Holiday Gift Guide: Nonna's Cooking, Napoleon-Style Celeb Portraits
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because no one really wants that sweater you knit.
By Matt Foley
Part of OZY’s 2016 holiday gift guide, in which our staffers and contributors clue you in on what they want to give and what they want to get.
Matt Foley is OZY’s sports reporter. He grew up on Chicago’s baseball diamonds and now plays men’s league hoops in New York City. When he’s not writing about sports, he’s avoiding taxis on his bicycle and searching for his next great meal.
Give: The Walky-Dog Bike Leash
Properly caring for a dog can be tough. Sometimes pups want to run and, if you’re like me, you do not. Strap on the Walky-Dog Bike Leash ($60) and, voilà, problem solved.In return for this gift you will receive one happy pooch; one healthier, more exercised dog-owning friend or family member; and one story of the time said canine saw a tasty squirrel and sent your associate torpedoing into the nearest bush.
Give: A shipment of Lou Malnati’s frozen deep-dish pizza
I’m on a mission to spread the good word about Lou Malnati’s, Chicago’s premier deep-dish pizzeria, producer of incredible frozen pies. Trust, these pies travel; I’m flying them in for a late-night snack at my wedding (six-pack, $110, includes shipping). While it’s best for folks unaccustomed to frozen tears and bloody chapped lips to avoid Chicago in the winter, I highly suggest a seasonally appropriate in-person visit.
Give: Celebrity Portraits, Napoleon-Style
Depending on the recipient’s sense of humor, or lack thereof, this gag gift could find a home in your loved one’s closet. It will be unveiled when you visit, though, so schedule accordingly — ideally around group parties. The opportunities are endless with ReplaceFace. From throw pillows ($20) and mugs ($15) to full-size portraits on canvas (starting at $85), choose whichever celebrity your heart desires to dress in 1812 Russian military garb. History buffs will love that the prints were originally by George Dawe, an English artist who painted over 300 portraits of Russian generals for the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg during Napolean’s invasion of Russia. I sure hope my brother enjoys his Dave Grohl shower curtain.
Get: A ride, in a car, to Staten Island
Perhaps the best idea I’ve ever heard: Staten Island’s Enoteca Maria ditched the professional chefs and brought in real live nonnas to cook for guests. Rather than employing a head chef, Enoteca Maria sports a rotating roster of grandmothers — both native New Yorkers and international transplants — to cook genuine old-country fare. “The way I see it, nonnas are the repositories of our culture,” says owner Joe Scaravella. In typical nonna fashion, the grannies work the restaurant floor and great guests too, sometimes even sharing a recipe.
So what I’m really saying is I would appreciate a ride to this cash-only dive. Nearby Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk and Beach makes for a nice postmeal stroll too.
Get: An All-Occasion Hook
Raise your hand if you woke up today aware of your need for a hook. I surely did not. Maybe I’m just a sucker for instructional YouTube videos, but the Gravity Hook has won my heart. Fear not, this is no mechanical hook of our claw-crane-induced childhood nightmares. This stainless-steel magnetic grappling claw and carabiner ($26) packs a punch. Equipped with the magnetic force to hold over 1,000 lbs. and the versatility to perform hookish functions both outdoors and in, this next-level barb has me planning a day of tree-climbing, rescue missions and outdoor survival training. When that all falls through, I’ll still have an industrially chic, trendy plant hanger.
Get: A Tool to Up Your Spy Game
I spent a weekend at a friend’s lake house this summer. Beautiful home, even better company, but there was a lot of sun. This is a good thing, of course, but I’m a bit on the pale side — I’ve been called “Casper” once or twice. My hourly shade breaks became infinitely less lonely when I discovered our host’s Nikon binoculars. Lightweight with a sharp, wide range of visibility, the Monarch 5 8×42 ($300) is an absolute game changer for any nature buff or nosy Nellie. With binocs raised, I could play lifeguard and birdwatcher and even check in on the potbellied adult bully across the lake spraying his kid with a hose. To my family members reading this, thank you in advance.