Monday, December 6, 2010



It occurred to us that everyone we knew that shopped the Black Friday-Cyber Monday post Thanksgiving frenzy- bought for themselves. Ha!

That works…but it doesn’t rid a lot of people of their holiday obligations.

We went to a bunch of holiday fairs---and although some of the exhibitors were not exactly what we would call wrap in a ribbon quality…the selections def. had appeal.

Probably the most popular item we saw was from SMARTBOX™ expanding offerings to its “next generation of gift cards.”

We had reviewed them during their USA launch. Now this international company offers a Smartbox™ that entitles the lucky receivers a seat at a table from one of Zagat®’s top rated restaurants. Just select, the city…and make direct reservations with the establishments offered up in each box. Sold in stores all over and online, the Smartbox Zagat is a smart choice for the gourmand…or for someone like us, the culinary lazy who appreciate good food.

Other gift themes include Serenity, Fun For All, Adventure, Charming Getaways, Adrenaline, and Gourmet Retreats from $49 and up. PLUS: Region specific selections. YES!

Theoretically, we intended to give our beautifully wrapped box of Cookies by Joey ---home baked by Joanne Sherman…but they beckoned…and we devoured them in like a few days. Delicious…made from fresh ingredients and weighing in as a complete meal IMHO…our fav are the sinful White Chocolate Brownie Bliss--- but all mouthwatering treats are baked and shipped on the same day.

Bubble Chocolate made from premium MILK or DARK aerated chocolate---is distinctly flavored and light, kind of whipped up with a special airy bubbly texture that is unique in a good way. We were familiar with the concept as it is big in Europe…and now it’s here…and sold at Duane Reade as well as online. Tip: take a dab and hold it on one’s tongue.

PLUS: one-third less calories than regular chocolate---how cool is that!

Bloomsberry & Co. has LOL very witty wrappers encompassing its high-end chocolates. Really funny…. 800 745-5154

Functional teas are not a new concept but the tasty versions served up by h.wood Tea were new to us. Healing, reviving and savory tea blends can be sipped on their own---or mixed up in a cocktails---a fad in LA (where else, ha ha).. Jennie Ripps the entrepreneur who helms the company also creates exclusive blends for top restaurants too.

We tried the exotic Coconut Chai; an aromatic black tea mix with Assam, Cardamom, Ginger, Cloves, Coconut and Spices was terrific.  Packed in pretty navy tins too.

We love chocolate---especially the Fair Trade kind like those sold by the pioneering Divine Chocolate ( that’s partially owned by a Ghana cooperative of cocoa farmers.

Yet we can’t live on it…but we think we could live on Clif Bars. Actually, we have---especially the satisfying energy bars that fuel us up without the crash and burn, and the Clif Shot Bloks-an electrolyte replenisher…a big gum drop like staple at every triathlon we have ever done. We stick them on our bike for during the race, on the go ease...

Holidays bring out the festive Clif Bars--- a limited release of largely organic ingredients packed/ seasonal flavors like Spiced Pumpkin Pie, Iced Ginger Bread, and Cranberry Orange Nut Bread. Nutritious and tasty…we had a bunch mailed to us and the bars, in 2.4 oz sizes, lasted a day.

And though not part of a food group…Slimware is the chic and exceedingly clever line of colorful design tableware that manages to be a bit sneaky. What we mean by that is that the plate portion where you put your food…is smaller than the typically oversized plates that can hold way more than what one should probably eat.

Hello portion control ---that visually is so appealing, with three distinct food group areas in the designs---six in all. GENIUS. We were dazzled!

Words/Fair Images J. Ecochard