The older I get, the harder it becomes to make a wish list. Am I the only one? Namely because if I want something, I buy it. And if something is beyond my reach, I usually put it out of my head. Still, there are some things that I still dream about, because to purchase them for myself would be sheer folly. And impractical.
And I am about as impractical as a pair of double-strap Birkenstocks these days. But I'm not going to lie -- I would like to be indulged now and then. So, without further ado, here is my "Dare to Dream" Christmas wish list (ahem, hubby, you can start your shopping now!)
Edible gingerbread playhouse: I saw the life-size gingerbread playhouse you see above in the Neiman Marcus' holiday catalogue and my jaw dropped. You can have it for a mere US$15,000. According to the catalogue, this "unique edible playhouse is handcrafted of 381 lbs. of gourmet gingerbread and 517 lbs. of royal icing by the expert confectioners at Dylan's Candy Bar®. The munchable manor, which stands 6.6 feet high by 5.25 feet wide by 4.1 feet deep, incorporates the best confections from the world's largest candy store in New York City." Maybe I will empty my new car fund and just buy this instead. Life is short, am I right?
Cappuccino from Bulldog Coffee in Toronto: I'm not that hard to please. Hand me a steaming cappuccino with a pretty image and you'll win a friend for life. And there is no better place in the city to get one than the at Bulldog. When my husband turned 30, I bought him some one-on-one time with the owner and barista Stuart Ross, who is singlehandedly responsible for training many of Toronto's baristas. My husband learned how to pull a perfect shot of espresso, but creating an image in the froth? Not so much. We can leave that one to the experts, honey.
Pusateri's gift certificate: When I enter Pusateri's fine foods store, my heart starts racing, blood rushes to my ears, and I methodically walk the aisles, sniffing, sampling, giggling nervously at the sight of rows and rows of spices I can't find anywhere else, stacks of fresh croissants from patisseries across the city, tree-ripe exotic fruit, and gorgeous bouquets of flowers. It's enough to make me light-headed.
Le Creuset: For someone who bakes and cooks as often as I do, you'd like to think I should own some Le Creuset. Well I don't. The closest I've come is discounted Corningware. Which is fine.
But sometimes, I dream of indulging myself with a stunning Le Creuset Dutch oven in bright blue or red, or perhaps even one of their mini cocottes that are easier on the pocketbook, and just too cute for words. It's true, though, that I'm not sure what I would use the mini ones for. But I can't find out really quick if you want to make my dreams come true.
Cuisipro Cupcake Corer and Decorating Set: I'll admit my cupcake decorating skills have greatly improved over the last couple of years but I still dread filling piping bags and struggling with them as I try to squeeze out air bubbles. This nifty kit, which includes squeeze bottles and interchangeable tips, would solve all my problems, it looks like. Indeed, I am often coring my cupcakes to add fillings such as dulce de leche but my paring-knife technique is not foolproof, nor recommended. This is yet another set that I may use only a handful of times after it disappears in the depths of my kitchen drawers, but it's worth it even if I use it two, or three times. Right? (Don't answer that).
Day trip to Nadege Patisserie: I have been aching to check out this patisserie in the city's west end for months now. But making my way down there is about as likely as having my 15 month old sleep through the night. Ain't gonna happen any time soon. So I will resign myself to dreaming about the these works of edible art.
Vintage china tea cups and saucers: If you know me, if you really know me, you will know that I collect vintage tea cups and saucers and send hours trolling for new ones on eBay.
My favourites ones are by Aynsley, Paragon, Royal Albert and Shelley and I am always adding to my collection in my hutch, much to the chagrin of my clutter-phobic family-members.
I'm not one of those don't-touch collectors, though, I like to bring out my teacups to serve chocolate mousse or butterscotch pudding.
Chef's knife: I don't know even which ones are the best of their kind. All I know is I want one that slices through my carrots like butter. I'm convinced a good chef's knife would minimize on my prep time. And time is money, after all.
Ceramic cupcake stand: My cupboards are full but I still drool over whimsical items like this one. Isn't this darling?
It comes in a few other pastel colours but I think this is the one that has stolen my heart.
And it would look great featuring one of my cupcakes on my blog, wouldn't it? I realize it's not entirely practical but wish lists shouldn't be, in my humble opinion.
Bresse chicken: You know when you hear a new term for the first time and within a week you have heard it a handful more times? What do they call that? Synchronicity? Divine intervention? A strange coincidence? This is how it was the first time I heard about the Bresse chicken.
Within a few days, it felt like, all I ever heard about was the Bresse chicken. This chicken is a special breed from France prized for its rich flavour and tender meat because it is marbled with fat. These chickens, at the top of their pecking order, are raised to exacting standards. Can you buy a Bresse chicken in Canada? Apparently not, because the slaughtering standardsdon't meet guidelines set out by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Pffft. The more I'm told I can't have it, the more I want it.
DSLR: I don't even know which DSLR camera would be the best for food blogging but I'm sure it would be a worthy investment. Readers, please leave your recommendations! Oprah recently lauded the Nikon D3100 on her "favourite things" show but is there something better out there? (I'd be using it to document family memories as well, of course.)
Williams-Sonoma Caramel Apple Pancake Mix: Made with pieces of Rome apples, pure caramel and a touch of warm spice, if this flavour combination doesn't tempt you, I am at a loss for words, and I am not sure we could ever be friends. Just think, you could even make caramel apple waffles and top them with some vanilla bean ice cream. This is the kind of item I would ration throughout the year because I'm certain it's a seasonal one that won't always be available.
And finally, in case my husband still doesn't know what to get me: Some cozy flannel PJs, Brahms, Khachaturian, or Grieg sheet music for the piano, the entire set of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books, a dinner out for anywhere other than Swiss Chalet, a trip to London, or anything that comes in a coveted Tiffany blue box. As that witchy, home-wrecker secretary says in "Love Actually," "I don't want something I need. I want something I want."
So, what's on your Christmas wish list? (For inspiration and ideas, check out my 2009 wish list, and my 2008 wish list.)