The Foodie Gift Hunter

Great gift ideas for fabulous foodies

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Land of the flat white

April 5th, 2015 · Foodie things to do, Foodie Travel

MGG and I have been in Australia for nearly two weeks now, and loving every moment, even the few rainy ones. Of course I always expected to come out here to great food and drink, and given the amount we’ve packed in so far, caffeine has been in required.

So, when in Rome and all that, switched my normal coffee to the ubiquitous, local flat white. With varying degrees of success! First up:

 

First but not last

 

No surprises that this wasn’t great, but we were straight off the overnight flight from Hong Kong, it was warm & caffeinated and they have free wifi. First and last from them!

 

Three quarters latte, Manly style

 

A few hours later, and a coffee shop in Manly served up much better, though this is apparently a three quarters latte. Didn’t care, almost downed it in one, was beginning to flag!

 

The Box

 

This was a scenic one, at The Box in Ettalong on the Central Coast at the end of a great lunch. Loved this place, hoping to go back.

But for most iconic, got to be this one:

 

Iconic flat white

 

Opera Terrace, in case you couldn’t guess. Thanks to my assistant/hand model for the visual clue! Perfect location for a first timer to Sydney, great coffee too.

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Ready for Macaron Day

March 20th, 2015 · Baking, British favourites, Foodie Travel

I’m not sure where this started or who started it, but I love the idea of a day of celebrating macarons! And if I can only have one, it would be this one:

 

Birthday macaron

 

Ok, cheating slightly as this was practically a cake, but it was my birthday. But I’m not passing by the market in Vannes anytime soon, so will have to live on memories. Or hope that somewhere in terminal 3 we might find some!

Happy Macaron Day anyway, hope some treats find their way to you!

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Having fun with sushi

March 18th, 2015 · Foodie gadgets, Foodie gifts

Dinner on Sunday night was courtesy of two enthusiastic, wannabe sushi masters:

 

Sushi night

 

Which made me think that this coming weekend will offer up some great sushi gadget shopping opportunities. One of my favourite shopping stops in Hong Kong is the kitchen shop at CitySuper. I can spend ages in here, which probably explains the Hello Kitty carrot cutter I came back with once. But then I remembered the thing I resisted:

 

How seaweed becomes cute

 

Somehow I don’t think I’ll resist this the second time. And maybe some of the rice moulds. And maybe more carrot shapers! Who knows? There may be a whole load of new stuff too.

Can’t wait, may test limits of luggage allowance before we even hit Australia!

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Look younger from a bottle of fruit juice? Hmm

March 14th, 2015 · Foodie gifts

Ok, declaring/reminding of an interest in this subject, as I spend my days working for Boots on No 7, and we’re pretty darn good at skincare. So I’m always interested when my two worlds collide, which they did with trying the juices from Beauty & Go in Selfridges last week.

 

Beauty in the Juice

 

Now, from a food front, these are beautifully packaged and eye catching, and the juices were very tasty. I had the anti-ageing one, which is pomegranate and raspberry predominantly, although apparently it’s pomegranate peel. Couldn’t tell myself. Lovely juice, very refreshing, I’d enjoy drinking it any time.

 

Pretty

 

But then there’s the claims. Apparently it will improve my skin elasticity and reduce wrinkles. Yes, there is clinical data, although only on 30 volunteers. And they ranged from 23 to 51, so some of that skin didn’t need much help on the ageing front! And after 56 days (56, count them!) then there are significant improvements to the skin.

But this was based on drinking these twice a day for the 56 days. At £2.99 a go, that’s £334.88.

Honestly, I’m sticking to my Protect & Perfect Advanced Serum! One tube of that will last me the same time, and cost me under £25, so a small fortune left for buying lots of great fruit and veg to feed my whole body well. If you’ve got the money, go for it. Otherwise, they’re a nice juice for a refreshing drink, but I can’t see many of us going for the 56 day trial.

