giving 2016

holiday-2016This year of all years, give the gift of a donation to causes that need our support like the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Union of Concerned Scientists, The Sierra Club, NPR, etc… If our government is not going to protect what’s near and dear to our hearts as caring citizens, then it’s up to us to make a difference. Friends and family will understand if donations are a priority and gifts are small this year. With that in mind, here are just a few small gift ideas to help take minds off our worries:

1. No holiday season (or stressful time) is complete without a little chocolate. This bean to bar chocolate company weaves social responsibility into everything they do so you can feel good about this guilty pleasure.  Askinosie Chocolate Peppermint Bark  $30  |   2. Pizza solves all woes. Where to Eat Pizza from Phaidon  $20  |   3. Maybe the future holds something better. Here’s Hoping!  Tea Leaf Reading Kit  $23  |   4.  A little humor goes a long way even if hidden from view. Cheeky Knickers by Naja  $22 each   5.  YOGA!!  Two Toned Mat by Stella McCartney  $71    6. The ultimate mind-numbing puzzle challenge.  500 pc. Gradient Puzzle  $20, avail in 3 colorways.

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pizza hot spot

Mulbury Street PizzaPizza Hot Spot: Mulberry Street Pizzeria                                                                      Where: Beverly Hills, California                                                                                             Type: New York

What’s hot: Huge and perfectly thin pies. This is the best New York style pizza in Los Angeles. The ultra thin crust is topped with a layer of chunky tomato sauce and just the right amount of cheese. Due to the thinness, the very large slices fold automatically in your hand and disappear all too quickly. Rumor had it, once upon a time, that they imported their water for the dough from the Big Apple. But we all know that’s not true. It’s just good pizza done right. Eat in.Take it to go. Grab a slice or a whole pie. I’m actually glad they don’t deliver east of Fairfax or I’d eat this good stuff far too often.

pizza hot spot

Mozza PizzaPizza Hot Spot: Pizzeria Mozza                                                                                          Where: Los Angeles & Newport Beach, CA                                                                          Type: Wood Burning Italian Perfection

What’s hot:  When Nancy Silverton and Mario Batali get together sheer magic happens, that’s what. This is simply the best pizza in the world — hands down! You can only order the combinations they make, no substitutions or omissions. If in doubt, go for the Mozzarella Di Bufala a ramped up Margherita Pizza. I promise, your taste buds will thank you. And just because, order a Chopped Salad to start and Butterscotch Burdino to end. Your soul will thank you.

pizza hot spot

&pizzaPizza Hot Spot: & Pizza
Where: Washington, DC (multiple locations)
Type: Flatbread

What’s hot:  This may not be the best pizza but I am diggin’ the concept. Like your local burrito bar, just step up to the counter and choose your crust, your sauce and your toppings. No limits, no rules and a plethora of items to choose from. Ingredients are fresh and locally sourced and your pie costs just under $10 fresh from the oven in a quick 2 minutes. It’s super thin crust accounts for the fast cooking time making it the perfect fast food meal (that’s not nearly as heavy as a burrito). And the best part of all — the oblong graphic boxes that change out seasonally with different artwork and sayings. Anything & pizza are a beloved pairing in my book!

pizza hot spot

Uno SpinachPizza Hot Spot: Pizzeria Uno                                                                                          Where: 29 East Ohio Street, Chicago                                                                                    Type: Deep Dish

What’s hot:  This is the original Chicago-style deep dish pizza. The stuff I grew up on (we literally used to fill the trunk with half-baked pizzas and drive them back to Detroit). Back in the day it was sausage & mushrooms. While that classic combo is their signature, today I prefer spinach & mushrooms for a slightly lighter meal — although deep dish pizza is never light especially with Uno’s oil slicked crust which sets it apart from all the others. And don’t think you are getting the same stuff at one of their chain restaurants around the country. It’s different (and waaaaay better!) in Chicago. Only Pizzeria Due, their spillover joint across the street, serves up the same deliciousness. Order ahead as it takes 45 minutes to cook.

pizza hot spot

pizza appPizza Hot Spot: Your Kitchen                                                                                                 How:  With the pizza making app from Pizza A Casa, NYC                                                   Type: Surprisingly Good

What’s hot:  With the right ingredients and the right technique you can make good pizza in your own home oven. Trust me, I’ve taken the class at Pizza A Casa in NYC, renowned for the best pizza instruction around. The class was full of tips and tricks and really good pizza right out of a home oven. And now you can get the same instruction right on your iPad for $9.99. Download the app, buy yourself a pizza stone and a pizza peel and in no time, you’ll be cranking out homemade pizzas that rival any restaurant — thin and crispy and truly delicious!

pizza hot spot

cheeseboardPizza Hot Spot: Cheese Board Pizza Collective                                                                Where: 1512 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, California                                                               Type: Vegetarian

What’s hot:  Each day (Tuesday – Saturday) one and only one pizza combination is made and served from 11:30 am to 8 pm with a small break from 3-4:30 pm. Toppings can vary but are always made from fresh local vegetables mixed with cheeses from the standard to the unusual, no tomato sauce ever, atop a sour dough crust made in house from a 30 year old starter. Buy it by the slice or by the pie, pull up a chair outside or sit on the grass along the median in the middle of Shattuck Avenue. It’s bohemian style at it’s finest going on 30+ years of deliciousness.

Pizza shown:  Heirloom tomatoes, onions, mozzarella and French Raclette cheese, garlic olive oil, and fresh herbs.

pizza hot spot

Pizza Hot Spot: Two Amys                                                                                                   Where: 3715 Macomb Street, NW  Washington, DC                                                            Type: Neapolitan Pizza

What’s hot:  Everything on the menu but especially the authentic D.O.C pizza made with soft-grain flour, fresh yeast, water and sea salt for the dough topped with Italian plum tomatoes, mozzarella di bufala, extra-virgin olive oil, fresh basil and oregano then cooked to perfection in a wood-burning oven. And don’t stop at the pizza. You must also have suppli a telefono, the best deviled eggs ever, home made charcuterie, and traditional desserts like cannoli and almond cake to die for. On the weekends only, don’t miss the fresh donuts. This is amazing pizza and then some.

pizza hot spot

It’s hard to make bad pizza but it’s really hard to make good pizza. Round pizza, square pizza, thick crust, thin crust, deep dish, coal fired, wood burning, grilled, white, red, anchovies, no anchovies . . . the options are endless but they can all be delicious when done right. Although opinions vary greatly on this subject, I hope to bring you the best of the best (in my opinion) from around the country and around the world in this new series, Pizza Hot Spot.

Pizza Hot Spot: Buddy’s Pizza                                                                                          Where: Detroit, Michigan (multiple locations)                                                                   Type: Sicilian style

What’s hot:  The crispy burnt edges where cheese meets crust meets pan. Oh my! Order only the small size where you get just 4 supremely crispy corner pieces and no middles. Trust me on this. Any classic toppings pair well with the sweet sauce ladled over the cheese and topped with a splash of olive oil fresh out of the oven.