The Tin and Thyme Christmas Gift Guide for Food Lovers
Now that we are into December, I am starting to feel a little festive. I also feel it’s legitimate to talk about Christmas, although I did make a figgy almond and whisky Christmas cake back in November. In fact Christmas is advancing with frightening rapidity. If you’re feeling stuck for ideas, here are a few items I’ve received and appreciated. You can also find some edible homemade Christmas gift ideas, just click on the link.
Bags of Love allow you to create and apply your very own customised designs onto a range of products, which of course make a perfect Christmas gift. I had a good browse around their kitchen and dining section and after much indecision chose a tray to play around with. Trays are particularly useful in our house as I end up carrying items for photography purposes all over the house and out into the garden, depending on where I can get the best light. The process of adding my photographs and designing the display online was only made difficult by my indecision. Should I go with one photograph covering the whole tray or a collage? If a collage, how many photographs? Which photographs? Should I have a plain border or a photographic one? So many choices.
I have to say, I was thrilled with the result. The quality of the pictures is really high. I chose a large dinner tray measuring 33 cm x 43 cm. The material is 3.25mm thick plastic, which is light to carry and easy to wipe down in case of spillages. It comes with a three year guarantee, so you can be sure your pictures will continue to impress. Turnaround time is fast at only one to two days, so you still have plenty of time to get your orders in and have them delivered before Christmas.
Prices start from £29 depending on the size of tray you’re after. The large one is £45. Bags of Love have generously offered a 15% discount code on any order for Tin and Thyme readers which is valid until 30 December. Use P4827317 in the voucher or promo code box at checkout. @
Mini Apotheker Bottle Rack
Demijohn, which has shops in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Oxford and York as well as an online one, describes itself as a liquid deli. I can just imagine the shelves lined with large glass demijohns full of artisan spirits, liqueurs, oils, vinegars and whiskies. Just decide which liquid you’d like to buy, after sampling of course, then choose the bottle you’d like it to go in – the ultimate in customisation. You can even get your bottle refilled when you’ve finished your liquid of choice.
The mini apotheker bottle rack is the most delightful trio of miniatures I’ve ever seen. Three cute little 40ml bottles sit in a reusable wooden rack. The rack is made from British poplar and hand crafted in Cumbria. The contents of the bottles are up to you. I chose: 29.5% chocolate rum liqueur from Worcestershire, a 62.5% seven year old single malt scotch whisky from Speyside and the Demijohn’s finest blended 40% two year old Scotch from Scotland. The contents are printed on the bottles, and Demijohn engraved on the top of the rack, but you can choose any message you like.
I have plans for the whiskies, but I couldn’t help but try the chocolate rum liqueur. It was as delicious as it sounds. The aroma reminded CT and I of Old Jamaica – a potent mix of rum and chocolate from our misspent youths. As regards to the taste, it was a beautiful balance of rum and chocolate. It was powerfully warming stuff with just enough sweetness to take away the fire.
Prices start from £10.19 depending on what you select to go in your bottles – @
If you really want to treat the smoothie lover in your life to a really good piece of kit, then the Optimum 9200A power blender is the one to get. It’s the most powerful blender currently available on the UK market and it’s been my most used bit of kitchen equipment this year. My smoothies have never been so smooth and I’ve never managed to add so many nutritious ingredients to them before: carrots, turmeric root, kale, I’ve tried all sorts and have been super impressed with the results. It pulverises raw vegetables into smooth purees in seconds. It’s not cheap, but it really does the job and comes with a five year warranty. You can see my original review and some of the recipes I’ve made with it on my Full on Froothie page.
Available online via the UK distributors Froothie at £429 – @
One of three large 450g chocolate wreaths from Hotel Chocolat, I chose the cookie caramel. One of the reasons I adore Hotel Chocolat, is that they take their milk chocolate seriously. As I have stated on numerous occasions, milk chocolate is my favourite; I like the dairy content, but I’m not too keen on lots of sugar. Hotel Chocolat’s house milk chocolate is 40%, way higher than your average high street chocolate. They also do a 50% and even a 60% milk chocolate – heaven both of them. This wreath is primarily 50% milk chocolate, but studded with bits of shortbread, cocoa cookies and pieces of caramelised florentines for added interest, texture and bursts of sweetness. It states, it’s perfect for slicing and sharing – I’m not so sure about that.
