Christmas Gift Guide 2017: Food & Drink

1st December 2017

Words: Killian Fox
Photographs: Sophie Davidson, Dan Dennison, Mónica R. Goya

Olive oils, baked bean kits and chocolate-covered stem ginger: our pick of things to eat and drink over the festive season. (See also: our favourite kitchen objects and food books of 2017.)

Capezzana olive oil (£24.50)
We’ve had a host of recommendations for olive oil this year, but for sheer wow factor we recommend Capezzana. In the view of Rory O’Connell of Ballymaloe Cookery School in Cork, it’s “one of the best olive oils in the world. They vary from year to year but it’s the Olympic Gold Medal standard. The equivalent bottle of wine would be a thousand quid.” Rory also recommends Mani: “It’s kind of our house olive oil and it’s very, very good. I don’t know how they can produce it organically, bottle it and get it over here [from Greece] for the price.”

Fudco Spanish saffron  (£2.99)
“My biggest extravagance is buying saffron,” says Asma Khan of the brilliant Darjeeling Express in Soho, “and Fudco do the most beautiful Spanish saffron.” Nice little stocking-filler, this.

Rare Tea Company genmaicha (£7)
Ryan Chetiyawardana swears by this Japanese green tea with toasted brown rice. “You either get people who focus on the rice side of it and don’t have a great green tea, or vice versa,” he says. “When [Henrietta Lovell, founder of Rare Tea Co] got hold of this one she said, you’ll love this. It’s got a kind of salinity to it – it’s not one of those fishy-style green teas. There’s a lot more to it than the usual roasted rice – the second water-on [infusion] is really lovely.”


Baked bean kit (£2.75 | £4.95 | £2.95 | £1.45)
During our interview with food illustrator Anna Koska, she pulls out several jars and tins [pictured above] relating to that most satisfying of lunches. “I make homemade baked beans,” she says, “with butter beans and reduced tomato base. Wonderful, that.” We suggest packaging up these lovely-looking tins – of butter beans, San Marzano tomatoes, tomato ketchup, smoked hot paprika – as a baked-bean-making kit.

Morro Fi vermut blanc (from £6.15)
Visiting Ken Doherty and Gwen McGrath of Assassination Custard in Dublin for a forthcoming interview, we were very jealous of the aperitivo and digestivo shelf in their kitchen. Among the bottles, we find one from Morro Fi, a vermut bar with several outlets in Barcelona. There’s also a bottle of Bosco Nero’Liquore di Liquirizia, a Calabrian liquorice-flavoured liqueur, and Punt e Mes, an excellent Italian red vermouth.

Green Spot Chateau Léoville Barton (£59.22)
At his home spirits “library” in Hove, drinks writer Dave Broom pulled out nine of his favourite bottles, including this really excellent Irish whiskey by Green Spot finished in Léoville Barton wine casks. (We also suggest you check out this crazy pineapple rum.)

Capezzana olive oil in Rory O’Connell’s kitchen


Climpson’s “The Baron” espresso blend (£7.50)
“It’s just a consistently fantastic product,” says writer, broadcaster and coffee obsessive Tim Hayward of this Hackney-roasted espresso blend, “and markedly better than pretty much anything else around.”

Fortnum’s dark chocolate covered stem ginger (£26.95)
“What’s your biggest food extravagance?” we asked Meera Sodha, author of Fresh India. “Fortnum and Mason’s dark chocolate covered stem ginger,” she replied. “I am very fond of it.”

Aleppo pepper (£3.50)
Another nice little stocking filler, this time recommended by Alison Roman. “The flakes are really moist, but they also have a quiet heat; they’re not that spicy, it’s not like using chilli flakes. It’s a way to get a little smokiness – a little sweet, a little fruity. When I’m eating Aleppo pepper I’m reminded that chilli is a fruit, and I really like that.”

London Borough of Jam preserves (£5)
Few jams match up to those made by Lillie O’Brien at her Hackney HQ. The flavour combinations are reliably great – we love the blackberry & bay leaf – and the sugar balance is always just right. Three jars under the tree would be a real treat.

See also: our favourite kitchen objects and food books of 2017.

Posted 1st December 2017

In Journal


Words: Killian Fox
Photographs: Sophie Davidson, Dan Dennison, Mónica R. Goya

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