Let's talk shopping here, starting with our favorite genre, Food Art.
The remarkable thing about the above donut photo is that it isn't a photo at all -- it's a painting. Scottish-Canadian artist Jason Walker likes to paint pictures of individual people...and pastries.
Citing influences from Lucien Freud, Caravaggio and Diego Velasquez, his people paintings are sublime and often haunting, his pastries lustworthy. He lives in Toronto, but some of his work is viewable online through the Montreal gallery Gallerie de Bellefeuille. For the record, Ms. Tomato would like the moderately sized orange donut for her end of year gift.
Here's a dude that has combined art, recycling, and coolness into a business. Anthony McCann takes silver or silverplate utensils and turns them into jewelery. If you have a favorite piece of your own, he can polish it up and bend it into a ring, bracelet, necklace pendant, or keychain. He also has plenty of interesting pieces ready to go.
Based in Miami, he travels quite a bit, but can be contacted through email. His pieces rarely top $50 -- for $25 we purchased a ring fashioned from a French collector's spoon made sometime in the 1930's. Quite a bargain. Anthony McCann, www.funkyforksilver.com, 612.669.9912.
The "Uncommon Goods" catalogue offers some interesting culinary accessories. This is where you can find the bowls seen here that are made not for food, but from food.
Dried and pressed papaya, zucchini, potato, and bell peppers are the medium for these 4"x5" containers, just big enough to hold a few salted nuts, jellybellys, or a votive candle. They run $28 a piece.
Also for sale: a set of adorable cheese label plates, a bike chain bottle opener, a high-heel cake server and, in case you'd forgotten society is going to hell in a handbasket, the Disappearing Civil Liberties mugs are a must-have for that riveting morning wake-up call.
Is it our imagination or is the new Tabasco Chipotle Sauce the most divine condiment released in months? It tastes good on just about everything, and doesn't have that vinagery tinge that regular Tabasco has. Plus, it's hard to find -- in New York City, a supposed food mecca, a trip to Wholesome Foods, Garden of Eden, Sahadi's and Dean & Deluca found it missing from shelves. That gives it cache and gift potential, as far as we're concerned. Order it direct, for yourself and all your friends.
Lastly, Alejandro and Martin is an internet sales company that deals in Italian olive oil. But not just any olive oil - dark green artisanal stuff sold by vintage, olive type, and producer, much the way wines are sold. Beautifully and simply packaged, they do 80% of their sales the last two weeks of December, so if you want some, there is no time like the present.
There we are, a little list of ways you and your cash can separate from each other. Happy Holidays.