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Great gift ideas for fabulous foodies

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Treat yourself to great Christmas chocolate first

November 22nd, 2014 · Chocolate, Christmas foodie gifts, Foodie gifts

It’s really getting to peak gift buying season, but just before the madness of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sets in, then I’d treat yourself to some great chocolate to settle down with whilst you do the shopping.

 

Dark Winter Flavours

 

Now, I’ve written several times about how much I love Amelia Rope’s chocolate, and I could certainly be very happy with the Dark Winter Flavours Duo. Dark Raspberry and Dark Sea Salt, sounds perfect to me!

 

Gold Frankincense & Myrrh

 

But if you wanted to get into the Christmas spirit, then for me it would have to Rococo’s Gold, Frankincense and Myrhh bar. Dark chocolate with the precious oils plus some sweet orange oil to balance it up, and then the visual impact of some gold leaf.

No, if that’s not a treat, I don’t know what is!

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Smoking hot gifts for this Christmas

November 20th, 2014 · British favourites, Christmas foodie gifts, Foodie gifts, Places to shop online

I really like smoky flavours and there is so much variety around now that you can go well beyond just smoked salmon to find some incredible products, particularly at this time of year. I wouldn’t exclude smoked salmon, as we’re rather partial to it here, but I just wouldn’t stop there with what’s tasty from the smoker! Here’s a few ideas:

 

Inverawe Gift Box

 

Starting with something slightly traditional, I like this Glad Tidings Box from Inverawe. To be honest, this could be dinner in a box for me: smoked salmon slices, smoked salmon pate, smoked cheese and oatcakes. Nicely presented and reasonably priced at £27.50.

 

Smoked meat hamper

 

Black Mountains Smokery in South Wales is one I’ve featured before, and I love the variety of things they produce. I’d probably choose their Smoked Meat Box, perfect for getting smoky flavours even if you don’t like salmon. This has smoked goose, duck and chicken breast, plus a smoked pork sausage and a smoked boned quail, so a nice mix of something more unusual with stuff you’d just want to eat straightaway.

 

smoked spice selection

 

The Artisan Smokehouse is one of my favourites for something smoky, and I particularly like their smoked paprika. The smoked spice selection is a great gift in my view for a keen cook who likes to have something different to add to their dishes. The selection gives you four delicious spices: smoked chilli flakes, smoked sea salt, sweet smoked paprika and smoked dried garlic. Lots of things you could do with those!

 

west highland cheese box

 

For maybe the perfect cheese course to finish this off, then I’d try the West Highland Cheese box from Ardshealach. Good variety for the cheeseboard with Lochabar smoked cheese, Locheil smoked brie, smoked Dunlop and some smoked Stilton. I’d be happy with any of these, plus the oatcakes.

 

Smoked vodka

 

You might need something to wash all of this down, so how about some English Oak Smoked Vodka from Chase? It’s a limited edition so would be something unusual to give and apparently tastes more like a fine reposado tequila. Perfect. It also won Best Potato Vodka, so has to have something about it!

So definitely worth exploring well beyond just smoked salmon, as there really is so much good stuff out there to choose from, and it’s perfect for this time of year.

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Feeling nostalgic about the end of an era at WD-50

November 18th, 2014 · Foodie things to do, Places to eat

The countdown is really on, and it is true: WD-50 will close its doors for the final time on 30 November. And it makes me sad that I won’t get to eat there again, but thankful that I did at least get to experience it once in my life.

I was reminiscing with Twiglet that it was definitely up there in my top 3 meals ever. In fact, I agreed with her, the lunch we’d had a couple of days early at Freemans is up there too. But WD-50 is probably at the top of the tree. I was lucky to share the meal with three fabulous women, and it really was a moment in time, a New York moment in time.

 

How it looks now, but not for much longer

 

There wasn’t a moment of the experience that wasn’t memorable, from the drinks, to the first read of the menu, the first time we got to our table. I’d forgotten how lovely the pH cocktails were, and think I really must have a go at recreating them.

Each course took us by surprise, but it wasn’t poncey, it was fun. Or if it was poncey then we were having too much fun to notice. I remember us thinking that it was clever, but not too clever. I mean the Eggs Benedict and Florentine were just breathtaking (cubed eggs anyone?) but were darned tasty too.

