If, like me, you still have some Christmas shopping to do, here are a few suggestions from me for some easily obtainable last-minute Christmas gifts.
To be honest, I don’t buy a lot of prepared food as gifts. I generally don’t like a lot of what I try, favouring great quality ingredients instead.
For keen cooks, a superb quality olive oil makes a lovely gift. I always keep a selection of fine quality extra virgin olive oils in the cupboard for dressings, dipping and drizzling. A good oil is potent and transformative. It can make the simplest of dishes. Some of my favourites are Capezzana, Ravida, Colonna and Selvapiana. Expect to pay around £25 per litre. And if you’re lucky enough to receive a bottle, for heaven’s sake, use it and enjoy it. It will deteriorate when kept for several months.
One of my guilty pleasures is truffle oil and I really love the selection of truffley bits from Vallebona.
Good coffee is always a treat. A nice bag of fresh beans from Monmouth is always a pleasure. An electric coffee grinder is a useful gift, for those who do not have one and like to buy whole beans.
Rococo chocolate is just so delicious and looks so stylish to give as a gift. Prestat chocolates are also very well received. Neideregger chocolate marzipan is very good, too, and sold in Waitrose and Lakeland.
If you are making up a hamper for a gift (a great last-minute option), then do take a look at Carluccio’s, Vallebona in London, Valvona and Crolla in Edinburgh, Brindisa, and even Marks and Spencers food hall have some nice food gifts in their speciality food sections.
A cheese box is also a wonderful gift. I like to create a cheese box from Neal’s Yard. They have a really superb range of cheeses and can compile a box as small or large as you require. They also package it nicely in a cardboard box.
A bottle or two of something really nice makes a delightful gift.
For something celebratory that’s bound to please, I think Lanson Rose Label Champagne is a great fail-safe option. It’s best drunk as an aperitif, so great to start the festive celebrations in style.
A bottle of whisky tends to go down well with the men I need to buy for (no other women I buy gifts for do), and Laphroaig 10 Year, Caol Ila Moch, and Auchentoshan 21 Year are go down well. I also recommend Rachel McCormack’s book, Chasing the Dram that I read this year, which was very enjoyable and informative.
A lovely pepper grinder is a very useful thing to have. I like one for white pepper and one for black. Peugeot make the best, in my opinion, and I like the large sizes to have in the kitchen when cooking, and the smaller sizes to go on the table. I never use a mill for salt, favouring a small dish of sea salt instead.
Good knives are one of the best investments in the kitchen. One of the most popular courses I teach is my Knife Skills class – so many people don’t know how to use a knife correctly, how to sharpen them and what to buy. My own knives are a mix of Zwilling, Wusthof and Victorinox, and they work brilliantly. Remember to buy a sharpening steel to go with a knife as a present.
If you are planning on buying an investment gift for a keen cook, then a Magimix food processor will probably be the most useful investment you could make.
Once of my favourite shops to browse for quality kitchen ware is David Mellor in Sloane Square. From simple stocking fillers to beautiful pans, they have it all.
And finally, I am able to offer some gifts, which can be arranged at the last minute.
All of my (five) cookery books are for sale through this site, and are signed and can be personalized. I also offer private cookery classes in your home, which are a popular gift for people of all levels – from covering the basics to advanced skills, I am able to offer it all. Do get in touch for prices and packages.
I wish you all a happy Christmas and a healthy and prosperous new year.
Sincerest thanks to you all for your support over the last year,