Who would win my great gift awards for food lovers?


Who would your winner be?


Someone asked me earlier this week who I thought did food gifts really well, doing something a bit different.

Well, it’s like my Mastermind specialist subject. And I could have kept them all day, but didn’t. So, these are my definitely the winners in my book, for when you’re looking for something just a little bit different for a special food lover on your list.

Bluebird Tea Co


Make your own black tea kit from Bluebird Tea Co


I know, I write about these guys a lot, but I love them and what they’re doing, have done since we met on a front lawn of a country house years ago. Their gifting is inventive and imaginative, and their tea is top notch. I think I could find something for everyone from Bluebird, and at every price point. Love them. Buy direct from them, or there’s a large selection on Not On the High Street.


Artisan du Chocolat


Milk Chocolate Salted Caramel Honeycomb


I’ve always had their salted caramels on my wish list (and it’s the one thing that’s always got taken notice of, lucky me). I love that you can do proper, grown up, single estate, high percentage cocoa with them, and you can do things like salted caramel honeycomb. So essentially a posh Crunchie. My idea of heaven. Chocolate for every budget and every taste, but always incredibly tasty and beautiful looking.


Master of Malt


Ginvent 2016 Advent Calendar


I love these guys for alcohol gifts with edge and interest. I loved them when they started out with the sample sets, I think they’ve been brilliant at the advent calendars, never mind just the mind blowing collection of whiskies, gins, liqueurs and other spirits. They do tasting sets, which can help educate and develop your palate. Or just have some good evenings in. Great choices.


The Snaffling Pig Co

Pig N Mix Christmas Gifting

I love businesses with a passion and a focus, and that’s definitely true here. It’s all about the pig, starting with the pork scratchings. The jars look great, and definitely make a great looking, tasty gift. The Pig Night In also includes their own beer, so definitely one to sit back and enjoy. And it’s not too late to get hold of their advent calendar either. Twenty four days of pork scratching gorgeousness.




Craft Gin & Tonic Hamper


Brilliant source for beautifully curated gifts from the best artisan producers around. Supporting a small business supporting other small food and drink businesses has to be a good thing, and they have such lovely selections. Again, something for every budget and kind of taste. It can be drink, it can be store cupboard, it can be fresh food.


So, five great businesses that I reckon could fulfill many of your food and drink gift options for all kinds of people at all kinds of price points. If you could only nominate five places to shop from great food and drink gifts, where would you pick?


Ten fabulous Easter eggs for all kinds of tastes


What do we recommend the Easter bunny should bring?


I may have mentioned before that I love Easter. It’s the combination of chocolate and Springtime, so longer daylight hours in which to enjoy the chocolate make it just perfect, even if it chucks it down with rain all through the Bank Holidays.

So, whilst I can’t do anything about the weather, then here are ten amazing Easter eggs for every kind of chocolate lover.

Melt Dark Chocolate Flower


Melt Dark Chocolate Flower Easter Egg


I love Melt, they’ve been an indulgence of mine on occasion when passing through Selfridges (well, until the Artisan Du Chocolat area opened!) This handmade dark chocolate egg is filled with milk and dark chocolate mini eggs, although is almost too pretty to break into. Almost.


Stroppy teenager egg from Rococo


Stroppy Teenager Egg from Rococo

I have featured this before, but make no apologies for doing so again, just because I think it’s genius. It’s not cutesy, just tasty, and I reckon both of the teenagers in my life would think this was pretty good egg.


Montezuma’s Milk Chocolate Egg with peanut butter mini eggs


Montezuma's Milk Chocolate Egg with Peanut Butter Mini Eggs


Well documented in my love for Montezuma’s, possibly less so for my love of peanut butter. I love all kinds of salty sweet combinations, and so this is ideal. Well presented, Montezuma’s were amongst the first to pioneer more sustainable packging for Easter eggs, without losing track of great tasting chocolate.


Hotel Chocolat White Chocolate Easter Egg

White Chocolate Scrambled Egg Collection from Hotel Chocolat


White chocolate is not everyone’s thing, but it’s theirs, then I like this gift from Hotel Chocolat. Pretty and artistic, with an egg and six delicious pralines alongside, it’s a real white chocolate fest.


Prestat Polka Dot Egg Hazelnut Chocolate Truffle in a Real Eggshell


Prestat Hazelnut Chocolate Easter Egg


For a bit of fun, and something different for the Easter egg hunt, then I love these eggs from Prestat. They really are within a real eggshell, so a bit of magic too, to peel off real egg shell and find delicious chocolate inside. There are lots of great patterns to choose from, so something for everyone.


