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The Luxe List: Shopping for Luxury Food, Beverage & Entertaining Gifts - Part 1

Haute Holiday Gift List: If you're looking for a gift for those who like to eat, drink and make merry, you've come to the right place. Savor this tasty assortment of food, beverage and entertaining-related gifts that are sure to satisfy.

Jura-Capresso IMPRESSA S9 One Touch Automatic Coffee Center - $2,399
For the die-hard coffee connoisseur or perennial party host(ess) in your life, the Jura-Capresso IMPRESSA S9 One Touch fully automatic coffee center will be mind-blowing gift that gives back each and every day. With the mere touch of a button and without having to move the cup, the Jura-Capresso IMPRESSA S9 One Touch can produce a myriad of professional-quality, high-pressure-brewed coffee drinks, including authentic, café-quality espresso, cappuccinos, lattes, crema coffee and a host of other espresso-based beverages. This revolutionary, top-of-the-line machine is, in fact, the first and only automatic coffee center with a one-touch Latte Macchiato button, with timed pauses programmed in to create its distinctive layers of frothed milk, espresso and steamed milk. It also dispenses hot water for tea and creates foamy hot chocolate from chocolate milk. What's more, all of this is programmable for cup size, cup strength, temperature and more - even differently for each day of the week - for a truly customized, bean-to-cup brewing experience.

I've personally found that programming the Jura-Capresso IMPRESSA S9 is surprisingly easy – its 2-line alpha-numeric display includes helpful graphics and subtle acoustical alerts that make the machine entirely intuitive. I also appreciate that any of the pre-set programs can be overridden. An “A La Carte" button lets users create a specialized drink at any time. To use the machine, simply choose the desired brew by turning the rotary dial, then press the one-touch beverage button and the machine froths or steams milk, grinds, tamps, brews and then self cleans in less than 60 seconds.

Impressive innovations and features of the Jura-Capresso IMPRESSA S9 One Touch abound. Consider the unique 20-ounce stainless steel insulated milk container that is included to keep milk cold and fresh for up to eight hours, and the machine's ability to steam or froth milk in two ways: Dual Frother or Jura-Capresso's exclusive frothXpress Plus system for automatic frothing and steaming into the cup. Jura-Capresso is, in fact, the first and only company with a line of one-touch automatic coffee centers to provide these incredibly convenient insulated milk containers as such. The machine is also equipped with two thermoblock systems for fast and powerful performance, resulting in zero downtime between brewing and frothing – perfect for those like myself who are indelibly on-the-go.

Among other noteworthy attributes, the Jura-Capresso IMPRESSA S9 One Touch comes with a 10-ounce bean container, large 96-ounce water tank, Clearyl Water Filter to remove impurities and improve taste, stainless steel multi-cup warming plate on top, and sensor technology for bean and water refill and bin emptying reminders. Energy-saving functions are also on board, including a Main Power Switch that ensures zero energy is pulled when the machine is off but still plugged in, and programmable energy saving options that allow the machine to draw less energy when in stand-by mode. With its professional Platinum Metallic finish and illuminated brewing area, this attractive, upscale, modestly-sized counter top device will surely elevate its surrounding décor. While this model retails for $2,399, Jura-Capresso offers 10 other automatic coffee centers that in price from $899 to $3,299. (www.capresso.com)

2005 Stags Leap District Limited-Edition Appellation Cabernet Sauvignon - $1,375/Case
Now here's an incredible gift for the deserving oenophile in your life: a bevy of world-class cabernet sauvignons from Napa Valley's famed Stags Leap District. Available for wine lovers, collectors and gift-givers only through November 30, 2009, the Stags Leap District Winegrowers Association's 13th annual release of its limited-edition Appellation Collection is comprised of one bottle from each of the Association's winery members – 17 coveted cabernets in all. With just 200 cases of the Collection available, this exclusive gift provides a unique opportunity to taste the Stags Leap appellation's notoriously lush fruit, soft tannins and other of the District's distinct characteristics as interpreted by each of the region's winegrower wineries.

Regarded in many circles as the ultimate gift for wine enthusiasts, this year's Stags Leap District Appellation Collection boasts rare, critically-acclaimed 2005 cabernets that cannot be purchased collectively anywhere else in the world. Indeed, The Stags Leap District Winegrowers Association is the exclusive retailer of the Appellation Collection, and is the only collection of cabernet sauvignon released by an American Viticultural Association.

