The Festive Fat of the Land
by Zoe Perrett - Monday December 3, 2012 2:12 pm
A subjective selection of sublime scran we like to scoff and/or share at Christmas.
Salted caramel is here to stay. And bloody nice it is too. These gold-dusted cubes will make the recipient feel minted for a moment, even if they’re actually more ‘well skint’.
Available from Fortnum & Mason, £16
A nibbly celebration of the spice trade during the heyday of the British Raj, these sweet biscuits’ unusual flavours include cassia, mustard, turmeric and dill- and it works.
Available from East India Company Fine Foods, £12.95
If Christmas celebrations are as they should be, a few Bloody Marys’ll be in order of a morning. These bitters lend smoky, almost meaty heat to the classic hair-of-the-dog remedy.
Available from Selfridges, £6.99
One for the teetotallers, this glass-bottled, jolly-named beverage is cherry cola for those who don’t buy into the company who insist ‘Holidays are comin!’ earlier each year.
Available from Cybercandy, £2.01
A small price to pay for Signora Fausta’s Christmas confection, handmade just outside Napoli. This one’s a shallow, layered lovely- think choc, liqueur sponge and torrone. Winner.
Available from Carluccio's, £11.95
Who doesn’t love a buttery petticoat tail? Ole reliable Walker’s have gussied up their selection of mini shortbreads in a well-travelled suitcase-style tin which can double as a lunchbox.
Available from Selfridges, £9.99
Most pre-blended mixtures are little more than a masala compiled from dusty spice-shelf detritus. Not Green Saffron’s. This delivers lively, vivid flavours to guarantee festive cheer.
Available from Green Saffron, €2.50
A jolly bottle of a decent pre-mix that’ll make the drinker pretty jolly, too- filled with a mulled mixture featuring red wine, orange juice, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.
Available from Lidl, £4.99
A smooth, quality bar of choc that calls to mind the egg-y, nutmeg-y tarts of your schooldays. Cinnamon leaf milk chocolate and red peppercorn dark chocolate are equally magical.
Available from East India Company Fine Foods, £5
The closest thing on the market to the Kentucky moonshine of old, this barely legal babe is aged for less than 30 days, and delivers sour and sweet notes from the corn.
Available from Selfridges, £29.99
Hmm, a pretty promising name. Fortnum’s offering delivers the goods, though, will a moist and crumbly cake chocka with prunes, dates, figs and spiked with Calvados.
Available from Fortnum & Mason, £24.95
These lumpen lovelies are reminiscent of rum truffles from the bakery- but far superior, filled with a tasty paste of hazelnut, almonds, chocolate and rum with a hazelnut heart.
Available from Carluccio's, £9.95
Those meatheads who can’t go an hour without inhaling pork in some form are irritatingly on the increase. Appease one with these sweetly savoury confections.
Available from Cybercandy, £5.74
Good for faux-foragers to pass off as their own edible output. Also good as a twangy, pepper-and-ginger spiked sauce for the goose (or turkey, if you absolutely must...)
Available from Fortnum & Mason, £7.95
We’re eschewing sickly, disappointing mince pies for these Walkers tarts- almost as fun to say as to eat. They’re chewy, fruit and nutty- a glorious sort of pecan/mince-pie mashup. But better.
Available from Walkers, £2.70
Upmarket stocking fillers a shade more stylish than the usual Irish-cream-chocs-and-a-glass combo beloved of discount retailers, the tipsy set includes blackcurrant and peach cremes.
Available from Harrods, £18.95
The sage hue of this gourmet seasoning comes from highly fragrant organic bamboo leaves that infuse their scent. Adds a rather intriguing depth to oriental dishes.
Available from East India Company Fine Foods, £10
Meat pies are the kings of the Boxing Day spread. This rich goose and chestnut rendition is a proppa showstoppa, its burnished pastry case positively swollen-bellied with hunks of moist meat.
Available from Fortnum & Mason, £55
Choc for the globetrotter- postcard-like packaging on bars inspired by cities like Amsterdam- hemp and liquorice,Mumbai- curry, and London- strawberries and cream. Elegant and bloomin' tasty.
Available from Cocomaya, from £7 for 2 bars
Bolivian Loaf Sugar
This moist, molasses-and-liquorice-flavoured block of sugar melts unctuously into sauces, desserts and ever just on your tongue, adding an intense but never sickly flavour that’s pretty versatile.
