The 2009 Heavy Table Gift Guide

As scents of turkey and mashed potatoes begin to fade away and waistbands seem to be a bit tighter than they were last week, one thing becomes incredibly clear: Thanksgiving is over and the holiday season is in full swing. As you begin preparing for the hustle and bustle of the season, we at the Heavy Table would like eliminate some holiday stress by helping you select the perfect present for food lovers on your gift list. From cheese to chopsticks to candy kits, the 2009 Heavy Table Gift Guide is here to help.


giftguidebodumBodum’s catch phrase “give up bad design for good” might be better said “give up bad coffee for good.” The double wall French press ($90, available online at or at Kitchen Window, 3001 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis) is deeper than design — it is one of the most advanced coffee brewing devices on the market. The double wall hand-blown glass creates a thermal insulation that keeps the water at a more stable temperature during brewing, resulting in an even extraction during the brew. The $100 investment can brew coffee that rivals stuff brewed in an $11,000 Clover brewer.


Adam Turman, a Northeast Minneapolis-based illustrator, has a great printed T-shirt featuring an obscenely Minnesotan concept: the hotdish. He’ll be selling shirts at the No Coast Craft-O-Rama at Midtown Global Market (920 E Lake St., Minneapolis, Dec. 4-5) for $10, or you can contact him via to get a hold of one.

You can’t buy the Blue Door Pub‘s (1811 Selby Ave., St. Paul) Jucy Blucy Challenge T-shirt, which features a crazy burger solar system design by local artist Patrick Jeske, but you can win it by eating every single Blucy on their menu (not necessarily all at once, thankfully). Think of it as a labor of love.

adam_turman_hotdish_adamturmandotcomGastro Non Grata’s T-shirts come in two flavors, both for $10: a gray shirt featuring their kickass logo and a white shirt printed with a horrifying red woman / crab chimera. You missed your chance to buy them at their November event, but you could probably get one by e-mailing them.

Mill City Farmers Market sells their terribly adorable pastoral shirts at Spoonriver’s takeout counter (750 N 2nd St., Minneapolis): $12 for adult sizes and $10 for kids’ versions. Urban Bean’s (3255 Bryant Ave. S, Minneapolis) “I <3 MPLS” shirts are also deadly in their cuteness, though at $25 they’re much pricier than the other shirts here.


For the coffee lover in your life, check out the Clever Coffee Dripper. This small and simple device allows full immersion extraction with incredibly easy clean up. Order one online through local coffee roasters Bull Run Roasting Company to be shipped directly to you or to be held at their warehouse in St Louis Park ($14, available online). Add a pound of Bull Run’s coffee (prices vary, available online or at their new shop at 3220 W Lake St., Minneapolis) to the Clever for a complete package!

While Star Wars and sushi might not seem like the most likely pairing, these quirky lightsaber chop sticks ($22 + $5.50 S&H on Amazon) are a great gift your favorite sci-fi fan. Lightsaber noises are unfortunately not included and must be provided by the chopstick user.

Is there an æbleskiver aficionado in your life? Aunt Else’s 9-Hole Cast Iron Æbleskiver Pan ($40, available online) cooks nine delicious Danish apple pancakes at a time. This pan is made locally in Minneapolis by Aunt Else’s and is more reasonably priced than most other æbleskiver pans but doesn’t sacrifice quality.

Lori Writer / Heavy Table
Lori Writer / Heavy Table

When selecting a cookbook as a gift, the choices can be overwhelming. Why not show some local pride by giving the new Hell’s Kitchen cookbook, Damn Good Food ($28, available online)? Unlike many cookbooks that offer only recipes and generic photographs, this book is an amalgam of personal memoir, restaurant history, interesting photography and, of course, recipes. Written by Hell’s Kitchen chef Mitch Omer and writer Ann Bauer, this cookbook is sure to please those who look for something a little different.


Fans of Wisconsin cheese — and cheese in general — may enjoy The Master Cheesemakers of Wisconsin (pick it up at Magers & Quinn in Uptown or for $16.47 on Amazon). It’s a book that I co-wrote with my wife, Heavy Table photographer Becca Dilley. We visited 35 different cheese plants, interviewed and photographed 43 different cheesemakers, and drove 7,600 miles to tell the story of Wisconsin cheese — it was a hell of a trip, and the book itself came out quite nicely, I think.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind folks of Heavy Table’s own line of gifts, which both sustain our magazine and are totally enjoyable in their own right. A pair of Heavy Table pint glasses ($14 + $4 S&H, available online) is brilliantly functional and sends a message about your connection to the Upper Midwestern food scene. And a beer or cheese photography print by Becca Dilley ($25 or $200 for canvas, available online) is an artful way to show some local gastro-pride.

A gift basket from Local D’lish (208 1st St. N, Minneapolis) is another easy way to go this holiday season  — stock up on everything from granola to locally roasted coffee to cheese and chocolates with an Upper Midwestern pedigree.


For the chef (or wannabe chef) in your life, a gift certificate to a cooking class is a thoughtful present. At some classes, attendees watch (and salivate) as the dishes are made; at other classes, they participate in the preparation. Some places to check out: Kitchen Window in Minneapolis; Cooks of Crocus Hill, locations in St. Paul and Edina; The Chef’s Gallery in Stillwater; Lakewinds Natural Foods, locations in Minnetonka, Chanhassen, and Anoka; Mississippi Market, two locations in St. Paul; and Whole Foods, locations in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Looking for a fun, hands-on gift for a child on your holiday list? Check out the Make Your Own Candy Kits ($12). You can choose between three fair-trade kits: chocolate, gummies, or chewing gum. They’re appropriate for ages 8 and older. Available online or at Twin Cities Green (2405 Hennepin Ave. S, Minneapolis).

Other fun gifts can also be found at Twin Cities Green. For the whimsical, how about the silverware windchime ($22)? It’s made from reclaimed spoons, forks, and knives… and the tarnish present on some pieces just adds to the charm. For the cook in your life, he or she could always use a trivet, right? They’re always useful and often handsome. But here’s one that’s useful, handsome, and earth friendly: Kwytza chopstick trivet ($16). It’s made from post-restaurant-consumer chopsticks that were cleaned, sanitized at a high temperature, and crafted to make the piece.

smores_kit_lcandysmMany pantries in Minnesota store boxes of Honey Maid, packages of Hershey’s, and bags of Jet-Puffed, just in case the perfect occasion for s’mores arises. But to really blow your bonfire-lovin’ friend’s socks off, consider a S’more Kit ($23) from St. Peter-based Laura’s Candy. The kit contains homemade whole wheat graham crackers, Valrhona chocolate, and homemade marshmallows that come in flavors from vanilla to chocolate raspberry to amaretto. The combination of the three redefines — and elevates — the s’more. Available online or at some local grocery stores and co-ops.

Popcorn is usually relegated to a lowly movie theater food, but at the tiny Tom’s Popcorn Shop (4708 Cedar Ave. S, Minneapolis), the popcorn in prepackaged bags ($3 without nuts; $5 with nuts) makes a lovely holiday or host gift. Flavors include Hot & Spicy Cheddar Cheese, M&M Krunch, Double Caramel, and many, many more. While you’re buying a few bags as gifts, don’t forget to order a box for yourself of the salty, buttery stuff they make fresh.


  1. Liz

    Thanks for this fun list of gift ideas. Buying these will make me feel so much better than going to a big box store. Good Job!

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