Monday, 19 November 2012

Christmas Food and Drink Guide...

I hope you have all been enjoying my Christmas gift guides :). You'll see that I did one for females and one for males, so I hope there were plenty of ideas for you all! I have decided to do a Christmas food and drink guide because there are a few items out there that I'd love to share with you all, products I've spotted myself, products I've bought myself and some that I've received as samples and think they are worth sharing. Some are even great to buy as gifts! After all, food and drink is a big part of Christmas and celebrations, so I hope there is something in here that takes your fancy and tickles your taste buds :).

First I'd like to start with the Christmas food that Tesco have to offer this year. Now, of course they have the usual basics for Christmas dinner and other Christmas occasion dinners for example turkey, beef, ham, vegetables, potatoes, Christmas pudding etc...but the items I thought that were worth sharing further with you are the items they have for Christmas parties. They have some lovely food items, that come in packs and would look lovely amongst a buffet or a small get together with food. Another thing about these items are that the prices are really inexpensive, so you don't even have to have a large budget. Here are some of my favourites:

From left to right: Spanish Potato Selection 425g £3. 12 Mexican Mini Tortillas £3. Finest British Cheeseboard £15. Pictures courtesy of Tesco.

From left to right: Hot Cheddar and Cider Dip 150g £4. 26 Piece Mexican Selection Pack £3. Fresh Cream and Strawberry Compote Gateaux 735g £5. Pictures courtesy of Tesco.

So, the above are some of my favourites from their Christmas collection, but they have chilled party foods, chilled desserts, speciality meats, pates and cheeses, meat, fish and poultry, frozen foods, bakery items and sweet temptations that will mean those impulse buys. See what I mean about the prices you think they are reasonable? You can see what else they have in their Christmas collection here, but it might be best to pop into your local Tesco to see the full collection that they have, otherwise check online to see what they have available :).

Next up is something that is nearly always at any Christmas party...crisps! The crisps I am featuring, I thought were worth mentioning as they have unique flavours and the brand was launched by a husband and wife team who grow their own potatoes for the crisps on their farm and source all the flavours from local producers. Fairfields Crisps was launched in 2006 and has since won several awards including many great taste awards. The husband and wife team Laura and Robert Strathern also store, wash, grade, slice, hand-cook and pack their potatoes and crisps. With the exception of Wicks Manor Smoky Bacon, all Fairfields crisps are 100% natural, non GM and are suitable for coeliacs and vegetarians. I have tried all of their flavours, but my favourites are Sea Salt and Aspall Vinegar and Sweet Chilli. I like crisps with a lot of flavour and tang to them, but I love how they have unique flavours like Butter and Mint and Parsnip Crisps with Essex Honey and Black Pepper. The crisps are available from farm shops, delicatessens and branches of Co-op in the East of England. They can also be ordered by mail order via their website (contact them). 40g bags are 70p and 150g bags are £1.75.

From left to right: Fairfields Sea Salt and Aspall Vinegar crisps and Fairfields Sweet Chilli crisps. Pictures courtesy of Fairfields Crisps.

Another snack product that can be popular at Christmas parties or even just saved as a treat to eat whilst snuggled up on a cosy Christmas evening is...popcorn. Not ordinary popcorn though may I add, this is gourmet popcorn that is hand-made, air popped (as opposed to basted in oil) and comes in a wide range of quirky, moreish flavours that will just leave you wanting more. They have flavours such as Strawberry Cheesecake and Peanut Butter, but the flavours more relevant to Christmas are Brandy Butter and Mince Pie! My favourite of the two is Brandy Butter (I'm not a fan of mince pies in general), with rich buttery caramel followed by brandy overtones. The popcorn is available nationwide in independent grocers and delis, aswell as Wholefoods, Harvey Nichols, Lakeland, Selfridges, Harrods and online via their website. 70g packs are £2.99 in stores, gift jars start from £24.99, kilner jars start from £9.99 and gift tins start from £10.99. Individual packs on their website have a bigger amount in them, so they retail at £4.00 each, which I feel is still great value for a hand-made pack of popcorn, that is big enough to share and has a unique flavour. Online they also have special offers where you can buy 6 taster packs (set flavours) for £12 including p&p. Or you can buy 3 regular pouches of your choice for £12 or 6 for £19.95, including p&p.