 

Square eggs anyone?

 

The desserts were just beautiful, even if we thought we weren’t going to be able to manage them. But we did. It was a magical evening, and there was no better company than Twiglet, the Nose and Boss Lady No 1, and we’ve all talked about it on several occasions since. Hard to believe it was three years ago this summer.

Hard to believe it will soon be gone.

But I guess that makes it just like great food, here and then gone. Wylie Dufresne has opened another restaurant, Alder, so will just have to go try that one. Or maybe not, maybe it won’t ever live up to the original. But I hope so, and I wish them well, and thank them for giving the four of us an incredible meal and some incredible memories. If you’ve managed to get tickets for any of these last few services then I feel quite envious and hope you too have an incredible evening.

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Time to get a brew on and plan

November 16th, 2014 · British favourites, Christmas foodie gifts, Foodie gadgets, Foodie gifts

I love this time of year, the anticipation of Christmas almost as good as the day itself. Planning the gifts, the decorations, the Christmas book off with English Mum and of course the food. I look forward to the moment each year when I get the recipe books down, the notebook out and the planning starts.

My other companion for this exercise is always a good mug of tea. Or two, depending on how many days I’m planning for. In order to brew great tea, and have a refill to hand, then I think I need a new teapot. And I’d like a Zero Japan one.

 

Zero Japan 2 Cup

 

I really fell in love with these during a couple of happy times sitting in the Peter’s Yard Cafe in Edinburgh during our trip this summer. The display was really eye-catching, as is the design of these pots. These are not style over substance though, absolutely brilliant for loose-leaf tea.

 

Zero Japan at Peter's Yard

 

I don’t know why I didn’t buy one at the time, as really the only decision to make is which colour! These aren’t available online from Peter’s Yard, but Pekoe Tea of Edinburgh have a great range on offer. Now, just to find the recipe books!

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Getting ready for the Christmas washing up

November 13th, 2014 · British favourites, Christmas foodie gifts, Foodie gifts

With Christmas looming, time to get prepared for the Christmas washing, and drying up. Best get some festive tea towels ready to go!

 

You Wash

 

Make your request clear in advance with this one!

 

Fear Less

 

In case Christmas stresses have broken, then try waving this one at everyone. Get them to read it, then put it to use!

 

 

Christmas joy

 

Spread the joy with something colourful and festive from Emma Bridgewater.

 

 

You are my Christmas

 

Tell someone about how you feel about them this Christmas. As long as they have the tea towel deployed!

 

Airfix Christmas

 

See if you’ve got all the parts of Christmas covered with this Airfix Christmas tea towel from Victoria Eggs. Snap to it!

 

It may not be the most fun part of Christmas, but there’s no need for your tea towels to be dull! Best to get organised, not to mention getting stocked up on rubber gloves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Panettone to give, or at least try to save till Christmas

November 11th, 2014 · British favourites, Christmas foodie gifts, Foodie gifts

I love panettone, I put it down to several Decembers of finding myself in Italy for work, and both eating lots and hauling a lot back. I like that it doesn’t hang around in the same way the Christmas cake does (I’m the only one who eats the cake) and there’s a lot to do with it when it begins to look at bit sad. These are just of my favourite ones I’ve spotted, both for flavours and also for lovely packaging.

 

Fig & Nut Panettone

 

Sous Chef have a number of different panettone from Tre Rossi, but my absolute choice would be the Fig and nut one. Now, the description is a bit vague, as the headline says Hazelnut, then it lists it as fig and almond, but if I’d translated noci then I’d have gone walnut. Which is in the ingredient list. Anyway, looks gorgeous, and fig and nuts of any kind has to be a good combo.

 

Pistachio panettone

 

For something really luxurious, I love the sound of this one from Camisa. Now, it’s not cheap, but this is a pistachio version, with plenty of candied fruit, plus icing and a jar of pistachio cream. Which sounds like gilding the lily, but why not? It’s Christmas.