Demarquette Chocolate Caramel Quail Eggs


Chocolate caramel quail's eggs from Demarquette


Again, for something fun but a little different, I love these little colourful quail’s eggs from Demarquette. Filled with different flavours of caramel like Raspberry and Passion Fruit, these are something for someone who perhaps is not the biggest chocolate lover but has a sweet tooth.


Large Chocolate Egg with Camouflage


Large Camo Egg - great gift for a food lover who is under cover on the chocolate front


This is one is perfect for someone who is not going to appreciate something frilly and pink. It’s also a bit different in that it is egg shaped but not in 3D. Probably easier for sending through the post if you’re not going to be actually see the recipient at Easter.


Dark Chocolate Egg Caramel Filled Humpty Dumpty from Fairy Tale Gourmet


Dark Chocolate Egg Caramel Humpty Dumpty Egg from Fairy Tale Gourmet


I really love Fairy Tale Gourmet, they are so clever and inventive, not to mention possibly just a little bit crazy but I love them for that. This little dinky Humpty Dumpty egg looks amazing, and I am sure tastes incredible too, given how good everything else I’ve tried from them has been.


Dark Chocolate Yorkshire Egg from Bettys


Dark chocolate Yorkshire rose egg from Bettys


Because you can take a girl out of Yorkshire…but you can never stop her love for the white rose, or for Bettys. It’s a beautiful looking piece, very tasteful. As I would expect from Bettys. Also worth looking at if you need to send gifts overseas, rates are reasonable and delivery reliable.


Artisan du Chocolat Kentish Creme de La Creme Egg coop


Artisan du Chocolat Kentish Egg Coop


If you’ve not forgiven Kraft for messing with the Creme Egg recipe, or just think they are too sweet, then try a proper chocolate company’s version. These versions contain fresh layered and infused ganaches: tonka white and passion fruit yolk under a milk shell, cardamon white and orange yolk under a dark shell. Definitely sound more my cup of tea and can guarantee the chocolate these are wrapped in is delicious.


So, ten fabulous eggs to cover all kinds of possible people on your Easter egg shopping list. Unless their favourite is a Smarties one, but hey, it’s Easter…if that’s what they like. I mean, you can never quite account for what the Easter bunny might bring!


What to buy for those with a sweet tooth this Christmas


Christmas gift ideas for those with a sweet tooth


I’ve admitted many times that I have a sweet tooth, whether cake or chocolate, or pretty much anything in between. I definitely consider this one of my specialist subject areas when it comes to gift recommendations. So whether you’re looking for something for them to eat, make or read, then these are some of the best.


Dark chocolate salted caramel honeycomb


Like a posh Crunchie

Ok, we have to admit, MFL and I demolished a box of this recently. It was research, honest. But this was amazing tasting, and you have to admit it looks beautiful. There’s a whole range of these beautiful gift boxes from Artisan du Chocolat, and you’ll be hard picked to choose between them. But I’d not turn down another box of this Dark Salted Caramel Honeycomb.


Sally's Candy Addiction


Inspiration for Making Their Own

Oh my word, where to start with Sally’s Candy Addiction? There wasn’t a page I turned and didn’t want to immediately rush into the kitchen and make. Maybe add some chocolate into their stocking too so they can head straight into the kitchen themselves. It’ll brighten up Christmas Day when the Ferrero Rocher have run out.


Vodka Cocktail Pastilles from Smith & Sinclair


Sneaky tipple in sweet form?

And no, this is not a box of liqueur chocolates! I love these cocktail pastilles from Smith & Sinclair. Warning, these are not for the kids, they do contain proper alcohol. So, if the boss is reading this, no, these are not what’s on my desk. Honest. But heaven knows, there are some days a sneaky vodka cocktail wouldn’t go amiss!


Pale Lemon & Sea Salt Chocolate Skis from Amelia Rope


Fun chocolate but with style

I’ve written several times about how much I love Amelia Rope’s chocolate. There isn’t anything on her site that I don’t think someone would be thrilled to receive. Unless good chocolate for them stops at Dairy Milk. For Christmas this year then I love these chocolate skis, which are pale lemon and sea salt chocolate. My kind of skiing!


Go full on retro with A Quarter Of


Go full on retro in your sweet choice

I love A Quarter Of, they were one of the first people I came across in the whole online retro sweet thing, and I think they do it really well. If Christmas isn’t made for a trip down memory lane, then I don’t know when is. Bring on the Fruit Salads, a Sherbet Fountain and some Love Hearts. Sophistication can be overrated!


