An Obama-centric gift guide...from seeds used in the White House Kitchen Garden to favorite cookbooks to the Sam Kass Calendar...fun gifts that won't break your budget
'Tis the season to Reflect, Rejoice, and Renew, so herewith, the official Obama Holiday Foodie Gift Guide for 2009, which will help you do all three as we approach the end of the first year of what's been a history-making presidency--in food, and in every other area. From cookbooks through community service, there are twelve kinds of President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama food-centric gifts for the twelve days of Christmas, and every item on this unique list is under $80--and some are just $2.50. That makes it easy to indulge all those people in your life who are that winning combination of Obama-ites and Foodies. Happy Holidays, whatever holiday you celebrate!
1. Seeds That Are Used In The White House Kitchen Garden. Mrs. Obama's world famous South Lawn edible garden has a special bed in honor of President Thomas Jefferson, and it's been growing all kinds of vegetables that Jefferson himself cultivated in his own huge kitchen garden at Monticello, his plantation home in Virginia. Jefferson varietals planted at the White House include Tennis Ball Lettuce, Brown Dutch Lettuce, Prickly Seeded Spinach, Arugula, Florence Fennel, Scarlet Runner Beans, Caseknife Pole Beans, and Whippoorwill Cowpeas (also known as crowder peas), and these are all still available at the Monticello online store. At $2.50 per seed packet, these are a bargain. Go here for the online, alphabetized seed catalog; all proceeds benefit the Thomas Jefferson Foundation.
2. The Barack Obama Xmas Nutcracker. This fab one-of-a-kind art creation is currently selling on EBay, and right now the top bid is just $12.78. It's pure Obama foodie genius, especially if the Obama-ite you give it to happens to be a nutcracker enthusiast, too. What are the chances? (Photo at top of post, obviously)
3. Answer The Call To Community Service; Support Our Troops. Of course to really make it an Obama foodie holiday, you must gift the entire world, and go and donate food to your local food bank, or join Mrs. Obama's holiday anti-hunger project, Feed A Neighbor, which is a joint initiative with USDA and Serve.gov. The online portal will match you with local anti-hunger organizations; click the link to find out how you can give the very best gift of all. You can also send a special foodie care package to some of our heroic deployed troops; check out USO, or Soldiers' Angels to learn how you can give the gift of thanks, holiday style. (Above: Mrs. Obama with Marines at the Holiday Decorations Preview)
4. A Five Guys Burgers and Fries Gift Card. The President has publicly dined at Five Guys twice, and the First Lady took a group of East Wing staff once, making Five Guys the only eatery to have enjoyed three Obama visits during the presidency. There are locations nationwide, and even better, Five Guys has model food safety protocols: They inspect their own meat, and cook all burgers well done just to make sure. Preloaded gift cards are available in $10, $20, $40, $60, and $80 denominations. Accepted at all Five Guys locations. Go here to order.
5. Obama Cookbooks: The President and Mrs. Obama frequently laud Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses's pies, and the President has even nicknamed him "The Crustmaster." Yosses is the author of Desserts For Dummies, which is the only cookbook currently on the market that's written by someone who is actually working in the White House. Don't let the title fool you: It's a swell book, and has almost twenty pages on how you, too, can become a Crustmaster. It's $13.59 from Amazon. State Dinner guest chef Marcus Samuelsson has a new cookbook out, and while it doesn't have State Dinner recipes in it, New American Table does have recipes that are Samuelsson's signature pan-world style, and it's wonderful. $40, wherever fine books are sold. New York's Michael Psilakis was the very first chef to show up in the White House kitchen as a guest chef; he cooked a huge variety of Greek foods for a reception for Greek Independence Day in March. His just-published How to Roast a Lamb: New Greek Classic Cooking has been getting rave reviews, and it contains some of the recipes he cooked at the White House. A bargain for $18.90 at Amazon; $30.00 elsewhere.
