The Foodie Gift Hunter

Great gift ideas for fabulous foodies

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On feeding men and boys

February 5th, 2016 · Cookbooks


On Feeding Men & Boys


If you’ve read my post about missing a train and meeting MFL, then you may know I’ve been getting used to cooking for two teenage boys as well as MFL, with some hits and a few misses. So, the title of this book, Mad Hungry: Feeding Men & Boys,  made me laugh, and although I bought it for MFL, I’ve enjoyed some of its insight and cooking from it produced some goods hits, and some new learnings.

The book covers every meal, although I haven’t done any of the breakfasts so far. I tried the empanadas, figuring that pastry and versions of pie always seem to go down well. To be fair, this was a joint effort, as ran out of time one weekend, so I made the filling and MFL made the pastry and did the assembly and baking.


Getting empanadas underway


I never got to taste them, but two out of three of the males involved gave them the thumbs up. The third didn’t like the raisins in them. I might try them again, and we could leave those out.


Empanadas ready for eating


Have to say dinner choices were delicious, although portions felt a little on the tight side in the face of three male appetites. Maybe chicken thighs are bigger in the US, and as it only gave a number of thighs then maybe that’s why it didn’t feel quite right. Thankfully I’d doubled up the recipe thinking we could freeze half, but ended up cooking some extra, thankfully.

Other than that, chicken with honey and wholegrain mustard was a winner, particularly alongside the sweet potato wedges.


Chicken with mustard and honey


I made some oat and chocolate chip cookies, which would sound like the perfect standby thing for post school or work. Sadly these didn’t quite work out I think they were supposed to, but I think that’s probably because I had to substitute some of the sugars, so I’ll give these another go.

Overall, I think this is a great book, I think it was one of the James Beard Foundation’s books of last year, and I can see why. They’re not groundbreaking recipes but I think they are great family eating, particularly if there are bigger appetites at play.

Now I’ve ditched a few other books, then this one can definitely stay.

Currently £13.99 in paperback at Waterstones, although I bought a copy through a seller on Amazon for less than a fiver, which is as good as new looking hardback copy.


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Hearts and romance for the kitchen

February 3rd, 2016 · Foodie gadgets, Foodie gifts


So, I’ve done Valentine’s food and drink choices that are not too twee or tacky, here’s a few things with a heart and romance theme, but hopefully staying away from tacky!


Anatomical heart mug


A heart themed mug? But not at all twee, given the anatomical illustration. Perfect for unsentimental type who doesn’t want to feel they’ve missed out.


Valentine's Enamel mugs


For something a little more traditionally romantic but not too twee, then I really like these enamel mugs. Perfect for long romantic walks where you might want to take a flask of tea with you.


Personalised chopping board


Hoping that the couple that cooks together stays together, and if you’ve got a chopping board this lovely with your names on it, maybe staying together is a good idea. Practical but cute.


You're Intoxicating Heart Shaped Bottle Opener


This is also a practical but sweet gift, a heart shaped bottle opener. I like the message too: you’re intoxicating.


A romantic tea towel


Maybe not the most romantic way to declare your love, but if it won’t be the first time you’ve said it then it’s rather lovely as tea towels go. Or even better, use it to wrap another gift up in.


How will you celebrate Valentine’s Day, and are you doing gifts at all? Would love to know, without you giving anything away.


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Chinese New Year time!

February 1st, 2016 · Foodie gifts, Foodie things to do


Celebrate Chinese New Year in tasty style


I think it’s well documented on here that MGG and I love our Chinese food, particularly dim sum. And we don’t really need an excuse, but with Chinese New Year just around the corner, then a few extra things might sneak into the cupboards.


Crispy Chinese New Year Cookies


Wai Yee Hong is a fantastic source of good stuff for your feast, particularly if you are in the Bristol area, but they do online as well. You can get the red lanterns, the red envelopes, the firecrackers and also something like these crispy New Year cookies.


Chinese Snack Taster Selection from Sous Chef

If you fancy something to snack on whilst you’re cooking up your favourite Chinese dish, then how about this Chinese snack taster box from Sous Chef? Certainly some unusual bits to keep your guests talking! Though I think I can leave the beancurd jerky.


Chinese Treasures from Bluebird Tea


Need a cuppa? How about Chinese Treasures from Bluebird Tea? This is their Ba Bao Cha, an ancient herbal medicine tea. Combining green tea and ginseng then this might just ward off winter bugs. Or just be a very nice cuppa.


