Friday, 9 December 2011

What I will be eating this Christmas: Part I

I'm starting to get organised now in terms of what I will be eating this Christmas. I think the key for me is to keep things simple. Nothing fancy, just great ingredients and a few lovely treats.

I have been in London this week, and I have stocked up on a few essentials that I love every year.
First of all, I bring you an absolute essential. I have to confess I buy this all year round, but I like to have a good stash in to last over Christmas and New Year. A really good coffee. I buy mine from Monmouth Coffee in Borough Market or at Seven Dials in London. Monmouth is my personal favourite, although there are many great coffee roasters out there.

The great thing about Monmouth is that they source their coffees from individual farms all over the world, from Asia to Latin America. You know exactly where the coffee has come from and that it has been well-produced. I'm currently drinking the Finca Valentín from Bolivia and the Tres Pueblos from Nicaragua. Often their coffees are bought in smallish quantities, so you find the varieties they sell in the shop change regularly.

Next on my list, is cheese. I don't really buy or eat cheese throughout the year to be honest (with the exception of Parmiggiano Reggiano in cooking, so Christmas is the one time I really enjoy a selection of cheeses. For me, it has to be really good cheese. I am totally indifferent to average cheese and happy to go without. But really great cheese, to me, is a revelation. We always get our Christmas stash of cheeses from Neal's Yard Dairy. I picked our cheeses up yesterday from Borough Market, and just had to take some snaps of the sensational selection of cheeses on display

I chose three large pieces of cheese. As ever, Neal's Yard take preorders for Christmas cheese, which I have done before, which you can collect right before Christmas. Alternatively, which is what I have done this year, they stock cheeses which will ripen in time for Christmas. So, I have their unbelievable Colston Bassett stilton, some Lincolnshire Poacher cheddar, and some Spenwood, which is an English hard sheeps milk cheese, not dissimilar to the very wonderful manchego. Having lived in Spain I certainly acquired the taste for manchego and membrillo, so I buy a wonderful English quince paste from Neal's Yard to go with this. Their English quince and damson pastes are also always on my Christmas list as they work so well with the cheeses. What is even better, is that they are made in Bermondsey (of all places!) with Brogdale fruit, which is grown in Kent.

Finally, I have made Vanessa Kimbells' instant mincemeat recipe from Prepped! which I talked about in my last post. It is absolutely stunning and I can't wait to cook with it. One of the main reasons I wanted to try this recipe, apart from the fact that it is absolutely delicious, is because it uses no suet. I'll be using it to make mince pies, both standard mince pies and gluten free vegan mince pies for my assorted loved ones who cannot eat various foodstuffs. Recipes to follow!

The ingredients for the mincemeat

And the finished mincemeat
Finally, I'll just add that I am generally not a huge mincemeat fan, bar the odd mince pie. This one is so good, I've had to put it on the very top shelf of the fridge to keep my hands off it. It is incredibly good.

So, that's it for now. I'll be making mince pies and Christmas cake in due course. Watch this space!

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