▪ Truly Madly Pizza
$27.40; 240 pages; Rodale Books; www.rodale.com
It’s the meal the whole family loves, but the one that always seems a bit daunting to make from scratch at home. New York food stylist Suzanne Lenzer aims to change that with one recipe for her perfect pizza dough and dozens of suggestions for topping it, like mixed mushroom with leek jam and gruyere or summer squash with lemon zest and ricotta.
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▪ Moonstruck Chocolate Bars
$7.99 for a 3-ounce bar; available at Nugget Markets; www.moonstruckchocolate.com
These hand-crafted bars made in Portland, Ore., are little works of art, with brightly colored slivers of fruit and herbs dried on top – so pretty you’ll feel a bit guilty breaking it up to eat. But do it anyway. Flavors such as dark chocolate strawberry basil or raspberry and fennel bark are sophisticated sweet treats worth the indulgence.
▪ Dried fruit from Bella Viva Orchards
Around $4 for a 4-ounce bag; Sunrise Natural Foods (1950 Douglas Blvd., Roseville); www.bellaviva.com
We were cruising the aisles at Sunrise Natural Foods when we came across a display of “pure and natural” dried fruits from Bella Viva Orchards in Hughson, near Modesto. We picked up a bag of orange slices ($3.79) peach slices ($4.79), intrigued by the labeling, which read in part: “We’ve packed about 2.5 pounds of (fresh fruit) in this 4-ounce bag.” We snacked straight from the bags, later adding the fruit to salads, yogurt, even a cake. Good stuff.
▪ Gourmet Food and Drink Quiz
$7; Available at Hobbytown USA (2761 E. Bidwell St., Folsom)
The packing throws down this gauntlet: “Tantalize your tastebuds and test what you know about food trivia from around the globe (and from history).” Lagoon Trading Co.’s “Gourmet Food and Drink Quiz” comes in a little metal box filled with tiny cards that ask questions on one side and give the answers on the other. A sample question: “What food is a key ingredient in dynamite?” (Answer: Peanuts). Perfect for passing time at a restaurant when you’re waiting for your food to arrive.
▪ Hedley & Bennett aprons
Ellen Bennett was a line cook and personal chef in L.A. when she decided the traditional aprons she was wearing weren’t getting the job done. She started Hedley & Bennett in 2012, and the company now boasts more than 700 restaurant clients worldwide, with her aprons embraced by eateries including Momofuku, Per Se and Alinea. Handmade in L.A. from top-grade materials such as raw Japanese denim and European linens, these aprons come in 45 different styles, and are heralded for their comfort, durability and cool aesthetic. A stylish gift to keep in mind as Mother’s and Father’s days approach.
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