Pictures courtesy of Jose&Seph's.

I wanted to briefly mention an item that a lot of people love at Christmas...mince pies. I personally don't like them, but my mum does, as does my FiancĂ© within our household. I received some mince pies from Riverford to sample, so my mum and FiancĂ© ate them, within like 2 days pretty much ha! They said they were absolutely gorgeous, the pastry was really creamy and buttery and melted in the mouth. My mum thought the pastry was the best bit! They said the filling was full of flavour, rich and that there was enough filling to match the pastry, so it didn't feel like you were just eating pastry. You can see the main ingredients within the hand-made mince pies here. They seem to have a lot of good reviews/testimonials on the website aswell about them and they are just £4.95 for 6.

Picture courtesy of Riverford.

I'm going to move onto a drink product now that I think is perfect for a Christmas party/treat over Christmas for the family, a couple, amongst friends etc. Monk's Delight Strong Spiced Cider from Biddenden Vineyards is a cider spiced with a blend of honey and cinnamon, which is ideal for mulling. If you love mulled wine or drinks such as hot Pimms, then you will love this! Or if you know people that enjoy that kind of drink, this would make a lovely gift. I have tried this and it really is delicious, it's lovely just cosying up with a hot mulled cider and it reminds me of being at a Christmas German market, I love it! It's just £4.72 for a 1 litre bottle and you can buy it from the Biddenden Vineyards website. You can also buy it from their vineyard shop.

Picture courtesy of Biddenden Vineyards.

Lastly are a few hampers that can either be bought for Christmas parties, to share amongst the family or as a gift. Firstly is a Sloe Gin Hamper. Katharine Hook, the founder of Sloe Seduction uses fresh Sussex Sloes (from her parents farm) to make her Sloe Gin, Sloe Gin chocolates and Sloe Dreamers (perfect for dropping into a hot chocolate and leaving to melt, mmm!). You can buy such items individually, but I think the Sloe Gin Hamper that she sells is perfect for the Christmas season. For £29.95 including p&p, you can get a wicker hamper filled with Sloe Gin products: a box of 6 Sloe Gin chocolates, a box of 4 Sloe Dreamers, two 'S' shaped bottles of Sloe Gin (4cl each). The Sloe Gin itself is made from a branded gin and has a nice sweetness to it from the Sloes, but it's not too much. The chocolates have a Lindor chocolate texture inside, which I love! You can taste the alcohol, but it isn't overpowering and they just melt in the mouth.

Picture courtesy of Sloe Seduction.

The last two hampers are from a company called Gift Inspiration. They have a LOT of hampers to choose from, you will be spoilt for choice. They have hampers for men, women and children, but below are a couple of my favourites. First is the Pink Hamper, which comes complete with a full 75cl bottle of Pink Fizz (Italian Pinot Noir Rose), which tastes like strawberries and forest fruits, a 220g box of English handmade chocolates and a 6cm tall rose candle that has a 9 hour burn time and a light rose fragrance. This hamper is £34.95. The second favourite hamper of mine is the Winter Warmer Hamper, which comes with a hot water bottle with a knitted cover, a hand warmer that you click to activate, it stays warm for 30 minutes and is re-usable, a 113g of crumbly butter fudge, a 300g pouch of organic drinking chocolate, a hot chocolate mug with spoon and a 150g box of chocolate chip shortbread cookies. This hamper is also £34.95. Those are my two favourites, but take a look through their range of hampers, there is sure to be something to suit everyone :).

Pictures courtesy of Gift Inspiration.

Let me know if anything here takes your fancy or if you go ahead and buy anything, I'd love to know :). I love talking about all things Christ-massy!

Thanks so much for reading, I hope you liked it!

Gem XxOo

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