Personalised Chinese New Year Lucky Mug


In case you need a nice mug for the tea to go in, then how about a personalised lucky mug to celebrate the start of the Year of the Monkey? With the Chinese symbol for monkey on the front, and your choice of name on the back, then you can start the year off in style.


Lucky Buddha Beer


And to toast it in with something a little stronger, how about a Lucky Buddha beer? Probably worth it just for the bottle, but I hear the beer is pretty good too.

I wish you Gong Hei Fat Choi, may the year of the monkey be a good one for you!



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Get the kids into Italian food this half term

January 30th, 2016 · Cookbooks, Foodie gifts


Let's Cook Italian: A Family Cookbook


Hard to believe that half term is fast approaching. I mean, I haven’t even got the Christmas decorations back into the loft and the kids are about to be off again.

In case the weather if foul, the bank account is still a little light, or you just have kids who’d love to get into the kitchen, then Let’s Cook Italian could give you a happy few hours in the kitchen. Not only will you turn out some delicious dishes, but it’s a bilingual book so you could give them Italian lessons at the same time.

Talk about multi-tasking!

Following a very similar route to Kids Cook French that I reviewed last year, you can get them started on simple things like cheese focaccia or bruschetta, and progress up to making pasta and things like Saltimbocca alla Romana. I would think it’s a book that would suit cooking with a variety of ages given the variety of complexities.

It does lack photos or illustrations of the dishes, or the steps, so does need a certain amount of knowledge. But if it’s chucking it down with rain outside, putting together your own pizza and then eating it has to be great way to pass a few hours.

Written by Anna Prandoni, this is currently £12.08 on Amazon with free delivery.

Interested to know if you have any favourite cookbooks to cook from when the kids want to be in the kitchen? Let me know, always fascinating to find new books.


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What would a food lover really like for Valentine’s Day?

January 28th, 2016 · Foodie gifts


What Food Lovers Would Really Like for Valentine's Day


I’ve written before about my loathing of the great pink and red tat onslaught that this time of year subjects us to, all in the name of love. For someone who loves their food as much as you love themI, and vice versa, then these are my top 10 gifts:


The Modern Pantry Perfect Breakfast Hamper


Start the day off brilliantly with this Perfect Breakfast Hamper from The Modern Pantry. It’s a non-London based alternative to being able to get in there to eat. And you can stay in your PJs to enjoy it. Or ditch them. Which is somewhat frowned on in the restaurant it seems.


Sweetheart Box from Drop Dead Chocolates


Whilst the name Drop Dead Chocolates may not seem romantic, the chocolates themselves are delicious and truly beautiful to look at. I’d go with the Sweetheart box, though I can imagine some fights here over the Ginger or Salted Caramel Hearts. Or check out the chocolate macarons that I wrote about before.

Lakrids Love Chocolate Coated Liquorice

For something a bit different on the taste front, but with an appropriate Valentine’s name and look, then how about the Raspberry Chocolate Chilli Coated Liquorice from Lakrids Love. Lots of flavours to slowly savour, and then a bit of heat kicking in at the end. Perfect.


Adopt a tree, enjoy the olive oil


One of my favourite gifts I ever gave someone else was the adoption of an olive tree with Nudo. I still think it’s a great gift, often imitated, but I still really like their design and know that the olive oil that was delivered was great.


Elderflower & Gin Flavoured Lollies


Maybe this is the way to slip gin into the office? I mean surely these heart shaped lollies look innocent enough? But given they are flavoured with elderflower and gin, then they’d definitely be something that I could fall in love with. Because I’m well beyond the like quite a lot stage in my relationship with gin.


Cheese & Charcuterie Selection from Craved


For a lover with a less than sweet tooth, then I really like the cheese and charcuterie selection from Craved. Small producers, great products, just add the drink of your choice and you’ve got a perfect picnic in the making. Where you choose to eat it is up to you.


Nuvo Sparkling Vodka Liqueur


Ok, I try to avoid the onslaught of pink, but I can make an exception for this sparkling pink vodka liqueur from Nuvo. Combining French vodka, sparkling wine and passion fruit nectar, it sounds like it could be tasty, as well as pretty.


Valentine's Fortune Cookies


My love of Chinese food is quite well documented, so I love the idea of these Valentine’s Day fortune cookies, whether you’ve eaten out or cooked at home. Still, my favourite fortune ever was from a misfortune cookie: there are people worse off than you in the world…just not many.


Fairy Tale Gourmet Hot Chocolate Hearts


I’ve written a few times about how much I love the inventiveness of Fairy Tale Gourmet, and I think they might have cracked it for Valentine’s Day. I love this sweet little tin of hearts for making proper hot chocolate, so a little melting heart could create a heart warming moment or two.