Available from Sous Chef, £5
Whether you buy the self-penned hyperbole or just want a quality lazy option, this ‘drink that can’t be named’ is a knockout decoction of cognac, Absinthe, whisky and bourbon.
Available from Selfridges, £38.99
Those diminutive low rent chocolate penguins can pop back off to the North Pole- we want a big, fat, beautifully-decorated cookie of a December morning. You’re left with a nice swish tin, too.
Available from Biscuiteers, £45
Eliminate procrastination and the inevitable unloved leftovers with this edible riff on ‘spin the bottle’- a milk chocolate Smile is bound to go down better than a snog from a hairy-chinned auntie.
Available from Thorntons, £15
Forget tradition- much nicer to greet festive well-wishers with this handsome wreath, embellished with nuts and juicy raisins that won’t do you the same mischief chomping holly berries will.
Available from Hotel Chocolat, £25
If you often feel opiates could get you through the festive season, give this floral syrup a whirl. A drop of this seasonally-hued concentrate perks up a glass of fizz- and the drinker.
Available from East India Company Fine Foods, £7.95
You can’t beat a fat fistful of nuts- these almonds have a bonus chocolate layer imbued with a few warming spices. Sneak a pack into a pre-walk coat pocket for covert nibbling.
Available from Lidl, £1.19
Help someone fool their way to 5-a-day and assuage the guilt of a dawn-till-dusk diet of biscuits, chocolate and leftover spuds dunked in mayo. They’ll have enviable oral hygiene, too.
Available from Cybercandy, £3.85
Quite simply extraordinary. Apples form the base of this strange condiment, which fuses the buttery, salty savour of olives with a sweet jamminess to heady effect.
Available from East India Company Fine Foods, £7.95
No-one will complain about going for a walk when a mug of this is in the offing- hot choc hauntingly flavoured with cardamom, rose and saffron. In West Country vernacular, ‘gert lush’.
Available from Fortnum & Mason, £12.95
Premium at that price?! Yes. Lidl’s German gingerbread rounds are spicy, soft and enrobed in bittersweet chocolate. The flavour of a proper Chrimbo, distilled into biscuit form.
Available from Lidl, £1.49
A patriotic riff on mezcal, this gin contains an earthworm from Southern soil that imparts a ‘unique’ flavour to the spirit. Good for ‘worming’ your way into someone’s affections...
Available from Selfridges, £26.99
Pleasantly bitter chocolates that pack a hefty and very liquid-y alcoholic punch- warn the family to eat in one bite or be prepared to shield yourself from a tidal wave of sticky grappa.
Available from Carluccio's, £7.95
A herby condiment in the style of legendary Roman gourmand, Apicius, who met a tragic end after bankrupting himself in his pursuit of fine dining. Let that be a lesson when you're merrily munching.
Available from East India Company Fine Foods, £3.95
For the finest pud, it has to be Fortnums. This beef-suet-ed beauty comes in a china basin and is a right royal combo of vine fruits, almonds, Agen prunes, Cognac and Navy rum.
Available from Fortnum & Mason, from £24.95
Just like that luvverly Niedregger stuff that would slip down so easily did the sky-high price not stick so hard in your craw. Lidl’s budget version is every bit as decent, wish a lush tropical twist
Available from Lidl, 89p
Lightly floral in aroma, clove-like in flavour and a pleasingly shocking shade of cobalt blue, these unusual dried petals pair nicely with goats’ cheese and honey, and add interest to salads.
Available from Sous Chef, £3
Crusty, flaky, bottom fat with butter- all the qualities you don't want in a girlfriend but actively seek in a pie. Richard Bertinet's finest have crumbly rich pastry, low-gloop filling and a pleasing frangipane top.
Available from The Bertinet Kitchen, £14 for 12
The delicious offspring of a collaboration between sugar-meisters Billingtons and fancy tea-time favourite Bea's of Bloomsbury, these fluffy cubes taste of sugar, spice and all things nice.
Available from Bea's of Bloomsbury, £5
Like a great big baby, you might find more pleasure in the box than its contents- but it’s unlikely when these Japanese beauties contain handmade Sake and Green Tea truffles by Nobu’s Regis Cursan
Available from Nobu London, £30 for a box of 18
Cornish brewery St Austell doesn't shy away from a bit of innovation- this intriguing tipple is aged in whisky casks and finished using the Methode Champenoise. It packs a hefty 11.5% punch, too.
Available from the St Austell Brewery, £14.99