 

Chocolate panettone

 

The chocolate panettone from Carluccios has featured in this house on several occasions, and is delicious. Great on its own, toasted or converted into a truly indulgent bread and butter style pudding, it will always be very welcome. Makes a great alternative for anyone not keen on dried or candied fruit, and lovely packaging as always from Carluccios.

 

V&C Panettone

 

MGG and I had a great time in Edinburgh this summer, and it was great to visit the legendary Valvonna & Crolla. Thankfully you don’t have to make the trip to Edinburgh to get hold of lovely goodies from them, and the Lemon Panettone sounds like a good option. This might be the lightest of the four options, perfect tea time choice.Selfridges Panettone

 

And my final luxe choice would go to Selfridges, for this Marron Glace Panettone. Sounds like one of the ultimate Christmas indulgent choices to me. Great wrapping too.

Of course, should you be the adventurous baking type, then you could have a go at doing your own. Paul Hollywood’s recipe is here, but don’t forget to read this one all the way through. Otherwise the standing it upside down at the end could come as a real surprise!

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Totes organised for Christmas with Bonfirecherry

November 9th, 2014 · Christmas foodie gifts, Foodie gifts, Places to shop online

Yes, completely am organised for Christmas for a tranche of people now, with amazing totes designed specifically for FGH by the lovely Matthew Leyman of Bonfirecherry.

This was just one of those chance Twitter encounters. I’d seen a picture of a tote Matthew had done with an icecream sundae design being tweeted by someone else, and retweeted it. Conversation ensued and before long we had agreed to a project to create a design for, and inspired by, the Foodie Gift Hunter.

It’ll be no surprise there’s a food link and the eagle eyed amongst you might spot some subtle FGH branding as well. In case, like me, it’s a long time since you went anywhere near lino cutting, then Matthew outlined each of the stages in bringing my only piece of couture to life.

First up, choosing a design. Matthew had been playing with stamp motifs and Japanese anime/manga, I could only contribute that something food orientated would be good. No surprise for those who know me, scones and jam won out (just needed a cup of tea really to complete it!)

 

Initial design

 

A proper design followed on paper, and then from paper to lino using pencil then marker pen. The paper goes face down on the lino, and you trace the design (pressing hard I guess) to get an impression on the lino.

 

transfer to lino

 

Now, this would be where I went very wrong: cutting the lino! Or I’d cut out the wrong bit, as you cut out the bits you don’t want to print. This may be why I was never any good at art!

 

Step 3

 

The design took two hours to carve and finish up, and was then all ready to go to printing.

 

Step 4

 

We’d decided to try blue as a starting point for colour. This bit I might have been good at. Though would have still got most of it on me.

 

Step 5

 

The lino goes quickly onto the tote bag, and then pressure is applied over it with a dry roller,  making sure the ink goes onto the tote bag. When you think you have applied enough pressure all over the ink the lino is removed, and then there’s  that “ta dah” moment of taking it off to reveal the first pass of the design.

 

Step 6

 

Things went in a wonderfully unexpected way then, as Matthew decided to try a second colour on this, so on with the red. It didn’t go in exactly the same place, so you end up with a sort of 3D effect.

 

Step 7

 

And here’s the finished thing, complete with 3D glasses. You can wear them to look even more cool, but the bag will look amazing even without them.

 

Step 9

 

There are some of these very special, limited edition bags available to buy from Matthew’s Etsy shop, priced at £11 plus P&P. Maybe as you think about your Christmas gifting you could think about spending a bigger proportion than last year with independent businesses, and great young designers like Matthew.

Matthew has some other great designs on his site, as prints or totes. Particularly good if you have a photography or vintage camera fan, or cycling enthusiast. But the food ones are still my favourite. With many thanks to Matthew, this has been an amazing thing to be involved in.

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The Friday Five – how to help out Santa with some edible gifts

November 7th, 2014 · British favourites, Christmas foodie gifts, Cookbooks, Foodie gifts, Friday Five

Writing about Lindy’s book made me start thinking about what goodies I might make this year to give as gifts. I’ve done cookie mixes in jars, candied spiced orange peel and probably large amounts of sloe gin. Done well, then edible gifts can be something fabulous to receive, at any time of year, so if you were looking for some inspiration, then these books looked like good sources to me:

 

Gifts from the Kitchen

Gifts from the Kitchen – I really like Annie Rigg, both the style and substance of all her books. This covers everything from chocolates to cordials, and I do love the idea of making homemade Chinese Fortune Cookies. Breaking those open on Christmas Day could be interesting if you’ve found some unusual fortunes!

