How on earth is it December already?? First the leaves started changing colour and we hit Autumn, suddenly the clocks changed, Halloween came and went, then it was Bonfire Night and boom…November disappeared and here we are in December! It seems to come around quicker every year and yet every year I fail to be prepared for it. However, on the 1st December I am in full-on Christmas mode…
I have started looking for presents for friends and family but instead, I have found loads of things I would love to get my hands on! If you are looking for some gift inspiration for the food-lover in your life, here are a few of my favourite things…
Rococo Chocolates have collaborated with Jigsaw to release these gorgeous PJs (£40) The iconic, and instantly recognisable blue and white Rococo print adorns these gorgeous a very soft cottonand comes ready for gifting in a beautiful little box.
Coppa Lane Cured have come up with the BEST Christmas card…one filled with cured meat! The Coppa Christmas Card includes 50g of coppa ham, matured for 2-3 months for just £6.50.
Inside the card reads “On the first day of Christmas, My true love gave to me: British Char-Cu-Te-Rie.” & “Merry Christmas” on the second inside page, with plenty of space for your personal message.
I adore beautiful cutlery and have a bit of an addiction to buying even just one knife, fork and spoon of a collection I love the look of. I recently spotted this stunning Brushed 24k Gold & Black cutlery on Casa de Perrin’s instagram. At $89 for the set below, I’m going to have to keep admiring it from afar but my goodness, isn’t it gorgeous??
I really want to read Ruby Tandoh‘s new book Eat Up : Food, Appetite and Eating What You Want. (£10.35) The blurb reads: Food nourishes our bodies, helps us celebrate our successes (from a wedding cake to a post-night out kebab), cheers us up when we’re down, introduces us to new cultures and – when we cook and eat together – connects us with the people we love. In Eat Up, Ruby Tandoh celebrates the fun and pleasure of food, taking a look at everything from gluttons and gourmets in the movies, to the symbolism of food and sex. Filled with straight-talking, sympathetic advice on everything from mental health to recipe ideas and shopping tips, this is a book that clears away the fog, to help you fall back in love with food.
I love a good advent calendar and there are some crackers on the market this year. The first two are quite pricey, but this is my Christmas ‘wish list’. Of course, Gin Foundry are back with their wonderful Ginvent Calendar (£124.95), with 24 x 30ml bottles of UK gins, from London Dry to Old Tom and they’ve even made their own blend which uses real Christmas trees for flavour. Fortnum & Mason have released a stunning rare loose leaf tea advent calendar (£125) featuring everything from a jasmine fairy, to a dong ding oolong, this advent calendar is a great way to try out some new varieties in the run up to Christmas. The wooden box comes in the recognisable Fortnum and Mason teal colour, and can be reused year after year. But the supermarkets have come out with the most exciting calendars this year…Aldi have brought out a wine calendar £49.99) and Asda have come up with a cheese one (£8)!
If you’re having a Christmas party, these Silver Disco Ball Party Cup With Straw from Rockett St George (£10) are just the thing for festive drinks.
I love Rockett St George on any normal day, but when I was browsing their site, as I often do, and saw this Prince tea towel, I fell in love with them even more. At just £10, this is a must-buy for any Prince-loving friends or family (hint, hint friends and family!). I utterly adore Prince and this would be perfect in my kitchen.
Edinburgh Gin always come up with some really delicious festive liquers and this year is no exception. They have paired two gorgeous Martini glasses with a bottle of their sweetly-spiced Rhubarb & Ginger Liqueur to make this Edinburgh Gin Winter Palace Rhubarb Liqueur Set. Available exclusively at John Lewis for £38, this is a sweet, fruity liqueur balanced by a delicate warmth and spicy finish. The rhubarb and spice are left to steep for four weeks, allowing for the complex flavours to marry together. Bottled at 20% ABV, this liqueur’s sweetly-spiced notes are a great counterpoint to richer aromatics such as candied ginger, lemongrass, and cardamom, making it an interesting ingredient for a variety of cocktails.
To see how it can be used in cocktails, Edinburgh Gin have developed a few recipes here.
Staying on the alcohol theme, my festive holidays are usually laced with Baileys. I had my first Baileys hot chocolate and it was absolutely glorious. Last year, I tried out a recipe for Chocolate Cakes with Baileys Salted Caramel which went down a treat! This year, Bailey’s have launched Baileys Chocolat Luxe Cream Liqueur (£14), a delightful combination of dark Belgian chocolate, Irish whiskey, cream and Madagascan vanilla, creating a luxurious and velvety experience.