6. For Obama Tableware/History Enthusiasts: Replica Lincoln China is available at The Library of Congress Gift Shop. It's handpainted, and accurately recreates the "solferino" color that Mary Todd Lincoln chose for the border of the White House china. Even one plate makes a swell serving dish, or a conversation piece. $65/plate. The Library of Congress is also selling Jefferson China, which has a beautiful blue and gold border, and TJ's own monogram inside the presidential seal; it'll look swell holding veggies from your home White House Kitchen Garden. Choose dessert plate ($45) or dinner plate ($65).
7. Obama Cupcakes and Cookies: Eleni's New York is one of the few bakeries that is still regularly making cupcakes and cookies with the President's smiling face on them--and they ship nationwide. Eleni's began selling their Obama cookies and cupcakes during election season, and they're still a hit. The bakery uses a technique called Edible Image, which uses edible sugar paper to transfer the President's visage onto the frosting on baked goods. Michelle Obama baked goods can be ordered, too. And even better, they're delish. Prices vary. Click the link for info and ordering.
8. For The Obama Oenophile: Two wines that have been used at White House events are standouts for holiday gift giving. From Virginia and served at the State Dinner, the Thibaut-Janisson Monticello Brut Blanc de Chardonnay is exceptional, and has the excellent Jefferson homage tossed in, because it's made with 100% Chardonnay grapes from the Monticello Appellation. The vineyard doesn't sell online, but go here to find a retailer who will ship to you; about $25.99/bottle (in photo). From Michigan, and served at the first formal dinner held at the White House for the National Governor's Association, Black Star Farm 2007 "A Capella" Riesling Ice Wine is one of the few true ice wines produced in America...and it's a stunner. Currently on sale from the winery for $79.50/bottle, here.
9. Favorite Obama Food, Chicago style: The President still likes to give Garrett's Popcorn as a foodie gift--and with good reason: The Chicago popcornery makes incredibly delicious popcorn confections. The President gifts pals with "The Chicago Mix," which is a blend of two signature flavors: CaramelCrisp and CheeseCorn (sounds unlikely, but is highly addictive). Cute tins are available: Choose the Sox tin to really get presidential, or there's a Christmas tin, or an All-American tin in red, white and blue. Prices vary, depending on size of tin.
10. For the Obama Beerophile: A sixer of the President's favorite beer, Bud Light, makes a good budget gift at $6.99. Or you can be super creative, and gift a White House Beer Summit mixed six-pack, which would include two Bud Lights, two Samuel Adams Lights (Henry Louis Gate's Jr.'s beer choice) and two Blue Moons (Sgt. James Crowley's beer choice--and it's really an ale, but...let's ignore that). Less than $20.00 for an Obama Beer Summit Six.
11. For the Aspiring Obama Food Policy Wonk: Former FDA commissioner David Kessler published The End of Overeating: Taking Control of The Insatiable American Appetite in April, and it has rapidly become one of the handbooks for those who work on all kinds of policy initiatives at the White House. The book is a fascinating read that will alter everything you think you understand about food, brain chemistry, and behavior. In the future, it will be regarded as one of the important volumes that was a critical turning point in the national conversation about food and health. Available here, or at your friendly local bookseller.
12. The 2010 Sam Kass Hot Chef Calendar: Mrs. Obama's Food Initiative Coordinator has become as well known for his looks (a spot on People magazine's 100 Most Beautiful list, and a raving following in the blogosphere) as he has for his ongoing efforts to transform 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue into the White House Center For Food and Health. The Kass Calendar has it all: 13 months of healthy, easy and delicious White House recipes, nutrition information, Kitchen Garden planting tips by month, all capped off with fabulous photos of Kass snapped by Obama Fooodrama during his first year at the White House. Priceless, and available only at WHMessagingIsNotThisSavvy.com.*
Photos of Mrs. Obama and Kass by Obama Foodorama.
*Yes, the Kass calendar is a foodie joke, for those who don't get that from the faux website name....