Sure, the Seacliff mansion, the villa in Tuscany, and the yachting weekends to Catalina are all very well and good, but every now and then you want to dig into the portfolio and get that special someone something really luxurious. After all, money is no object, n'est-ce pas?
Champagne and caviar Sustenance is important, particularly during the holidays, but after three or four decades even cookies and eggnog can take on a perfunctory air. The classic pairing of champagne and caviar is a happy, if exorbitant, alternative. Of the several kinds of fish egg on the market, from top-grade beluga to Safeway-aisle salmon, we like golden Iranian asetra, the rarest of them all, a gorgeous, large-beaded, richly complex variety that sparkles when you bite into it. Its ideal accompaniment is the 1988 Dom Perignon, a mellow yet vivid, absolutely urbane modern classic that's only improved with age.
Caviar, $136/oz, $4,796/kilo, available from Tsar Nicoulai Caviar, 144 King (at Second), 543-3007; champagne, $150/bottle, available from K&L Wine Merchants, 766 Harrison (at Fourth), 896-1734, www.klwines.com.
Penthouse Suite at the Fairmont Hotel The Fairmont's elaborate penthouse has been described as the most expensive hotel accommodation in the world, and this eight-room suite (including three bedrooms, three baths, a dining room, a library, a billiard room, a fully equipped kitchen and a living room with a fireplace), with its own maid, butler, limousine, and private elevator, might just be worth it. The library alone is worth investigating: two circular floors of books encapsulated by a domed ceiling etched with the constellations. There's also a fairly stupendous view from the terrace.
$6,000/night; 950 Mason (at California), 772-5000.
The Lotus Elise Nothing says "O Little Town of Bethlehem" like a brand-new kick-ass car, and since moolah isn't an issue at this most corpulent time of year, why not spring for the coolest wheels on the road? The Lotus Elise looks like a particularly sleek jungle cat ready to pounce, all low-slung styling, voluptuous curves and ferocious power, with a snazzy fold-back convertible top and your choice of exterior shade from Arctic silver to krypton green. Although this modern British classic has been tearing up the highways of Europe for some time, the Elise is only just arriving on these shores now and as such has become a precious local commodity -- wannabe 007s are selling their places on the waiting list for several thousand simoleons.
$40,930; inquire at British Motor Cars, 901 Van Ness (at Ellis), 776-7700.
A big-screen plasma TV Since a goodly percentage of the holiday season is spent in front of the electronic hearth watching Jimmy Stewart go nutso, a nice new television is an appropriate gifting option. Our suggestion: Go all out and get one of the biggest danged TVs in the world. Fujitsu's P-63X is 63 inches of gorgeous, high-resolution image, with state-of-the-art plasma technology and an incredible 3,000:1 contrast ratio that make you feel like the outside world has entered your living room. And despite its wide-screen girth, the thing's only 6 inches thick, ideal for hanging on the wall.
$25,000; available at Good Guys, Van Ness & Bush, 775-9323, www.goodguys.com.
A nice little bauble from Tiffany Thanks to modern advertising, we've learned that your sweetie won't really truly love you until you give her a diamond, so make this holiday season a cuddly one with a visceral token of your affection. We're torn between a couple of options; the dolphin clip, with its 329 hand-set diamonds and scales of 14k gold, makes a fine ecological statement, but on the other hand there's a necklace with 20 matching sapphires and 63 diamonds that's not exactly anything to sneeze at. Better spring for both of 'em.
Clip, $110,000; necklace, $200,000; available from Tiffany & Company, 350 Post (at Stockton), 781-7000, www.tifanny.com.