Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Christmas Gifts for Food Lovers 2013

Tea towels at Thornback & Peel

As usual, most of my suggestions for Christmas gifts re modestly priced with one exception for anyone wanting to push the boat out. Many can be bought on-line but, living in London myself, I've given information for where you can buy directly in the capital.  I hope you find this list inspirational however much you want to spend:

Cotton Tea Towels from Thornback & Peel.  These 60% linen/40% cotton towels are British designed and made.  These deliciously quirky and humorous designs by Julia Thornback and Della Peel will brighten your day.  £12.00-12.95 each

Preserves from England Preserves.  Selection is highly seasonal and, from their Bermondsey HQ, priced around £4-£4.50 per jar or £10 for 3.  Right now I'd recommend the Swan's Egg Pear & Aniseed Butter.  If you can shop at their Bermondsey base, they also have a lovely Paul Nash design cotton tea towel at £12.00 each.

Nyeri Gichatha-ini Kenyan Coffee Beans from the Gikanda Farmers Society at Monmouth Coffee.  Delicious redcurrant and plum flavours with grapefruit acidity.  Price £3.60 per 100g.

A bottle of Bermondsey London Dry Gin from Jensen Gin (73cl, 43% proof). An original London gin, priced around £25.

Original Beans Chocolate 4-Bar Gift Library.  Filled chocolates have their place but, for me, nothing beats the pure taste of a good bar of chocolate.  Last year I recommended Marou chocolate bars and I'm really pleased to see this Vietnamese chocolate has gained in popularity.  Marou is still on my shopping list, but this year I find myself again returning to Original Beans rare cacaos from sustainable farming.  Price £16.95 (280g) from Natoora

Appleby's Cheshire Cheese.  At Neal's Yard Dairy right now this is tasting so perfect I'm recommending this one cheese rather than a selection this year.  It's an unpasteurised cow's milk cheese with a moist, crumbly texture and a savoury, minerally flavour with a cool lactic tang.   Prices vary depending on weight but less than £30 kg.

Wynad Black Peppercorns.  Prized as the world's best these highly fragrant single estate peppercorns are grown completely free of artificial fertilisers, ripened on the vine and hand-harvested.  You can buy them from my favourite spice merchant Spice Mountain on-line or at Borough Market at £4.50 for 75g.

Tiffin Box from Divertimenti.  A 3-compartment stainless steel tiffin, or dabbas, lunch box set.  Lovely to look at and practical.  Price £18.95.

Ulcigrai Panettone.  The Ulcigrai family panettone from Trieste is still unbeatable for me.  Available at Leila's Shop in Shoreditch and also sold at Monmouth Coffee's Covent Garden and Borough Market shops.  Priced at £17 it is far from the most expensive around but I believe it is the best.

Stemless Riedel varietal wine glasses from John Lewis.  I like these for their practicality on the dinner table.  Price £20-25 depending on size for a box of 2.

A bottle of natural wine from Gergovie Wines.  Take Raef Hodgson's advice but perhaps a sparkler for Christmas morning such as Domaine Les Hautes Terres Josephine, Cremant de Limoux priced around £19.

Duralex Lys Stacking Bowls. These chip resistant tempered glass bowls are attractive and incredibly durable.  Available in 6's at Leila's Shop or individually at Heals in sizes 9cm/14cm/26cm priced at £2/£3/£8.

Jesus Salami from The Ham & Cheese Company on-line or from their maturing rooms in Bermondsey on 14, 21 & 23 December (normally open every Saturday)  Price around  £25.

My luxury suggestion this year is a traditional Japanese Chazutsu Tea Caddy from the Kaikado company of Kyoto, the oldest maker in the world.  In materials of brass, tin or copper, these exquisite containers have been made in Japan by the Yagi family for generations.  Normally made to order, Margaret Howell on Wigmore Street, London W1 have a small number in stock.  Over time the caddies take on beautiful patinas from regular handling.  Priced from £110 up to £235 for a boxwood-handled version.

My final suggestion is to buy and plant a native tree.  Cost negligible, pleasure rating enormous.