Enjoy this selection of Foodie Christmas Presents, sampled and chosen by The Taster. If you make an order, please mention our name.
Fabulous tableware by new designers Black+Blum
Original and stylish items: glasses, candle holders, water bottles, cutlery and lots more. The Taster’s fave new designers. The last word in chic. Click on the pic for more. NB LAST ORDERS midnight tonight (Sunday 20th)
For the spirit-lover in your life. This chic, scalloped bottle of French ginger liqueue (Domaine de Canton) is very impressive in reality (we assume the bottle would be quite small, but it enjoys a full-sized, satisfying wine-bottle volume). Cleverly reminiscent of pieces of raw ginger, the bottle itself is an attractive piece, and the contents festively delicious. A good after-dinner liqueur, it adds a spicy seasonal note to cocktails, chocolate or orange puddings, sushi, pork or Thai food. Order from thewhiskyexchange.com (use the search option to find “Domaine de Canton”) £32
Wine Tasting Classes
If you want to give someone An Experience rather than More Stuff, our very own wine columnist, Richard J. Smith, runs wine classes and events across Cheshire. Richard is a delightful chap who will be sure to provide a friendly and amusing experience, along with lots of insider info and top wine tips. Book an event for a friend to attend or, if you suspect they’d rather choose an event themselves, you can give them a gift voucher for £25, £50, £75 or £100 to spend as they prefer. If you’re running out of time (aagh! Christmas countdown! etc) the vouchers can be sent as eVouchers, sent to the recipient immediately upon payment. See all details on wineschoolofcheshire
More experiences – smokehousing in Shropshire, breadmaking across the UK, or Food Adventures in South Wales
Make Sausages and Cider, or learn about smoking and curing, at Pool Cottage Smallholding; learn how to bake bread from basic loaves to Italian and French speciality with the Bread Angels; or gird your loins for a course in anything from wild foraging to Butchery & Beer days with Food Adventure
Give a Foodie Charitable Gift
If you want to give beyond friends and family this Christmas, consider Mary’s Meals. Technically, all the charity provides is lunches for schoolchildren in the developing world – but in reality, this means giving struggling, hungry boys and girls the motivation and energy needed to get to school, get an education and build better futures for themselves. A brilliantly simple idea that is cheap but fantastically effective, with benefits that go far beyond lunchtime
Highly Original Foodie Cookbook
Authors Wendy Trusler and Carol Devine relate the tale of Antarctica’s first cleanup, carried out by 54 volunteers from five countries. In three months, they cleared the detritus of 30 years’ worth of previous expeditions. But while most of the volunteers were clearing rubbish, someone had to do the cooking. As the authors say, ‘The first thing that comes to mind about Antarctica is not likely the food. But if you are going there, it is the second.’ Trusler spent ‘many long, white nights’ devising menus with limited ingredients in a camp kitchen — with some success, if the 42 recipes given are anything to go by. The international nature of the project is evident in dishes from Great Wall [of China] dumplings to fondue, goulash and roast leg of lamb. Along with many original illustrations and photos, the book reproduces Shackleton’s hilarious — but impressive — advertisement for volunteers: ‘Men wanted for hazardous journey . . .’ (you’ll have to buy it yourself to get the punchline.) A handsome and unusual book, of interest to foodies, geographers and historians. £25 from publishers Harper Design 2015
Three of The Taster’s friends are producing Christmas hampers this year. The joy of hampers is that if your family includes one or two large branches, instead of buying each individual a present, you can buy them one large hamper as a Joint Present for All. It’s actually sometimes cheaper than buying individual presents, and you can let them fight it out for the choicer items. Try Cornwall’s Etherington’s Farmshop (excellent value; traditional wicker hamper of Cornish goodies for just £25) and Low Sizergh Barn up in Cumbria (themed Christmas hampers include the Ginger Lovers Hamper; Cumbrian Storecupboard Hamper, Chocolate Lovers Hamper, etc) ranging from £25 to larger hampers at £90. If you order a hamper from Picnic Cornwall, the recipient may get a free copy of The Taster inside it (an excellent addition!); options include the Charcuterie Board Hamper, the Cheese Board Hamper and (of course) the Cream Tea Hamper.
