It’s that time of year again – here’s our guide to getting straight to the greatest festive treats the city has to offer.
Best Hygge Spot:
26 Grains, Neal’s Yard
Dial up the cosiness with the Danish lifestyle trend everyone’s talking about – hygge. Thought to be a key factor in why the Danes are some of the happiest people in the world, hygge (pronounced hoo-ga) finds form in togetherness, relaxed lighting, a sense of shelter and indulging in warming treats. 26 Grains ticks all of the boxes with their teeny café in Neal’s Yard, serving up ample hygge with porridges, savoury bowl foods and more-ish salted rye brownies.
Cheese of Choice:
Rogue River Blue, Neal’s Yard Dairy
Blue cheese screams Christmas, and the bustling Neal’s Yard Dairy with their outstanding cheeses and laid-back and knowledgeable staff is the place to get it. Though die-hard fans of the unpasteurised British blue Sitchelton, this year we’ve opted for a more daring choice. The aptly named Rogue River Blue is an aged blue from Oregon that has been wrapped in a brandy-soaked vine leaf, creating a flavour that is rich, pungent and indulgent, with plenty of tang from the aging process. Port would fight for your palate’s attention with this cheese, so we would opt for a lighter wine – perhaps even a lifting glass of bubbly.
Orange & Chocolate Doughnuts & Sticky Ginger Cake, Bread Ahead Bakery
A Borough Market mainstay, the masters of bread have come to Covent Garden and have brought their legendary range of doughnuts along with them. And this Christmas, it’s all about the orange and chocolate doughnut, generously filled with a rich orange-chocolate cream and finished with a candied orange peel. And if, for some strange reason, doughnuts aren’t your thing, Bread Ahead’s sticky gingerbread-esque ginger cake and bread-and-butter pudding cake should be just the ticket…comforting nostalgia a-plenty.
The Hot Gin Terrace, Rosewood London
A London winter tradition, celebrate the joys of hot gin and thoroughly warm the cockles at The Hot Gin Terrace at the Rosewood London. Transforming the Holborn Dining Room’s terrace into a seriously cosy and opulent nook complete with twinkling lights, heated benches and blankets galore, it’s just the place for spoiling yourself silly with Sipsmith’s bespoke range of festive crafted cocktails – ours is a hot mulled sloe!
Teetotallers, rejoice! Seedlip is the world’s first distilled non-alcoholic spirit, and packs a sophisticated botanical punch with strong clove and citrus top notes and a long, satisfying finish. Containing all of zero calories, Seedlip also provides a short sugar break – perfect should overindulgence be taking place.
Seedlip Salvatrix Recipe:
Story: ‘O sage the saviour, of nature the conciliator!’ Sage was known in medieval times as salvia salvatrix (sage the saviour). Tannic sage leaves are paired perfectly with rich anise non-alcoholic absinthe for a short sipper to savour.
3 x sage leaves
3 x droplets non-alc absinthe
Shake and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a star anise and lemon zest.
Classic Comfort Food:
The key to unctuous pies, stews and gravies and the tool for the ultimate Great British snack, Fergus Henderson and co have recently released Trotter Gear and Welsh Rarebit Mixture, using recipes straight from the St. JOHN kitchen. For us, we feel that the Trotter Gear made with shredded pigs’ trotters will add that extra oomph to Christmas cooking, and, really, who can ever resist a bit of rarebit?
Photo credit: Joe Woodhouse
Very Merry Eating Out:
A pinnacle of classic British cooking with a reassuring emphasis on fat and the flesh, we can’t say no to a bit of Quality Chop House at Christmas. Warmingly nostalgic and unapologetically indulgent, nestle yourself into a booth and tuck into the seasonal fare – the crispy confit potatoes are mandatory.
We’ve got our eyes on authentic Mexican food becoming a key cuisine to watch in 2017, and kicking it all off is El Pastor – due to open on December 12th in Borough. Created by the Hart Brothers of Barrafina fame, expect the real deal – proper tacos with tortillas made in-house, plus salsas, tostadas, and the full Mexican drinks list: Mexican beer, mezcal, tequila, micheladas and margaritas. Not traditionally Christmassy but definitely jolly, we think you’ll agree.
Best Bird & Alternative Christmas Dinner:
Traditionalist turkey, luxurious goose, opulent, old-school pheasant, or a mix of all of the above? Whatever your preference for the main event, The Ginger Pig has got you covered with their consistent premium meats served by their friendly and accommodating staff.
If you’re thinking of going rogue this Christmas dinner, head to Central London butcher Turner & George, the team behind many of London’s finest steaks, and opt for some Galician aged steak. Made from Galician cattle that are up to ten times older than the oldest British cattle, the flavour is utterly remarkable – rich, intense and almost yeasty with a slightly pungent flavour – different but definitely delicious.
Toast Hash Roast Mash by Dan Doherty
Joyful, comforting and balanced, Toast Hash Roast Mash is inspiration for all the “in-between” Christmas eating, from the master of modern dude food, Dan Doherty of Duck & Waffle. Dan’s conversational tone and bright imagery is due to woo you, plus, there’s an entire chapter dedicated to hangover food, making it a brilliant Christmas companion.
A legendary food epicentre of London, Borough Market really comes alive with the festive spirit at Christmas. Traders stock up with speciality seasonal produce and the market becomes buzzing with shoppers sipping mulled wine and loading up for Christmas. Far from frugal with festivities, there are decorations and choirs a-plenty as well as extended opening hours for making the very most out of the market’s magic.