Safari Animal Chocolate Lollipop Kit


In case there’s no selection box from Santa

I love this kit from Chocolate At Home, which you could give to an older child, or a big kid, and it could be a great activity for over the Christmas holidays. There are simpler ones, and more chocolate bar based ones, so really something for everyone.


In case you can’t get hold of any of these, then maybe a box of Matchmakers will do. Or you could just get organised now!


My heart belongs to…


My heart belongs to

Well, possibly my chocolate loving heart anyway, and it would be a close run thing between a bar from Amelia Rope and something from Artisan du Chocolat. And if you’re going to have a Valentine’s selection, then this is rather lovely.

I like that it’s a mix of things, delicious flavours and not all chocolate. And I know it’s pink and red but it’s not too twee. To be honest, they had me at the rose scented candied and chocolate coated almonds.

And if that strikes you as too twee or you don’t want to go with the Valentine’s theme, then I don’t know many people (or not people with taste) who would turn down their famous salted caramels. I know I wouldn’t!

Great place to shop though, not just at Valentine’s Day.


Valentine’s Day Chocolate to really make them smile


So, one of the worst nightmares of Valentine’s Day, after plastic red roses or those awful teddies clutching satin hearts or red silk underwear, has to be the last minute, quarter pound box of Roses bought at the garage. Possibly only topped by all four of those awful gifts combined. Given that you still have a little time to get organised, here are a few to replace the box of Roses with:


Amelia Rope Valentine's Day - chocolate with taste at every level


* I love Amelia Rope’s chocolate, both for the fabulous flavour combinations in beautifully smooth chocolate, and also for the design as well. I love what she is doing for Valentine’s Day, where you can choose from either a little additional crystal heart for the front, or a lovely handmade gift tag. Messages written for you, so chances to be anonymous are high. But when you are sending chocolate this good, why not tell? I love the Dark Hazelnut and Sea Salt, but wouldn’t turn any of them down!


William Curley Red Gift Box for Valentine's Day


* William Curley have some lovely looking heart shaped boxes, which is not imaginative but it’s all about the chocolate inside. You could send the couture collection or framboise truffles, or even champagne truffles. All of which are significantly more likely to be well received than any amounts of Roses.


Mini heart salted caramels from Artisan Du Chocolat


* One of my happiest days was being at an event where the team from Artisan du Chocolat came in to do a tasting, and very generous they were too, with a great many delicous favours being nibbled at. But for Valentine’s Day I think there would be many great recipients of these mini heart shaped versions of their original Salted Caramels. Delicious!


Montezuma's Valentine hamper


* I’ve always been a fan of Montezuma’s, ever since their early days, and a hamper from them is a great gift for those who like their chocolate with, well shall we say a little less finesse? Big dollops, big flavours, generous portions. For some, heaven in a hamper!

So, be organised, and step away from the garage quarter pound selections. Be generous, it will repay you!


Chocolates for Valentine’s Day – true love shows true taste


Can guarantee there will be some rubbish chocolate offerings around for Valentine’s Day, and I don’t just mean last minute quarter pound boxes picked up from the garage. In my view, I think all of these would pass muster and get you definite brownie points on the day:


For every occasion that needs chocolate, then Amelia Rope is always the answer if it's for a food lover


* I’ve written about Amelia Rope’s chocolate before, and think that your loved one would find her Purely Pink Duo a very tasty duet, not to mention stylish. One is a fantastic dark chocolate and the other is pale rose, so almost chocolate and flowers combined in one fabulous gift.


Chapel Down Truffles from Artisan du Chocolat - perfect Valentine's Day gift for a food lover


* I am rather fond of Artisan du Chocolat, and I would be very happy to find a box of their Chapel Down Truffles winging my way, as a very British alternative to champagne truffles. If you wanted something a little different then I would go for No 14 Salted Caramels Passion Fruit.


Hand painted chocolate heart from Rococo - perfect Valentine's Day gift for a food lover

* Rococo is one of those companies that just make chocolate look even more desirable, and do things that just make me want to buy a box or bar of everything. If I had to choose, then for Valentine’s Day then I love the hand painted heart. Looks too good to eat. Almost.


Montezuma's Limited Edition Valentine's Bar - perfect gift for a food lover


* Go with the generous option this Valentine’s Day with the 500g big bar from Montezuma’s. This is a limited edition bar, blending milk chocolate with orange and biscotti pieces.


Waitrose Chocolate Hamper - perfect Valentine's Day gift for a food lover


* If you’re looking for a one stop shop for gift shopping with a great chocolate selection, then try John Lewis. Whether or not you want a selection put together from Waitrose, or something from Hotel Chocolat or Fauchon, the selection is good. Up to you whether or not you feel the need to add cuddly teddies and the like to your order. I think most food lovers would rather have the heart shaped ramekins as an alternative.