Available both in the High Street and online from Hotel Chocolat – £20 – @HotelChocolat
Elevate Baking Set
Joseph Joseph is a kitchenware brand which produces lots of cleverly designed every day kitchen gadgets and utensils. I have a small Joseph Joseph elevate spatula which I use all the time. It’s so useful to be able to put it down on the counter and not make a mess. Like most Joseph Joseph products, the design is neat but practical. The elevate tools have a weighted steel handle and an integral tool rest which means the heads are raised off the work surface. Not only less messy, but also more hygienic. This elevate baking set is all you’re likely to need in the way of baking utensils and would make a great Christmas gift for any aspiring or seasoned baker. The set consists of a spoon, spatula and cookie turner and are all made out of durable silicone which is heat resistant up to 270℃. The handles are comfortable to use and the heads are flexible.
Available at most good cook shops and online at Joseph Joseph – £25 – @JosephJoseph
The Dubliner Irish Whiskey
You may have noticed that I’ve got a bit of theme going on here with whiskies. I’m a recent convert to this spirit and as such I can’t get enough of it. Not, I hasten to add, that I am knocking it back neat every night, no, I use it for baking. It works incredibly well as a flavour for cakes and it makes a mean icing too. I have been known to add the odd slug to a hot chocolate and it warms you up no end. I may also have some whiskey truffles in mind before the festive season is out. The better the quality of the whiskey, the better your cake, truffle or hot chocolate will taste.
The Dubliner is a new Irish whiskey from First Ireland Spirits, launched earlier this year. Inspired by Dublin, it aims to capture the spirit and craic of this vibrant city. It’s a blend of single malt and grain whiskies and is aged in individually selected Bourbon oak casks. I’m no whiskey expert, but it’s said to be a good introduction, being smooth and mellow with a slight honeyed sweetness. It works well on the rocks as well as in Irish coffee, cocktails or, as I have discovered, in hot chocolate.
A 70 cl bottle (40%) is available through 31Dover.com – £24.95 – @dublinerwhiskey
Blue Tit Recipe Tin
Blue tits are an iconic bird in the British garden and one of my favourites. We’ve even had them nesting in our tiny patch, though not every year. Rex London have a whole swathe of lovely items featuring the blue tit, one of which is this blue tit recipe tin. It’s a deep rectangular shaped tin, 14cm x 11cm x 12.5cm which is not only attractive, but of a good sturdy design. As the name suggests, it comes with a pack of recipe cards and dividers which are of the same blue tit design. This would make a good Christmas gift for anyone who likes to note down recipes and cut them out of magazines. It can, of course, be used for storing any number of other items – did anyone mention biscuits?
Parmigiano Reggiano with Knife
This 500g block of Extra Special Parmigiano Reggiano is a cheese lovers dream – or is that just me? Parmesan, sadly, is not a vegetarian cheese; to be called Parmesan it has to contain animal rennet. However, I’m prepared to make an exception in this case. It’s not only hard to avoid, but it’s one of the most delicious cheeses out there, full of umami and nutty notes. This cheese comes from the DOP region of Central Northern Italy and has been matured for over 30 months which gives a particularly rich and full flavour. It even comes with its very own cute little knife – molto bene.
Available at Asda stores or online – £5 – @asda
Louis Bernard Champagne
Now then, you can’t let Christmas go without a glass or two of fizz. This Extra Special Louis Bernard Champagne is a silver award-winning premier cru. It is fresh, clean, crisp and dry with biscuity notes and would go down a treat for breakfast on Christmas morning as well as being a fitting companion to some festive canapés.
A 75cl bottle (12.5%) is available at Asda stores at £19.75, although I’ve noted it’s currently available online at £15 – @asda
Christmas Stocking Gifts
I may no longer be a child, but I have never outgrown the Christmas stocking. It’s one of my favourite parts of Christmas and my mother still rustles one up for me every year. Here are a few things I wouldn’t mind finding in mine.