For years, I worked in Soho in London and it will forever hold a part of my hear. I adored working there, not least because I had some of the best restaurant in London just a few minutes walk from my desk. Each lunchtime was spent working my way through the vast food options and I usually found myself magnetically drawn to Paul A Young on Wardour Street. I love this shop and could never wal out without buying something. (I’ve tried out an adapted recipe for his amazing Salted Caramel Brownies and they were amazing).
Aaaaaanyway, this Christmas, Paul A Young has created a festive seasonal collection with his signature twist on the traditional. I especially love this showstopping handcrafted Chocolate Bauble centrepiece, which has been decorated by Paul’s chocolatiers with a traditional winter wonderland scene and filled with chocolate buttons. (£35)
Other tantalising showstoppers include Paul’s Glen Moray Christmas Pudding Domes (made from 38% milk chocolate and filled to the brim with Glen Moray whisky cream caramel at £5.50), the beautiful dark and milk chocolate Reindeer Bars, flavoured with orange and mandarin essential oils for an elegant twist on the Chocolate Orange (£7.50), and a return of the ever-popular Christmas Chocolate Tiffin (a mix of Guittard 72% dark chocolate, sweet spices, cherries, raisins, Digestive biscuits, as well as stem ginger and California prunes at £4.50) and Brownie Mince Pies, (Paul’s award-winning fudgy brownie and rich sweet pastry, filled with homemade mincemeat and topped with a chocolate decoration – 4 for £11.00 or £2.95 each), offering the ultimate Christmas indulgence.
While we’re talking about chocolate, I will no doubt be baking a LOT over the Christmas period and with chocolate usually somewhere in the mix, these red bags of Guittard Extra Dark baking chips are the perfect stocking filler. Guittard Chocolate Company is a San Francisco Bay Area chocolate maker celebrated for crafting world-class couverture chocolate based on traditional French methods since 1868. The chocolate company’s quality is endorsed by chocolatier Paul A Young, who will now be using their chocolate in a broad range of his incredible creations. Guittard products are currently available from Marks & Spencer, Ocado and Wholefoods and I will certainly be making good use of these baking chips over the holidays. (I have seen this 326g bag at Waitrose for £6.59)
Its not just chocolate that dominates the festive period, you’ve always got to leave room for cheese. We always make sure we have an extensive selection of cheeses in the house before we bunk down for Christmas. La Fromagerie always have a fantastic array of hampers, ranging from £1000 (yes, ONE THOUSAND POUNDS!) to £45. I love The High Mountain French Box (£80) which contains a bottle of Chignin, Beaufort, Mont d’Or and Bleu de Gex with accompanying La Fromagerie charcoal and rye biscuits and a canvas bag.
If you love a Christas stocking as much as I do, The Modern Pantry in Clerkenwell has come up with this very special Stocking for £50, which you can buy in store or online. The stocking contains The Modern Pantry Pinot Noir, Berry & Liquorice jam, Spiced Gooseberry relish, Fig, Caraway & hazelnut cantucci, The Modern Pantry truffles and a Liquorice & Urfa chilli mini Christmas cake.
If you can’t think what to get for a food-loving friend, you ca’t really go wrong with a baking workshop, and Bread Ahead, the bakery and baking school in Borough Market, London, have gift vouchers for their very popular baking courses, with some newly announced Christmas classes. Perfect for bakers of all levels (whether a seasoned baker, or someone looking to master a new skill), the team offers an expansive list of courses, from their legendary doughnuts to English baking, French baking and Sourdough masterclasses. Each class is taught by one of Bread Ahead’s expert bakery school tutors. I have attended one of their Christmas baking classes before, and it was so much fun. A full list of baking courses can be found here. Gift vouchers are available to purchase online or on-site for either half day or full day workshops, making them great last-minute gifts.
I have a little bit of a teapot addiction. I love a gorgeous teapot and find it hard to walk by one without buying it. Couple that with my love of anything shaped like a pineapple and this Gold Pineapple Teapot (£48.60) from T2 is my dream!
Now as much as I love all of the above, I’m actually never happier than when I’m at my parent’s house, surrounded by my family and gorgeous dog with the fire on, a Christmas movie on the TV and a Chocolate Orange in my hand. Genuinely, this is all I really want for Christmas. And the dark one is SO much better than the milk one. Although its not as easy to find unfortunately. I usually find them in the larger supermarkets and when I do, I bulk buy!
Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas, full of fun, laughter, loved ones and Chocolate Orange!