Marie Antoinette Personalised Cookies from Biscuiteers


And who can resist a tin of iced biscuits? Add your own message, and be lucky if these make it to the 15th! These are delicious beauties from Biscuiteers, and they do have a gluten free option available too.

So, there are plenty of delicous, tasty and tasteful options you could go with to demonstrate your love. That, or just turn up with tea and toast as it’s a Sunday morning.


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What do you do with beans on February 3rd?

January 26th, 2016 · Foodie gifts, Foodie things to do, Places to shop online


Setsubun Oni Masks


Well, if you’re Japanese, or in Japan, then the answer is throw them. February 3rd is Setsubun, it’s sort of like a New Year’s Eve, with a ritual to cleanse away the evil of the year, and drive out evil spirits, by throwing beans at them.

I would imagine in the UK the mask is optional, but what the heck, maybe give it a go!

The beans are a roasted soy bean, and you either throw them out the door or at the person wearing the Oni mask, whilst shouting Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi! and slamming the door. Roughly translated it means demons out, luck in.


Setsubun Bean Snack Set


If you want some appropriate snacks, then the Japan Centre has a Setsubun bean snack set, complete with a Shishimai lion dance costume shaped gift bag, so really giving it an authentic feel. The snacks are crispy coated peanuts with a variety of flavours, from wasabi to mayonnaise.


Roasted Soy Bean Rice Crackers


And if you don’t want to just throw your roasted soy beans, then they have some great sounding rice crackers with embedded roasted soy beans in them. Perfect healthy snacking.

It’s certainly not a festival I’d heard of before, but it could be a bit of fun on what otherwise is a pretty non descript February day!

Photo of by Kimubert on Flickr.


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Burns Night beckons

January 23rd, 2016 · Foodie gifts


Time for a haggis bon bon or two


I love Scotland, my ten days in Edinburgh in 2014 were amazing at every level. My one night in Glasgow last year was redeemed by a great coffee stop and some haggis bon bons at the airport.

See, if I don’t think about it and just eat it, then I really love haggis.

If you want to serve it on Burns Night, then get your order in quick to John Lawson Butchers, an award winning haggis at the Great Taste Awards. Or if you want a simple straightforward way of cooking and eating it, then Fergusons of Airdrie do sliced haggis.

I know the traditionalists might not be too happy at this, but Seriously Good Venison do a venison haggis. What the heck, have a traditional one, a venison one and a vegetarian one and see if you can tell the difference. Or if you are feeling really quite adventurous, then Sous Chef have a haggis making kit on offer. Now, that could bring some serious bragging rights to your Burns Night Dinner!


Great gift for an adventurous food lover: a DIY Haggis Making Set


I’ve never been to a Burns Night Dinner, or held one. I can imagine that it cheers up a January night. I mean, haggis, neeps and tatties, and hopefully there’s cranachan for dessert. In fact the only bit I’d struggle with is the whisky, as I am really not a fan. Maybe I could use a Scottish gin in my G&T? Hendricks is obviously widely available, but perhaps something more unusual like Caorunn or Rock Rose would be good choices.

Something for when the haggis is piped in seems obligatory to me!

Love to know if any of you are planning a Burns Night Dinner or going to one, and what’s on the menu.


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Getting ready for Australia Day

January 21st, 2016 · Baking, Foodie gifts, Foodie things to do, Foodie Travel


So familiar, and so amazing to have stood here


In spite of Austravel’s best attempts, I’m not heading to Australia this year but I guess we could be very tempted to celebrate Australia Day on January 26.

It was certainly a trip of great eating and drinking, and there are some things I’d definitely think of having on the menu here to celebrate:


SundayFavourite end to a fabulous trip of great eating in Australia


So, it’s unlikely to be BBQ weather here (although with the way things are going then you never can tell), so I’m going to go with the Bill Granger option and make a pile of the ricotta hot cakes. Or, given that it’s a Tuesday morning, then maybe I’ll make the sweetcorn fritters for dinner instead.


Tim Tams in every possible flavour


I seem to remember my luggage had a whole load of Tim Tams in it, from the original through to the chocolate raspberry, some peanut butter ones and the coconut ones. And the salted caramel. They didn’t last long. Sanza have quite a few of the flavours, which is cheaper than the return airfare!


Vegemite spread - one for the shelves


I never got into Vegemite, but then I’m not a fan of either Marmite or Bovril. But it would seem appropriate to have a jar on display at least.


