Whether they’re headed to the Amazon or the armchair, perfect gifts for the traveler in your life.
Every culture tells a story through its food and drink. A great way to extend a connection to a favorite place and its people is by savoring its culinary treasures. Flavors of Belize: The Cookbook (McNab Publising Ltd, July 2012) is a lovely gift for those who have traveled through Central American and fell under the spell of Belize. A gateway to the Caribbean and true melting pot, Belize’s gastronomy celebrates a variety of cultures and cuisines including the Maya, British, Mestizo, Creole, Chinese, Lebanese, Garifuna and more. Project visionary, Tanya McNab grew up surrounded by passionate cooks and her grandfather owned the famous market Ro-Mac’s. The family and market hosted a morning radio show called “The Belizean Cookhouse,” and they collected wonderful recipes over the years. “When all of these cultures came peacefully to coexist in such a small geography, their food was magically infused with a worldly flair,” explains McNab. The oversized beautiful book includes recipes for panades—fired corn pockets filled with beans, meat or fish; escabeche—a hearty Hispanic onion soup; coconut curry shrimp; hibiscus marintate pork tenderloin and breadfruit casserole, to name a few. Check out Belize’s first hardcover cookbook with beautiful photos by Matt Armendez. (Available at Amazon in January 2013.)
Wandermelon contributor and author Jennifer Evans Gardner and Linda K. Jackson have dreamed up a luscious cookbook, MERINGUE (Gibbs Smith, August 2012 ), which celebrates the beauty of whipped egg whites. An entire chapter is devoted to the holidays with recipes for Candy Cane Clouds, Hanukkah Lights, and a Buche De Noel, Croquembouche and more. Author Evans Gardner says, “Meringue is actually really simple to make, so once you get the basics down, you can do anything. And as a bonus, most of the desserts in the book are naturally low in fat and gluten free because meringue is made with egg whites.” A great holiday gift for aspiring pastry chefs and kitchen pros. Buy it here. ($24.99)
Looking for a gift with a little spunk and spiritedness? The gentlemen of Slo Down Wines, Bo Silliman and Brandon Allen, have a great sense of humor and make an intriguing product. You will definitely turns some heads when presenting this bottle called Sexual Chocolate. Made for a new generation of wine drinkers, it’s worth purchasing to read the label alone, which explains the wine’s origins as a bootlegging project in college and the fact that the winemakers find the French annoying. If you need more vino, their phone number is on the label too. But all funniness aside, the winemakers blend old vine Zinfandel from Napa’s Howell Mountain with warm climate Santa Barbra Syrah into a full-bodied exciting red. Order some of this provocative wine online and read their blog for some more chuckles. ($24)
And finally, these two stocking stuffers deliver the gift of health. First it was pomegranates, then goji berries and acai, but now everyone is talking about the healing power of Chia seeds. (And we mean The New York Times, Dr. Weil and Dr. Oz.) Grown primarily in Mexico and a staple of the Aztecs and Mayans, these tiny little seeds are chalk full of omega 3′s and alpha-linolenic acid and are said to help digestion and cardivascular function, along with having higher anti-oxidant levels than blueberries. Toss them on your cereal, into a smoothie or on quinoa. Perfect for the January health kick everyone swears they are going to follow post holiday. ($10)
And apparently, most of us are Vitamin D deficient these days as we cover ourselves in sun block and avoid dairy. Skin Authority out of Carlsbad, CA has created a VitaD Duo pack with a cream elixir to boost the luminosity of your skin and a vegan spice powder form of D to sprinkle on your food that delivers 600 IUs per teaspoon. Vitamin D inside and out. ($79)
GOOD TO GO: TRAVEL GEAR
There is some travel gear that makes us positively giddy in anticipation – a must-buy item. The Phorce bag definitely falls in that category. Billed as the world’s first “smart bag” the Dutch designers have seemingly thought of everything with this killer concept. Here are the deets: The Phorce is a lightweight lap-top bag that basically charges all your devices, including laptop, smartphone, camera, headphones – basically anything that charges with a USB — while you’re on the move. It does it all with an internal battery source that in the case of their Phorce For Mac design can charge your MacBook as well for an extra seven hours using the MacBook power port. This bag is so darn smart that besides a cool quiver of other functions, it also uses Bluetooth and an app to alert you if you left your fave new accessory on that coffeehouse counter. The Phorce is also a flexible travel partner that easily converts from a messenger bag to briefcase or backpack in a matter of seconds. Literally the only downside we can find is this gem is being funded on Kickstarter and won’t be available until May, but reserve your Phorce bag now on Kickstarter and save well over $100 bucks on the retail price. Our advice the next you travel: let the Phorce be with you. Phorce for USB: $199 on Kickstarter (Retail: $349) Phorce for Mac: $279 on Kickstarter (Retail: $449)
You know the axiom the best camera is the one you have with you? Well, increasingly for most of us, that camera is an iPhone or other smarthphone. Especially when you’re on the road, say in a restaurant, at the museum or on the day-trip — you might have forgotten the camera, but chances are you have your phone. If you’re traveling with an iPhone 4, 4S or 5, you’re in luck. The Olloclip is a wicked simple, smart and effective way to raise you travel photo mojo from meh to wow! with the Olloclip’s quick connect lens solution. The three-in-one solution clips onto your iPhone in seconds and includes macro, wide angle, and the one we’re especially weak-kneed for, fisheye (so you can easily capture that groovy suite). Besides being super lightweight and portable, it also retails for about 1/3 the price of that suite, so this holiday, buy one for yourself and your traveling companion. ($69.99 – includes lens caps and bag).
