The Friday Five – great cookbooks for great dads


To finish off this year’s round up of great gifts for Dads, then these are 5 cookbooks that I think Dads might relate to and want to get into kitchen and start getting stuck into.


Bake It Yourself by Richard Burr - great cookbook gift for a food lover with a baking habit


BIY: Bake It Yourself by Richard Burr

Richard is one of my favourite non-winners of Bake Off, who could forget him and his pencil stuck behind his ear? Not to mention some incredible bakes. A good mix of sweet and savoury bakes, for every level of baker. Pencil not provided.


Mad Hungry: Feeding Men and Boys - a great cookbook gift for a food lover with a big appetite

Mad Hungry: Feeding Men and Boys by Lucinda Scala Quinn

I’ve cooked from this one, and it’s both great for feeding men, but also I would say could be the sort of robust dishes guys like. It’s not a dumbed down cookbook for men, it’s about great flavours but without necessarily being over-complicated, a recognition of the way most of us, men and women, cook for our families. I like this one a lot.


Tom's Table: My Favourite Everyday Recipes - great cookbook gift for a food lover with a taste for robust food

Tom’s Table: My Favourite Everyday Recipes by Tom Kerridge

I really like Tom Kerridge, doesn’t matter how many Michelin stars he has, he is still refreshingly down to earth and remembers how we cook in our own non-professional kitchens. What I like is that he brings in appropriate shortcuts from the pro kitchen to help take your home cooking up a level, without it getting over-complicated or stressful. Because it’s all about the taste, and everyone sitting down to some great grub.


Low and Slow: How to Cook Meat - a great cookbook gift for a food lover with a lot of patience


Low and Slow: How to Cook Meat by Neil Rankin

Couple of my favourite things going on here. I love slow cooked meat, and think it’s an appealing subject for a book for meat lovers. This is about taking something and treating it lovingly for a long period of time and watching it transform. Slow cooked brisket is one of my favourite things ever. And also it’s good to see a new book from Neil Rankin, one of those chefs who flies a bit under the radar.


The World of the Happy Pear - a great cookbook gift for a food lover


The World of the Happy Pear by David and Stephen Flynn

Just to balance out the meat from the previous title, then this is the latest offering from the Flynn brothers. Owners of the legendary Happy Pear Cafe in Ireland, they continue on their quest to show that vegetarian food is endlessly varied, packed full of flavour and simple to prepare. Well, they’re looking well on it and the recipes sound delicious too. I’m up for a grilled halloumi burger anytime.

So, five varied titles for Dads, hopefully not playing too much into male cooking clichés. If the dad in your life has a favourite cookbook then I’d love to hear about it, please leave me a note in the comments.





Getting the good stuff in for great dads


Father’s Day is rapidly approaching (19th, if you’ve not got it marked already in your diary), and so it’s time to start thinking about great gifts for great food and drink loving dads. Here’s a few ideas to get you started:


Pork pie with Dad's name all over it - great gift for a food lover

Here’s a personalised gift for dad, that you should definitely allow him to have to himself. A pork pie of his own, with his name on it. I bet that’ll be a first for him.


Mexican Chilli Selection from Sous Chef - great gift for heat loving food lover

I really love Sous Chef, they have such great selections for every kind of food lover, and every level of expertise in the kitchen. This Mexican chilli kit gives them chillies they might not come across in the supermarket, such as cascabel or piquin, and some tasting notes as well. Certainly could take their chilli con carne up a level or two.


Flavourly Craft Beer Gift - great gift for a beer loving food lover

If dad is fond of his beer, and is into exploring smaller, niche breweries, then maybe take a look at Flavourly, who are doing a box of 10 beers for £24 with free delivery. The selection does vary, so it’ll be a nice surprise as to what’s in there and he may discover some new favourites.


Jose Pizarro Chefs Selection from Craved - great gift for a food lover who's serious about their cooking

I’ve written before about how much I love what Craved are doing, and some of their current gift selections are carrying on that great work. I love this selection, which has been curated by chef José Pizarro, so a perfect gift for a dad who is serious about his cooking. I like that things are a little unusual, but not too niche, and you can see ways you could get several things to work together.


Cider XL Man Box - great gift for a food lover who likes it large

Now, this one is definitely a bit more sit back, open and enjoy, with the Cider XL Man Box! As well as cider, then there’s great cured meats from Cotswold Curer, pork scratchings and some chutney. You’ll need to get them some cheese and crackers to go with those. We’ll ignore all the macho posturing copy that goes with this gift (feels a bit old school, very much in Yorkie territory, yawn) and think that it’s just a great collection of good stuff.