Bundaberg Ginger Beer


For when it wasn’t quite yet wine o’clock, then I got seriously into Bundaberg Ginger Beer. Perfectly refreshing when it was warm, without being too sweet. It went perfectly well with fresh fish and chips on the beach. And it appears you can get it pretty much everywhere here too now, from Tesco to Waitrose. I must remember to stock up.


Getting used to the local wine in Australia


When it was wine o’clock then it was hard to choose from the huge variety. In the end I ended up picking a name I liked the look of. I choose racehorses to back in the same way. I had better luck with wine than I’ve ever had with horses. Looking at the choices on Majestic, then I’m going with Two Left Feet Shiraz. About right for me.


Banana bread: appears to be a national obsession in Australia


And if I wanted to get baking, then there could only be one thing: banana bread. Everywhere we went it seemed to be on the menu, in much the way a scone or flapjack might be here. My go to recipe has always been from Domestic Goddess, we have always been, and remain, Team Nigella.

I would love to be in Australia for Australia Day, it was definitely the most incredible trip and I loved every minute of it. But, not to be, at least this year, but I’ll be raising a glass to family and friends there, and to the expats who for some reason want to leave all that for here.

What about you, anyone else joining in?




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Did you survive Blue Monday? Try these if not

January 19th, 2016 · Cookbooks, Foodie gifts, Foodie things to do


How did you get through Blue Monday

Yesterday was apparently Blue Monday.

I have no idea who invented this, and whether it was supposed to make us feel better. Or is it just going to make us feel bad by telling us that we should be feeling bad.

So, how will you make yourself feel better today?

For me, it’ll start with a darned good cup of tea. In fact I really should try and remember to get some Bellevue Belter in, as that’s the only tea better than Yorkshire Tea for me first thing in the morning.

It’s a working day, so perhaps we could scoot out to lunch as a team. We haven’t been to the Victoria so far this year, so probably about time.

Tuesdays mean a swim after work, which is sometimes hard to go and do, but I do feel better once I’ve done it. Hopefully I’ll come home and make something that feels good as well as taste good. Although to be honest, my fave would be scrambled eggs and smoked salmon.

And then I think an early night, with a stack of cookbooks would be lovely. I think I’m missing out by not having Diana Henry’s A Bird in the Hand, and I’ve always loved Nigel Slater so a copy of A Year of Good Eating would be amazing too.

January is rubbish, so be good to yourself.


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Because it’s all about the hunny

January 17th, 2016 · Foodie gifts


Celebrate Winnie the Pooh Day with great honey products

Did you know that January 18th is Winnie the Pooh Day?

No, me neither till recently. But it seems a good reason to celebrate all things “hunny”, which will definitely brighten up a dull January day.


Fortnum & Mason Beemaster's Hamper


So, let’s start with an amazing gift. The Beemasters Hamper is from Fortnum & Mason, who are renowned for their honey from their own bees, which live in hives on top of the store for part of the year. I am sure Winnie the Pooh would approve of three jars of their honey, plus a pretty mug for an accompanying cup of their Breakfast blend tea. With fudge and honey thins as well, this surely could keep even Eeyore cheerful.




I wrote about this just before Christmas, but have now drunk my bottle of Gosnell’s London Mead, and really enjoyed it. It’s a nice light drink, which helps offset the sweetness I guess, which is not overpowering anyway. There’s also a Winter Mead, which the description says is darker and richer, as well as being a higher ABV, but at 9% it’s still less than a glass of wine.

Clover Honey Comb

Unless you have access to your own hives, then you might not get honeycomb that often. But you can buy a bit from Littleover Apiary and get to enjoy it. Without the risk of stings, or the funny outfits.

Korean Yuza Honey Tea

For something a bit different, and that Winnie the Pooh could have drunk, you could try Korean Yuzu Tea. With 5% honey, this is a like a sweet but tart marmalade made from yuzu fruit that you mix with hot water. I guess it’s like a more exotic honey and lemon in hot water, and in Korea it’s consumed in the same way, to ward off or help you deal with a cold. Which might be helpful in the weeks ahead.


Honey & Co Baking Book


Well, this one is cheating slightly, but in case Winnie fancied baking then surely Honey & Co’s Baking Book would be the one for him. Sticky buns would definitely be a good stand in for a jar of honey in my book. This one has definitely been on my wish list, and having got rid of some cookbooks, then maybe it’s time a copy found a home here.

Of course, you could go off and play a couple of rounds of Poohsticks off the Poohsticks Bridge to celebrate as well, or maybe read some of the exploits of Pooh and his friends. I think they’re timeless books that I think will be shared by generations to come.

Photo by Neal Fowler on Flickr.


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