Of course, you could take the risk on a box of Dairy Milk but why would you when there are so many fantastic alternatives?


Christmas without chocolate?


I don’t think so! Certainly not in our household.

Of course you can do a last minute sweep of the supermarket, but if you’re organised you’ve still got time to get some more interesting choices in. Here’s a few that I would be happy to make space for:


Montezuma's For fabulous chocolate for every kind of food lover


Montezuma’s – I’ve been with them from the start, when we lived near Chichester, and I’m still a big fan. I know you can now pick up the bars in better supermarkets, so for an online order I’d pick things like Dark Peppermint Snowballs, Christmas Drinking Chocolate or the Almond Marzipan Dark Chocolate Stollen. If you’re looking for a gift, but not just chocolate, then try the baking mixes, like the dark chocolate and salted peanut brownie.

Damian Allsop – never tried these, but am very intrigued by them, as they are apparently made with English spring water, giving the ganache a lighter taste. You can go for a fabulous subscription offer (8 deliveries, but not cheap) or try them out with something like the Chef’s Collection. At £18.50, it delivers some incredible sounding flavours like Rhubarb & Rose, Juniper & Lemon and Pear and Anise.


Fabulous chocolate from Artisan du Chocolat - great chocolate gift for a food lover


Artisan du Chocolat – have to mention these as they were on my wish list last year, but also they were incredibly generous with their chocolate tasting at the recent Bite’n’Write event I went to. From the tasting, I would highly recommend the espresso chocolate and masala chai chocolate bars, beautiful taste and gorgeous packaging. If you want to support British food and drink, then go for the Chapeldown Truffles, as an alternative to champagne. If you’re shopping for other stuff too, then you’ll find a good selection at Selfridges too.

Paul A. Young – for this one, you’ve got to get away from the screen and out to one of those things, you know, a shop. A real shop. But my word it would be worth it. I’ve a soft spot for Paul after his great demo at Harvest earlier in the year, and just know I could do some serious shopping if I made it into one of the stores. I’d have to have a go at the Port & Stilton truffles!


Fabulous chocolate from Amelia Rope - great gift for a food lover with a love of great chocolate


Amelia Rope – great looking and great tasting chocolate, I particularly like the chocolate bundles. The dark citrus and spice duo sounds like a sophisticated version of a Terry’s chocolate orange. I would never turn down any of Amelia’s bars, definite favourites here.


Duffy's chocolate - great chocolate gift for every kind of food lover


Red Star Chocolate – shameful that I didn’t know about this one as it’s a local company, but Paul A Young talked about it in his demo. All the manufacturing processes happen in house, here in the UK, then turned into single origin bars from around the world, under the Duffy name. One for true connoisseurs.

Chocolate seems to have had a real renaissance here in the UK, and so it is worth seeking out something a little different, something a little less mass produced. Make your Christmas chocolate choices as special as the chocolate itself.


Valentine’s chocolates with taste


How to do Valentine's chocolates with taste so that any food lover will fall for your perfect gift

I’m not a huge fan of Valentine’s Day, bit over commercial being the understatement. And I do rather loathe “themed” gifts. But I do love chocolate. So here’s my thoughts on who’s doing what well for the day:


One of my favourite chocolate companies, I’d be quite happy to give or receive the Love Bar with the Violet & Rose bar. Great chocolate, and great packaging, perfect for slipping in a love note or two!


Rococo Chocolates

Marylebone High Street is like food lovers nirvana, and no trip would be complete without popping into Rococo for one or two delicious morsels. For Valentine’s Day I would find it hard to choose: hand-painted chocolate heart, Hot Lips chilli truffles, Venus Nipples, violet creams…the list is endless. For something a little unusual though I would try the Popping Champagne Truffles, which apparently gently explode in the mouth. Enough said.



I try not to buy Prestat just because the boxes are so beautiful, so thankfully the chocolate inside is pretty darn tasty too. The Jewel Box is pretty, but I think I would rather have a tub of the Prunes in Chocolate. Or maybe that’s not a very romantic choice, but just think how healthy it is!



Again, more good packaging, and tasty chocolate. I rather like the giant personalised chocolate hearts that they do, and you can also find some dairy free options here as well.



Into the territory of true artisan production, I would be happy with most things that can be ordered from here. If you pushed me, then I’d really recommend the Salted Caramel Valentine Hearts. Dark chocolate, if you’re ordering for me, please.


