Whether you’re a cheese-lover or totally sweet-toothed, find festive joy in the middle of it all or just soaking up the Christmas cosiness – here are our tips for having the ultimate gourmand’s Christmas in London 2017.
Cosy Comfort: Jacob the Angel
It doesn’t get much cosier (or tastier) than Jacob the Angel, which looks out onto the delightfully Christmassy Neal’s Yard, a villagey pocket of Central London all aglow with fairy lights at this time of year.
Their offering is an example of simplicity done exceptionally – just look at their bagels: all thick-cut oat-smoked trout, creamy galotyri cheese and rocket in fluffy-chewy bread. Not to mention their pastries: at once delicate and robust, and with exceptional attention to detail.
So for those seeking a little festive solace, grab yourself a seat, some Square Mile coffee, and choose from their seasonal treats: clementine meringue pie, gingerbread biscuits, or an indulgent mince pie slice.
Cheese of Choice: Cornish Kern
We are long-time lovers of British cheese, and it seems the rest of the world is catching up, as Cornish Kern was named the world’s best cheese at The World Cheese Awards last month.
A firm cheese which is slightly flaky in the centre, Kern boasts a deep, well-rounded flavour, with a hearty tang achieved by 16 months of aging. Bound to be the star of any Christmas cheese board, buy at Neals Yard Dairy.
Sweet Treat: Crosstown’s Gingerbread Cake Doughnut
There is a time for tradition and also a time for shunning it, and this Christmassy creation from Crosstown Doughnuts is a firm expression of the latter.
This decadent doughnut combines some of our favourite Christmas flavours – uplifting clementine, warming winter spices and zingy cranberry – with special attention paid to texture (just check out that topping of gingerbread crumble, candied clementine and gold chocolate flakes), as well as a serious emphasis on looking irresistible.
Indulgent, yes, but we think that’s precisely what the doctor ordered.
Best Mince Pie: Lyle’s
Saying all that, it’s good to be a traditionalist about some things. And sometimes you can be so traditionalist it’s innovative – and that’s exactly the case with Lyle’s mince pie this year, which comes laced with unctuous grilled beef and suet.
The original mince pies, created in Britain in Medieval times, were made with mutton, lamb or beef, plus fruit and warming spices – but were a much more savoury affair than present-day mince pies.
This Lyle’s creation is still sweet and boozy but is hearty and nostalgic too, with a satisfying rough puff pastry. A good and proper mince pie.
Christmas Tipple: Scarfes Bar
With their roaring fireplaces, plush, jewel-tone furnishings and glowing lights, you can’t get more opulently cosy than Scarfes Bar at the Rosewood Hotel in Holborn.
And their seasonal selection of tipples offers much to be merry about: the Macbeth combines Scarfes whisky, burnt parsnip, mace, honey, Rioja and spiced pickle in a warming and zingy pick-me-up, while The Nutcracker mixes Absolut Elyx vodka, Belsazar White, tamarind and dates, spiced wine, raspberry and cold-brew coconut coffee together in a subtly sweet festive potion. Don’t miss the opportunity to meander around the halls and grounds in between drinks – it’s one of the most delightfully Christmassy spots in London… guaranteed to get you feeling festive.
Very Merry Eating Out: Trullo & Quality Chop House
Italian may not be the obvious choice, but it’s a wise one. Trullo‘s seasonal menu currently includes the likes of chargrilled quail with nduja, brussel sprouts with gorgonzola fonduta, crispy pancetta and chestnuts, Black Hampshire pork chop with cime di rapa and Marsala, and sensational fresh pasta: like tagliatelle with black pepper, Parmesan and Amalfi lemon.
And for a classic taste of Christmas, the Quality Chop House delivers seasonal dishes with an intoxicating dose of nostalgia which you won’t be able to resist.
Best Bird: Turner & George
Chiefs of the aged-meat scene, the crew behind Turner & George also know how to source a mean bird… as well as some exceptional-looking pork stuffing, which comes pimped with port-spiked cranberry sauce, brazil nuts and orange zest.
And as for the main event itself, Turner & George co-founder Richard Turner has a clear-cut recommendation: go with the goose. ‘Personally, goose is the only bird to grace my table at Christmas. In my house, a bird has to contend with a ham – sturdy competition. A turkey simply will not cut it, so it’s a goose all the way for me.’
Christmas Cookbook: Nigel Slater, The Christmas Chronicles
If you’re not one for winter, Nigel Slater’s passion for the season and exceptional descriptive prowess will convince you of the joys therein.
One of the ultimate food writers, in his latest book he gifts us with a tome of stories, recipes and tips for making the very most of Christmas, New Year, and all of winter. Think ribsticker bread pudding with Comté and Taleggio, pink grapefruit marmalade, a bumper selection of Christmas cakes, and sensational goose and turkey dishes. Food to soothe and celebrate the “crackle of winter”.
Merry Market: Winterville
From cookie-dough pots and nitro ice cream from Chin Chin Labs to sensational Swedish barbecue from Lagom, Street Feast’s Winterville in Clapham Common has got it going on. London’s alternative festive experience offers the best and brightest of London’s street food and drink scene, plus a whole host of quirky activities, including a wintry cinematic experience from Backyard Cinema, ice skating, and weird and wonderful performances live from their Spiegeltent.
Seasonal Shopping: The Wolseley & Petersham Nurseries
Stuck on shopping? Never fear, we have a few foolproof favourites to lead to a fantastic find. The pinnacle of elegance, The Wolseley delivers gifts on par with the restaurant’s prestige: like fine teas, chocolates, silverware and preserves. And, of course, the Wolseley hampers, if you’re really trying to impress.
New to Central London, Petersham Nurseries in Covent Garden collides nature with sophistication in their spacious, leafy shop complete with home and kitchen wares, a deli, florist and wine cellar. Just the place for finding an obscure and delectable Italian provision this Christmas.