The Foodie Gift Hunter

Great gift ideas for fabulous foodies

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Like the Nespresso of the cocktail world?

August 30th, 2015 · Foodie gifts

Oh my word. I don’t have a Nespresso, but I could have one of these!

 

Bartesian - the capsule cocktail maker for nights when you can't shake the shaker

Named Bartesian, this is a capsule cocktail maker. For those nights when shaking something together is too much like hard work, and only a cocktail will do.

This has been through Kickstarter funding, and is due to start shipping from April next year, for $299 plus shipping. The capsules are $20 for 12, and include Cosmopolitan, Margarita and a Zest Martini. So, it’s not cheap, but we’re thinking of getting one as a team, and disguising it as a coffee machine.

So, not one for your Christmas list this year, but keep an eye out for it arriving properly next year.

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The Friday Five – Flavours of Caribbean Sunshine

August 28th, 2015 · Cookbooks, Foodie gifts, Friday Five

Let's hope the sun shines for Carnival time

 

Here we are, August Bank Holiday weekend, which means it’s time for the Notting Hill Carnival. It’s not something I’ve ever been to, even when I lived in London, but could be a great excuse for some sunshine flavours to offset whatever damp, dismal weather might be in store for us.

 

I love Levi Roots' passion for food, & it comes across in his cookbooks

 

Caribbean Food Made Easy – Levi Roots is just one of those characters that I just really like, as he just seems one of those genuine people who has made the most of every opportunity thrown at him. And he just brings such joy to his cooking and the way he talks about it. Probably a great book for starting an exploration of the food of the area in an accessible way.

 

Sunshine flavours of the Caribbean brought up to date in this cookbook

 

Caribbean Modern: Recipes From the Rum Islands – having grown up in Leicester, London and Trinidad it’s no wonder that Shivi’s recipes are a wonderful melting pot of influences. Not to mention very tasty influences. Coconut Chicken Rundown sounds like a perfect bad weather anti-dote.

 

French Caribbean cooking in one beautiful cookbook

 

Creole Kitchen – the flavours and tastes of the French Caribbean, I think this could be one for me. I mean, coconut slaw could well replace regular slaw, and who doesn’t want pineapple fritters and flambé bananas? And then there’s the rum laced punch recipes. My kind of cookbook!

 

Meat free in the Caribbean in cookbook form

 

Caribbean Vegan – definitely one to spice up your cooking, vegan or otherwise. And this takes flavours well beyond just pineapple and coconut, so delicious flavours from the islands, all the taste but without meat, egg or dairy.

 

Spicing up dinner time with this cookbook

 

Jerk from Jamaica – if you’re planning an end of summer barbecue, then maybe spice it up with Jamaican style barbecue. This cookbook gives you the main dishes but also great sides, drinks and desserts as well, so you can make the complete deal.

So, let’s keep our fingers crossed for some sunny weather, for the carnival and for the rest of us to enjoy the Bank Holiday weekend.

 

 

 

 

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Craft beer 101 with Beer52

August 26th, 2015 · British favourites, Foodie gifts, Places to shop online

Time for beer

 

I think it’s fair to say I don’t write about beer very often on here, or at least not beer I’ve been tasting. I think the last beer tasting I did was with the ones from Tickety Brew, although that worked out pretty well.

But I have tried more recently, which is definitely MFL’s influence, not to mention the great variety kept at The Merchants Inn in Rugby. So when the team at Beer52 offered to send me one of their cases, I knew some connoisseurs I might have to hand to help with the tasting.

 

exciting box

 

That said, the arrival of the box caused excitement in the village, the postman told me they’d all had a taste. I did point out the box said “to be opened by addressee only”.

Beer52 was set up by James Brown (not the godfather of soul, much younger. And alive), after what sounds like one hell of a great road trip. Great start to a story, and it was a long trip from Edinburgh to Faro, which must be why this looks like lots of thought have gone into it.

