Food writer Nicola Miller's foodie Christmas gift guide
My standard response to the problem of what to buy the person who has everything is to get them something food-related. We all need to eat, after all. I’ve tried to keep my selections as local as possible, at a variety of price points, and from businesses and people I trust.
Fresh bread and pastries
If you are a guest in someone else’s home this Christmas, why not give them a selection of bread and pastries from Woosters Bakery in Bury’s Langton Place? You’ll need to order in advance and I especially recommend their pain au chocolat stuffed with Tosier Colombian single-origin chocolate and laminated with Fen Farm Dairy butter; the soft Scottish batch loaf; the sprouted rye bread, or a heap of giant croissants for Christmas breakfast. Fen Farm Dairy cheese and butter and smoked fish from Pinneys of Orford are also sold in store alongside other good things to eat.
Mrs Portly’s Kitchen Classes
“The most outstanding thing about Suffolk to me as a cook is the range and quality of the produce available and the passion that goes into rearing, growing or making it,” says cook and food writer Linda Duffin about her new cooking school whose classes will start in the New Year and are based in her lovely home in rural Brockford. Improve your knowledge of game with Steve Tricker of Truly Traceable, take a sourdough class with Simon Wooster from Wooster’s Bakery, knifemaker Sergio Muelle of Twisted Horseshoe Knives will help you improve your knife skills, or learn how to prepare and cook shellfish with Mike Warner, fisherman and seafood expert. And that’s not all: pies and pastry, preserving, gluten-free baking and vegetarian Italian cooking classes are on the timetable too. Gift vouchers are also available. See mrsportlyskitchen.co.uk/
A meal at the ICE Café on the Rougham Industrial Estate led me to Cornwall’s The Artisan Malt Vinegar Company whose vinegar graces ICE’s tables. Oak-matured barley gives this vinegar a delightfully old-fashioned taste; there’s nothing better on chips and it’s stocked by Infusions 4 Chefs (ICE’s retail arm). Order it from them for only £3.95 a bottle. See infusions4chefs.co.uk.
Morocco Gold Olive Oil
I was sent a bottle of Moroccan Gold to try a few months ago and I liked it so much I have since bought another one. Produced from Picholine Marocaine olives grown in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, this single estate, fruity and green oil is available online direct from the company. It’s the first olive oil from Morocco to be sold in the UK and although it comes in at the pricier end of the scale (£24.49 for 500ml), if you’re looking for a special food gift, this might be it. See morocco-gold.com.
Voucher for local restaurants
Restaurants traditionally find January and February quite hard and a good way of supporting them is to buy a gift voucher direct from them. When all seems grey and dreary, a post-Christmas meal at Pea Porridge (reopens Jan 10 after their festive break), No4 Bar and restaurant at Abbeygate Cinema (combine it with film vouchers!), a Champagne afternoon tea or Sunday lunch at Tuddenham Mill, Chef Greig Young’s fabulously inventive cooking at The Northgate Hotel, or Thai food at Giggling Squid on Abbeygate Street will lighten your mood.
Opinel at Lorfords Newsagents
I was delighted to find that Opinel knives are stocked in a local newsagent – Lorfords on Bury’s Central Walk. Originally made with French farmers in mind, Opinel is much-loved by people in the food world for their sturdiness, design, history, and usefulness. They’re the kind of knives you hand down and what makes them more remarkable is their price; I paid £16 for my #8 classic olive wood version.
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