William Curley

Again, fantastic choices to be made. If you wanted to choose something non hearts and flowers, then I would try the chocolate fruit and nut thins or the almond thins. I’d also be very happy to receive a tub of their hot chocolate, which would cheer up any dreary day.


Artisan du Chocolat

Another favourite (and yes, Santa did take note) and some great choices. This is probably one of the few places where I’d pick a Valentine’s specific gift, given that it’s been done with such wit and style. The Declaration of Romantic Feelings gift is fantastic, great chocolates, and a way to convey your unspoken feelings for your loved one. They may be too busy with chocolate to respond!


If you’re doing more than one gift, and want to add some other shopping to your basket, then John Lewis stock Hotel Chocolat, Chocolate on Chocolate, Ambassadors of London and Charbonnel et Walker; Selfridges have a list as long as your arm including Artisan du Chocolat, Chocolate by Trish, Damian Allsop and Pierre Marcolini; and Waitrose would be a good place to be stopping off on your way home if you’ve forgotten!

Great chocolate photo by Damaged Cupcake on Flickr.


Selfridges available anytime, anywhere

Selfridges, now everywhere

I love Selfridges, could spend hours in there, and eat my way through a great many foodstuffs. So I’m thrilled to find that, finally, their website has gone transactional. Welcome to the 21st century. But the good news is that it gives a whole crop of interesting food possibilities, either to stock up your own cupboard or treat the foodie in your life with.

Having a quick look around the site, there are interesting sounding things from Easy Tasty Magic. Need to bling your dinner? Have a look at the Food Bling Mixed Metals Box. Up for some mischief? Try the White Mischief Rub. Hoping there is some substance behind these, not just gimmickry, but they look good and would raise a smile.

If you want some fabulous Easter treats, or for any other time of the year, then there is a small but select range from Artisan du Chocolat available online, as well as Godiva. Should you be craving a bit of Americana, then there’s a good selection of American “goodies”, from Marshmallow Fluff to Lucky Charms. To wash it down, there’s tea from Tea Palace and Artisan du Chocolat’s hot chocolate.

For something stronger, there’s of course a good selection of champagne, wine and spirits. They even offer a case discount with 12 bottles. It’s almost like Tesco. But with nicer bags.

So, if you’re feeling a bit flush, or got someone difficult to buy a gift for, it’s worth bookmarking the site and heading back from time to time to see what they’ve got that’s new. I’ll just be trying to keep away from the fragrance pages, as all the Tom Ford Private Collection fragrances are available online. There’s a bottle of Tobacco Vanille calling my name!

Great shot of the Birmingham store by ell brown over on Flickr.

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Choice chocolate for fabulous foodies this Valentine’s Day


Chocolate has had a reputation as an aphrodisiac all the way back to at least Montezuma, if not further, so it seems only appropriate that there is a lot of the stuff being given at Valentine’s Day. For those that a half pound box from Tesco is going to leave you very much out in the cold, here are some romantic and yet incredibly tasty choices.

  • I’ve written about Montezuma’s many times, and their chocolate tends to be somewhere in the house! If you need a good introduction, then order the Box of Love for your loved one, and hope they share. Rather keen on the sound of the Sweet Harmony Giant Truffle.

  • For a step up in terms of sophistication of presentation, and possibly taste, then the Chocolate Trading Co is a great source for chocolate by Michel Cluizel, one of the great chocolatiers. I love this Je t’aime Gift Box, which is definitely quality but not quantity, but they look fabulous and will no doubt be delicious.

  • Artisan du Chocolat have so many wonderful flavours to choose from, that it’s very hard to do so! Going to go with something a little bit different, and suggest you order their Love Potion N9. A cup of this hot chocolate could be incredibly bewitching, and perfect for if Valentine’s Day turns chilly. The weather that is, rather than the atmosphere.

  • Lips & Nipples

    Not new, but a saucy box of Rococo’s Venus Nipples & Lips will always induce a smile on Valentine’s Day, and they tend not to stick around for long! Maybe add a few bars of their delicious chocolate as well. I particularly love the Earl Grey one.

  • I know nothing about Curious Chocolate, other than the lovely people at Pedlars think it’s good enough for them to list. If I was going to try it, then I would buy a box of Caramel Sea Salt Chocolates. Perfect for foodies who love those amazing mixes of salty and sweet.

    If you leave it too late to order online, then certainly Waitrose have a great selection of good chocolate brands, and Hotel Chocolat have a growing number of standalone stores.  That may even be open on a Sunday. Just don’t leave it to the last minute. Don’t buy the reduced Christmas stock. And don’t give an Easter Egg instead!

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