If you receive a box, or send it to someone else as a very generous gift, then all the details will fascinate, surprise, delight…all of those things and that’s before you get to the beers. There’s the detailed pouring instructions on the box:

 

clear instructions

 

There’s all the guides in the box, from a welcome to the club, to a glossy book of a road trip around Britain that’ll have you wanting to tick more beers off (good to see Tickety Brew in here!), and then the tasting notes in tabloid format almost.

 

beer tasting notes

 

Oh yes, and there were the actual bottles! I would say you could access all of this whether beer geek or beer novice like me.

 

beer 52 beers

 

There was great variety in the box of 8, and something for every kind of taste. I love that the tasting notes also included a recipe, and some great articles too.

 

beer 52 recipe

 

If you have a beer lover that you need a gift for, or just someone difficult to buy for, then this could be brilliant idea. You can buy one, or even a generous six months worth of monthly deliveries, and options for more or less. A one off case is £24 for 8 beers, and they obviously get cheaper per box the longer you commit to.

The team have given me an exclusive code for £10 off your first box, with the code FOODIE, making it just £14 for 8 beers, with free delivery.  You’ll also get the free road trip book and a bottle opener. Well, it would be a shame to get all that beer and then find you couldn’t find the opener!

Love this as an idea, as it’s a small business supporting other small businesses, so definitely worth a look.

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Looking for some flour inspiration

August 24th, 2015 · Baking, Foodie gifts

It was bread week on the Bake Off, and I think the memory of the flour moth invasion is about gone. And I’m thinking that coming into autumn then there’ll need to be more bread baking, which means interesting flour testing.

I’m not sure whatever happened to Flour Bin, which used to be a great source for all kinds of flour, but they don’t seem to be trading anymore. I really like Bakery Bits as an alternative, and I like the sound of the Lammas Fayre Flour from John Letts.

 

Anglo Saxon Light Rye

 

Flour made from these more ancient, less intensely grown grains are often easier for some people to digest, so these may suit some. Might also appeal to history geeks, with things like the Anglo Saxon Blend of light rye or the Medieval Peasant’s Blend. Definitely need to try this one! Although somewhat different as includes peas and broadbeans in the mix.

Definitely a site worth checking out for all your bread baking needs from ingredients to baking tins.

 

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Have your most used kitchen gadgets changed?

August 22nd, 2015 · Foodie gadgets, Foodie gifts

I had a Twitter conversation at the weekend with Patricia Davidson of Glamour Sleuth about an old blog post of mine that had resurfaced about kitchen gadgets.

 

Panasonic Breadmaker - for the best smells a kitchen can emit!

 

It’s five years since I wrote the original post, and it was funny to look back on what was on the list then, and what I’d take off now and put on now. I mean, the breadmaker moved out a few years ago, and I’ve never missed it. Whereas the Kenwood Chef arrived three years ago, and I’m never giving that up.

No, KitchenAid, not even if you send me one!

There’s a Magimix food processor in the house now, replacing the one that was here five years ago. I don’t use it so much but it does come in useful from time to time. I did upgrade my scales to digital ones, and have a fabulous pestle and mortar since those days.

Nuance pestle & mortar

In fact I would say there are two gadgets now on the list that weren’t on it then that absolutely earn their place. First off would be my slow cooker, which I love and use on a regular basis, and for more than just stews. Pinterest is an endless source of ideas on that front.

My spiraliser is a relatively new piece of kit, but for something that seemed a bit gimmicky I’m really enjoying using it, on a regular basis. Now whether it’ll still be there in five years time is anyone’s guess.

But I guarantee the slow cooker still will be!

What new to you gadgets have become indispensable in your kitchen?

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Some more gin research needed

August 20th, 2015 · British favourites, Foodie gifts, Foodie things to do, Just for fun

Did I mention that I like my gin?

So I see this book as a bit of a challenge!

 

101 gins

 

But the challenge starts now, as got into a bit of a twitter conversation with Kandula Tea, as it turns out they like gin as well as tea. So we thought we might compare starting points, to see how many we had each clocked up already.

