The Foodie Gift Hunter

Great gift ideas for fabulous foodies

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Definitely not my kind of wine “rack”

July 26th, 2015 · Foodie gifts

Just to show that France is not always stylish, found this in the local hypermarket.


Stiletto wine holder anyone?


No, I am not bringing one back with me. Though if you’d ever given anyone the blueberry vodka filled glass stiletto that I wrote about years ago, this is probably perfect for them.


Not in my house!

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Bring on the patisserie!

July 23rd, 2015 · Foodie gifts

Bring on the patisserie!


Right, house sitting aunt and uncle are installed, gin is locked up and we are ready to head to France for a few days. Looking forward to good patisserie (stand by, Pierre Morel, we’ll be in on Saturday), great cheese, and a soupçon or two of the local ciders. Can’t wait!

Photo by Tim Lucas on Flickr.

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Pick of the day – my kind of wine rack

July 21st, 2015 · Foodie gifts

As I’m off to France shortly, then there’s likely to be a bottle of wine or two coming back with me. Which means, they’ll need to be stored somewhere.



Wine rack


This bottle rack from Wireworks holds 5 bottles, although you can add more to it, have them free-standing or fixed to the wall. Though maybe I should just stop at the 5 bottle version.

Each one is £36 from Heals.

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What every unbirthday needs

July 19th, 2015 · British favourites, Foodie gifts

It’s not quite my birthday but we’ve been celebrating today. And I’ve had the best unbirthday cakes ever.


Unbirthday cake number one



Unbirthday cake two


I’d been wondering what to do with a load of Madeira cake that had defrosted when the freezer was left ajar, and the kids appropriated it nicely!  And then there were the pyrotechnics.


Unbirthday pyrotechnics


Best unbirthday ever.

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The Friday Five – plenty of good reading and cooking ahead

July 17th, 2015 · Cookbooks, Foodie gifts, Friday Five

I’ve suddenly got a stack of great cookbooks to review, which I’m very excited about. There’s a great amount of variety and I almost don’t know where to start. These are the five in the starting blocks:


Reading ahead

Sherry: A Modern Guide to the Wine World’s Best Kept Secret – this has a sense of family history as my dad spent many years working for Harvey’s of Bristol. Lots to go at in this in terms of the history of sherry, the places to buy it from and great cocktails to make with it. Going to be some fun.

Inspiralized – I bought this following on from buying a spiraliser, and hoping for some inspiration to do something more than just courgette noodles. Or carrot.

The Art of Making Gelato – oh my, the flavours in here just sound amazing. Not to mention the stunning photography. Could be some very serious gelato eating going on here this summer.

Crepes and Galettes – I’m definitely bringing buckwheat flour back from France ready to start testing from this one. I cannot believe I have never found Cafe Breizh during all my trips to Saint Malo, but I’m definitely making a bee line next time based on this book.

China Towns: Asian Cooking From Around the World – MGG and I are very fond of our Chinese food, so we’re looking forward to trials from this one. It’s pretty heavy, so looks like we have plenty of choices ahead.

So, lots of fun ahead, full reviews to follow over the summer. Big question is, which one to start with? Any thoughts?

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Celebrating the Mediterranean Diet

July 15th, 2015 · Cookbooks, Foodie gifts

Ultimate Mediterranean Diet Cookbook



I’ve spent lots of happy times eating around various parts of the Med, particularly many happy meals in Cyprus, and the so-called Mediterranean diet covers lots of my favourite flavours and dishes. So, reviewing The Ultimate Mediterranean Diet Cookbook by Amy Riolo wasn’t really a chore for me.

Now, the whole bit about the world’s healthiest diet to live better and longer to me is a happy secondary benefit, and I don’t think it’s top of mind when most people in the Med cook this stuff each day. But I’ll let that bit go. I really like the variety of this book, and also that there are gluten free variations for the vast majority of recipes.

There were so many dishes I was tempted by, like the Libyan Lam Couscous, the Braised Fennel with Chestnuts and Shallots and the unusual sounding Sweet Carrot and Cardamom Torte. Given I was cooking for the kids as well though, I did tone it down a bit, and I’m saving that last one for another day.

We chose to do the Calabrian Chicken, Pepper, Tomato and Potato Stew, with a Mediterranean-style corn bread with mozzarella and sundried tomatoes. Sounds like a good combination, and a little different.


Calabrian Chicken Stew


The stew took a lot of veg chopping but I had a small helper as well.  I wasn’t sure about the instructions for cooking the veg, which is until light golden or 3 to 4 minutes. Personally I’d have browned off the onions first, then added the peppers and garlic, and it needed something. In spite of adjusting the seasoning to more than the recipe said, the final dish was a bit lacking in oomph, just a bit bland. Everyone ate it, but I wouldn’t cook it from the recipe again without modifications.