BBQ Around the World Subscription

Here’s a gift that keeps going for a bit beyond Father’s Day, with a 3 month BBQ around the world subscription from the Spicery. Every month a new box will turn up, covering everything from the flavours of the American deep south, through to the Caribbean and then onto Vietnam. Hopefully the next 3 months will finally give us some sunny days, but at least Dad would have some sunny flavours to hand.


Game Changer by Craved

If you want to avoid the naffness of the message behind the Man Box, then I would suggest the Game Changer from Craved would be a great alternative. Greater variety of drink, in that you have a beer, a lager, and the fabulous Gosnell’s mead (I really like this one), still get great cured meats and a chutney, but you don’t have to go looking for the cheese and crackers. It’s a little more expensive than the Man Box, but in my view worth every penny.

So, a few to get you going. Check back soon when I’ll do gifts for dads on kitchen kit and cookware that might make great gifts too.


What might dads want for Father’s Day?


My crystal ball gazing skills might be a bit off, so I thought it would be good to look at what was most requested last year for dads, and see if it might still hold good.


The Foraging Fox Beetroot Ketchup - great gift for a food lover

Beetroot relish or chutney – the reasons for eating beetroot seem to increase each day, so getting it into our meals in any way has to be a good thing. There were big thumbs up for the Jamie Oliver one, though it seems to have gone off the market now. If you want to move this on a bit, then try the Beetroot Ketchup from The Foraging Fox


Raw chocolate making kit - great gift for a food lover with a taste for great chocolate


Chocolate making kits -this is an interesting one, as I’ve only ever really written about great chocolate experiences and workshops, which might tick the box for dad as well. Still, if it’s a kit you want, then I quite like the sound of a raw chocolate making kit from Indigo Herbs, very back to the roots of it all but with a tasty output.


Dad's Herb Garden - great gift for a food lover with green fingers


Herb kits – I love my herbs in the garden, and I think they are such an easy thing to have to hand. There are  some great looking herb growing kits around, like this personalised planter with seeds, or just choose some great seeds for him if he’s already got an established area. If you want some that are perhaps a little bit more unusual then take a look at the great selection at Seeds of Italy.

Mexican cooking gifts – still seems to be incredibly popular (and how many years is it now since fajitas topped the chart for our preferred food, apparently?). I really like MexGrocer for choice and variety, covering everything for dad from beginner to expert. Tequila optional.

Pork pie – I know I write about pork pies quite often, but then we are still near Melton Mowbray so it still feels a must have. And we are still slight traitors to the area as my favourite pork pie is still from Brays Cottage. Check with the website for last ordering date, I know dad won’t be disappointed. Even better, book him in on one of Sarah’s courses.


Pizza oven - great gift for a food lover with a taste for cooking outdoors


A pizza oven – outdoor ovens seems to go from strength to strength, and thankfully seem to have come down in price. Though I did post a video once on how to build your own, which you might just have time to do between now and Father’s Day. Or I found a £99 version, no building involved.

Be interesting to see how these things fare this year, can definitely see that beetroot is still up there. Looking forward to some surprises as always. What are you looking for for your dad this year?


No grumbles with Yumbles for Father’s Day


You’ve got a week till Father’s Day, are you organised yet? If not, then get yourself sorted and maybe try heading over to Yumbles. This is a new site to me, but I think it’s rather good. It’s, with no disrespect to either, like a Not On the High Street for food producers, and with very attractive, easy to navigate design as well.


Brownie Club


Maybe you’d like to give Dad something that keeps on giving through the year, so check out something like the Monthly Brownie Club. You could buy just one delivery, or three or six. It depends how sweet your dad’s tooth is. Or maybe a chocolate cake in a tin? Certainly different.


Artisan Kitchen Hamper


If dad likes his toast and jam then I’d consider the hamper from the Artisan Kitchen, as their flavours are really lovely. The Apricot & Vanilla White Chocolate Jam might convert even me to the apricot jam cause. (UPDATE: sadly no longer available)

There are some great suppliers on here, so definitely worth a look. Or if  you want to give Dad something really different then check out the post I wrote about investing in a product launch, will definitely be something to talk out.


A wee dram or two for Dad


Samples by the Dram - one of my favourite services


Every so often I come across, or someone contacts me about, a gift that really makes me go “fab, why did no one think of that before?” And the Drinks by the Dram service from Master of Malt is one of those, and was happy to try their service.

This is so simple, and yet works on so many levels:

  • Top up gifting: you’ve bought Dad other stuff but he’s a real whisky lover, but you don’t want to splash out on a full bottle.
  • Travel gifting: hey, these are 3cl and will definitely go in your bag through security, meaning Dad can take away a drop of the good stuff without getting carried away in Duty Free.
  • Fantasy gifting: if Dad is a real connoisseur maybe there’s a whisky he’s always wanted to try. Dreams of winning the lottery and blowing some of it on whisky. He longingly looks at listings for the Glenfarclas Family Cask 1952, but not its price tag at just under £1532. Not to mention that it’s incredibly rare. So you can’t buy him the bottle, but for £80 you can give him the drinking experience of his life, a real one off. Of course it’s not cheap, but will be a moment for Dad to treasure. Come on, its less than Take That tickets!
  • Themed gifting: treat him to samples across a particular theme, whether that’s Indian Whisky, Lowland Whisky or just Grain Whisky, or across a particular distillery, or a particular year.