Can’t wait to get started and then see how many I’ve got left to go at!

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Doing the Edinburgh Festivals? My Edinburgh food roundup

August 18th, 2015 · Foodie gifts, Foodie things to do, Foodie Travel, Kitchenwares

Edinburgh

 

I really wish I was back in Edinburgh, as MGG and I had an amazing time there last year. As well as incredible shows, from dance to circus, drama to Zombie science, we managed to fit in some great eating, food shopping and space for one or two kitchen mementos.

If you’re going to be there for any amount of time, then you might want to check out a few of these, or just need something to ponder on as you eat and dash between shows.

 

Tin Tin in a Tea Pot

 

Our Edinburgh Food Fun & Finds gives you the highlights of our trip, for eating, drinking and seeing on the food front.

 

Time to head to Edinburgh

 

I loved the Fringe for the sheer variety of shows to pick from. Overhearing a conversation one night made me reflect on what an Edinburgh Fringe show has in common with a small food producer. More than you might think in my view!

Whilst this was a Christmas post, in Buy Them Experiences Not Things I talk about the great food walking tour that we did. Definitely recommend this for getting to taste some great food and discover some places a little more off the beaten track.

And then this is just a hint for a great place to go find good tea towels, one of my slight holiday obsessions!

And if I could only see one show again, then it would have to be Feet Don’t Fail Me Now from Rhythmic Circus. Ultimate feel good, incredible dancing!

Photos by Zoetnet and Dimitry B on Flickr

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Back to school blues? Not with 45 Gin School

August 16th, 2015 · Foodie gifts, Foodie things to do

The best school lessons ever

 

Got the Sunday night back to school/work blues? Here’s a lesson that cheers a day up: head to 45 Gin School and brew your own bottle of gin. I promise, chemistry was never this much fun.

Let me start by saying that I think this is one of the best gift ideas I’ve come across in quite a while, and I think whether gin lover, food lover, science geek or just fun lover, this is a great thing to go and do.

 

Messy Bessy

 

You don’t expect tales of great gin, or a great few hours, to start with “we headed for a farm on the outskirts of Loughborough”. But this one does. The gin school happens at the home of Burleigh’s Gin, and it is on a farm. But once inside, you are transported away to the world of craft distilling. Possibly helped by a Tom Collins. Or two.

Jamie Baxter is the master distiller, and your guide. I love people who are enthusiastic about stuff, any stuff, and Jamie knows his stuff about gin and is most definitely enthusiastic. I could have listened to him for ages, the only person I know who has made an EU directive sound interesting.

 

Jamie and his still

 

You’ll get to know about the distilling process, the bottling process, the botanicals…everything you could ever wish to know, and then you get the history. All of which is fascinating, and then you get down to distilling your own bottle of gin.

 

IMG_4976

 

Selecting your own botanicals is a little daunting (apart from juniper, which you will have heard several times for Jamie needs to be the dominant flavour for it be classified as gin), but Jamie is great at offering advice. There were gin and tonics flowing by this stage, and plenty of conversation between all of my fellow first time distillers.

We were all thrilled to go through the whole process, of watching our gin drip into beakers, blending it with water, measuring its strength…the whole lot was really exciting. Writing your name on your own bottle of gin was really exhilarating, and I just really enjoyed the whole evening.

 

Blending it with water

 

From the still to the bottle: my gin

 

Me and my gin

 

In fact the only downside was waiting the suggested few days to try the gin! I waited 5, and it was a treat. Of course, everyone was biased, everyone thought theirs was marvellous, but why not? Can you imagine the bragging rights you get each time you get your own gin out to make a drink or two? This really is the gift that keeps on giving.

 

Got to wait for it...

 

You can buy an experience voucher, at £90 for one, or £110 for one plus one spectator. You get the tour, something to drink, and your full size bottle of gin. The bragging rights are thrown in for free.