The 2005 Appellation Collection includes one bottle of each of the following Stags Leap District designated wines, with each accompanied by winemaker tasting notes: Baldacci Family Vineyards - 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon; Chimney Rock Winery - 2005 Cabernet; Sauvignon, Ganymede Vineyard; Cliff Lede Vineyards - 2005 Poetry; Clos Du Val - 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon; Malk Family Vineyards - 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon; Hartwell Vineyards - 2005 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon; Ilsley Vineyards - 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon; Pine Ridge Vineyards - 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon; Regusci Winery - 2005 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon; Robert Sinskey Vineyards - 2005 RSV Cabernet Sauvignon; Robinson Family Vineyards - 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon; Shafer Vineyards - 2005 One Point Five Cabernet Sauvignon; Silverado Vineyards - 2005 Solo; Stags' Leap Winery - 2005 The Leap Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon; Steltzner Vineyards - 2005 Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, 40th Anniversary; Taylor Family Vineyards - 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon; and Terlato Family Vineyards - 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon.

I've tasted many of the cabernets in this collection, and I can assure you that 2005 was an extraordinarily good harvest year for the region. The vintage consistently delivers signature Stags Leap District fruit that's thoroughly ripe and sweet, with plush, velvety tannins. Each bottle begins with a bold nose with vibrant aromatics, and ends with a delightfully rich and layered finish. Don't miss this fleeting opportunity to gift 17 multi-sensory adventures in one elite gift box. (www.stagsleapdistrict.com) OakStreetMan.com Viking Professional Cookware:
8-Quart Stock Pot - $330
Pasta Insert (9.5") - $170
Steamer Insert (8") - $120

Newly launched online retailer OakStreetMan.com offers discerning men an impressive array of high-end gadgets, gear and even experiences, although some of what this site offers would be equally appreciated by women as well. Case in point is the company's line of Viking Professional stainless steel cookware. I myself have - and absolutely adore – the Viking Professional 8-Quart Stock Pot, along with the manufacturer's Pasta and Steamer Inserts that are sold separately at OakStreetMan.com. Boasting 5-layer ply construction and brushed surgical grade 18/10 stainless steel interior and exterior surfaces, Viking Professional's sturdy 8-Quart Stock Pot stock pot is built to last...and perform. Meticulously handcrafted in Belgium, this pot is engineered for use on any cooking surface, including induction, and is oven-safe up to 600°F. An aluminum core facilitates lightening fast and incredibly even heat distribution for exceptional cooking control. Its ergonomic stay-cool handles are designed to create leverage under the forearm for a safer and more comfortable grip, and the dome lid (designed to minimize dripping) also has an extra-large handle providing increased clearance for fingers.

Viking Professional's 9.5" Pasta Insert also available at OakStreetMan.com, which is designed to fit snugly into the 8-Quart Stock Pot, is absolutely terrific for straining and draining pasta of any kind, potatoes, corn on the cob and other such items. You'll forego having to dump the contents of a large, heavy pot full of boiling hot water into an unstable strainer resting precariously in the sink. This top-of-the-line insert, also made of 18/10 stainless steel and constructed with large, ergonomic, stay-cool handles, is a far more functional and safer alternative. Viking Professional's 8" Steamer insert is also an extremely handy, high-quality tool that works nicely with the 8-Quart Stock Pot. A rubber seal ensures that steam is conducted through the vents and into the food rather than escaping up and around the sides. It's also large enough to steam sizeable portions of meats, veggies and other victuals. As with all Viking Professional Cookware, which incidentally is also dishwasher-safe, all three of these items carry a lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects. (www.oakstreetman.com)

TY KU White Sake: - $150
TY KU Sake Bomb Kit - $27.99

Premium quality sake and soju purveyor TY KU Asian Wine and Spirits has a truly fabulous selection of gift items available this year sure to make the holidays merrier. My unequivocal favorite of the lot is TY KU White – a top-of-the-line Japanese sake heralding pure, high-quality ingredients and a gorgeous award-winning bottle. Only a select amount of TY KU White is made every year, giving it grand appeal for those who covet exclusivity and elite ultra premium spirits. Each numbered bottle of TY KU White pours the ultimate Junmai Daiginjo, which is handmade in small batches from hand-polished Yamada Nishiki rice grains milled over 50% that's harvested only one a year, soft water from the glaciers of the Fiji mountains that springs only every 50 years, proprietary yeast from the edo period, and hand-made koji. This elegant elixir, which is actually best served slightly chilled rather than hot like other sakes, conveys tantalizing fruit and spice notes and a fabulous mouth feel that enchants. The 750ml bottle, is packaged in a lovely bamboo box with sliding glass front door, all etched with floral design, and is and tied with a ribbon. This gift will let the recipient know how "premium" he or she really is.

