Wednesday, 2 December 2015

10 Christmas gifts for foodies- Part 2: food gifts and hampers

At Christmas it's a moment to spend a bit more on food and if you can afford it, eat better quality food, it is after all a midwinter feast. Food might seem mundane as a gift but the list below will make people change their minds. I particularly like gifts that are subscriptions throughout the year, it's a little treat. One of the perks of being a food writer is that you are often sent food. The doorbell rings and the postman is there with a box of something, it can really make your day. Buying a gift like a subscription is a way of feeling a bit like a food writer! All of the gifts below I would describe as 'experiential'.

Balsamic vinegar from La Tradizione

Balsamic vinegar

You've never tasted proper Balsamic vinegar. Really I'm telling you that you haven't. This is the real stuff, La Tradizione from Modena, a cooperative of craftsmen: dark, thick, syrupy, caramel, fruity, figgy, aged. It only comes in two shapes of bottle. Genuine Balsamic vinegar is expensive, and this is a complete Christmas treat. Too good for salads, drizzle it on cheese, into avocado, over strawberries.  You can buy the bottles from La Tradizione from £12 to £155.  One I tried (on the left) was aged for 12 years and costs £46 which I know is a lot of money but I can assure you it is worth it and would make a very special present.


I wrote earlier this year about this wonderful ingredient, compressed dried fish roe which is wonderful sliced thinly or grated onto pasta or crostini. Order from Delicatezza. £9.99 plus delivery
chocolate selection


Cocoa Runners do a monthly chocolate club where you are sent a selection of high quality chocolates from around the world, costing around £200 a year.


Last year I ordered fragrant Meyer lemons (6 for about $30) from Lemon Ladies Orchard who run a citrus farm in California. I made a Meyer lemon meringue pie from them and made a little video of it in my half-hearted bid to be the foodie Zoella. This failed miserably mainly due to frequent on-camera swearing from myself and behind-camera criticism by my darling daughter who was 'directing'. You never know, I may edit and upload it some day. Still Meyer lemons are ace and virtually impossible to get here in the UK. 
From a site I've just discovered Citrus and Life, you can order fresh yuzus (around 78 euros) and other exotic citrus.
You can order British grown wasabi , different from horse radish, (from £12.50), the plants and fresh yuzus (about £4 each) is The Wasabi Company.
You could also give a present of a kaffir lime tree £25 (you can use the leaves for Thai curries) or a yuzu tree £40 from Plants4presents. 

cafedirect coffee


I'll be frank, I'm not a coffee person even after my visit to Portland where I tried 'cupping', but even I was impressed by the Caf├ędirect coffee discovery plan, where you pay £7.95 a month and get sent a different coffee every month. So far I've tried the Colombian and the Rwandan coffee; I particularly like the latter which is smooth and not too acidic. I'm drinking coffee again as a result. (A cup of coffee a day is good for your health, fights against obesity and diabetes).
Pomora olive oil

Olive oil

I recently went to visit Pomora olive oil in Sicily. You can adopt or foster one of their olive trees for £29 a quarter. Choose from two farmers, Carmelo in Sicily or Antonio. You can even visit the tree.

POuring tea


Now I am a tea person. My mother drinks a cup of tea every 20 minutes and I'm rapidly turning into her. As my palette refines I'm less satisfied with ordinary tea and, like wine, once you've had good tea, it's hard to go back to the factory-floor-shavings tea bags. My favourite teas are by the following people:
The pioneering tea entrepeneur Rare Tea Lady (my blog post on her here) does a monthly tea subscripton which costs £77 a year. Every other month you are sent four different teas.
This year at my historic afternoon tea at Dennis Severs House, I discovered Newby Teas and was extremely impressed by their perfumed black teas such as Earl Grey, Lapsang Suchong and Darjeeling. Even their herbal teas and green teas are good (so often they taste dusty or bitter). Gift sets here.
You could do worse than purchase MsMarmitelover's Secret Tea Party book as a gift. It's gorgeous and I wrote it!


I've worked with a new company over the last couple of years and am consistently impressed with the selection of wines, carefully picked by MW Nick Adams and reasonably priced. Favourite include an Italian Primitivo, Paul Cluver's Gewurtraminer from South Africa and well-made Chardonnay from Argentina. They do a wine club costing  from £96 to £198 per year,  if you want to work your way through the list. Eastenders stars and other TV celebrities buy from them.


I love hampers and would like to be buried in something wicker with leather straps and a champagne glass, sort of a death picnic.  I also like the fact that you can learn about new foods with a hamper, there is such choice, items known and unknown.

Celia Brooks doing the Borough Market food tour

A food tour

A London food tour with chef and cookbook author Celia Brooks (above) is a fantastic experience. You can choose from Borough Market (she is the only official tour), Covent Garden, Portobello or Marylebone. Prices are from £60 to £75, there are plenty of tastings and all specialist diets can be catered for. I went on one of Borough Market in September and even though I'm a Londoner, I learnt new things and tried new foods.


  1. Only you could come up with a line like this; 'I love hampers and would like to be buried in something wicker with leather straps and a champagne glass, sort of a death picnic.'. Brilliant. I fully agree!

    1. If you died in the summer I suppose. I think in the winter they could just bung me on a bonfire and warm their hands on it while baking potatoes in the embers...

  2. Tesco sells Meyer lemons in season and they're pretty good quality. I've been trying to source Buddha's hands with little success.

    1. People have mentioned that before but I've literally never seen them.

  3. Yes to the Tesco/Meyer lemon thing! Our Tesco Extra here in Aylesbury stocks them in January, wrapped in tissue paper...about £1.25 each. Being a foodie wilderness hereabouts, no one else ever buys them so I snap them up! Gorgeous things...

    1. I'm glad to hear these mythological Tesco Meyer lemons actually exist. I'm going to have to put a call out on Twitter in January to find out if there are any Tescos near me that sell them.


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