Christmas 2016: Five foodie Christmas giftsChristmas 2016Food & Drinks
The usual Christmas woes of what on earth does one buy for a person that has everything don’t really apply to foodies. If anything, the problem is that there’s almost too much choice: every year there’s a handful of new tools, new restaurant openings, wine vintages supposedly coming into their peak and a rare ingredient that’s setting Instagram alight. It can all be a bit overwhelming, but our guide for foodie gifts is the perfect way to spot the gadgets from the gimmicks.
Fine Teas – £5-£10
In the midst of London’s coffee revolution, it’s all too easy to forget that the capital is also the perfect place to buy a wide range of teas. Postcard Teas is pretty as a picture, and offers a fine range of rare teas, perfect for any lover of great rock oolongs or the perfect Darjeeling. Mariage Freres, in the Selfridges lower floor, is better for those that prefer western style black tea, with some exceptional flavoured blends. Their Chai, Marco Polo and Montagne D’or are all particularly noteworthy.
Bacon Curing Kit – £20-£30
The art of making charcuterie at home is not actually as difficult as you might think. All you really need is some patience, an old fridge and plenty of time. Still, it can be pretty intimidating to get into, which is why kits like this are such a good idea. They serve as the perfect stepping stone into the world of preservation. Everything you need is there, and it’s practically foolproof. You’ll be curing your own pancetta before you know it.
Gin Blending Kit – £28-£60
Gin is one of the more complicated spirits. The core of the drink largely stays the same, but the botanicals that give each blend its flavour offer some serious variance. Coriander seeds, lavender, cardamom, orange and angelica root are just some of the ingredients that will commonly make up a gin’s flavour profile. With this selection of six bottled distillates (Juniper, Licorice, Coriander, Angelica, “Triple Citrus” and Cardamom) enthusiasts can make their own blend, playing around with quantities and mixes until they achieve the desired drink.
Tasting Menu at Dabbous – £75-£90
The real challenge for any restaurant is standing the test of the time. When Dabbous opened in 2012, it was one of the hottest tickets in town, fawned over by the press and definitely one of the capital’s more intriguing dining experiences. Fast forward four years and it’s still going just as strong, and the food is as exciting as ever. The seven course tasting menu offers some of the best of Ollie Dabbous’s dishes, and is priced at a competitive £75.
Coravin One – £199.99
Piercing the cork with a thin needle, the Coravin is the stuff of wine lovers’ fantasies. You can use it to pour a single glass from a bottle fitted with the device, then it will use its supply of inert argon gas to effectively reseal the bottle so long as the Coravin remains in place, preventing oxidation and spoilage. The Coravin has been around for a while, but this year’s launch of the Coravin One marks the arrival of a sleek and affordable option, designed for those that want to enjoy the benefits of this remarkable system with less of the thrills.
Sage by Heston Blumenthal, Barista Express – £500
The Sage range by Heston now numbers four different machines, ranging from a “basic” £300 model to one at a stunning £1,600. The luxury model, the Oracle, is basically a barista you sit on your countertop. It tamps the coffee, gets milk to the perfect texture, and generally holds your hand every step of the way. For those of us that aren’t willing to splash out a small fortune, the Barista Express offers the best of both worlds, including all the essentials (a steam wand, a grinder and easy control of variables) perfected to the highest standards, with less of the frills. With a bit of practice, you’ll be making perfect espressos at home, though we must warn you, once you start delving into the world of artisan coffee, a store-bought cappuccino will never taste more than adequate.