best bets

From Garlic-Shaped Candles to Lena Waithe’s Weed

Illustration: Ellaphant in The Room

An all-over-the-place assortment of stood-behind products culled from this very website that appear in the December 5 issue of New York Magazine.

Best in Class

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The WellTempered Wok

Joyce Chen Carbon-Steel Wok
$25
$25

Although lots of DTC brands have launched slick, well-packaged woks in the past few years (Made In and Food52 among them), none are quite as reliable as this over-half-century-old model from Joyce Chen. It was the first patented wok to be made with a flat bottom—before that, they were uniformly round at the base and therefore only worked on specific stoves. Chen’s is also unusually affordable, lightweight, and designed with a long wooden handle that makes tossing that much easier. Its carbon-steel material is what gives stir-fry “the elusive, smoky essence prized by Chinese gourmands,” per cookbook author Grace Young. Sohui Kim, the owner and chef of Insa in Brooklyn, told Strategist writer Emma Wartzman that she has used the same Joyce Chen wok for more than 20 years. “It can handle a ton of vegetables and mimics restaurant-quality technique—you really get a ripping-hot heat,” she says of the standard 14-inch s   ch a long time, I don’t foresee myself having to replace it ever.”

Hyperspecific Gifts

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For the Birder

From $2,599

Three birders recommended springing for Swarovski binoculars.
Chase Mendenhall, curator of birds at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, calls them “the Porsche of optics” and ideal for “low-light warblerwatching,” while Andrew Farnsworth, researcher at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, describes them as a “game changer.

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For the Biker

For three years, Strategist writer Jeremy Rellosa has used these ingenious block lights for nighttime riding. “They’ve got elastic bands that attach to any handlebar or seat post, and they don’t budge, even while riding over the gnarliest road bumps,” he says. “They’re so small that I just stuff them in my pants pocket after I lock up my bike.”

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For the Beer Lover

Matt Monahan, co-founder of Other Half Brewing, recommends this Dayventure beer cooler from Pelican and appreciates that it “fits four four-packs of 16-ounce cans perfectly.” It also has a handsome orange lining, padded strap, and a leakproof zip closure to protect against spills.

Compulsive Shopping

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I Can’t Stop Buying (Actually Functional) Objects That Look Like Food

A few years ago, I was at Russ & Daughters when I picked up a (now sadly “caviar” in royal blue. On further inspection, I realized it wasn’t really caviar at all but delightful little mints shaped like roe! What fun it was to whip these out of my purse at a party when some one inevitably asked for a mint. When I next stumbled across a barrette covered in shiny plastic pasta from a stall in Thailand, the same one-two punch of joy came over me. In the years since, I’ve assembled what is now a pantry’s worth of useful objects that look like food. Here, some of my favorites. –Allison Rodman

This Thing’s Incredible

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I Can’t Do a Triple Axel, But I Wear FigureSkating Tights All Winter

Last year, I was in Cambridge visiting a friend and we set off for a festive afternoon of ice-skating followed by mulled wine. She’d been a competitive figure skater as a teen and kept it up as a hobby, so she had all the gear, including figure-skating tights. She offered me a pair to keep warm. They feel like at least a 100-denier pair—a heavy-weight tight—silky when rubbed between your fingers but super-stretchy so you can move around. They don’t snag on a rogue nail as you pull them on. Also, although they’re thicker than my usual 40-denier tights, they’re much thinner than any thermal or fleece-lined ones I’d tried in the past. I later ordered a pair (Mondor footed figure-skating tights, $13). I was genuinely ecstatic when my knee-high boots zipped over them with ease. A year on, they’re still going strong. When people ask, “Are you not freezing in that outfit?,” I can honestly say, “No, actually. Not at all. –Rachael Griffiths

What I Can’t Live Without

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Lena Waithe

“The founder of this brand is someone who was once incarcerated for trafficking marijuana, and now he has a license to sell legally in California. I use his products exclusively. He names all the strains after characters from TV and movies. Nino Brown is obviously from New Jack City, and it’s really dope.”

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Ty Hunter

$11 for 25

“After I was robbed, I took all my expensive stuff off and switched to these jelly bracelets. Whenever somebody gives me a compliment or they like them, I give them four and restock them. It’s just a way of giving a piece of me to friends and loved ones or anybody who impacts me. They’re my signature now; I never take them off.”

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LeAnn Rimes

“I’ve been focusing on my hormone health and preparing my body for the easiest menopausal transition possible, so I eat for my menstrual cycle. During the first half, I eat keto, then more carbs on the back half—that’s when I carry these around. They are a healthy way to eat potato chips because they are not fried in bad oils. I used to be a Pringles girl, and these taste exactly the same.”

Steal My Registry

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The Wedding Gifts Trinity Mouzon Wofford Received

The co-founder of the popular matcha brand Golde recently married her longtime partner, moved into a new house, and had a baby. When they were putting together their wedding registry, they looked for things that reflected all three of these milestones. –As told to Tembe Denton-Hurst

“For a few weeks, we’ve been keeping it in our car. On the weekends, we visit our favorite farms and use it as a cooler for produce, eggs, and milk.”

$100 for 6

“Our dining-room table is very plain and needs to be refinished.
We’ll do that one day, but in the meantime, we now have these really beautiful, colorful mats.”

Watering cans are damn expensive even if you get one from the garden store; the plastic ones are 50 bucks. So it’s like, Let me just get something that’s gonna last a lifetime.

“It’s the kind of pan that you reach for all the time. It’s the right size, extremely lightweight, and good for cooking everything.”

“It’s a treat, especially when you’re sitting on the sofa watching TV and you wrap yourself in it. It’s warm and looks good. I’m a big fan.”

“I put Ruby in this chair when I’m in the kitchen. She hangs out and watches from there. It looks like nice furniture rather than a war zone of multicolored toys.”

Saw Something, Said Something

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We Found Marie Gluesenkamp Perez’s Jeans

When strategist writer Liza Corsillo saw a picture of Marie Gluesenkamp Perez—the newly elected Democratic representative from Washington State’s Third Congressional District—she realized they both wear the same fairly niche jeans. “From the fit and high waist, slight barrel shape, and the placement of the patches, I recognized them immediately as my Rudy Jude utility jeans,” Corsillo writes. The pants, she says, are pretty hard to come by (the sustainable Maine-based brand sells them on a preorder basis) but are worth it for the “magical taper at the waist that follows the curve of your hips like no other jeans can.”

2x2

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A Wool Sock Matrix

The best wool socks, whether you like them thick or thin, for lounging or hiking. –Katherine Gillepsie

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

As Seen in the Strategist Section