I liked the packaging, BFF thought it looked like samples. And she didn’t mean of whisky. I think it’s all about the contents, it was well packaged and it would have an element of surprise for Dad as well. If you can’t decide on your own selection, then there are some pre-selected choices to go for as well. Not just limited to whisky, and we had a Gosling’s Golden Bermuda Rum to try, one of over 20 to choose from.

Definitely worth a look in my book. My thanks to Master of Malt for the samples we were sent.


Best of British for British foodie dads

Best of British for the best of dads

After yesterday’s global food tour of gifts for dads, then today it’s time to offer some thoughts on great choices from great British producers. Reduce the food miles of your gift, but not the flavour! Here’s some ideas for you:

* For dads who like smoky flavours, then try The Artisan Smokehouse of Suffolk. For something a little different, I would  buy dad the smoked British beef fillet, and some Smoked Cropwell Bishop Stilton, for an easy lunchtime with great taste. This is a small, family run concern based on the Suffolk coast, with most of the smoking taking place over maple, which gives it a really distinctive, rich flavour. Just remember to give these to Dad, or order extra for yourself, as very moreish!

* Head cross country to The Cheese Shed for selections of West Country artisan cheese. You can choose small whole cheeses to go in the Small Wonders box, or have cheese by region, from Devon, Cornwall, Dorset or Somerset. Some of these cheeses you’d probably have to be in the county to taste normally, but if this is a part of the world with great family memories, then this could make a memorable, not to mention tasty, gift. Mines the Devon collection please!

* To Yorkshire, and the botanic delights that are the fruit vinegars from Womersley Foods. I’d seen lots of people raving about these on Twitter, and bore a bottle of the Blackcurrant and Rosemary Vinegar back from Real Food Festival, eager to get it open. It’s not lasted very long! I’ve found that it’s very versatile, and I shall be expanding my store cupboard repertoire. Attractive, useful and tasty perfection, ideal if Dad likes to experiment in the kitchen.

* If Dad is a real carnivore, then treat him to a box of something special. I am particularly fond of the beef from Northfield Farm, particularly delicious and hung for a proper amount of time. It would certainly be a bit of a surprise for dad, although possibly not the easiest thing to wrap! I’m also very partial to their sausages, particularly the pork and leek.

* Proving that you don’t need to head off to Italy or Greece for a great cold pressed oil, try buying Dad some rapeseed oil. I have not been a big lover to date, but I tried the Chiltern Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil recently, and was really impressed. The smoked version is delicious, as was the lemon, so proving that you can get really fabulous oil produced here. Mix it up, or keep it plain, sure that Dad will be converted!

* Spice things up for Dad without leaving the UK, with a selection of chilli products from South Devon Chilli Farm. Making most of the Devon climate, the farm produces a huge range of chilli products from sauces to pickles and chocolate, not to mention dried chillis and seeds for growing his own. If he likes the really hot stuff, then maybe treat him to the chilli handling kit, may save sore eyes at a later date!

These are just a few, as there are so many great British producers to choose from. If you’ve got time, then I’d encourage you to get out to your local farmer’s market and see if you can’t pick up a great gift there first, but these all represent great sources if time does not permit.

Best of British photo by simononly on Flickr.


Global tour for foodie dads


Dreams of other places


The calendar doesn’t lie: Father’s Day is two weeks today. Don’t panic, loads of time! Will write a few posts for different options for different kinds of dads, and today is about dads who love food from beyond our national borders. Food passports at the ready!

* For Spanish food lovers, then I’ve still not found anything to top a hamper from The Spanish Food Company. The contents sum up the best flavours in a flash, and we discovered a few new ones too. Hampers start at £30, or you could make up your own selection. You could do him olives and nuts to go with a beer, go all out meaty with their cooking chorizo (my personal favourite) and some Ibercio ham, or show that there’s more to Spanish cheese than Manchego with a selection of more unusual things. I don’t think he’d be disappointed whatever you choose.

* If he’s a bit more “Vive La France” then try The Market Quarter. Based at Borough Market, but now available online so you can avoid the crowds, their gift selection starts at just £12. And £12 buys Dad almost a perfect night in, with a bottle of wine and a tin of rilettes.  If I was buying for Dr T, I know he’d be very happy to find the post lady delivering any of their saucisson sec, not to mention some good tapenade. Just needs some sunshine to really bring the taste to life!