 

Delicious Gifts

 

Delicious Gifts - well, the title certainly sums up what your aim is going to be when making your gifts!  This book covers everything you need from the start, with great recipes, through to how present your creations beautifully. Just because they’re homemade doesn’t mean they can’t be beautiful.

 

 

Vegan Food Gifts

 

Vegan Food Gifts – your lifestyle, or their’s, then there is something to suit in this book. There are baking mixes to create and package, and even a vegan “choc” chip cookie to bake and give. Perfect for everyone if that’s their thing.

 

Edible gifts

 

Edible Gifts – simple, stylish, tasty. Not to mention edible. So that’s your tick list of four main criteria for food gifts, and the recipes would seem to deliver on that. This one covers a really broad range, from jam and chutney to cakes and drinks, so I am sure you’d find something for everyone on your list.

 

Gifts from Your Kitchen

 

Gifts From Your Kitchen – not to be confused with Annie’s book! This one also covers how to present your gifts really attractively, probably in more detail than the other ones. Just be careful, some of the recipes are not edible, so it’s a bit more multi-purpose. Just don’t get the face scrub mix confused with a granola mix!

Starting now would still leave you plenty of time to get sorted for this Christmas, and there is something really satisfying of handing over something that you’ve made yourself. And all of these probably more happily received than some wonky knitted jumper!

 

 

 

 

 

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Going artisanal on the drinks front with Lindy Wildsmith

November 5th, 2014 · British favourites, Christmas foodie gifts, Cookbooks, Foodie gifts

I was really thrilled to be sent a review copy of Lindy Wildsmith’s new book, Artisan Drinks, having really enjoyed her last book, Cicchetti. It’s also a subject that’s quite close to my heart, having had award winning sloe gin at the village show for a number of years, not to mention a history of 1970s wine making on my mum’s side.

To be fair, there’s a house in West Yorkshire that probably still bears the scars of the exploding oak leaf wine harvest!

 

Artisan Drinks

 

There is a whole chapter on wine making, and I can see that the modern wine model bears certain resemblances to my memories from the 1970s.  Though doesn’t seem to include kits from Boots as the main ingredients, which is not necessarily a bad thing! But I’m debating whether the need to make wine is there as it was in the 1970s when wine was much more expensive relatively speaking.

And it’s going to take one heck of a surplus to convince me to make, or try, Beetroot and Marjoram wine!

That said, there are a great many appealing recipes, like Spiced Walnut and Chocolate Cream liquer or Peach and Vanilla Vodka. I can’t see any alternatives on what to do with my sloes, but maybe there’s enough inspiration to find something else to enter next year.

As with Lindy’s last book, the photography is beautiful in this, and I would definitely think it a great gift for anyone who has even a passing interest in the subject. The book was published on 16 October by Jacqui Small, and can be ordered directly from them at the special price of £20 including p&p* (RRP: £25.00). You can either telephone on 01903 828503 or email mailorders@lbsltd.co.uk and quote the offer code APG236.  The postage included rate only applies to the UK, please add £2.50 if you’re ordering from overseas.

Of course, you could treat yourself and get making some gifts on the go for Christmas. Strikes me as a definite win win!

 

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Rosie’s had a facelift on her measuring cups!

November 3rd, 2014 · Christmas foodie gifts, Foodie gadgets, Foodie gifts

It would have been a little dull to have written about the same gift from Boots for four years running, but Rosie’s Measuring Cups have been pretty much the most searched for gift on the blog for the last three Christmases.

But this year, the design and shape have changed, and I think they’re really lovely.

 

Rosies 2014 cups

 

I don’t really have a pretty type of kitchen, more practical and my measuring spoons are white plastic.  But if I was going to pretty things up then these would surely be in the running. These are still in stock, but always seem to go quick, and are £10, not to mention included in the 3 for 2 mix and match.

And if you’ve been asked for these for someone for the last three years, then get a move on!!

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