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Great gift ideas for fabulous foodies

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Time for iced tea with Percy’s

July 28th, 2014 · British favourites, Foodie gifts, Places to shop online

If you need something to perk up a warm summer’s evening, then you might like the vodka iced teas from Percy’s. Claire sent me some samples a couple of weeks ago, and the weekend’s warm evenings made for ideal testing conditions.

 

Percy's Vodka Iced Tea

 

These are hand blended and packed by Claire, so definitely small production runs! I’ve tried the two white tea variants this weekend, which are light and delicately flavoured. The pear and raspberry is a very pretty colour, just made for a coupe.

 

Percy cocktail time

 

There are two black tea variants as well, with apple, lemon and lime next on my list. To be honest, I would like just a little more alcoholic kick to these, which are a 4.5% ABV, but you can’t really tell. Well, maybe not until the third bottle! They’re very refreshing though, and you could use this as a base for a cocktail rather than drink them as they are.

Go on, enjoy those summer nights!

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Getting my candy fill

July 26th, 2014 · Foodie gifts

There are several things that appear regularly in American cuisine, and culture, that I always wanted to try. Like a clam bake on the beach, preferably on 4 July. In the Hamptons.

Or grits and gravy. Although I’ve seen it served up and could possibly pass on that one.

And then there’s salt water taffy, which I think appears in Little House on the Prairie and the like. And I’ve never tasted, and there’s possibly nothing that exotic to it, but when you’re growing up in 70s Yorkshire it certainly sounded exotic.

 

Salt Water Taffy

 

Well, now I could head to Fortnum’s and stock up. I love the look of Salty Road’s packaging, and the flavours sound good too. There’s peppermint and vanilla, as good starting flavours, and then I could very definitely be persuaded by peanut, particularly with the salty crunch that goes with these. These are made in Brooklyn, NY, so the food miles are a bit on the high side, but I’m up for going to give them a go.

Presumably that’s news that might make my dentist happy! Worth a go.

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Brew up in a good cause

July 24th, 2014 · British favourites, Foodie gifts

I like my coffee, but I like good coffee. I like good coffee for good causes even better. So I love that Cherizena Coffee have a new blend with profits going to Macmillan Cancer Care.

 

Macmillan Coffee

 

This is a full-flavoured coffee which is apparently perfect for all-day drinking. Though possibly not all night, unless you need to be up all night! Macmillan do some amazing work, and supporting their great work through one simple swap of something you might buy and use every day has to be a good thing to do.

You can buy this to suit whatever kind of coffee maker you have, from whole beans through to an espresso.  Go on, get the kettle on in a good cause!

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Ice lollies are having a moment

July 22nd, 2014 · British favourites, Foodie gifts

And I don’t mean just because it looks like we’re in for great weather this week, but they will be perfect for keeping cool during the warm days ahead!

 

50 Lolly

 

I had a great trip to  London a couple of weeks ago, working our way from Maltby St to Borough and finishing up at Kerb at Kings Cross. Watching the kids playing in the fountains with the sun beating down it felt like being on holiday, which surely made it cocktail time.

But instead of making our way to the bar, we made our way to the Ice Kitchen cart, and carried off Mojito ice lollies, plus a Grapefruit and Campari one, which was the prettiest colour. And they were the perfect thing to round off all the food grazing we’d done. I seem to think there might have been a second round for some!

If you’re not going to be at Kerb anytime soon, then Ice Kitchen lollies are stocked at Cook shops around the UK. There are individual lollies and a multi-pack, in case you can’t make your mind up! And if you fancy having a go yourself, then Cesar and Nadia have just written a book, giving you 50 great lolly recipes to have a go at yourself. And with hot weather just around the corner then now is the perfect time to give it a go!

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Birthdays in food

July 20th, 2014 · British favourites, Foodie things to do

Well, here I am, another year older. I never mourn the passing of another year, it’s always better than the alternative and for that I am always grateful.

Of course today will involve food, family and friends, my favourite 3 f words. Actually it will probably include fizz too, and that’s another favourite. I’ve had some fabulous birthdays, and lucky to have a summer birthday, even if it always does rain at some point on my birthday!

 

Birthday macaron

 

Lots of recent birthdays have involved food markets in France. Last year was Vannes, a couple of years before that was La Rochelle, which still probably ranks as my favourite. Although I got a fabulous cake in Vannes last year, and coffee at Les Nenettes was amazing.

 

Les Nenettes

 

But for knock out at every level, then I’d still go for the birthday I spent on Il de Ré.

What a lunch. What a view.

 

Get off le beaten track

Get off le beaten track

 

Stratford on Avon and Church Street Townhouse has something to live up to, but I can’t wait. I’ve eaten at Church Street Townhouse before and loved it, and so was my choice for my birthday lunch. Can’t wait to see what’s on the menu this time!

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The Friday Five – Getting ready for salad days

July 18th, 2014 · Cookbooks, Foodie gifts, Friday Five

There are lots of reports saying today will be the hottest day of the year so far, and it’s most definitely salad time. I love a great salad, although having grown up in the 70s, then great salad wasn’t on the menu. Limp lettuce, bit of cucumber, tomato and salad cream.

Thank god things have moved on!

These five should inspire plenty of great salads for every kind of day, including cooler days.

 

SaladLove

 

Salad Love: How to Create a Lunchtime Salad, Every Weekday, In Less Than 20 Minutes – I think I could do with this one, as I really need to get back into the habit of taking my own lunch. And a salad has to be better than a sandwich, in that there’s a huge amount of possible variety.