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Bringing more vanilla to the table

March 12th, 2015 · Cookbooks, Foodie gifts

Vanilla

 

I’ve had a really good run of cookbooks to review (yes, even Greens 24/7, which I’ve cooked from a few times now) so I guess it had to come to an end. In fact I think it’s appropriate that I’ve been reading this one as Masterchef has started, as the first part of the book is possibly perfect if you’ve got someone who thinks they want to be a contestant.

 

Vanilla Table

 

Look, don’t get me wrong, this should have been a book for me, as I love vanilla. And actually I love the second half of this book when it gets onto baking. I mean, I’m just going to have to make Tin Roof Gooey Scooter Pies for the name if nothing else, likewise Aunt Helen’s Victory Garden Bundt Cakes. All perfect uses for vanilla to me, and would be something to add to my baking repetoire.

The first half isn’t all bad. But then I get to things like Fennel Flan with orange gelée, cashew foam and vanilla oil. See what I mean about Masterchef? And you know how it normally turns out on there too! I know these have all been created by top chefs, so maybe it’s no surprise that these are a bit cheffy.

So, I think it’s an interesting book, but it’s not for everyone. I may try some of the simpler savoury recipes, but the fancy stuff is going to go untouched in this house. But then I’m not planning on trying out for Masterchef any time soon!

 

Vanilla photograph by Bill Holsinger-Robinson on Flickr.

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Something to keep the gin on

March 10th, 2015 · Foodie gifts, Just for fun

Gin Coasters

 

These made me smile, even though I’m not big on coasters, but I might make room for these. Even if only because gin is still the spirit of choice in my house!

From Have a Gander, who also have a number of gin themed prints that might be good for other gin lovers out there, as I’m quite sure I can’t be the only one!

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Getting good food ready to let the train take the strain

March 8th, 2015 · British favourites, Chocolate, Foodie gifts, Foodie Travel, Places to shop online

British Rail Sandwich

 

I had two trips to London this week, which is always a good opportunity to try new things, or at least new to me things. Especially when I’m on the slower train back to Nottingham at lunchtime, which means an opportunity for a train picnic from Sourced Market at St Pancras.

I’m trying to eat a gluten free diet, because I feel better without it, so all the delicious bread and sandwiches were off the menu. But no loss, as I had these chicken teriyaki lettuce wraps from Tanpopo Japanese Food. It was fresh tasting, crunchy and I loved the peanut sauce.

 

Chicken Wraps

 

It does feel like an endless journey, so needed something for snacking too, and so had Crispy Bacon & Maple Syrup popcorn from Portlebay Popcorn. I have to be honest, this left me underwhelmed on the flavour front (particularly given these are two of my favourite flavours). I wouldn’t be in a hurry to buy it again.

 

Portlebay Popcorn

 

I had Elderflower Green Tea from Daymer Bay to wash it down. Can’t find much about these, inspired by a bay in Cornwall, but with a Kensington address. Hmm. Not much benefit to Cornwall as far as I can see, but happy to be put right.

I saved my last purchase till I got home and did share it over a couple of nights with MGG, and we’ll definitely be treating ourselves to Peanut Butter Chocolate from Nomnom. As part Welsh, she was happy to discover Welsh chocolate company, I was just happy to eat great sweet, salty, nutty chocolate. I would imagine we’d like the Salted Caramel version too.

 

Nomnom chocolate

 

So, it was a mixed picnic, some things will definitely be on my shopping list in the future, but even the less good ones were better than a British Rail sandwich!

Photo by Chris Sampson on Flickr.

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The Friday Five – cooking from the beginning

March 6th, 2015 · Cookbooks, Foodie gifts, Friday Five

I may have mentioned that MGG are off to Australia soon, which means that my aunt and uncle are moving in again to house sit, and it seems like my uncle has had a bit of road to Damascus moment and decided he’d really like to learn to cook. Good on him, I say, it’s a life skill that I think everyone should have and it’s never too late to learn.

