For me, Christmas is about more than just presents and families coming together… It’s about food. No other meal is more sacred than Christmas dinner, that goes without saying, but what I enjoy about Christmas is the seemingly endless buffets and nibbles put out for people to pick at. I also love being lazy on the days after and ordering a takeaway, having half a tin of celebrations for pudding then washing it all down with three gin and tonics… and it’s fine, because it’s Christmas, isn’t it?
This year will be very different for a lot of people. You may not be able to have your dinner in a local pub due to local restrictions, you may not be able to go to your mums for her signature gravy and have to cook your own or you and your other half may find yourself trying to cook on Christmas eve and failing miserably. Whatever your circumstances this year, I’ve found some food solutions from small businesses, luxury brands and nationwide delivery companies that will keep everyone sumptuously satisfied this festive season.
The first stop on this culinary adventure is at Harvey Nichols to pick up what is an essential in many homes this Christmas, the Panettone. While many people make their own and many shops will sell you their version, for me, Harvey Nichols’ Grande Panettone is always a hit. The classic brioche style cake with juicy sultanas and spiced orange peel is a favourite however you choose to enjoy it. Whether it’s with an espresso after the Queen’s speech or toasted with ice cream after the Coronation Street Christmas special. If the grande version is a big large for you, never fear for they also have a mini version, the Pandoro Classico which is just as good and perfectly packaged for the small household.
As I mentioned above, one of my favourite things about Christmas is a good spread of nibbles and things you ‘could just eat’ as my mum would say. For this I would highly recommend a selection of products from artisan makers Melted Inside. Founded from the frustration of not knowing what food and drink makers are around locally and what products are in the food we buy, Melted Inside selects local businesses who create the best quality products and then deliver them nationally.
When on their website you are very much spoiled for choice but I’ll tell you where to start. For your Christmas day nibbles you simply must have the Alps selection platter from Borough Market’s The French Comté, the cured meats consisting of Bresi, Tavaillon (Beef) and Coeur de Jambon and Saucisse sèche de Savoie (Pork) are so tasty you can’t stop at one piece. This is also perfect with Le Bon Grivois, a soft cheese made in a small artisan cheese factory in Haut Doubs. It is a mountain cow’s milk cheese From the Montbeliarde breed only fed with grass and fodder. The taste is so strong and distinct that it goes well on it’s own slathered across a cracker with a handful of grapes and almonds.
Melted Inside also have a superb selection of vegan artisan cheeses, I tried Palace Culture’s Truffled Camembert and honestly you won’t believe how good it is. With a distinctive white truffle taste, they use pure organic cashews and live cultures with Cornish sea salt to make a cheese that’s soft on the inside with a white camembert mold rind on the outside. All the taste of cheese that’s organic and cruelty free!
I also opted for something that would make an ideal small meal for when you feel you’ve over-indulged and just want a few bites of something tasty, Squid Ink Stained King Prawn & Crayfish Ravioli from the very aptly named RaviOllie. Having worked in a Michelin starred restaurant, professional chef Ollie has created a gourmet range of ravioli that they supply to restaurants on a national scale. Mine was a vibrant black pasta filled with a seafood mousse, chives and lemon that were oh-so moorish and easily prepared from frozen in only 4 minutes. The lazy girl’s dream!
Now from the easy to cook at home snack to the slightly more complicated, but absolutely worth it, meal kit from Ceru Restaurants. Made to share, their delicious meal kits come in sustainable packaging (including being wrapped in a beautiful reusable scarf) with easy-to-follow instructions. They can be prepared in under half an hour with perfectly proportioned ingredients, spices and sauces – bringing you less work and more enjoyment in the kitchen.
We went for the Lamb menu meal kit for 2. The kit contains slow roasted lamb shoulder, zucchini and feta fritters with a mint and dill yoghurt, spice roasted potatoes, hummus dip, Greek pita bread and homemade Baklava.
Now as a former chef I find cooking and following instructions rather easy so I can’t really comment on how easy it is, but just trust me when I say, you can make this. If all you can do is chop up some herbs that’s fine, because that’s as technical as it gets!
I have to say, we were absolutely blown away by this. The meal really was restaurant standard and the mix of flavours, textures, spices and the overall combination of food was just so perfect. The package looks small, but trust me it is more than enough for two people (we even had leftovers to argue over the next day!).
Finally I have to mention Mandira’s Kitchen, who I reviewed in a previous article here who also deliver simple meal kits nationwide. The difference with Mandira’s food is that they come frozen so you can keep them until you need them. This is the perfect option for ordering in advance and popping in the freezer so that when your in-laws decide to drop in unexpectedly the day after boxing day you can whip up an authentic Indian feast in a few minutes. This is a great option for New Years Eve as well, when all the takeaways are always so busy. Mandira’s Kitchen meals are so delicious you’d think they were delivered straight from a restaurant instead of the microwave (or meecrowarvay if you’re Nigella Lawson). If you have a few people round why not have a Alu Gobi festive entertaining menu for 6, and impress your guests with crispy samosas, tasty lentil dahls and sumptuous lamb cooked on the bone.
If you’d like to pair these tasty treats with the perfect beverage then you will find a fine selection here.
Now I don’t know about you but my mouth is watering… where’s that tub of Roses?