The Foodie Gift Hunter

Great gift ideas for fabulous foodies

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The Friday Five – for lovers of more than food

January 30th, 2015 · British favourites, Cookbooks, Foodie gifts, Friday Five

Kitchen Lovers


I haven’t written a Friday Five based around Valentine’s Day for five years, so probably a good time to revisit cook books for lovers. I was interested to see if there was anything new, or possibly reprinted since then, or ones I’d missed the first time around. And seems there’s a combination of all of these!

Kama Sutra Kitchen -I’m amazed that it took till 2014 for a book of this title to come out. According to the write up, this book is designed to increase sensuality to support the proper mood while concocting aphrodisiac recipes. Let’s hope the recipes are better than the intro!

The Aphrodisiac Encyclopedia – I like the wording of this one better: Mark Douglas Hill has spent a lifetime in pursuit of foods that encourage friskiness and enhance the frisking. That makes a lot more sense, and is a lot more appealing! I like that it moves beyond the obvious oysters to things like figs, mint and mango, so probably recipes that will be incredibly tasty, even without the friskiness.

Seductive and Sinful Cooking – god, I’d be tempted to buy this one just because it looks so awful, like some awful ancient history version of a seduction cookbook. Worth looking up online and laughing at, but I’d really not seriously recommend adding this to your collection, unless it’s really your thing.

The Seduction Cookbook - this one is going back a bit, as it was published in 2004. But it was the last line of this one that made me laugh (and let’s face it, laughter is a great aphrodisiac): if all else fails, showing up naked with the dessert course should get things moving in the right direction! Besides that, the recipes sound great too, like Halibut with Orange Basil Butter and Snow Peas.

Fork Me, Spoon Me – this probably wins for worst title, and sauciest, but classy, illustrations. And then it moves onto the recipe titles…I mean, seriously? Hard tacos with hot guacamole. Hot honey nuts. Love linguine. Please…which I mean in an ironic way, as opposed to a heartfelt request. If you wanted a cheesy gift, then I would guess this is it!

For me, I still think some of my original choices are better than a lot of these, although I’d probably credit the Aphrodisiac Encyclopedia with most thorough research, so it deserves a look if only for that. But I would say any meal cooked with love and passion, that takes the object of your affection’s tastes into account is just as likely to have a positive effect than any amount of oysters and figs!

Fantastic photo by JD Hancock on Flickr. Appropriately entitled Paring, a nice wordplay for the cooks and lovers amongst us!





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My heart belongs to…

January 28th, 2015 · Chocolate, Foodie gifts

My heart belongs to

Well, possibly my chocolate loving heart anyway, and it would be a close run thing between a bar from Amelia Rope and something from Artisan du Chocolat. And if you’re going to have a Valentine’s selection, then this is rather lovely.

I like that it’s a mix of things, delicious flavours and not all chocolate. And I know it’s pink and red but it’s not too twee. To be honest, they had me at the rose scented candied and chocolate coated almonds.

And if that strikes you as too twee or you don’t want to go with the Valentine’s theme, then I don’t know many people (or not people with taste) who would turn down their famous salted caramels. I know I wouldn’t!

Great place to shop though, not just at Valentine’s Day.


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Bringing barbecue magic to potatoes

January 26th, 2015 · Foodie gifts, Places to shop online

Before the magic works

This was a very quick, but tasty, way to get something back into the cupboard from the #backofchallenge. There were a lot of pots from Gourmet Spice Company, partly because I really like them, but also think they’d been unused last year as it just really turned out to be a non BBQ type of year.

But given it’s January and there’s no sign of the BBQ here, then this was a very quick way to use the Magic BBQ Dust. I have used this on steaks and chicken in the past, but on a cold January evening then this went onto homemade potato wedges, just to give a bit of oomph on a cold winter’s evening.




I had tossed the slices in olive oil first and then sprinkled over the “dust”, which is a blend of warming, but not hot spices. After 25 mins in the hot oven, then more interesting than usual wedges popped out. And the pot of Magic BBQ Dust was allowed back in the cupboard to await warm summer days ahead! Or more potato dishes!

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Loved up at Fortnum & Mason

January 24th, 2015 · British favourites, Chocolate, Foodie gifts

Valentines Day at F&M

So having written about the oncoming Valentine’s onslaught, thought it was only fair to write about some of the good stuff. Fortnum & Mason were the first people to email about Valentine’s Day, and some of these are a little different, or completely indulgent, but not quite second mortgage level!

