Port & Lemon anyone?

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Fish & Ships Galley Cloth from Port & Lemon

 

No, not a Christmas drinks order in early, but just wanted to flag this new to me design company. Port & Lemon are very inspired by all things nautical and sea shore, and I think these are great for any kitchen, whether you’re by the sea or not.

I’m hoping for fish and chips next week when we’re by the sea, so I like the play on words of Fish and Ships.

 

Any Port In a Storm Galley Cloth

 

There again, Any Port In A Storm might be appropriate given we’re down on the Gower Coast, and it’s October. You can have these on tea towels, or coaster or place mats, and mix and match to suit the humour or taste of the recipient.

 

Port & Lemon Mugs

 

They also have lovely mugs too, so you could definitely pull together a great gift for someone. Wrapping stuff in tea towels makes a good alternative to gift wrap, so gift and wrap in one. Products seems to be focused on UK manufacture as well, so a good local business to support.

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Putting tea temptation out there

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T2 Tea - too many good things for tea lovers

 

I wrote about T2 when I got back from Australia last year, as this was one of the retailers out there that I really fell in love with. Of course, I felt a bit of a fool on discovering they already had stores in the UK, but given they were in Shoreditch and Shepherd’s Bush, then I could understand why I hadn’t stumbled across them.

But last week I did stumble across them, finding a store on Regent Street, which will mean a few detours on my trips into London. But then the website still has plenty of temptation too, to keep me going in the meantime. I mean, there’s the stunningly beautiful Moroccan Tealeidoscope Tea for one, which is just gorgeous:

 

Moroccan Tealeidoscope Tea for One for a tea lover

 

There’s a whole range of lovely things in this pattern, and a number of different colourways, which I could see definitely making beautiful gifts for a tea lover.

Fancy Flowers Black Geometric Teapot

 

If you’re looking for something a little more minimalist, then this black and white geometric floral design might do the trick. There’s a medium and mini size in this teapot so perfect depending on how big your tea drinking habit is.

 

Fitzroyaltea from T2

 

So whilst T2 might be new to many of us, back in Australia they’re celebrating 20 years in business, and this is the celebratory tea to do it with. Packed with native Aussie ingredients, Fitzroyaltea is a herbal tisane with a lot of zing to it, including hibiscus and aniseed myrtle. Worth a try, to make a change from your PG Tips habit.

 

T2 5 Rise and Shine Gift Set

 

If they need tea to get them going in the morning, then the 5 Rise and Shine Gift Pack might just be the thing for them. Five breakfast brews, from around the world, including New York Breakfast and Irish Breakfast, along with a more traditional English breakfast. Although sadly missing the Sydney Breakfast that I bought.

Definitely a lovely shop for browsing, whether you’re in London or the virtual world, perfect source for treats for tea lovers.

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When biscuits meet the Chelsea Flower Show

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Fabulous Biscuiteers biscuits for the green fingered

I’ve already written about how much I love the Chelsea Flower Show, and when these popped into my inbox, I just thought they were the perfect thing for this week. I know Biscuiteers are not the cheapest thing to send, but they’ve always been such a popular gift whenever I’ve send them, which makes them great value in my book.

This is such a lovely tin of gorgeous biscuits for the keen gardener, everything from the worms to the final blooms are depicted here. And you could just keep refilling that tin with the gardener’s favourites, homemade or otherwise, once they’ve made short work of these.

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What’s the ultimate pong in cheese?

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The Ultimate Pong Box - not a gift to leave somewhere warm

 

I’ve always liked Pong, their selections are always great quality, and they take cheese seriously but not themselves.  So I love the new Ultimate Pong Box, which is definitely an interesting and surprising one to send someone!

They describe them as their most revered and feared, as the strongest, smelliest and most oozy cheeses. You’ve got Epoisses, which is banned on the Paris Metro. Hummingbark, which I’ve never heard of, is made to the same recipe as Vacherin D’Or and tastes lovely but stinks something dreadful.

Finn with double cream sounds indulgent beyond belief, though strong in both taste and smell, and then finish off the box with Royal Bassett Blue. So, a box of deliciousness but my word, you’re going to want to know the recipient is going to be home when this is delivered. If it’s sat in the sorting office for a few days, especially in the summer, well, everyone is going to know about it!

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Great looking ketchup from Adnams

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I obviously haven’t been to Stamford for a while, as Adnams as always on my list of places to stop by. And looking at their ketchup, then they’ve obviously been doing some packaging updates.

 

Adnams Tomato Ketchup

 

Their previous ketchup was lovely in both design and taste, so be happy to give this one a try too. I could also be tempted to push the boat out and have a full trio with the BBQ sauce and the brown sauce (although I’m very devoted to HP). And no doubt the beer chutney should be good, given their pedigree.

Off to check my diary, seeing when I get a trip to Stamford in.

