The Christmas break turns even the most moderate eaters into gourmands and gluttons. Much of the family get togethers and social life during the break between Christmas and New year revolves around meals, it is not unusual to hear folks complaining of the lbs they have piled on.
The present du jour this year was the hamper, this reporter’s favourite was Lottie Shaw’s Christmas treat box. Shaw is a fourth-generation baker, her Yorkshire family have been baking with skill and passion for a hundred years. The box contains ginger cake, fruit cake, traditional Yorkshire biscuits, shortbread, mince pies, fudge, flapjacks, tiffin but best of all were the old-fashioned brandy snaps, that have almost disappeared from baking circles; at Lottie Shaw’s one can find baked gifts for all occassions. Fortnum and Mason offer a selection of 64 hampers varying in price from £35 to £575, the top of the range are beautifully presented with the F&M logo in black on the whicker baskets; they are filled with wines, cookbooks, cheeses, delicious savouries or sweets, each hamper has helpful name to guide the giver, The Utterly Smitten Alcohol Free Hamper or The Camellia 2 Person Picnic Hamper. Recently farm shops around UK have begun hampering and the Jolly Nice Farm Shop Festive Hamper would be hard to beat with its local honey, saucisson, quince Membrillo sweets, black truffle oil, homemade mayonnaise and their unique cold brew coffee. Daylesford Organic Farm hampers come in robust crates or smart cool bags filled with smooth or stinky cheeses and crispy biscuits, smoked salmon, ham, condiments and beverages, they are also helpfully and healthily named the Daylesford Wellness Breakfast Gift Set, with super seed and quinoa porridge and cashew nut butter, or the Best Friend Box (various sizes) which is really full of canine treats and accessories for the pampered dog.
On 26 December, Boxing Day, many choose to eat ham; hams from Dukeshill are given as gifts, they are a traditional ham producer with an uncompromising attitude towards quality, by appointment to Her Majesty the Queen, founded thirty years ago with the vision of producing hams cured the “old fashioned” way, where flavour and texture trump speed or yield, especially for a discerning public fed up by the bland imported offerings in some supermarkets.
Some imaginative folk put together their own hampers for family members or friends, personalized for the recipient, shopping around for known favourites or an unusual bonne bouche thus collating a unique foodie feast.
All these delicacies tempt the moderate consumer into unmitigated indulgence and no doubt the New Year will be filled with offers to detox and diet.