Last Updated on December 18, 2021
Christmas comes early with Hawksmoor and Creation Theatre
My Christmas tree is up, the baubles twinkling brightly, and my menu for the big day is almost complete. Hence, it is time to settle into some seriously cheerful Christmas spirit. For many, Christmas parties are now in doubt so there is no better time to order in a limited-edition box of Christmas cheer with bells on. The famously wonderful Hawksmoor restaurant supplies a fabulous home meal-kit, a three-course feast with cocktail and wine which forms part of an immersive experience of watching a streamed performance of A Christmas Carol by award-winning Creation Theatre.
I must admit to feeling some apprehension about quite how I was going to cook a three-course lunch while at the same time being able to watch the action on my laptop. I need not have worried as Hawksmoor provide a set of handy videos which help any nervous home cook to perfect a steak. The rest of the meal simply requires a bit of heating and plating.
A Christmas Carol is surely one of the most ubiquitous shows performed during the festive season and we reviewed it recently (link). Along with panto, it has an enduring appeal, and its story of redemption never fails to bring tears to my eyes no matter how often I have seen this classic tale. Creation Theatre uses a partially animated format to bring the story alive and it is divided into five staves as in the original by Charles Dickens. This creates a series of natural breaks during which the audience is instructed to open one of five tiny white, numbered boxes. I won’t spoil the surprises by describing the contents but suffice to say that I was delighted by each one and some enabled us to participate by reading out parts of the story. All great fun. Find me a person who does not delight in opening a sealed box especially as Christmas approaches.
The breaks also provided time to get on with the cooking and the audience is instructed to prep the starter – cue the pause button while the smoked salmon and cream cheese are laid out. I admit to having done a bit of pre-prep so that my starter was all ready by the time we sat down to watch the first stage of the story. I felt increasingly relaxed, sipping a delicious sour cherry Negroni which arrived ready mixed by Hawksmoor in the sort of dinky cork stopped bottle one might find in Alice in Wonderland.
The meal itself began with a terrific rendition of that Christmas classic – smoked salmon and cream cheese. I serve it every Christmas as a canape on a thin slice of rye, but Hawksmoor has stepped up the game by presenting theirs on malty, moist soda bread. The smoked salmon from Brown & Forrest smokery was thickly cut and well cured. The cream cheese was herby and had lots of chives, a best friend to the rich fish.
A few minutes later I got up to get my frying pan really hot – earlier I had watched the video of Hawksmoor’s top chef, Matt Brown, demonstrating how home chefs can achieve the perfect steak – and then I knew I had 12 minutes in which to warm the peppercorn sauce and sides. It pays to read through all the cooking instructions before the curtain rises because the triple cooked chips require 20 minutes in a hot oven. As with any Christmas menu, timing is important.
My guests were seriously impressed by the tenderness of the fillet steak. I was too especially as I rarely eat meat and so it is a part of my cooking repertoire which is undeveloped. The video told me everything I needed to know. Dry-aged British beef of this quality needs nothing doing to it bar a seasoning of Maldon salt which was provided in the box. Alongside we enjoyed triple cooked chips which arrived parboiled and oven-ready with nuggets of beef dripping in which to complete their final roasting. These were hands down the best chips ever to emerge from my kitchen – that is the joy of home meal kits, they really do bring restaurant quality food to your table. The peppercorn sauce was gentle and creamy, the Portobello mushrooms were anointed with garlicky, herb butter. The creamed spinach was fresh, colourful and judiciously spiced. A bottle of Real Rioja Agrado, 2017 was the perfect accompaniment to this festive meal which felt like a real spoil for us on a gloomy Sunday afternoon.
By the time I was instructed to put on the dessert we were all fit to bursting. Nevertheless, we found a bit of room for spoons full of sticky toffee pudding of utter delectable loveliness. Yes, this is a pudding for those with a sweet tooth – I am generally not one of those but even I loved it – and it was as sweet as it was light. Served with Rodda’s clotted cream it brought the meal to a rousing finale.
A Christmas Carol at Home is a wonderful addition to the festive season which I would happily recommend. It would make a great Christmas present too if you order a kit for the week between Christmas and New Year. While the meal kit is designed for two people, it is so generously portioned that three of us ate heartily. The food is fabulous and the film is a delightfully told tale which viewers can watch in sections at their leisure, thus removing any stress.
Scrooge utters the memorable words ‘Christmas? Humbug!’ at the beginning of the story. I challenge any misanthrope to resist a seat at the table of A Christmas Carol at home.
A Christmas Carol fillet box (£125 food only, £145 with alcohol), is available for delivery until 30 December and can be ordered from the Hawksmoor website – link below
Looking for something different? Check our roundup of tried and tested meal-kits and recipe boxes