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The Midlife Foodie Gift Guide, 2020

Wonderful gift boxes from Somerset Charcuterie

I had planned to get this gift guide out two weeks ago for any keen beans that wanted to get a jump on their Christmas shopping, but due to an intensive bout of procrastination, coupled with a million and one distractions I am only just posting it now. But it’s not too late!! The companies mentioned are still guaranteeing delivery by Christmas as far as I know, so get browsing and support the very many independent, local producers who have had such a tough time of it in 2020!

For the best of local producers in your area

If you are just looking for ideas then there is nowhere better to start than the amazing Clickitlocal. Just type in your postcode and bingo, all the best of what’s on offer in your local area.

Jams, chutneys and preserves always go down a treat at Christmas for all those leftovers that need jazzing up. Jam Packed Preserves was recommended by my friends at The Guild of Food Writers so they must be good! I'm loving the sound of their Trinidad Scorpion Chilli Jam.

Mature your own cheese kits from Butlers Cheeses

Cheese has got to be on any foodie’s Christmas list and I absolutely love the idea of maturing your own truckle at home.

And what goes best with cheese? Well, charcuterie of course! There are some incredible producers in the UK and Somerset Charcuterie is one of the best, with many Great Taste awards to their name. You can sample some of them in this great value selection box:

Fabulous Scotch eggs from Noni's Family Kitchen

Any Scotch egg fans out there? I suspect there might be a few more this week with the news that they do count as a 'substantial meal' for pub-going purposes! Well, if you are then you're in luck, and these aren’t any old scotch eggs. With mouth-watering combinations like chilli & fresh coriander and the Santa Special (stuffing with cranberry), you can put together your own selection for just £3.50 each.

Dropped the ball on the Christmas pudding this year? Have no fear, you don’t have to resort to a supermarket pud. Blackberry Cottage offer a mouth-watering range including a vegan version so no one need miss out on the deliciousness.

From my home town, the fabulous Brighton Gin

I love gin, and I love my home town of Brighton and this brings both together in a beautifully designed bottle. I would also highly recommend their elegant Brighton Gin copa glasses, the perfect gift for any gin enthusiast.

A top quality pan is a treasured possession for any cook and there are none better than Netherton Foundry. My choice would be the prospector pan with a copy of Diana Henry’s fabulous book From The Oven to the Table included.

You either love it or hate it! Print from The Hungry Heart Club

Marmite. You either love it or hate it. If you know someone who loves it then this wonderful print would be the perfect Christmas gift.

Looking for a gift that is a little unusual for an epicurious friend or relative? How about a gift box from Sierra Leonean food specialist Shwen Shwen, including the delicious-sounding Salone Fire Sauce.

And for the Indian food lover, how about a voucher for something delicious from Mandira’s Kitchen? Hand made in small batches with fresh produce and absolutely no preservatives or nasties. Sounds just the job.

Coconut & Sambal, Lara Lee

And if in doubt, gift a book! There have been some fabulous food books released recently, here are some of my favourites:

Part travelogue, part food memoir, all love letter to France, One More Croissant for the Road follows 'the nation's taster in chief' Felicity Cloake's very own Tour de France, cycling 2,300km across France in search of culinary perfection; from Tarte Tatin to Cassoulet via Poule au Pot, and Tartiflette.

Olivia Potts' mother died when she was just twenty-five. Stricken with grief, she did something life-changing and rather ridiculous: she gave up a high-flying legal career to study at the notoriously difficult Le Cordon Bleu, despite not being able to cook. No one ever told Olivia you couldn't bake your way to happiness - but could you?

In this fascinating social history of food in Britain, Pen Vogler examines the origins of our eating habits and reveals how they are loaded with centuries of class prejudice. Covering such topics as fish and chips, roast beef, avocados, tripe, fish knives and the surprising origins of breakfast, Scoff reveals how in Britain we have become experts at using eating habits to make judgments about social background.

Hungry traces Grace's story from growing up eating beige food to becoming one of the much-loved voices on the British food scene. It's also everyone's story - from treats with your nan, to cheese and pineapple hedgehogs, to the exquisite joy of cheaply-made apple crumble with custard.

From food writer and historian Angela Clutton comes The Vinegar Cupboard, demonstrating the many great ways vinegars can be used to balance and enhance flavours, and enable modern cooks to make the most of this ancient ingredient. Winner of the 2020 Guild of Food Writers First Book Award and Specialist or Single Subject Award, as well as the 2020 Fortnum & Mason Food & Drink Awards for Debut Cookery Book

The Little Library Year takes you through a full twelve months in award-winning food writer Kate Young's kitchen. Here are frugal January meals enjoyed alone with a classic comfort read, as well as summer feasts to be eaten outdoors with the perfect beach read to hand.

Be transported to the bountiful islands of Indonesia by this collection of fragrant, colourful and mouth-watering recipes. Coconut & Sambal reveals the secrets behind authentic Indonesian cookery.

The definitive cookbook on all things sour, from kimchi to kefir, citrus to sourdough. Mark is also a really lovely guy. I had the pleasure of doing the food writing course he runs with Diana Henry a couple of years ago which gave me the push I needed to become a food writer, so thank you Mark!

So there's plenty there to be getting on with and the best thing about online shopping? You can do it with a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie in hand! Well in one hand anyway, the other needs to do the clicking.

Sam x

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