For those who like to lighten things up a bit is TY KU's Sake Bomb Kit, which features a 750ml bottle of TY KU Super Premium Junmai Ginjo Sake hand crafted in the traditional Japanese method (also best enjoyed chilled), 2 black TY KU branded sake cups and 4 black chopstick-esque stirrers all set in a fierce black dragon-inspired gift box that'll have the recipient saying "Kanpai" upon opening. How to make a sake bomb? Just fill the sake cup full of TY KU sake, position the sake cup ently on stirrers reesting on a glass of beer that's three-quarters full, yell “Kanpai", slam your fist on the table causing the sake cup to drop into the beer glass, drink and enjoy. A sushi party favorite for sure! (www.trytyku.com)

EdibleGiftsPlus.com Lobster Dinner - $97.50
Now here's a gift that almost anyone would love. A complete Maine lobster and seafood dinner for two from EdibleGiftsPlus.com – a company offering a dizzying array of gifts and goodies for all occasions. This holiday, spoil a friend or family member with a Maine lobster and seafood bake-in-a-bag feast they'll remember – not only for how fabulous it tastes but also how quick, easy and mess-free it is to prepare. The lucky - and hopefully hungry - gift recipient will receive on their doorstep an ice-packed cooler filled with a seafood bounty: two lobster tails, a dozen thoroughly cleaned mussels (no grit!), eight perfectly deveined shrimp, eight sea scallops and two small ears of corn all drenched in a flavorful herbed lemon butter sauce. All of this is neatly packaged in a large heavy foil bag that is simply placed either on the grill (35-40 minutes) or in the oven (50-55 minutes). When ready, just cut open the foil and serve. The portable pack is perfect for a beach-side bar-b-que or top-tier tailgate! With a 9-month freezer shelf life, diners also have the option to freeze the bag to eat at a later date. When a hankering for some stellar seafood hits, just thaw, heat and eat. (www.ediblegiftsplus.com)

Bar-B-Que Vivabox - $90
Get someone fired up this season with a Bar-B-Que Vivabox. My readers already know how much I love the Vivabox concept, which essentially combines a traditional themed gift from a giver with freedom of choice for the recipient who may custom-tailor the Vivabox gift to his or her liking. There are seven types of Vivaboxes, such as Wine, Coffee Talk and Spa Beauty.

For its part, the Bar-B-Que Vivabox gift box arrives with phase 1 of the gift experience - a selection of Urban Accents spice blends and rubs to be enjoyed immediately - Kansas City Classic Rub, Cajun Street and Chicago Steak & Chop. The Bar-B-Que Vivabox also contains a Phase 2 gift card redeemable for a selection of meats from leading meat purveyor Omaha Steaks, including filet mignons, boneless strips, rib eyes, the international, the dynamite duo and backyard bonanza. Or, if the recipient prefers, instead of the Omaha Steaks he or she may opt for ethnic-themed spice sets from Urban Accents. Options include the American BBQ Gift Set, Latin Fever Gift Set, Asian Fusion Gift Set or the Indian Heat Gift Set. To redeem, recipients simply log on to the Vivabox Web site, enter their gift card number and choose from 10 available gift options where prompted. A tasty gift, indeed. (www.vivaboxusa.com)

- Merilee Kern
JustLuxe.com's "The Luxe List" Executive Review Editor

The Luxe List product, service and travel review editor Merilee Kern scours the luxury marketplace for new and captivating “musts." Submissions are accepted via e-mail at Merilee@JustLuxe.com. View all of Merilee’s Luxe List articles from here (scroll to page bottom).










Merilee Kern

Merilee A. Kern is a good life connoisseur who scours the luxury marketplace for new and innovative must-haves and exemplary experiences at all price points - the extreme high end to the affordable. The best of the best across all product, service and travel categories are detailed in her exclusive column 'The Luxe List' that reaches millions of affluent consumers each month through multiple print...(Read More)

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