A few of my
favourite things …
Food to enjoy this Christmas
There have been quite a few tasty new foods out this year and many old favourites continue to please. Here are some of my suggestions to make the Christmas larder just that little bit more special. Go on, why don’t you treat your family.
My board this year will certainly have some Quickes Oak Smoked Cheddar an intense and strong smoky tang, of course some Cropwell Bishop’s Stilton, a cheese new to me Capricorn Goats Cheese from Somerset, a little round of Sussex Slipcote Garlic and Herb made from sheep’s milk and finally a firm family favourite Collier’s Welsh Cheddar which goes with anything but is best with a rich chutney and crackers. Remember to bring your cheeses up to room temperature an hour before serving it makes all the difference in allowing the flavours to develop.
Field and Flower is the place to go for a Free range Bronze Turkey and extras like pigs in blankets and maybe a joint of venison for Boxing Day if we have room! And don’t forget that they also sell smoked fish as well. Boxes start from £22.
Riverford Organics has a beautiful selection of vegetables and meat. The nationwide operation based in Devon will happily deliver wherever you are, be it Cornwall right up to the north of England. They suit most budgets, the vegetable boxes start at £10.35 and are happy to mix and match depending on your needs. Don’t forget they also have fruit and chocolates and wines, well I could go on. Have a look at their website.
This year I have two suggestions one for everyday port (is there such a thing? Well there should be at Christmas!) and something a little bit special. The first is my everyday choice Fonseca Bin 27 it’s a reserve port with same technique used in late bottled vintages. The extended wood aging enables drinking right away try it with something rich, sweet and fruity such as a gooey chocolate dessert, £8.99. My second choice really is something special, Taylor’s Quinta de Terra Feita 2001. It’s ready to drink now but would improve a little if kept for up to ten years. It’s a sophisticated and concentrated drink with heady aromas of black fruits and spice, very festive and brilliant with blue cheeses (see above). This bottle will require decanting, as there is sediment so do that well ahead and enjoy after lunch at room temperature, £ 22.00. Both are available at Majestic.
Over the course of the year I’ve been looking at the return of bourbon. It’s come a long way from the eighties when it was rock ‘n’ roll’s favourite tipple. It does deserve a revisit. First we started to see the rather good Maker’s Mark appear in super markets aged for eight years to give a fuller flavour and then Jack fought back with a honey flavoured tipple. There are still regulars like Jim Beam but then they started bringing out flavoured and specialist varieties like Black Label and Devil’s Cut. Made from whiskey extracted from the wood of the barrel. My favourite of this year is Kentucky’s Buffalo Trace a great whiskey with vanilla, cinnamon and a spicy complexity. Give it a whirl on Christmas eve.
Mince Pies and other goodies:
Peyton and Byrne are synonymous with taste and quality. Christmas time is no exception. They produce some of the best mince pies, a collection of handmade confectionary such as chocolate dipped honeycomb, mince pie fudge (delicious) and the impossibly cute meringue snowmen wrapped in a red jelly scarf. They can make a hamper up for you or just a few bits and pieces.