Fortnum’s are rightly famous for their hampers, and the Valentine’s Evening Hamper is a sweet little thing (though I could have done without the hamper being red). So, you can start the evening with a candle lit bath scented by the bath truffles (I’m guessing they’re not for eating) and then indulge in a glass of rosé champagne and some chocolates. Or all four things at the same time. This little hamper is £65, or you can go all out with the Valentines Hamper at £120.

Looking for sweet stuff that’s not too sickly/naff? Champagne Gummies are the sophisticated version of Gummi Bears, although are actually alcohol free, so you get all the flavour with none of the headaches. Or the Prince Charming Chocolate Frogs, which the website does suggest you could give to your own Prince Charming. I was thinking more along the lines if you’ve got to kiss a lot of frogs, then may as well be chocolate ones, so maybe for friends without Valentines!

And finally, there’s never an occasion when some sort of fizz isn’t acceptable, and I love this Bellini box, being rather partial to the odd Bellini myself. It’s a no fuss cocktail to put together, and there isn’t a trace of red or pink on this gift. Classy, tasty, and likely to get proceedings off to a good start. Sounds like the making of a great gift to me!


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Get ready for the red and pink onslaught

January 22nd, 2015 · British favourites, Foodie gifts

Worst valentine gift

It probably can’t have escaped your notice that shops have taken on a distinctly red hue. Possibly pink as well. Ah yes, the annual love fest of Valentine’s Day approaches, and in many gift categories taste goes out the window, and inflated price tags fly in.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a completely unromantic soul, I’m just not a great lover of over-commercialised forcing of activities. If it’s love, then surely it’s love on all the other days of the year, without Hallmark telling you. Or there are other signs of love than a dozen red roses, which are completely out of season.

Seriously, I love roses (in fact seriously adore them) but on a cold February morning, 3 bunches of fresh English daffs say I love you just as much, if not more so, than some poor hot housed blooms that have cost the same as a small family car. At least you could all afford to eat for the month and the daffs would probably last longer too.

The same goes for the Valentine’s gifts. The vast majority are fairly hideous and show a distinct lack of imagination. I tend not to write about those! But I will write about the good stuff. But equally I would say it shows as much if not more love and attention to buy something you know your loved one really appreciates than something someone else thinks they should. If they have a thing for Babycham and cheese straws, then don’t get distracted by heart shaped boxes of chocolate! Thought and imagination win out every time, for gifts for foodies or any other kind of lover in your life.

As I’ve said many times, go early and with thought about the recipient, and it’s hard to go wrong.


Great photo from Anokarina on Flickr, came up on a search for “worst Valentine’s gift”. Probably would agree with that!

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Scones for Connoisseurs

January 20th, 2015 · British favourites, Foodie gifts, Places to shop online



I had a great Saturday afternoon trying a lovely box of scones from Sconnoisseur, probably my favourite new gift idea in a while.

I mean, a beautiful box containing delicious scones in a variety of flavours, complete with great jam and tea. Does it get any better? I mean ok, we had to make our own tea, and do the washing up, other than that it was afternoon tea in a box. And given that it’s one of my favourite meals or occasions, then it was always going to be positive if the taste lived up to billing.

Started by Sergei Strelet, who has worked as a pastry chef in top London restaurants as well as product development for artisan manufacturers, this really is a lovely surprise to receive for many occasions. We had four different flavours to try: traditional fruit, white chocolate and cranberry, spelt with cinnamon and date and then spelt walnut and dark chocolate.

We did gild the lily a bit and bought our own clotted cream, but did try to try each one with the jam as well. And I love that it was a jar each of raspberry and blackcurrant, by far my favourite flavours to go with cream tea. We all liked the fruit scone, the white chocolate got an ok and then the jury split over the spelt ones.

MFL wasn’t mad keen on the texture, but given I’ve been on gluten free for several weeks then it worried me less, although it is a little drier than a regular scone. I really loved the cinnamon and date, MFL wasn’t keen, too much like lebkuchen apparently. I thought it was really warm and homely, and something a bit different. But you can’t please all the people I guess.

Personally I think this is a great gift, and with Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day coming up then I think this could be great as something a bit different. You could add your own bottle of fizz to it, you could offer to make the tea, and do the washing up, and you could ring the changes with some of the very different flavours.

Prices start from £10.99.