He’d like some inspiration (and I think my aunt would too to be honest), so these are some that I think could tick the boxes:

 

Delias how to cook

Delia’s Complete How To Cook – even now, I refer to my Delia’s on a regular basis. I thought about including the original Complete Cookery Course, but I think this is better for a starting point. Couldn’t really be in safer hands.

 

Jamies Ministry of Food

 

Jamie’s Ministry of Food – ok, this one promises anyone can learn to cook in 24 hours. We’re gone for nearly 3 weeks. He should be signed up for Masterchef by the time we get back!

 

The Basic Basics

 

The Basic Basics: How to Cook from A to Z – well, this should do what it says on the tin. Apparently covers 150 everyday foods, so should be plenty to go at. The fact this will take him from broth to pie should keep him busy, and happy!

 

Men's Cooking Manual

 

Men’s Cooking Manual – I normally loathe this kind of clichéd title, but have a feeling that my uncle might actually quite like this one. If it encourages cooking, then I’m happy that it gets him going!

 

River Cottage Family

 

The River Cottage Family Cookbook – I appreciate that this one was written with kids in mind, but it is brilliant for learning the basics, and how recipes build from a basic to something even better. It’s also my go to for Yorkshire pudding recipe, which shames me each time I look it up, but the recipe never fails. Which will make him happy.

So wherever you begin with cooking, to me the important thing is to begin, and to realise it really isn’t rocket science, and anyone can do it. We’ll report back on how he gets on!

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We’d eat all the pies!

March 4th, 2015 · British favourites, Foodie gifts, Foodie Travel, Places to shop online

Pie school

 

It’s British Pie Week, and they are certainly popular in our house, with chicken pie always having ranked as one of MGG’s favourite dinners. If we had to choose, then these would definitely be our favourite pies:

Bray’s Cottage – given our proximity to Melton Mowbray, then it’s always felt slightly wrong to love a non Melton Mowbray pork pie more than a local one, but we do. Let’s face it, we love them so much, MGG even did a 40 minute work experience on the stall with Sarah on our last visit to Norfolk. I bemoan the fact that there are no local stockists, and more that I am not organised enough to order them by post. In spite of many imitators, the onion marmalade one is still my favourite.

Hartland Pies – our second favourite pork pies, and definitely more local and easier to get hold of. The pork and stilton sums up two great local flavours, and also fond of the slightly more exotic for Melton pulled pork version too. Available in London and further afield from here too.

Pieminister – having long standing connections to Bristol, then we adopted these pies fairly early on, and am happy to find them all over the place now. To combine the two localities, then it would have to be a Moo and Blue pie for us, which is steak and Long Clawson Stilton. Although we’d prefer Colston Basset Stilton in this house.

Great North Pie Co. – I’m from the north, and pie does seem a very northern thing. And I love the Great North Pie Co for really taking the pies to the next level. Big winners at the British Pie Awards last year, and I’ve no doubt will be this year too if they continue to turn out things like Ox Cheek, Stout, Pearl Barley and Redcurrant. If you’re in the North West, find one of the markets they’re at and stock up!

I’m with MGG in that this is great comfort food, perfect for cold days, and therefore this week feels like the perfect time to indulge. Although we’re off to Australia soon, and apparently they like a pie or two, so we may have to test the southern hemisphere versions too.

Photo by Donna Sutton on Flickr. Sounds like my kind of school!

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Don’t try dunking these biscuits in your tea!

March 2nd, 2015 · Chocolate, Foodie gifts, Places to shop online

I saw these at the weekend and just thought they were great fun!

 

chocolate biscuits

 

I think they’re very clever, and cover many of my favourite biscuits, so a tick for that, and then they’re made of chocolate, so another tick for that.

Just about perfect, other than they would be a bit rubbish if dunked in your tea! Good choice perhaps for Mother’s Day (March 15 here in the UK), especially if you deliver them alongside a cup of tea in bed. Just remember to point out whilst realistic, any dunking is purely at their own risk!

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