NB have a crack at winning an Etherington’s Farmshop hamper (pictured above) by entering our Readers Survey Prize Draw HERE
Seafood-Lovers Hamper (Yorkshire only)
As above, a hamper makes a good joint gift and The Taster is very pleased to see Ramus Seafood Emporium, a really lovely company devoted to sustainable fish, offering such pleasing hampers, containing not only vouchers for delicious seafood but some very nice ceramics and utensils (oyster clamp, crustacean kit, moules pot) as well. Send a themed hamper to oyster (pictured), lobster or mussel lovers. Sadly it’s Click & Collect only but, if you can get to Ilkley or Harrogate, for the right person these are perfect presents.
Exceptionally Good-Value Handmade Pottery
Handmade, artisan chinaware, pottery & gifts at amazingly cheap prices. These two Continental cups or the handmade bowl below would not look overpriced in a Knightsbridge boutique at £20 each; shop savvy and get them for a mere fiver each at Sun Pottery
For the Self-Sufficiency Enthusiast/Bear Grylls Type
For the self-sufficiency enthusiast: an entire collection of 12 self-sufficiency books, from foraging to cheese-making and bee-keeping, some of which have been featured in The Taster — an amazing bargain for just £9.99 here. Titles include Grow Your Own, Herbs & Spices, Home Brewing and more
Domu produce this and similar gadgets, of interest to all wine-lovers. You pour the wine in the top, let it bubble down, and it really does transform some wines, especially cheaper reds, into something special
Be part of our world. Order a subscription today, let us know if it’s a gift & we’ll put a special message in. Every season your friend will be reminded of your thoughtful gift, as they receive another lovely new issue of The Taster. And remember: this is not just subscribing to any old food & drink mag — this is subscribing to a foodie magazine that is, unusually, NOT sponsored by a giant supermarket, television company or any other huge and faceless corporate entity. For example, you will never read a lovely article about Shopping Local in our magazine, only to be presented with an exhaustive list of the best out-of-town hypermarkets at which to purchase matching wines. A full year’s subs is currently just £10 — total bargain. Click to order
We very much like these made-over vintage plates; see lots more unique sets by alijoedesigns
This yoghurt-maker was a nice surprise in more ways than one. First, it turns out that making a tub of yoghurt is as easy as making as a cup of tea! Second, the result has a fresh, delicate texture, often with a slight bubbliness at the top which reminded The Taster of the yoghurts of his youth, when they were presumably made with fewer additives. Third, the makers claim that the extreme freshness of the live culture makes it better for you, as many more of the microbes are alive than in yoghurts which have been sitting on the shelf for weeks. Certainly, there is a lightness and freshness to this yoghurt we found very appealing, and there is something about making it from scratch yourself which encourages experimentation and variation. Our top tip is to add lemon juice and a sprinkling of black pepper to the strawberry yoghurt – really good!
The yoghurt-maker & six packs of mix is currently on special offer at just £14 (down from £22) from Hansells.
Foodie’s Map Of The World
The Oxford Companion to Food
At £40, this hefty volume is a substantial Christmas present for any serious foodie, gourmand or connoisseur who hasn’t already snapped up a copy. Funny and illuminating in equal measure, the original 1999 volume was an overnight success, winning prizes and accolades worldwide for its author, the late Alan Davidson. It contains over 3000 entries “on every possible food, its history, cultural significance, and culinary usage.” The Taster finds it invaluable.
Tom Jaine recently updated this edition (2014).
Tom has produced numerous cookery books and often writes for The Times, The Guardian and The Sunday Telegraph; and he has edited The Good Food Guide and presented BBC Radio 4’s The Food Programme.
Himalayan cooking slabs, rocks and ground salt
Amazing cookstones, slabs, small ‘rocks’ and ground salts, all made of Himalayan salt. The cooking slabs make really original gifts for foodies, while the bags of ready-to-use ground salt are excellent stocking fillers. Click on the pic for more – NB quote “TASTER25” for a very generous 25% off everything on the Saltan website.