 

A Salad for All Season

 

A Salad for All Seasons – I love Harry Eastwood’s books, but don’t have this one, and not sure why. I like that it covers salad even for autumn and winter, a good thing to keep me away from just winter comfort food. I mean, roasted squash with taleggio and spinach? Who needs a casserole?

 

Salad for Dinner

 

Salad for Dinner: Complete Meals for All Seasons – again, this is another great book for showing the great versatility and range of salads, and how that can stretch well beyond something light and flavoursome for a hot summer’s day. Though I do worry when the dishes picked out in the blurb include kale and quinoa, my two least favourite ingredients. Perhaps these could convince me!

 

Salad Samurai

 

Salad Samurai – well, I’d like this one just for the title! And then you get to the subtitle: 100 cutting-edge (hmm), ultra hearty (possibly winning me round) easy to make (keep talking) salads you don’t have to be vegan to love. Well, it’s either going to be great, or in the charity shop in 6 months. Although I bet there’s more kale involved. But they call the author the Veggie Warrior so it could be interesting.

 

Salad of the Day

 

Salad of the Day – I didn’t get to Williams-Sonoma on my last trip to the US, and would definitely have considered carrying this book back. A recipe for each day of the year, so again seasonally focused, great variety. I love my books from them, the photography is always beautiful, and the recipes really well written.

So, hope we get lots more good weather to make the most of, but also hopefully some inspiration to carry salads over into the cooler months as well.

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Please help us to survive the Edinburgh Festival!

July 16th, 2014 · Foodie things to do

MGG and I are decamping to Edinburgh for a couple of weeks in August, for our first experience of the Festival and the Fringe. We’ve been to Edinburgh a few times but never for the festival.

 

Time to head to Edinburgh

 

Now we have a few things planned but thought we might play it by ear on the festival front. But you’ll know that one thing I’m serious about is good food and so would love some pointers on great places to eat and shop for food. We’ve got a flat in Leith so plenty of scope for exploring local goodies as well as eating out.

I’m thinking that there’s probably street food and pop ups going to be going on as well, so if anyone has any news on what might be good that would be amazing. It’s probably 10 years since I was last in the city, so really feel like I’m starting anew. That said, I am sure I need to visit Valvona & Crolla as well as the Peter’s Yard cafes.

Personally, I can’t wait, I think it’s going to be fantastic to be in the city but also to have a beautiful retreat waiting for us in Leith at the end of each day. It will be a great experience for MGG, I am hoping for lots of different cultural experiences over the two weeks, and hoping for lots of good eating to go alongside. So, all ideas gratefully received!

Photo by zoetnet on Flickr.

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The one where MGG gets her hair cut for charity

July 13th, 2014 · Just for fun

Not remotely food related, but MGG is on a countdown to a big hair cut. Next Saturday she’s having a lot of this lopped off, all in a good cause.

 

Ahead of the haircut

 

The Little Princess Trust makes real hair wigs for kids going through treatment for cancer, and some of the side effects we know well as adults hit the kids too. So MGG is losing a big chunk of this hair (think about 18cm, or most of this ponytail) to go for wigs, but is also raising money at the same time.

Should you fancy supporting a great cause (and make those pre-haircut nerves worthwhile) then she has a Just Giving page set up here. I’m proud of her doing this, and her “it’s only hair” attitude. Whether it will be the same about 9.30 on Saturday or not, we’ll see!

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Your memorable moments, gone in a marshmallow moment

July 12th, 2014 · Foodie gifts

Marshmallows have definitely been having a moment, the latest thing to be upgraded. They’ve certainly come a long way from those big bagfulls of pink and white ones from my childhood.

I was in Selfridges yesterday and spotted these from Boomf:

 

Marshmallows from Boomf

 

Basically, this transforms your Instagram photos into edible delights. I would imagine this is a perfect gift for all kinds of people, foodies or otherwise. They could be to remember a particular occasion, so perfect for birthdays or a thank you for a wedding perhaps. They could be on a theme, or from a particular place.

Basically, you need to connect up to your Instagram account, and then choose 9 images. And then pretty much leave the rest to Boomf, and the marshmallows will arrive through the post in about 2 to 3 days.

And be gone in about 5 minutes!

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Roberson Wine – independence in taste

July 9th, 2014 · Foodie gifts, Places to shop online

The team at Roberson Wine sent me a beautiful bottle of Muscadet a couple of weeks ago, which I have to admit was delicious. Arrived very safely, both in terms of packaging and the care the courier took as well (was having a very bad week with couriers).

 

Muscadet

 

These are not the place for you to stock up with bottles of cheap plonk, this is about quality and value. But it equally doesn’t mean that they are really expensive either. There are very fine, very rare wines on there, but also good everyday drinking too. The bottle of Muscadet Sèvre et Maine 2013 from Domaine des Cognettes is currently £9.95 a bottle, so a bit more than my average bottle, but not out of reach if I wanted to take a good bottle of wine as a gift.

They have a very attractive shop on Kensington High Street if you’re in the area. It looks like they would have been my nearest source of wine when I lived on Holland Road, but as we were all in our early 20′s then I’m afraid it was Safeway’s best for us! My palate is a little more discerning now.

If you wanted to treat someone and support an independent British business then I would say Roberson was definitely worth a look. There’s no Blossom Hill or Blue Nun here, but for a loved one who loves their wine then I would say you’d find a gift that was a bit different.

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