We pick five of our favourites for the foodies in your life…
Back to School
Cookery classes are a great present for the amateur chef, and with numerous cookery schools popping up around the country, there’s bound to be somewhere fairly close by offering courses or one-off specialist classes – butchery skills, a fish masterclass, or sushi, pastry, pasta or bread-making perhaps. Bristolians might try Bordeaux Quay or 102 Cookery School, while those in Cornwall have Rick Stein’s Seafood School in Padstow. Londoners could contact Leiths, and up north, there’s Cheshire’s vegetarian cook school, Cordon Vert. Further up, you’ll find Edinburgh’s acclaimed Cook School by Martin Wishart, offering sessions in speciality, regional and seasonal cookery.
For the Budding Blumenthal
I know your mother probably told you not to play with your food – but Heston’s done pretty well out of it. With the Cuisine R-Evolution molecular gastronomy kit by Molecule-R (£52.95 on Amazon), you can go all ‘mad scientist’ and combine cookery, chemistry and art in your kitchen. You might emerge with balsamic pearls, beetroot caviar or even basil spaghetti. This kit includes tools, additives and a handy DVD.
NotOnTheHighStreet.com is lots of fun to browse – there’s always something unusual to get that person who has everything. This quirky print is actually a gastronomic map made up of Britain’s culinary riches and is available for £25 – the perfect gift for an aspiring foodie know-it-all. But be warned: you could be letting yourself in for a whole lot of ‘did you know?’ this and ‘did you know?’ that over Christmas dinner.
Beyond the Bottle
Rather than going for the standard wine-related present for oenophile in your life, you could push the boat out with a wine-tasting course, or even a vineyard tour. Well, wine not? Ho ho ho… London Wine Academy does a good course, as do plenty of other spots around the UK.
For a Real Fun Guy…
Oh dear. This DIY mushroom-growing kit is a funny little novelty gift, and one that kids should enjoy. They’ll get to harvest their very own crop after just ten days – 1 ½ lbs of gourmet pearl oyster mushrooms no less, to contribute to mum’s dinner pot. Two crops are guaranteed, although you might squeeze three out of the box. Just pop the box on your kitchen window sill and spray its contents twice a day with the spray-mister included.
A Boozy Little Christmas
Walking into the Harvey Nichols food and drink section is my favourite part of my Christmas shopping process. I can spend an age in there, just gazing at all the labels, and the tipples are top dollar. Below we have the deliciously herbaceous Berkeley Square gin, boasting notes of juniper, angelica, lavender and kaffir lime. It’s distilled via the bouquet garni process, where botanicals are wrapped in muslin and infused into the spirit. The purest water is also used; filtered through ancient Chester pebble beds. Second, we have the Canadian quadruple-distilled Crystal Head, filtered seven times; three of which through crystals known as Herkimer Diamonds. Finally, Finnish Loimu, a Scandinavian special, based on a mulled wine recipe passed down through generations. Sicilian wine, hand-picked loganberries and mixed festive spices including cinnamon and clove.
It does all sound a bit Lord of the Rings, but these beverages make superb gifts none the less.