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Thursday 15 December 2011

All I Want For Christmas: Food, Glorious Food

What to give the food-lover in your life this Christmas?  Here are some of my favourite discoveries from the past year.

For someone who's a slave to their morning coffee, the Aeropress provides a remarkably consistent espresso experience and is delightfully portable - all you need is a kettle and a mug (and a thermometer if you're really fastidious). You could even stash one in the kitchen at the office - it's quick to clean and faster than nipping out to visit your local barista too. It's currently £24.99 with free shipping.

To accompany it, what about a subscription for a monthly coffee delivery? Many small artisan roasteries offer mail order, such as Union Hand Roasted's 6 month Roastmaster Subscription (currently 25% off, at £54) and you get two different 250g bags of directly-sourced coffee monthly, choose whole bean or ground.  Square Mile's Espresso Subscriptions are available in wholebean only, for a 500g bag per month, and start at £75.

Or perhaps these stacking espresso cups from John Lewis - they're £12 for four.

I'll be honest, I haven't actually cooked anything from the Essential New York Times Cook Book yet, rrp £30.  Instead I've been too busy reading Amanda Hesser's glorious introductions to each and every recipe in here, all of which were taken from the paper's 150 year history of recipe publishing, including their former cook books. She cooked and updated every one of the 1000+ dishes in here - some of them with her twin toddlers in tow.  It's a great read, a slice of food history, and also would be perfect for flattening a Shooter's Sandwich.

For meat lovers, there's the Ginger Pig coobook, which will satisfy any carnivore's cravings and for both veggie main courses and great side dish ideas, I'd recommend Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty. Both are £13.75 on Amazon at the moment.

If you're going to any parties this season and would like to bring something with you, as well as Carrie's quaffing recommendations, you'll go straight to the top of the Nice List if you bring along Heston's Popping Candy Tart, available from Waitrose for £16.99.  They reckon it serves ten but I'd say it will stretch to at least sixteen. Passionfruit puree cuts through the richness of the chocolate and then the base is liberally studded with a Sluttery fave - popping candy!

If chocolate's not your thing (really?!) then I guess you could also just buy them some Home Gourmet popping candy, £2.99, to sprinkle over anything else festive - crackly sparkly mince pies, perhaps? I insist on the popping candy...

If your foodie friend doesn't already own a Microplane grater, then you can rectify that immediately.  They're incredibly sharp and will make short work of all kinds of grating work from parmesan to nutmeg. They come in a variety of grades or coarseness, from £19.95.

Given that they are so effective, it's not unreasonable to wonder how to shave the last of that chocolate while still retaining your fingerprints. 

This nifty little Slider fits over the "Gourmet" range and lets you keep slicing quickly and efficiently until the very end, with no fear of scraped knuckles or any extra little surprises in the salad.  

Over the past few years I've made sure to have a panettone in the house at Christmas as it makes the best toast for Boxing Day breakfast. The Alberti family in Benevento have been making Italian delicacies since 1860.

They've now incorporated the feisty Strega liquer which tastes of wild mint, cinnamon, and juniper and is vividly coloured by saffron, into a panettone filled with a liquer-laced custard, £23.95 or the traditional one as pictured is £19.95.  Their Strega Croccantina are crisply dark chocolate brittle pieces and would be great crushed and scattered over good vanilla ice-cream or melted into hot chocolate.


  1. Mmmm! Sainsbury's do a popping candy chocolate spread, y'know!

  2. I'm all for doing my own making, but that tart looks wonderful. Popping candy is so fun. Fortnum's put it in their bucks fizz truffles. And for that, I love them.

  3. This place does great Coffee Beans but no subscriptions (I think).


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