November in review – all about the Christmas prep

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An alternative to the caterpillar cake

 

Another month gone, and we’re getting so close to Christmas now. After last month’s obsession with unusual foodstuffs like the Gummi Bear, this month has swung into full on gift searching, but at a more general level. And then the usual array of odd searches that cause me amazement, bewilderment and the odd giggle or two.

So, the top 5 things everyone had on their mind this month were as follows:

1. Foodie gifts and presents – bit obvious with the title of the blog, but a big switch, which suggests everyone is looking for ideas for the foodies in their lives. Over the month my ideas have included where to buy a whole pig, gifts for the tea and coffee lovers, gifts on a budget and what to serve if David Tennant pops round for dinner. Always best to be prepared. And if anyone wants to know, David coming to dinner could be the best gift you could send this foodie!

2. Cupcakes – you weren’t so much making your own as looking for two fabulous suppliers, Bedazzled Cupcakes for if you’re up here in the East Midlands, and The Kent Cupcakery for those in Kent. I would think. Great choices, and I would be getting a move on to get my Christmas order in quick with both, or your local provider. Would make a fabulous alternative to mince pies, or to a Christmas cake. For the adults, have a look at what Sally at The Kent Cupcakery is doing with Limoncello cupcakes! Definitely not one for the kiddies!

3. Hampers – these were definitely beginning to creep up the presents chart, all ready for the festive season. I wrote a piece on hampers back in October, and there are some specific posts on hampers from M&S, Not On the High Street and Funky Hampers. A number of you were looking at hampers you could put together yourself, and I’ll be posting some ideas around this shortly.

4. Caterpillar Cake Tins – wow, this really is the cake of the moment!  Don’t get me wrong, I love a caterpillar cake as much as the next mum, but this month I will be attempting a stable with three horses heads, thanks to MGG and her flicking through of Debbie Brown’s 50 Easy Party Cakes. Photos and tales from the kitchen to follow before much longer. The cake tin is a great route though to a very quick and easy cake, so to be recommended for working parents everywhere who want to turn out a great homemade cake.

5. Alcohol free drinks – some of you are getting ready for Christmas, and providing interesting options for those who don’t, or can’t, drink. I’ve written a few times about how much I like the cordials from Belvoir Fruit Farms, and I will certainly be stocking up on Spiced Winter Berries cordial this weekend. I’ll also be testing my resolve with the Bottlegreen limited edition sparkling presses, which are very pretty, not to mention very tasty.

And for entertainment value, these are my choice searches of the month:

1. Lambrini gifts – stop asking me, I still loathe all of them. Please don’t send me one.

2. Turkey twizzlers – please, I’ve told you before, not on my watch!

3. Campbells condensed soup vol au vent filler – ah, retro food lives on for another month!

4. Asda Vin du Soleil – really, once in this lifetime was enough!

5. Comedy photo aprons – just picture your face on Christmas morning if this one is coming your way!

Looking forward to seeing what comes out top of the pops on the foodie present front come Christmas time. Here’s hoping it’s both tasty, and tasteful for all our sakes!

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Would you buy a hamper?

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Fabulous chocolate hampers from Chocolate Trading Co

 

It’s getting to that time of year when I get inundated with emails about hampers, and I often wonder who buys them. There’s the big corporate buyers, and I would think that a good hamper would be well received by many people. Even if you didn’t get the whole hamper, everyone on a team could get a share. Which you couldn’t say about the linen bedsheets I got given one year by a supplier, but that’s a whole different story.

I think there are the hampers that supplement your Christmas eating, or stock up your cupboards for January. You see these quite often with people like Park, or Webb Ivory. I have to say that browsing the Park website I was horrified at the Kids Treat frozen food hamper. Put it this way, I don’t think they’d get Jamie Oliver to endorse it. But you could put something like this together yourself, and I can picture my mum doing this for my grandparents. You can do stuff someone loves, or something they might have been wanting to try, or any theme you can care to choose.

And then there’s the stuff that’s just a great foodie indulgence, and there’s just so much variety around now, of every theme and price tag. There are so many choices, and I’m not going to list the obvious ones (if you’ve got the money for Harrods, you don’t need to be reading this) but here’s some thoughts from me on where to go and what I’d be looking at:

Chocolate Trading Co – some serious hampers for the serious chocolate lover. You can create your own, or there are some good selections already there including dark chocolate and organic chocolate. Or, if it’s only the chocolate that needs to be seriously good, then you could try the Fun & Funky hamper.

FunkyHampers.com – kind of does what it says on the tin! I would say this is not so much for the foodie, but a gift for someone difficult to choose for! Not just for Christmas, as they do great new home and new baby hampers. They are quite chocolate based but are good quality choc and nice accessories, not tat.

Ethical Superstore – a good stop for green foodies, the hampers here cover fair trade, organic and eco-friendly options. I like the Taste Of options, which include Italian, Indian and African versions. For the party animals though, I might be tempted to choose the Beer’n’Nuts Party Pack!

The Fish Society – if I had to fill my freezer up, then I’d choose to do it with fish, and The Fish Society have some great options. There are everyday versions, but if it’s for Christmas than have a look at the luxury version, which includes turbot and Dover sole, or the smoked fish version with smoked tuna as well as the more usual smoked salmon.

London Fine Foods Group – this is real foodie’s territory! I would say this was ideal hunting ground for fabulous stuff to make up a hamper with a difference for a real gourmet. I also really love the Cheese Towers, perfect for a cheese lover. Mind you, I always wanted to send a whole Iberian Ham on the bone, just to see their faces as they tried to guess what it was!

Pong – this is a great place for cheese lovers and experimenters. Again, pick your own or choose from gift boxes such as the Ultimate Pong Box or the Chef’s Selection. Not a long lasting gift, but very tasty whilst it lasts!

Needless to say I would think all the high street and grocers will offer versions of hampers in the run up to Christmas, but these are just a few to allow you to find something a little bit different for your gift choices this year. And I think the answer these days is yes, I possibly would buy a hamper. Just not one that involved turkey twizzlers.

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