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Making water look great

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I realised I hadn’t been on the Cox and Cox website in a while, probably because it’s too tempting. And now I’ve been on, I’ve spotted two lovely things that I could definitely see making useful additions to many households.

 

french-style-fluted-pitcher

 

I’m not mad on bottled water at all, but do love to have jugs of water on the table, and these two pitchers are beautiful. The French style fluted pitcher is quite timeless and elegant, perfect for a more formal table setting perhaps.

 

Embossed Pitchers from Cox & Cox

 

If your style is more informal, then the embossed pitchers are lovely. Available in grey, clear or blush (their description, not mine) then they’ll work from now all through the summer and beyond. Yes, of course I’m thinking about Pimms already. And why not? Dreaming of summer sunshine keeps me going!

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What do you do with beans on February 3rd?

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Setsubun Oni Masks

 

Well, if you’re Japanese, or in Japan, then the answer is throw them. February 3rd is Setsubun, it’s sort of like a New Year’s Eve, with a ritual to cleanse away the evil of the year, and drive out evil spirits, by throwing beans at them.

I would imagine in the UK the mask is optional, but what the heck, maybe give it a go!

The beans are a roasted soy bean, and you either throw them out the door or at the person wearing the Oni mask, whilst shouting Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi! and slamming the door. Roughly translated it means demons out, luck in.

 

Setsubun Bean Snack Set

 

If you want some appropriate snacks, then the Japan Centre has a Setsubun bean snack set, complete with a Shishimai lion dance costume shaped gift bag, so really giving it an authentic feel. The snacks are crispy coated peanuts with a variety of flavours, from wasabi to mayonnaise.

 

Roasted Soy Bean Rice Crackers

 

And if you don’t want to just throw your roasted soy beans, then they have some great sounding rice crackers with embedded roasted soy beans in them. Perfect healthy snacking.

It’s certainly not a festival I’d heard of before, but it could be a bit of fun on what otherwise is a pretty non descript February day!

Photo of by Kimubert on Flickr.

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Hurray! Kikki K comes to the UK

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Kikki K stores hit the UK

 

MGG and I were very excited to discover Kikki K has come to the UK, as it was one of our favourite discoveries on our trip to Australia. It was also quite an expensive discovery as it is exactly my kind of shop.

Now, it’s not just about fabulous stationery, although they do that amazingly well. But they have some lovely stuff for the home as well. I’d love any of these in my home, and think they could make amazing gifts.

 

Every Day is a Fresh Start with a cup from Kikki K

 

I love a good cuppa, and I like this cup and saucer a lot, mainly because it’s quite a decent size. I love the colour way and the upbeat quote is a good way to start the day too.

 

Svenska Hem Gift Pack from Kikki K

 

If you want to go large, then this gift pack complete with gorgeous little teapot is also beautiful. I think the styling is lovely, really in line with their Swedish design aesthetic. I’d be thrilled to receive this, can’t imagine many people who would object to it.

 

Cute lunch box from Kikki K

 

If you’re doing the homemade lunch thing for January, then feel even better about it by having a lovely new lunchbox. Cute by name, cute by appearance.

 

Recipe organiser from Kikki K

 

Being good at stationery, then they have some lovely recipe organisers. Some of us do still like the old school of writing out recipes, or pasting cuttings in from magazines. If you want to do the retro thing, then something stylish like this to put them in has to be a great thing.

 

Meal planner from Kikki K

Maybe they’re the efficient type, or want to be. In which case this lovely meal planner might be a great gift. We are trying to do this so maybe this would be a good starting point.

So, if you’re in Covent Garden soon, drop by the store, as they are beautiful stores. And if not, the online store could prove to be very tempting too. Hoping they do start expanding around the UK. Although my bank manager might feel differently.

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So, what kind of food year was 2015?

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Seems an age since I wrote about my hopes for 2015 on the food front, when I was hoping that grip of the big four supermarkets on our shopping might continue to loosen. Well, according to reports, that seems to be happening.

 

#Backofchallenge - what food is lurking in your cupboard?

 

January saw me starting the Back of Challenge for unloved food. I have to say, I still have some of the things I took out of the cupboard then, although I haven’t replaced them and the cupboards are still somewhat emptier.

 

Chocolate Macarons from Drop Dead Chocolate - the most beautiful chocolates to gift to a food lover

 

February of course is about love and Valentine’s Day for many. I loved the chocolates from Drop Dead Chocolates, and would also have been very partial to a hamper from The Modern Pantry. To be honest, anything from the Modern Pantry would be great, any time of the year.

 

Beauty in the Juice? Or not.

 

In March I was being cynical about claims made for a fruit juice. I’m probably not finishing the year looking any younger, as I haven’t been drinking it, but then I’m also not siginificantly poorer either.