And while we’re on the topic of traveling with smartphones, the next obvious concern is “how do I keep my $500 iPhone with all my data protected if it takes a skid in the road or I get caught in downpour?” Problem solved with Pelican’s i1015 Smart Phone cases. Like the large format Pelicans (you’ve seen pro photographers and video crews lugging these indestructibles at airports) these cases designed specifically for the iPhone and other smartphones such as Motorola’s Droid, do not easily surrender to moisture and impact. Besides being crush-proof and water-resistant (not waterproof!), the Smart Phone Case actually lets you use the device while its in its sturdy cocoon, thanks to an external headphone jack. Pair it with the seven cool colors available and you have one sweet little road warrior. Comes with a lifetime guarantee. ($25)
Traveling with kids often means hours of trying to entertain them in an airplane or car. An ideal portable gift for little ones to play with is this set of four wooden jigsaw puzzles. Each of the puzzles fits easily into a wooden box, which slides open to double as a puzzle board. The vehicles set includes a race car, a steam engine, a school bus, and a fire engine. Recommended for ages 3 +. ($10)
For your next trip with a little one, surprise your young artist with a light-up box from Melissa & Doug. It’s much more convenient than struggling to pick up crayons between the airplane or car seats, but just remember to pack extra paper. Recommended for children ages 5 and older. ($19.99)
For an adventure-filled children’s book, Sasek heads down under and invites young readers into a color-filled Australia in This Is Australia. The book takes readers on a tour of this large and fascinating country, including Sydney and its famed Opera House with stops in Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and other cities. The charming illustrations and witty narrative will delight young readers.
THE GIFT OF HEALTH
A weekend away at Gwinganna Spa & Retreat is an ideal way to shrug off the year’s stress and tiredness and cascade into a relaxed, vibrant, more chilled you ready for 2013. Take advantage of their popular Christmas gift vouchers! Choose a spa and wellness gift package and save 20%* on selected dates in 2013. (Includes certified organic cuisine, selected spa treatments and activities, all for the complete stress free experience.) The Spa Weekend package is a simple, yet powerful way to achieve transformation in just three days. Take beautiful organic, freshly picked food direct from their kitchen gardens to feed and nourish your cells, add clean rain water and herbal teas to drink, mountain fresh unpolluted air in your lungs, gentle or dynamic exercise (your choice!) to stimulate and invigorate, followed by sensory spa treatments to calm and replenish both body and soul. Finally, the unquestionable healing power of peace and tranquility of nature at its best makes for a winning combination. PLUS each voucher purchased for a 5, 6 or 7 night retreat, will go in the draw to WIN a Spa Weekend for two valued at AU$2490!
Call Gwinganna Retreat Advisors on 1800 219 272 or email: email@example.com
*Conditions apply. Orchard Suite accommodation only. Available for purchase until 21 December 2012. Valid for stays between 20 January and 27 March 2013.
THE GIFT OF TRAVEL
At wandermelon we have been working hard (wink, wink, nudge, nudge!) to organize some wonderful trips for our readers. Why not give your loved one the best Christmas present of all? A ticket to some new and exciting destination! Be sure to check out our wandermelon journeys to see what’s on the menu: Hawaii’s Big Island, New Zealand and Argentina are the just the beginning with many more to come in 2013, including trips to South Australia and the South Pacific hideaway of Bora Bora. Book a trip with us by December 30th 2012 and save 15% on your journey in 2013. (Promo code: MelonXmas) Just email: firstname.lastname@example.org