Mediterranean-Style Cornbread


I think that maybe my cornmeal wasn’t a coarse enough grind, as the bread wasn’t really a bread at all. It was much more like a set polenta, and wasn’t well liked by the kids. To be honest, it worked better the next day when we griddled some on the BBQ.

I’m definitely going to give some more of these recipes a go, but will definitely be checking the seasoning as I go, and checking if there’s a way to get additional flavours in through the cooking methods.

Published by Fair Winds Press, this is currently £13.49 at Waterstones with free UK delivery.

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Should I stock up on French kitchen linens before I get to France?

July 13th, 2015 · Foodie gifts, Kitchenwares

Coucke linens

Oh my, Sous Chef are making it very tempting to stock up on gorgeous French kitchen linens now. Not only do they have beautiful linens from Coucke, but they have 15% off until 30 July.

It’s no secret that I’m very fond of tea towels, with my latest one coming from Red Tractor on our trip from Australia. But my special weakness is for French linens, and I wouldn’t quite know what to choose from these.

I mean, I could go very traditional looking with the Rustique Bleu:


Couke Rustique Bleu


I could go educational with something to hand to check up on the source of my red wine:


Vin rouge


Or just something lovely and inspirational for baking:


Coucke les macarons


But there again, I could also get distracted by another love, and great gift: a lovely new apron.




I really don’t know, too many great choices. And if you cook, you can never have too many tea towels, and they are useful gifts for all kinds of food lovers. What would you pick?

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What kit could your kitchen do without?

July 11th, 2015 · British favourites, Foodie gadgets, Foodie gifts

Cluttered kitchen


I thought this was a great post over on the Becoming Minimalist blog, about what a kitchen could do without.

Now, quite a lot of these I could agree with. I mean, I didn’t even know you could get a grilled cheese maker, and in my house an egg scrambler is a pan and a wooden spoon! Likewise a rice maker, and a doughnut pan is just beyond frivolous. Though I have owned a waffle maker in the past, but no longer. Pointless.

But there are some things I would take exception to. Like a crock pot. I love my slow cooker and use it regularly. Not just in the winter, and not just for stews, I love being free to go off and do something else all day and have a good meal waiting. I’ve used it for rice pudding, for jam, for pickle and for porridge ready for the morning. It’s staying.

I don’t have a KitchenAid (I’m still waiting for the lottery win) but I do have a Kenwood Chef, and wouldn’t be without it. But then I do a lot of baking, and by having Ken, then I often bake on the spur of the moment because it makes it so much quicker. And I watched MFL make sausages with Ken the other week, which amazed me. Who knew?

So, it’s a bit mixed from me on this. What would you definitely keep in  your kitchen, and what can you well imagine doing without?


Photo by Philip Pelgrom

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The Tour de France of food

July 9th, 2015 · Foodie gifts, Foodie Travel

The Tour de France passes through the next village to my mum’s in Brittany this weekend, and it’s not too long until we head out there. It’s made me think about the many wonderful food stuffs and meals I’ve had in my many trips out there.


This year's haul from France


Don’t get me wrong, I love British produce, and producers, and this is no longing for one cuisine over the other, just enjoying the best of everything. I wrote a couple of years ago about the things I stock up on in France, from brioche to Speculoos, and it’s good to see that more things are available more readily here now. And even gone one better in that I’ve never seen the crunchy Speculoos in France, but can get it in the local supermarket here now.


Beautiful in every way

Beautiful in every way


We’ll be further north than I used to stay, but have to admit that I still hanker after a return trip (or seven) to the area around La Rochelle. A trip to the market and an ice cream from Ernest remain two of my favourite things in the world to do.


Channelling Juliette, hoping for Mr Depp

Channelling Juliette, hoping for Mr Depp


I still like to try and channel Juliette Binoche on days I need a little added something, and the older we both get, the more I admire her. That, and that I could rewatch Chocolat every day and not get bored of it. Let’s face it, with Juliette, Johnny, chocolate and beautiful French scenery, that’s a tour you’d never get bored of!

Can’t wait to start my own tour of France, though I shall be steering clear of Lycra and two wheels in any form!

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Please make this happen, Yorkshire Tea

July 7th, 2015 · British favourites, Foodie gifts

Yorkshire Iced TEa


Yorkshire Tea posted this on Facebook saying it definitely wasn’t a real product, but please let’s lobby them to make it happen. Enough with the Nestea/Liptons rubbish, let’s get some proper iced tea on the shelves.

I’m quite keen on iced tea, and I’d be very keen on this. Yorkshire Tea is my standard daily brew, both caffeinated and decaff, and it travels the world with me. A morning isn’t a morning with a mug of Yorkshire.

So please, Yorkshire Tea, get this out, at least for next summer! Put me down for a case. Per week.

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