Christmas Gifts for Food Lovers:
There are so many guides out there with recommendations of what to buy for a food lover. Are they perhaps a little misplaced? Maybe – although the error, I think is not recognising that there’s no such thing as ‘perfect taste’. I believe taste is something personal and have no expectation that what I love will be appreciated in the same way by other people. Of course you can always go the whole hog and buy someone a wonderful hamper, like the John Lewis one I received to test in November. But if your budget doesn’t stretch that far, there are plenty of other gifts for food lovers, not always entirely obvious!
So, this is my ‘personal’ taste guide to things I’d be happy to find under the tree this year. My ideal gift is something unusual, quirky and perhaps just a little bit extravagant. Something I wouldn’t buy for myself normally and certainly something I’d be unlikely to find on the supermarket shelf when I do my weekly shop.
It’s not all about chocolate – but it wouldn’t be a good Christmas list without chocolate. There are plenty of chocolate subscription clubs out there and plenty of places that produce creative, beautiful boxes. I’m a fan of plenty of them, from Green & Blacks through to Lindt, from the delicacy of Paul.A.Young through to the opulence of Charbonnel and Walker. But, the stand-out company for me THIS year is Cocoa Runners. Why? Because they offer the chance to taste passion and individuality. They focus on bean to bar producers – maybe not all the chocolate is to my taste but it’s an exploration and a learning process that fascinates me in a similar way to learning about wines at the winery or vineyard.
Cheese of course, is another gift that is often sent to food lovers. Again there are some excellent suppliers. And although I know a lot of great Fromageries in London, I’m going to recommend that most British of places Paxton and Whitfield. Why? Well, 200 years of selling cheeses, a royal warrant and a beautiful, historic shop in Jermyn Street are all good points. But, the real reason is that the cheese is excellent and the staff in the shop well informed.
If you want to send something cheesily different different, well I’d recommend this quirky little cheese making kit. I’m still waiting to try mine out because I didn’t have a jam thermometer when it arrived. I’m really excited at the concept of being able to make my own soft cheeses though, mostly because I gained a real appreciation of how different ‘fresh’ cheese tastes from my travels in Puglia.
Finally Caviar. I was brought up eating lumpfish roe. You’ll find it in some supermarkets and I’d still recommend it to add a luxurious touch to salmon canapes for example. But, for a real treat, try some amur beluga caviar. I had a small sample to test and can genuinely say it was a revelation. We ate it straight from the tin using my mother of pearl salt spoon, because metal spoons can taint the caviar. Accompanied by some chilled Grey Goose vodka it made a great amuse bouche. If you’d like to send someone a caviar gift you can order online. And, apart from being luxurious, caviar is also very low in calorie.
Disclaimer – I’ve been sent a number of items to review this year. Of the items I’ve already tested, these are the ones I believe would make great gifts for food lovers!
Caviar from Caviar Classic of London
Cheese from Paxton and Whitfield
Cheesemaking Kit from Cream Chargers
Chocolate from Cocoa Runners