 

Favourite end to a fabulous trip of great eating in Australia

 

March and April saw MGG and I on our Australian adventures, and there were flat whites on many days. Although there was a reasonable amount of the local wine taken too. And a breakfast to remember at Bill Granger’s.

 

Cooked apple tart

 

By May we were focusing on heading to France, so helping the kids get into French food. I was also discovering that not every recipe book is well tested, and so recipes do fail.

 

Time for iced tea for Tea Jay

 

Praying for warm weather in June, then I was hoping for iced tea as well as hoping to get organised for next year’s World Gin Day. I was also being tempted by the Lakeland sale. Again. Somethings never change.

 

The best birthday cakes ever from my tribe

 

I had my unbirthday in July with some great cakes from the tribe. There was also a great debate about what kit was essential or not in a kitchen. Still think I’m missing some bits.

 

Distill your own gin at 45 Gin School, the best lesson I've been to in years. Perfect gift for a gin lover

 

August of course heralds the start of Bake Off, and I was musing on the 10 things I had learnt from Bake Off. It was also the month I went back to school, and made my own gin for the first time. Amazingly, there’s still some left.

 

My fabulous bread basket at Cafe Einstein

 

There was a gin theme in September too (ok, I know, when isn’t there?) as my favourite Advent calendar launched. And it probably turned up in my round up of 53 hours eating and drinking in Berlin.Though less so in my roundup from Rugby, although that does feature eggs Benedict.

 

Make Your Own Bacon - perfect gift for bacon loving food lover

 

October saw Christmas looming, and I reflected on the six gifts that food lovers hate to get. I also did a roundup of kits to make your own foodstuffs, of which bacon was the most popular. I also showed how to get a cocktail through a letterbox, one of my favourite tricks of the year.

 

That's no moon: Death Star cookie jar, great gift for a food lover with a Star Wars obsession

 

By November, the countdown was really on to the new Star Wars movie coming out, and I summoned up the foodie force for a guide to the best gifts around for Star Wars lovers. There’s also my top ten gifts for food lovers who love to entertain, just in time for the major entertaining season ahead, not to mention gifts for those just starting out on their own cooking journey.

 

The Best Gin Cocktails You've Ever Made. Apparently.

 

December was about getting ready for Christmas, whether the fun, with festive cocktails, or the practical, with funky tea towels for the drying up ahead. Not to mention my usual roundup of options if you had forgotten that Christmas was just around the corner.

Definitely a year of contrasts, and new adventures on several continents, but some great eating with good company, at our own tables and away from home too. Here’s hoping for more of the same in 2016. What are your food memories of 2015? Would love to know.

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Toasting Christmas in with beer, cider, mead and more

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If you’ve got a beer lover to shop for, or a cider lover, or just someone who likes a drink or two, then here’s some choices from me for the Christmas season:

 

Christmas drinking time: beer, cider, porter or mead

Working from left to right:

Perry’s Farm Pressed Medium Cider – ok, complete hands up moment. I bought this purely because I loved the label. What can I say? I have a thing for barn owls. But this is made using small batch techniques and wild yeast, and traditional apple types. And there are two other types with very nice labels in this range.

 

Hatherwood Craft Beer Company Winter Warmer – shows that craft beer has really arrived/gone mainstream when Lidl have worked with good people to create their own. This is a spiced dark beer, apparently has a smooth, dark, chocolate character. I am resisting opening this until Christmas, but at £1.49 a go then maybe I could.

 

Meantime Brewing Company London Porter (somewhat hidden) – this is a very large bottle by comparison, definitely pushing it into the great gift for a beer lover territory. There’s also a similar size bottle of the India Pale Ale, so the two together could be a really fantastic gift.

 

The Beer Kitchen Orange Peel Beer – this is an offshoot within Wadworth’s operations, so again a craft type operation within a much bigger brewer. I like it for being a little different but not just for the sake of it. Will work really well at this time of year, with its orange and citrus notes, not to mention some caramel sweetness. Sounds great to me. If you don’t want a whole case direct from the brewery, then I bought mine from Ocado.

 

Gosnells London Mead – something a bit different, I love the idea of this. Obviously this is an old school drink, but now brought bang up to date by the team at Gosnells. This is crisp and fresh, with the sweetness from the honey. Apparently it goes well with a cheeseboard, would make a nice, light change from port.

 

Aspall Premier Cru Cyder – love the description of this: full dry with a sophisticated and elegant floral aroma that captures the essence of an orchard. Hmm. But I am sure it’s fantastic, and I love their very precise food matching suggestions. Not just roast pork but roast pork, garlic and sage. It does say it goes well with rogan josh which might be a good thing to make with turkey leftovers.

If you’ve got a serious beer lover to buy for, then check out my review of Beer 52, as the offer code is still live so a bit of a bargain as a great gift for Christmas. We really enjoyed the selection they sent us, and it set us up well for a few weeks.

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