Christmas is now 5 days away – and if you’ve been super organised you’re all set! However, many online retailers now don’t guarantee delivery by Christmas unless you upgrade to next-day delivery. If you don’t want to face the high street, or pay over the odds for delivery (which may still fail – the number of stories I’ve heard!), or if you’re reading this on Christmas Eve itself, you still have options for Christmas gifts for the foodies in your life.
foie gras (this year I’m doing this spiced recipe which goes well with toasted slices of gingerbread, as well as doing my staple fig and port version – recipe to come),
and possibly… nougat (I’ve heard it is a tricky thing to make, so we’ll see if it makes it in to the hamper!).
The other alternative is to buy a voucher – the bonus here is that these can frequently be printed immediately so you can get these right up to the last minute. This also means that the recipient can not only choose their preferred things, but can generally take advantage of the January sales, so making your money go further! Some ideas especially for foodies include:
A wine tasting experience – Vinopolis in London was a really lovely afternoon out when my husband and I went a couple of years ago.
A hand written voucher promising a trip to their favourite food shop (examples of some of my favourite places include Liberty’s and Selfridges Food Halls, ChoccyWoccyDooDah and Lakeland) and a guarantee of a certain amount of spending money.
A Graze snack subscription – imagine getting your snacks sent directly to your workplace so that you can nibble while you type!
The Lindt Milk Calendar looked interesting – but I prefer dark chocolate if at all possible, so the entirely milk chocolate selection didn’t quite tempt me enough. The Lindt Dark Calendar tempted me a lot until I saw the price! It is cheaper on the Lindt website, but you then have to add nearly £4 shipping and having to be in for the postal delivery (as opposed to being able to pick a slot with online shopping).
I very much like the idea (next year) of getting a reusable advent calendar and filling it myself with Dark Lindor Truffles or Dark Ferrero Rocher (I am still in mourning that these don’t come in their own box anymore, and you have to get the milk and white ones too).
One of the most useful tools around the kitchen is an apron – I’m sure I don’t need to explain why! However, in recent years the oil cloth version, my preferred type, has apparently become really unpopular as it has become nearly impossible to find. Every single one I see in shops is the basic fabric type which I don’t like at all.
The oil cloth apron is better (in my opinion) than the basic fabric type for three main reasons:
It protects your clothes more – splashes from the hob/food processor/hand blender/sink don’t go through an oil cloth apron, whereas a strong splash will go through a fabric one and end up on your clothes underneath.
It is far easier to clean – take a wet cloth and wipe it down. It doesn’t need to go in the wash and it doesn’t stain (unless you have an old one with cracks where the fabric is unprotected – those cracks will stain).
It doesn’t need ironing as it never goes through the wash!
The only real downside to them are that they do age – the oil cloth finish will wear thin anywhere where you habitually crease it (so don’t sit at the table in it) and the creases do eventually turn into cracks. However, they probably last longer than fabric ones in terms of staining. I love to cook with tomatoes and turmeric (not necessarily at the same time), the two worst staining offenders of all time. So this is is a major consideration for me – it might not bother you if you tend not to cook with ingredients that stain.
In recent years, I’ve only found them in two places – either in tourist shops (with the requisite novelty patterns) or online. One great place which I’ve repeatedly ordered from is www.justwipe.co.uk. They offer a bundle of 10 for £50 or you can choose your preferred pattern for £9.99 each – with a range of patterns, including plain and seasonal patterns as well as patterns resembling ones from famous designers such as Orla Keily and Cath Kidston, there should be something you like. Every few years I buy the bundle of 10, pick my favourite from the random selection they send to replace one of my worn ones (I have 3 on the go at a time – so there is one for every person who might be cooking at one time), and distribute the rest as Christmas gifts to people I know who like them – at £5 per apron, that’s a real bargain gift!
The Guardian has put together a very good list of gifts for foodies which you can read about here. Things which have now crept into my wish list include Heston Blumenthal’s new book Historic Heston (Amazon.co.uk link); the Divertimenti Truffle Slicer and Marble Pastry Board (links are to Divertimenti’s own website).
I was given some truffles by a French friend a few weeks ago (who finds them around his house – lucky him!), and had the most amazing scrambled eggs of my life, followed the next day by the best bread and butter of my life. I used a coarse grater with one of those attachments for not grating your own nails/fingers off, and found it rather good for slicing it rather finely, but found that the pieces were perhaps a little small to really get the visual impact of finely sliced truffles. Presentation has never been top of my list of priorities, but I’m beginning to gain an appreciation of why it is worth the hassle.
I’ve also got a pressure cooker on my wish list at the moment after a colleague at work told me all about how she uses hers to make gorgeous “fast” slow cooked food. I haven’t picked one out yet as I’m still doing my research, and am going to be waiting for the late December/early January sales to see what’s what.
Buying presents for the foodie in your life can be a bit hit or miss as gadgets may be duplicates (if they’re like me and buy every gadget for the kitchen they ever hear about), or not to their taste. One such example is Civet Coffee (also known as Kopi Luwak) – I was given some last year and found it bitter/sour tasting. While those of you who like bitter/sour tasting coffee may enjoy it, I far prefer a rich and warm style of coffee (Columbian beans, Italian Roast – that sort of thing) so this was a massive fail. In fact, going back round to The Guardian’s website again, they have a great opinion piece on it which I highly recommend reading if you are interested. However, I have crossed Civet Coffee off my food bucket list so that’s at least one positive out of it!
If you’re a foodie yourself, and have a large list of people to give presents to, you may be looking for new recipes to try out – I’ve found a good list here from the BBC Good Food Website which will hopefully give you some inspiration.
Paper and Salt attempts to recreate and reinterpret dishes that iconic authors discuss in their letters, diaries and fiction. Part food and recipe blog, part historical discussion, part literary fangirl-ing.