us reach for those spicy, robust red wines that make us feel warm and fuzzy inside, but many white wines have those same characteristics.  OneHope 2014 Rutherford Estate Sauvignon Blanc ($34.99) and 2014 Rutherford Fumé Blanc ($44.99) are two varietals that give you that good feeling inside, not just because of the superior grapes picked at optimum ripeness during an ideal warm summer, creating intense aromatics on the nose and great fruit character on the pallet, and the 11 months the grapes spent in French and American oak before bottling in late August, but also because for every case sold of OneHope the wine makers provide one local Napa farmworker with on-site medical care and health education.  Available at wine stores nationwide and
Light it up
In addition to great food, the ambiance is an essential to a dining experience. Enhance your dining room with a decorative candle in a hand-blown art glass vessel from Luxury Articles and Fragrance Company (LAFCO) that not only beautifies your room but complements the meal with its aroma  The light, fresh and green fragrance of the Celery/Thyme candle ($60) from LAFCO Home and House Collection features a  mix of crisp celery, clean white florals and a touch of thyme.  Each candle is hand poured in the USA and features a hand-centered pure-cotton, chemical-free wick and is formulated with a high soy content wax which burns cleaner than paraffin yields a 90-hour burn. The candles are scented with natural essential oil-based fragrances that burn richly and evenly, filling the entire space with fragrance.  Available at
Bubbly conversation
For those who want to enhance the lively tête-à-tête at a dinner party, Freixenet Cordon Negro Extra Dry Cava from Spain offers long lasting bubbles, by itself or as a complement to cocktails.  This sparkling wine, made in the traditional méthode champenoise, is for those that like it “not too dry,” with a palate that’s earthy with light fruits and a whiff of chocolate and flavors of plum and raspberry accented by spice with an essence of peach, melon and candied citrus flavors, culminating in a long, flavorful and smooth finish, making it excellent to pair with spicy cuisine.
Snack on
For festive get togethers or special movie nights, bring on the popcorn, but not just any garden variety.  Popcorn, Indiana, maker of America’s #1 Kettlecorn, pops up limited edition winter flavors, such as Black & White, Dark Fudge Sea Salt Caramel, Dark Fudge Pretzel Drizzlecorn and Dark Fudge Peppermint Drizzlecorn. These decadent flavors feature Popcorn, Indiana’s tender popcorn, made from non-GMO corn and free of artificial flavors, colors or preservatives, drizzled in lusciously sweet dark fudge, then generously sprinkled with delicious accents. Available at national, regional and local retailers across the U.S. and Canada in 5-ounce and 6-ounce bags, $3.49, or 20-ounce bag $10.49. Locate stores at