* Scandinavian food is having a bit of a moment, so if he’s a trendy kind of food lover (or just spent too long at Ikea) then try something from Totally Swedish, like Dragsters or Salmiakki. No, no idea either but heck, it’s more exciting than socks! There’s also a lot of herring options, if that’s his thing. Moving round the region, you could also try Danish Food Direct, perhaps ordering him in a bottle or two of Viking Blod!

* If Dad likes it hot and flavoursome, then I really like Spices of India for everything you’d need for great Indian food except the meat. I’d also look at some of the interesting kit as well, like a Roti maker or the Tandoori pot. The Chilli Selection should give plenty of heat options but there are also things like Chai Lovers Indian Tea gift. If he’s seriously into curry, then I would just stock up his spices for him, and there is the most amazing selection here. And if he likes to experiment, then check out the Burmese Curry section.

* Heading further East, if he’s fascinated by the food of Japan, then I would try Mount Fuji or the Japan Centre for supplies for snacks, flavourings and great kitchen kit, from useful to kitsch. I mean, what dad would not want a star and heart boiled egg mould? A few boxes of Pocky, a shot or two of Shochu, and he’s all set for an evening in front of some classic Manga!

The world has shrunk so far, not just down to air travel, but so many of these great online food stores bringing the world to your postbox. So if that’s his thing, then make the most of some food exploration, even if sending him to those countries is out of the financial question.

Up next, finding some great British produce for home loving dads!

Photo by malias on Flickr.


What are the foodie dads getting this Father’s Day?


Celebrating our food lover dads


Nearly time for Father’s Day, which is always one of those events that catches even me by surprise. It needs something else just after it, like the way Mother’s Day works with Easter. And events involving chocolate always have my attention!

So, if I were shopping for a Father’s Day gift for a dad with a strong interest in food and drink, what would I be thinking of? Here’s a few thoughts:

For cheese loving Dads – If there’s not a decent cheese shop nearby, then I would try one of the gift boxes from Pong. The Best Dad in the World gift box includes Oxford Isis, Bath Blue, Swaledale Old Peculiar and Banon, plus great cheese biscuits from Fudges. Neal’s Yard are also offering a great selection, not biased by the inclusion of Colston Bassett Stilton. And for something even more artisanal, then try Sole Bay Cheese, who have about 70 different cheeses on offer at any one time. You can buy a selection, or a voucher to let Dad make his own choice. (UPDATE: sadly Sole Bay Cheese is no longer trading)

For meat loving Dads – how about sending Dad on a course to brush up his knife skills? The School of Artisan Food have a one day course dedicated to making carving the Sunday roast a breeze. And he gets a roast lunch thrown in too! Big Barn gives you access to all kinds of small producers around the UK, like Heritage Prime and Farrowby Farm. I’ve never tried Donald Russell but plenty of people rave about their beef in particular. And if he’s big into steaks for the BBQ, then how about a branding iron?

For bread loving Dads – surely the bread loving dad already has a Panasonic breadmaker? I would send him to a class at The Bertinet Kitchen, because this is fabulous for moving on your breadmaking skills and is also in the beautiful city of Bath. There are versions from one day to five, and would cover everything from regular bread through to French and Italian varieties. Or if it’s out of budget (3 days is £500, plus your other costs) then you could buy him Richard’s books instead, Crust or Dough.

For gadget loving Dads – so much choice. I love Divertimenti and Heals, but you can’t beat John Lewis for a backup. Or Lakeland. Or, if they don’t have to be too serious, then try Firebox. There’s the Garlic Zoom, the AeroPress Coffee Maker and BeepEgg, the singing egg timer, to name just three.

For sweet toothed Dads – so many possibilities again! I love Chocolate Trading Co for variety and bringing great houses within easy reach, many launching stuff with them first. I’m giving serious thought to the Best of the Best Dark Chocolate Bar gift for someone. Melt is very trendy, and I particularly like the Chef’s Chocolates, and have a certain weakness for the Olive Caramel Bonbon. And there would be William Curley’s sea salt caramel bar and pretty much anything from Artisan du Chocolat. But you know I think even the foodiest of Dads would enjoy a nostalgic moment or two with a box from A Quarter Of. Parma violets, sherbet fountains, cherry lips, gobstoppers…everyone deserves at least one day of sugary nostalgia!

So, what kind of foodie dad is yours? Love to know what you’re buying him. I know men have a reputation of being difficult to buy for, but I think food lovers are easy to buy for, as there are so many possibilities. I haven’t even got started on the travel possibilities! But if you want some food for thought, drop him a ticket to Paris and then check out Meeting  the French (read this entry on He Eats to get an idea on what he could get up to).

Photo by Eash on Flickr.