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When chocolate gets fantastical

January 17th, 2015 · British favourites, Chocolate

The Fairest Hamper


This is just something a bit fun, but still incredibly tasty, for a chocolate lover for sure, but perhaps one with a love of things fantastical and a little gothic.

Fairy Tale Gourmet are incredibly inventive and I don’t know anyone else doing anything like this. The Fairest Chocolate Hamper is, unsurprisingly from their Snow White collection, and is certainly going to be nothing like they’ve had before I’m sure.

I mean, who doesn’t want to try the Princess Snow Apple? Or Prince Charming’s nuts?

This is serious chocolate, in that it’s good stuff, but it definitely doesn’t take itself too seriously. Which is a very good way to be!

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My food week so far

January 15th, 2015 · British favourites, Foodie gifts

My week

It’s been an interesting week so far! There’s been lots of scone tasting, thanks to Sconnoisseur. If you can’t wait for full review, then these are definitely going to be on my recommendation list, as you can see from the empty plate.

I’ve been in Germany for a few days, at a hotel with the biggest choice of butter and jam at breakfast I’ve ever seen. And then there were the 30 odd loose teas as well.

And I’ve been pondering what recipes I’m going to create with all my tubs from Gourmet Spice as part of the #backofchallenge.

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The Foodie Gift Hunter is away

January 12th, 2015 · Foodie Travel, Just for fun

Butter selection

I’m in Germany for a couple of days, so posts may be a bit limited. Mainly because I shall be overcome with indecision at breakfast each day, with the choice of 6 butters, 6 other spreads, 8 breads and 30 different jams. And there’s the selection of loose tea, which I must count properly tomorrow but probably reaches somewhere around the 30 mark as well.

But no Yorkshire tea to be seen!

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The Friday Five – Healthy but not dull

January 9th, 2015 · Cookbooks, Foodie gifts, Friday Five

We were debating in the office at the beginning of the week that there is no worse time of year to try and adopt healthy eating habits. What your body really craves is warming stews and carbohydrates, and possibly sugar and warm drinks. It’s certainly not after a salad and a cup of green tea!

So I’ve tried to find five books that are about healthy living, not faddish diets, or subsisting on cinnamon and maple syrup water.


Hemsley Hemsley


The Art of Eating Well by Hemsley & Hemsley – this does seem to be the book of the moment, and the recipes seem to turn up everywhere. Of course the girls are very photogenic, so that probably helps, and the recipes seem good, even with a preponderance of kale. It’s free from gluten, grains and processed sugar, and it seems to have produced some interesting options. I like the sound of sesame chicken with cucumber noodles, or baked broccoli fritters with spiced avocado. They sound healthy but not dull.


river cottage light


River Cottage Light & Easy – I think we all remember Hugh’s weight loss, and it’s probably no surprise that this book focuses quite a lot on vegetables, but good wholesome recipes even so. It does focus on new grains, so less dependent on wheat, as well as new oils to reduce the use of butter. But swede and smoky bacon soup has to be a lot more appealing than cabbage soup!


Thug Kitchen


Thug Kitchen: Eat Like You Give a F**k -well, I think it’s safe to say this is the polar opposite of the Hemsley sisters, but I like a bit of attitude. Besides, it would catch people out who were being nosy and browsing your cookbooks. And who doesn’t want to learn to cook roasted beer and lime cauliflower tacos? I could be very tempted by this one.


The Healthy Slow Cooker


The Healthy Slow Cooker Cookbook – I think I’ve written before about how much I’ve got to love the slow cooker I was given last year. One of the things I’ve found with many of the recipes coming out of particularly the US is that they’re not particularly healthy, as they have processed foods as a starting point. Well, I’m not often that kind of cook, so this appeals much more to me, and I have to say the joy of coming home to something that’s ready to go is a great one, particularly in these back to work days post Christmas!


Good without Gluten


Good Without Gluten – not saying that gluten free per se is healthier, but for many people it’s a choice they have made, or have to make, but it shouldn’t mean missing out on great food. These recipes were developed by a team of Parisian chefs with a passion for great patisserie, just without the gluten. It covers alls kinds of meals, not just cakes and sweet things. If it’s a choice you’re making, possibly worth a look. I have a feeling I will be.

My view remains that the only diet that really works is to eat less and move more, but you may as well make sure what you are eating is delicious and nutritionally sound. Not to mention a joy to eat, something which you can’t ever say about cabbage soup!

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