If someone is kind enough to get me a gift for Christmas I love it when said gift is food or food related. I think it’s a very personal thing to give, whether it be something they have made themselves or taken time in choosing for you. This is my Christmas Food and Gift Guide; a range of different food and drink ideas from all sorts of places and companies.
Berry Brothers and Rudd had their Christmas preview all the way back in July when I ventured to the famous shop in London to learn more about their festive offerings. There were plenty of fabulous hampers, some just wine and some wine and food, to see and they all sounded great. A particular mention must go to the Cambrook caramelised peanuts that come in one of the hampers, they were absolutely delicious. Their signature gin (above) was very enjoyable too. Berry Brothers and Rudd don’t have a fantastic reputation and pedigree for nothing so you know if you’re getting wine from them it will be a fine example of that wine. They have launched their new book ‘Exploring and Tasting Wine’ which I am keeping my fingers crossed I get a copy of this year! Exploring and Tasting Wine is £30 and their hampers start at £31.50.
Chocolate is always a good idea I think! I like that these boxes of chocolate from Elizabeth Shaw contain something a little different to your ‘normal’ selection. The Famous Names box contains four different chocolate truffles with four different alcohols in: Amaretto, Cognac, Whisky and Rum which are good for a quick after dinner treat. The other box contains different textures in the chocolates: orange creams, ginger and honeycomb, Amaretto and caramel. These were enjoyed while watching a film and either box is a nice stocking filler or gift at RRP £5.99 each.
Caprera are an online deli and I tried out a few of the products they sell: lemon rapeseed oil, Suffolk cider and caramelised onions. Caprera only work with small scale producers and source direct from them; they are adding more products all the time and building up their online deli offering. It’s an ideal place to choose a few different, high quality products for someone and they come really well packed so you could send direct if you wanted to and not have to worry it would turn up looking anything less than lovely. They also do hampers online starting at £37.
I have seen a Demijohn store in Oxford and am always tempted by the delicious sounding concoctions they have on display; different infusions and drinks along with vinegars and oils too. I was sent some of their Chocolate Rum to try out which is made in Worcestershire. It arrived in a lovely little box and bottle, really well packed too which is always good when glass is involved. If you know someone who’s partial to a little home infusing a voucher or a couple of liqueurs to try is a lovely idea (you can order online too!). The chocolate rum is £5.80 per 100ml and you can have all sorts of fun choosing the combinations and bottles you have it put in.
I didn’t know until very recently that Hobbs House (the bakery of Tom and Henry Herbert from the Fabulous Baker Brothers) sell their bread online. I tried out some of their beer breads, recipes which were inspired by different beers. At the moment they have some brilliant beer breads available in a box together (along with a few other bread boxes) so for beer lovers, keen bakers and bread makers I think this would be a great present. All Hobbs House bread is made with flour, water, yeast and time; it’s proper bread. The six beer breads that arrived with me were: Spelt and Barley Pineapple Soda Bread, Blond Sourdough, Spiced Orange and Coriander Brioche, Bud Tiger Bread, Apple, Walnut, Barley and Malted Wheat Seeded Loaf and Sea Salt and Lime Cornbread. I have to say the Tiger Bread was my favourite closely followed by the Orange and Caraway Brioche but they were all delicious. The Beer Bakery Bread Box is £19 plus delivery.
We all know that Christmas shopping is a somewhat tiring experience so you need some sort of reward for all your hard work. I can’t think of many rewards better than a pie! Luckily for us Pieminister have got six (yes, six) festive pies available in all sorts of tempting flavours: Deer Santa (Venison, Smoked Bacon and Red Wine), Mistle Moo (Beef, Stilton, Bacon and Chestnut), Christingle (Parsnip, Cheddar, Leek and Chestnut), Three Kings (Turkey, Smoked Bacon, Parsnip and Cranberry), Free Range (Chicken, Ham, Leek and Thyme) and Heidi Pie (Goat’s Cheese, Sweet Potato and Spinach). They are stuffed full of tasty fillings and you can have a little bit of festive flavour with no cooking; ideal for when you want to put your feet up after a long shopping trip. All made by Pieminister in Bristol with free range British meat and two fab vegetarian pie offerings in the mix. My favourite was actually the sweet potato and goat’s cheese which really surprised me but I did enjoy all of them. You can get them hot at Pieminister shops, in Waitrose (RRP £3.50) and delivered to your door (6 pies for £21 plus postage).
If you’re after something for a coffee lover then Cafe Direct may have just the thing: a mail order coffee subscription. Sent out once a month showcasing some of the finest coffee they can get their hands on. A three month subscription is £24. I like that the coffee comes with a little card giving tasting notes and information about where the coffee came from. I also really liked how it’s packed perfectly to fit through a letterbox (mighty handy). I tried out a Rwanda Abakundakawa which, as I found out from the card, was filter coffee, the roasting date and who roasted it. Delicious it was too, I wouldn’t mind one of these popping through my box each month.
Tea is always a good gift as far as I’m concerned; who doesn’t like tea?! This year Twinings are looking to add a little bit of luxury to the festive season and I think this box is just lovely, so nicely presented and the two teas inside are fab. There’s a tin of loose leaf English breakfast (RRP £6.50) and a bauble full of winter spiced tea (RRP £8); the tin and bauble I shall definitely be keeping and reusing! There’s plenty to choose from at Twinings: hampers, gift boxes, membership to their tea club and so many stocking filler ideas too.
So I’ve covered wine and hampers, chocolate, deli goodies, liqueurs, bread, pies, coffee and tea. Something for everyone I think and I hope you’ve found my guide handy for some inspiration.
Thank you to Berry Brothers and Rudd, Elizabeth Shaw, Caprera, Demijohn, Hobbs House, Pieminister and Cafe Direct for the samples. All opinions expressed are my own, prices correct as of 27/11/15.