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A Vintage Glass Knife, Colorful Mugs, and More Things to Buy This Week

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This post originally appeared on February 19, 2019, in “Add to Cart” — the weekly newsletter for people who love shopping (almost) as much as they love eating. Subscribe now.

Confession: I went out to eat at a restaurant last night. I also got takeout.

Dining out versus cooking at home is no longer a binary, but rather two ends of a very crowded spectrum. At one end, you can buy and cook your own food. But you can also have the ingredients shipped to you that you then cook (thanks for nothing, Blue Apron), have the ingredients pre-mixed for you and then cook them (ily, Daily Harvest), or have entire meals sent to you, ready to eat (please explain your mysteries to me, Sakara Life).

On the other end of the spectrum, you can go out — but you may have to order at a counter first, or assemble the meal yourself, Chipotle-style. Somewhere in the middle is a murky new reality in which delivery operations are housed within existing restaurants, meaning the IRL menu is totally different than the one you encounter online. There may even be several “virtual restaurants” living in one actual restaurant space, existing just for the sake of delivery.

And scrolling through Seamless can feel just like scrolling through Netflix — an overwhelming, aimless hunt with endless options that somehow always leads you back to the just-okay thing you already know. The paradox of choice has wormed its way into our dining habits.

So here’s a different, more delightful, dining tactic to throw into the mix: Go out to eat, enjoy a good restaurant meal, and when the server comes to clear your dishes, order an extra meal to go. You could gift it to an unsuspecting roommate or partner who didn’t get to join you on your dinner date, but better yet, save it for yourself. It’s a way to stretch the restaurant experience out, and one less meal to make a decision about. And you won’t pay a delivery fee.

Things to buy

The vintage glass knife
Heidi’s Bridge
  • Hot tip for mug lovers: West Elm, of all places, has a pretty great selection. These two-toned Clash mugs, which come in an oh-so-now palette of coral, teal, and Yves Klein blue, are my favorites. It doesn’t hurt that there’s a big West Elm sale today.
  • This vintage glass knife caught my eye when photography duo Heidi’s Bridge used it as a prop for Eater’s 2018 Holiday Gift Guide. Turns out the piece is a Depression-era fruit knife (also sometimes referred to as a cake knife), and you can find similar ones on eBay and Etsy.
  • A totally plastic-free life is a tall order, but I’m into replacing disposable plastic plates with these eco-friendly plates from the Clear Conscience, made from fallen palm leaves. They’re way nicer-looking anyway.
  • The easiest way to impress guests: Make them a cocktail with mini ice balls using this ice tray, and tell them you picked up the idea while sipping drinks at the Aviary.

Things to know

  • When two trending phenomena collide: Direct-to-consumer kitchenware company Material, which makes minimalist knives and cooking utensils, has announced a partnership with Alison Roman, naming her a “Strategic Brand Advisor” to the brand.
  • Next time you covet a beautiful handmade plate or bowl from a restaurant, know that you have resources. Plenty of artists, including Robert Siegel Studio (pictured below) and Noble, list online which restaurants use their dishes. Other studios are getting wise to the fact that ceramics are replacing fine china as the tableware of choice for young couples: Heath Ceramics, Jono Pandolfi, and MMclay by Mary Mar Keenan allow shoppers to create wedding registries on their sites. (Yes, I still have wedding registries on my mind.)
  • Your semiregular reminder: You don’t have to buy everything.

Also, thanks to an intrepid reader (hi, Greg!), my question has been answered: WeWork’s in-house cucumber carving artists, aka the maintenance team, uses these alphabet cookie-cutter tools to cut the cucumber skin. And now I need them.

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