Alternative Mince Pies
Well I do like a good mince pie – straight out of the oven with a good dollop of Cornish clotted cream. Bliss. I know, however, that not everyone is a fan. I defy anyone not to be a fan of these mini alternative mince pies from Hotel Chocolat. No pastry, no mincemeat, just melt in the mouth chocolate, filled with a layer of chocolate praline and one of salted caramel. Three milk chocolates and three dark make up a delightful 90g pack of six.
Available both in the High Street and online from Hotel Chocolat – £7 – @HotelChocolat
Another clever design from Joseph Josepth, these handy magnetic NoteClips come in a pack of three. They can be used to re-seal bags or hold messages on fridge doors. The fronts have a dry-wipe surface for writing on contents, dates or whatever you like and then wiping off again when no longer needed. They are fridge and freezer safe and they come with a dry-wipe pen, which can be stored in any of the handles.
Available at most good cook shops and online at Joseph Joseph – £11 – @JosephJoseph
For the chocolate lover in your life, why not delight and surprise them with a bar or two of Madécasse? Madécasse is a chocolate producer with a social conscience. The cocoa is not only grown in Madagascar but unusually it’s also processed there, benefitting the local populace. For a more in depth discussion, have a look at my first review.
Just in time for Christmas there is a new Orange Cranberry 63% dark chocolate bar to add to the range. A fruity little number which tastes of real orange and although sweet, doesn’t obscure the fact it’s good quality chocolate. You can chew on the cranberries too for that authentic Christmas taste. As far as I’m aware, there is not yet a turkey flavoured bar.
The hazelnut and cinnamon 63% dark chocolate bar is as good as it sounds. There is a bit of salt to bring out the flavour and an underlying note of cinnamon – leaving you with bits of hazelnut to chew on after the chocolate has vanished. It’s less sweet than the Orange Cranberry bar and leaves the palate feeling surprisingly clean. It reminded CT of lebkuchen.
These 75g bars are available via Waitrose and at various online sites – £2.99 – @madecasse
Fancy something equally indulgent, but with even more antioxidants and flavanols than conventional chocolate? Ombar produce a range of raw chocolate bars that look and behave just like you’d expect chocolate to. They have a good snap, and a nice shine; they melt in the mouth as you’d expect and smell rich, earthy and heady. The bars are all organic and certified by the Soil Association – something that always gets extra brownie points from me. The raw cacao is sourced from Ecuador and as Ombar see this as a health food, they only add unrefined coconut sugar, real fruit and live cultures. The packaging is really smart with a brown chocolate wrapper and a colour swirl representing whatever flavour is inside.
The eleven bars in the range include soft centres such as raspberry and coconut to solid chocolate bars that go right up to 90% cacao. I was sent the latter along with a 60% coconut, lemon + green tea, blueberry + acai and a new strawberry mylk. I was particularly intrigued by the lemon + green tea bar. CT and I both gave it a big thumbs up. It was quite lemony with faint notes of green tea, which complemented it nicely. The chocolate was quite powerful, but with layered notes and tones that made it a complete delight as it melted slowly on our tongues. One small bar between the two of us easily satisfied our chocolate cravings and left us replete for the rest of the evening. I think Ombar may have found another devoted follower.
The Dubliner Liqueur
The Dubliner Irish Whiskey has been mixed with caramel and honeycomb in an attempt to create a liquid crunchie. Well I’m not quite sure where the chocolate got to, but it’s really quite delicious and has distinctive honeycomb notes. I was happy sipping it just as it was, but it’s also good on the rocks or incorporated into a cocktail. I was sent a 50ml miniature which would slip very nicely into an adult’s Christmas stocking. Alternativley, a 70cl bottle would make someone a very nice Christmas gift.
For more Christmas gift ideas
- 24 brilliant Christmas gift ideas via Little Sunny Kitchen
- 2015 Christmas stocking fillers for foodies via Foodie Quine
- Christmas gifts for foodies via Recipes From a Pantry
- Seasonal gift guide via Family Friends Food
- The Kavey Eats Christmas gift guide 2015 via Kavey Eats
Disclosure: I chose these products to try. I was not asked to write a positive review and as always, all opinions are my own. All but the Asda and Demijohn pictures are my own. I use the Froothie Optimum 9200A for smoothies, spreads, sauces and even chocolate making. The post contains a Froothie affiliate link. Buying through a link will not cost you any more, but I will get a small commission. This helps keep Tin and Thyme blithe and blogging.