The fifth day of Christmas brings glad tidings you can share with your loved ones the whole year through: the gift of subscriptions. Magazines have always been a pretty magical thing for me. They are bright, colorful, glossy and yet disposable. Food magazines in particular are a special breed for me. For the price of a magazine- or better yet the low price of a year long subscription to one- you basically receive a new cookbook once a month. Complete with photos, tips, and an index each magazine can be saved and become a part of your cookbook library to be cooked from for years to come. All that being said, I love gifting food magazine subscriptions and always renew my sister's in December. If you live far from your loved ones magazines are an especially great gift, they will come year round and you can send notice of their gift in your holiday card for the mere price of a stamp. Order a subscription for yourself and look over the new issue each month over the phone or Skype. Many now come with free iPad applications of their issues, so remember these when your friend who is constantly reading off hers/his comes up on your list.
When ordering I always suggest looking first online, second in the magazines (for those primarily wasteful subscription cards) and thirdly pick up the phone and ask customer service for the best rate they can give you. If you are thinking of getting more than one subscription ask about the cost of multiples, it is usually less. Here are my favorites:
Saveur. Saveur may very well remain at the top of my food magazines list forever. They have the best writing, wonderful photographs, great tips, calendars for each month with events world wide and the best sense of adventure. The cover is always delicious and a little surprising- like those green beans this past November. This is the magazine for the food lover who is a traveler and a wandered and who believes in the best food writing.
Martha Stewart's Everyday Food. Everyday Food is this little volume that can fit in a coat pocket or easily in a small purse for taking to the grocery store. I always enjoy going through this one for recipes and end up marking every other page for things I want to make. There are so many great ideas and tips throughout every issue. I often cook from back issues of EDF. This is the perfect mag for your favorite home cook who is always looking for fresh, quick and fun new ideas. I give this to my sister every year, we love looking at it together, and this year I gave it to one of my good friends who I never get to see but who I talk to everyday online- perfect for that friend far from home.
Food Network. The next three are sort of the pillars of the more standard food magazines out there. Lately I've been really loving Food Network Magazine. These issues are literally chock full with recipes. They always feature one dish or drink done 50 ways in a little pull out insert. It is truly the magazine for the Food Network and Cooking Channel fanatics in your life. One of the best things about it is how they whet your appetite with a visual recipe index at the beginning of each issue. Food Network is always the heaviest of the five magazines I get (yes, with plenty of ads) and it always satisfies. This is the second magazine I always give my sister.
Food & Wine. Sometime after hitting my first NYC Wine and Food Festival I decided I needed to subscribe to Food & Wine. Of the five mentioned here it is by and large the most restaurant oriented magazine and also the only one with a heavy focus on wine. There is always something that surprises me in each issue that I'm never expecting. This is the gift for your friends who work the line, the ones who never pass up a wine tasting at the liquor store and for your favorite Top Chef fans.
Bon Appetit. For one, thank god for Adam Rapoport. Meaning no disrespect directed towards Barbara Fairchild, but BA pre-Rapoport was getting to be so stodgy with such dreary photography. The redesigns have invigorated each issue with plenty more color, new graphics and much better photos. There have been some bold moves on the cover, Gwyneth in June, in addition to some bad calls like that pink and red meringue eyesore this December. Overall, this is a fun magazine for any food lover. They make good lists summarizing cool, current things and trends and always have a number of desirable recipes. It will also be fun to see what Adam and his NYC crew will be up to in the New Year.
In addition to any of these subscriptions I suggest you send your newly gifted friends to check out The Bitten Word. This blog aspires to do what most of us don't do enough- cook from these great food mags!