My thanks to the team at 45 Gin School for the invite to this particular event, it was an amazing evening, and lovely to meet some other local bloggers too. If you want to read other views of the evening, then try The Sticky Beak Blog or Midweek Cocktail Club as good starting points.

I’ll be in the kitchen mixing the best gin and tonic ever.

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The Friday Five – all about cake

August 14th, 2015 · Baking, British favourites, Cookbooks, Foodie gifts, Friday Five

Ok, I know this week’s Bake Off was about biscuits, but I’ve got cakes on my mind as it’s my turn to take cakes in for the team. If I had time then I’d be baking, but sadly it’s only going to be thinking about baking this week. These books would be fabulous inspiration if there was time:

 

Naked Cakes

 

Naked Cakes – how beautiful does this cover look? And I love this as a reaction to things like over-decorated cupcakes. This one is very much about the flavours, with things like Coconut Angel Cake with Raspberries or Chocolate Fig Cake. I think this one is going on my Christmas list.

 

The CAke Book

 

Jamie’s Food Tube: The Cake Book – as you’d expect from Jamie, these are modern twists, and plenty of flavours involved. I like that these are seasonal recipes, so something to go at any time of the year.

 

Cakes in a Mug

 

Cakes in a Mug – ok, there have been a few nights that cakes in a mug have featured here when there’s been no other sweet stuff to hand. This sounds like it might be a dangerous book to have on hand!

 

Surprise Cakes

 

Surprise Cakes – sounds like the best kind of cake to me! I’ve never really tried anything like this except an ombré cake so wouldn’t mind giving a go.

 

Mary Berry's Ultimate Cake Book

 

Mary Berry’s Ultimate Cake Book – well, can’t really beat going a bit old school with the queen of the bakes, now can you? Funnily enough I don’t own any of Mary’s books, so maybe this is a good one to start with.

Whatever time you get to bake, hope you enjoy it and the results!

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Keeping the Breton spirit going with galettes

August 12th, 2015 · Cookbooks, Foodie gifts

Crepes and Galettes

 

We’ve just had a few days in Brittany, which meant quite a lot of galettes and cider, making it perfect timing to come home and review Crepes and Galettes by Bertrand Larcher. I have no idea how, on all my trips to St Malo, I have managed to miss Bertrand’s place, but will put that right next time.

I find Bertrand’s story fascinating, as he is so connected to his local area, and yet he opened his first restaurants in Japan, and many of the recipes include Japanese ingredients. I mean, there’s a recipe for Crêpe Suzette, but with a yuzu sauce. I also love, that in a very Breton way, each recipe comes with a cider recommendation.

I tried to make the Black Pudding Galette with Apples and Celtic Sauce. Sounds just up my street, betraying my northern routes with a love of black pudding.

Sadly, ran into an issue almost straight away. The recipe for the Celtic Sauce has 1 bottle of semi-dry cider, and 1 bottle of sweet. Except no definition of a bottle. Bottles of cider in France seem to be like bottles of wine so a full 700ml, whereas here they might be 330 or 500. Which makes quite a bit of difference.

Anyway, I prepped up all the apples and two 500ml bottles of cider, and reduced for the hour specified. Then another.

And another.

To be honest, after four hours, I gave up. It’s a nice tasting sauce but it sure as heck doesn’t make a drizzle for a dish.

 

Apples

 

Cider ready to go

 

Celtic Sauce

The rest was fairly simple, caramelise apples and fry off some black pudding. And then I cheated a bit and reheated a galette that I’d brought back from Brittany. Which I think is what everyone there does, just buys them in the supermarket. His recipe is simple enough though, so would think you’d get good results. My version didn’t quite look like the original, but it tasted good!

 

My version of galette

 

Not quite the same

 

It’s a bit of a specialist book, but the photography is beautiful both of the food and of the local landscape around Mont St Michel and St Malo. Published by Jacqui Small, this is currently £20 at Waterstones. Not cheap, but cheaper than a trip to St Malo and finding the cafe yourself.

 

St Malo

 

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