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Eater Gift Guide 2006, Part I

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Deathwatching aside, Eater does have a heart. And around the holidays, grinches we are not. Half way through Hanukkah and six days out from Christmas, what better a time to drop our annual gift guide?

Last year, we offered a menu of edible gifts from classic NYC establishments. And while Rosa Mexicano has started jarring its salsa and the Frankies of Frankieville are bottling olive oil, to cap '06 and kick off '07, here's something different: tableware. Because even if you order in when you're not eating out, there is always something between the table and the food.

Today, we begin with the essential, if occasionally random, table gear. Tomorrow, we go plate shopping. This is going to be more fun than curating a gift registry at Moss.

2006_12_wine.jpg1) Cru's wine glasses: No reason to dabble with the amateurs on this one. We went straight to the 35,000 bottle source, Cru, and asked sommelier Robert Bohr what stems the patrons take their sips from. "We use two different glasses. Like most restaurants, a blend of Riedel and Spieglau." Riedel's all over the basic wine glass from the Ouverture collection; bordeaux glass are from the Vinum collection; and for the really special bottles, the high end "sommelier series" glasses (handblown, baby). Spieglau handles the rest--riesling, burgundy, brandy, beer and water. The Vino Grande line oughtta do it. [Riedel, Spiegelau]

2) Danny Meyer's spirits glasses: At the Modern, those impossibly perfect, minimalist, obviously-not-designed-in-the-States ale and water glasses are indeed NOT made in the USA, but, they're easier to score than you might expect--and available at and Target. The Luigi Bormioli (he's the designer) numbers that are good enough for Mr. Danny Meyer, are a few clicks away. The specifics are as follows: Martini glass, Rubino Classico collection; Water glass, Van Gogh collection; Pilsner glass, Veronese collection; Shot glass, Veronese collection. Cheers. [Luigi Bormioli at Amazon]

2006_12_sakecup.jpg3) Masa's sake cups: At his eponymous restaurant, sushi wizard Masa designs his own dishware, collaborating with artisans in Japan to get the job done. He orders only enough for restaurant use, and, every once in awhile, twist his arm, and if you're a regular customer, he might let you buy a paltry few. In the meantime, we're all welcome to the sake cups, handcarved from hinoki wood (Japanese cypress), and, trust us, no booby prize. [Masa; (see "Gift Ideas")]

4) Tom Colicchio's placemats: Matland is a one-lady-show: Sandy Chilewich. Whenever you go to a restaurant and you admire a modern-looking, woven plynyl placemat. It's Chilewich. Guaranteed. You might like to know that Craft was the trailblazing first restaurant in NYC to use these puppies. The pattern? Ikat in Stone, they're custom for the hospitality sector. But, the Bamboo version, in Charcoal at Craftsteak, or the Basketweave pattern, in Wheat at 66, are available. A smart choice for home, they're as low maintenance as they are handsome. [Chilewich; also available at Bloomingdales]

5) Country's side servers: You know what we're talking about. Those slightly intimidating, mildly homey-looking mini cast iron pots in which the "its gonna cost you" boites love to present sides like mashed potatoes, polenta or roasted brussel sprouts. They're actually great oven-to-table items and are excellent heat-keepers. Look for STAUB on the lid if you want to copy the big boys, like Country. [Staub]

6) Otto's gelato service: The best non-hops-filled pints in town also have the genuine Italian articles for dishing out the stuff. At Otto, the sweet (but sleek) gelato paddles are Arthur Krupp's and, along with the timeless stainless steel bowls that hold your scoops, can be purchased through Sambonet. [Arthur Krupp]

7) Mozza's pizza peels: Sick of Batali yet? Not over here, we're not. And the West Coast is just getting its first taste with Mozza. Like most of his Food TV compatriots, Batali has launched his own line of cookware. However, unlike his peers' pots-n-pans, Mario's have actually been getting some serious positive feedback. His Pizza Peels (they help you get the pie out of the oven) are in use in the new LA pizzeria or, if you prefer, in your own kitchen. [Italian Kitchen]

--Charlotte Druckman