Not being able to travel far shouldn’t stop us making this Christmas and New Year special. Rowena Marella-Daw finds that indulging in a culinary journey at home does the trick.
What a year it’s been – and this Christmas will be unlike any other for millions around the planet. All the more reason then, that we should treat ourselves and loved ones to something special. Rather than spending on gifts that may end up languishing in wardrobes and lofts, what many of us need right now is to wallow in comfort food. And while we can’t fulfil our wanderlust for the time being, at the very least, we can transport flavours from memorable travels and dream destinations straight onto the dining table.
Here are a few ideas to add merriment to our festive celebrations.
Feast-ful of delights
Restrictions on Christmas gatherings are already causing a conundrum, particularly among big families. Looking at the brighter side, having to cook for fewer people means respite for those who usually slave away in the kitchen year after year. And not having to cook at all might be even better!
Savouring a sumptuous intimate dinner or small buffet in the warmth and cosiness of your own dining room without having to lift a finger is a luxury worth considering. Fortunately, there are food specialists out there who will do all the hard work and deliver a feast to your home. It’s important though, to choose one with years of experience and expertise, such as Forman and Field, a London-based gourmet food home-delivery service. Headed by Lance Forman, great grandson of H. Forman and Son founder, Aaron ‘Harry’ Forman, the company has been supplying its world-renowned smoked salmon to discerning customers since 1905.
If you can’t go to Scotland, Scotland will come to you by way of Forman and Field’s salmon, the distinct quality of which you’re unlikely to find anywhere else. The smoked salmon has a delicate ‘non-smoky’ flavour – signifying it hasn’t been over-smoked, while freshness is evident in its silky translucent texture. It’s no surprise then, that like champagne and Parma ham, their London cure smoked salmon is the only PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) certified smoked salmon in the world, and London’s first ever food honoured with this status. Forman and Field source their products and ingredients only from family-run artisan suppliers across Britain.
The ‘fishy favourites’ bundle will suit amateur chefs with its bounty of London cure smoked salmon, fresh Scottish salmon, sweet and succulent raw peeled tiger prawns, mackerel marinated in garlic, and a sublime line-caught tuna marinated in teriyaki sauce for an exotic flavour that complements its velvety texture and fresh buttery taste.
The ‘ultimate care package’ has been a favourite during lockdown, offering a bounty of quality comfort food that appeals to both fish and meat lovers. There’s buttermilk chicken, English sausages and Aberdeen Angus beef burgers, along with smoked salmon, salmon fish fingers, smoked haddock and parsley fishcakes. The only problem is deciding which one to tuck into first! Be warned, the creamy pâté made from Grade One smoked Scottish salmon is so heavenly, you may not want to share it.
Those who fancy a more traditional fayre will find seasonal favourites in the ‘Christmas in a basket’ hamper. Along with the London cure smoked salmon comes a marmalade glazed half Alderton ham, Forman’s classic Christmas pudding, Cropwell Bishop stilton, Peter’s Yard mini crispbreads, brandy butter, cranberry and vintage port sauce, and truffle chocolates. This is a great one to send to friends and family.
Forman and Field’s brochure outlines a range of top quality dishes, made and prepared to the same high standards of cuisine it supplies to fine-dining establishments. Pick and choose from a tempting range of gourmet meals – lobster thermidor, beef wellington, smoked salmon paupiette with lobster and crab, black cod in miso, and a moist and tasty Norfolk Bronze turkey ballotine. The gin and tonic smoked salmon and tempting tartlets and flamiches are also ideal for entertaining guests in the New Year. Needless to say, a stress-free gourmet dinner professionally cooked for you could well be the best feast you’ll have this festive season.
Each order is meticulously packed and delivered by overnight courier to keep the freshness. Forman and Field will deliver as far as the Isle of Man, Northern Ireland, the Scottish Islands and Isles of Scilly. But if you can’t wait, there’s a click and collect service at their premises in East London.
Wine and dine
Turn this year’s Christmas and New Year celebrations into something more spectacular with a classic hamper from Berry Bros. and Rudd, Britain’s oldest wine and spirit merchant. Trading from No.3 St. James’s in London since 1698 and bearing two Royal Warrants for H.M. The Queen and H.R.H. The Prince of Wales, who can argue their knowledge and expertise?
This splendid hamper is crammed with goodies, but the four shining stars here are the drinks. The Champagne Jacquesson, Cuvée 742 Extra Brut blends chardonnay, pinot meunier and pinot noir to create a smooth texture, fresh rounded taste and notes of dried fruits and cinnamon. Then there’s the freshness and minerality of the medium bodied 2017 Chablis, Fourchaume, 1er Cru, Le Domaine d’Henri, a classic Burgundy chablis, while the 2006 Sarget de Gruaud Larose, St Julien, Bordeaux is packed with earthy, smoky, herbal and blackcurrant notes. Last but not least is the special Berry Bros. and Rudd William Pickering Tawny Port by Quinta do Noval. Earthy and fruity with subtle caramel notes, this one is perfect for sipping while watching your favourite Christmas movie.
Bring restaurant dining to your home table with ‘Berry Bros. and Rudd at Home’, a service offered by the wine merchant in tandem with Big Night, the premium online food delivery service for independent restaurants. Available throughout December, the three-course ‘finish at home’ menus are inspired by regional flavours from Burgundy, Bordeaux, Spain and Italy.
The Burgundy main course of short rib bourguignon, slow cooked pancetta, Roscoff onions and fondant potatoes sounds delicious, and the Bordeaux main course of rolled lamb shoulder is authentic, even with the intriguing accompaniment of haggis pie. A perfect ending comes in a booze-induced regional dessert of Canelés traditionally flavoured with rum and vanilla.
The menu changes each week and comes with an optional wine pairing recommendation from master of wine, Barbara Drew. The delivery service is offered to orders within an eight-mile radius of St. James’s.
Just because you can’t visit Cornwall right now, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy an authentic Cornish pasty at home. And if it comes straight from a speciality baker in Cornwall itself, you’ll love it even more. The family-run South Coast Bakery in Looe makes scrumptious treats fresh each morning and will deliver them to your door the same day.
The traditionally shaped and crimped-edge pastry is a comforting sight and, once heated, the taste is wonderfully satisfying. A range of mouth-watering fillings includes traditional steak, steak and stilton, minted lamb, chicken and leek, cheese and onion, cheese and bacon, and a vegan-friendly option packed with carrots, potatoes, peppers, onions, peas and sweetcorn – all full of flavour and wrapped in a flaky crust. As a special treat for the season, they’ve created a special Christmas version filled with turkey and vegetables. Yummy.
The pasties can be ordered individually or you can indulge in a mixed box of 10, which gives you a great selection to enjoy. Each type of pasty is identified by a mark on the crust, such as a holly shape for the Christmas version. They can be frozen if required, and heated after thawing, or just demolished straight away if you can’t wait. And no one would blame you for that!
Image at the very top of the article: Forman and Field_Buffet Celebration