The 12 Eats of Christmas

7 December, 2013

xmas 1

Filled with wintry wild flowers and hodge-podge wooden home wares, charming food-thinker Philip Dundas’s two-month old Covent Garden restaurant PipsDish is instantly warm and familial. The menu, or lack-thereof, is homely as well – as just one option for each course is set per evening. Yesterday a Christmas booking enjoyed partridge stuffed with black pudding and parsley, but dishes will always be a surprise. For a bit of extra PipsDish magic, ask to be seated in Philip’s private “hut”. Filled with random artefacts, family photos and fairy lights, it is Pip’s private solace to be shared for a few special hours.

Christmas bookings cost £45 each for three courses and must be paid in advance

xmas 2

Stepping into Peggy Porschen’s pink parlour in Belgravia is like being invited into a sugary dream – with cakes, cupcakes, biscuits, mince pies and gingerbread houses immaculately displayed, and the smell of the on-site kitchen downstairs beckoning for you to have a taste. It is aesthetically phenomenal, and one can’t help but appreciate the precision and craftsmanship that goes into each piece – from the tiny wood detailing on the gingerbread bird house to the sugar snowflake atop of the sugar-plum cupcake. Our wish-list favourites include the hanging Christmas cookie ornaments, cookie snow globes and Peggy’s brand new festive hampers.

Peggy’s treats and gifts are available in store or online, with next-day delivery for London addresses

xmas 3

No Christmas could be complete without a generous and varied cheeseboard, and there is no better place to find your next favourites than at La Fromagerie. Part cheese room, part café/restaurant and part marketplace, La Fromagerie in Marylebone is a gallery of cheese and the staff its curators – happily guiding the curious and those in need of an opinion. Favourites for Christmas include a truffle Brie, classic Colston Basset Stilton, semi-soft Reblochon and, my personal favourite, the Comte d’Estive, a complex, nutty and floral cheese made on the border of Switzerland, perfect when aged for 28 months.

Visit their Marylebone or Highbury shops to purchase

xmas 4

Preserves and art enthusiasts Sky Cracknell and Kai Knutsen make their ‘eccentrically English’ artisan jams and chutneys from their production home, tucked under a railway arch in Bermondsey. Known and sought after for their bright colours, bold flavours and Curwen Press-printed labels, England Preserves use locally sourced orchard fruits and berries that are gently cooked by hand to create a product with 40% sugar (a significantly lesser rate than in standard jams). This season they are also selling their very exceptional and aromatic Seville-Orange and Original-Bean chocolate orangettes and a honeyed and fragrant quince-based Christmas pudding as a lighter option for afters.

Orangettes are £7.95 per bag, Christmas puddings are £15 and their preserves prices vary

xmas 5

‘Making the world better through chocolate,’ according to Business Week, Original Beans and the cacao farmers they work with across the world share a passion for sustainable farming, the conservation of rainforests and amazing taste. Each chocolate bar begins with cacao beans that are responsibly harvested in the forests of Ecuador, DR Congo, Peru and Bolivia and are then roasted in small batches to preserve the taste and terroir of the region of its origin. This undisturbed process makes the tasting experience rather remarkable – each bar has its own natural character and story that is perfect for sharing, enjoying and giving over Christmas.

Chocolate bars range from £5-£6 and are available at Fortnum & Mason, La Fromagerie and Natoora

xmas 6

Sharing mince pies is how Brits best say ‘happy Christmas,’ and there is no better place to acquire them than at St John. Their winning recipe remains basically unchanged for 20 years and includes Bramley apples, sultanas, currants, lemons, oranges, winter spices and a generous amount of brandy. Baked fresh every morning and covered in a short-crust pastry, these are proper mince pies reminiscent of a Dickensian Christmas.

St John mince pies are £3.50 each to eat-in with Jersey cream and £2.20 to take-away

xmas 7

With all meat and poultry reared on their North-Yorkshire moors, The Ginger Pig’s three-bird roasts appear to be king for Christmas. All meats are deboned and the inner two skinned, and customers can look forward to a luxurious layer of stuffing between each bird in either the turkey, duck and pheasant with pork and chestnut stuffing or goose, chicken and pigeon with pork, prune and brandy stuffing varieties. These famous butchers also sell their own chutneys and preserves in each shop as well as what many consider to be the best sausage roll in London, for some instant Ginger-Pig gratification.

The Ginger Pig’s three-bird roasts range from £150-£170, call to order or visit your nearest Ginger Pig shop


The famous Chelsea-ite hot spot Bluebird is taking seasonal mixology to a whole new level. Bluebird’s bar manager Egzon Kastrati changes their bespoke cocktail selection every month depending on seasonal produce, the social calendar and the latest drinks trends. Standout cocktails this month include the Mulled Ice, a play on the classic winter drink with chestnut and blackcurrant gingerbread liqueur, cinnamon syrup, muddled dry cloves and homemade mulled wine, the Festive Christmas, with Jameson whiskey, Mozart gold chocolate and white cacao liqueur, blood orange, caramel syrup and orange bitters served in a chocolate cup, and, my recommendation, the Gingerbread Daiquiri made with vanilla-infused Bacardi Gold, fig liqueur, fresh fig, gingerbread syrup and lime.

Cocktails are £11-£12 and are available for a limited time 

xmas 9

Set in a quirky, tree house-inspired setting of sorts on the ever-trendy Brick Lane, Fika champions the Skandi lifestyle and approach to cooking. Their Jultallrik, or mini Christmas smorgasbord, is a real treat, beginning with a delicious glass of Glogg (Swedish mulled wine) and gingerbread cookies followed by a hearty and varied selection of foods including reindeer sausage, homemade Swedish meatballs, dill-poached salmon and beetroot and apple salad. Time between courses can be spent ogling the art on their walls or on their impressive rooftop terrace; geared for socialising and city-gazing, the Skandi way.

Jultallrik costs £29 per person for three courses

best xmas market_edited-1-2

Berwick Street Market made its name in the early 20th century and has been a Soho fixture for many years, though this year Berwick Street is introducing its first dedicated Christmas Market, filled with conceptual food producers and independent craftspeople. A standout stall has to be Smith & Sinclair; specialising in gourmet confectionary for adults, the young partnership cross-breeds cocktails with jelly sweets to create such marvels as “Whisky Sour”, “Gin & Tonic” and “ButterSCOTCH” to be enjoyed in a mouthful.

Berwick Street Christmas Market is open from 9am-6pm

xmas 11

Called Aztec hot chocolate, Paul A Young’s comforting winter cocoa is made using a simple recipe with exceptional ingredients: 10% cocoa powder, 70% Caribbean cocoa beans, water and a touch of sugar is used to create a taste that is rich, dark and indulgent. We sample the concoction in his new shop on Tottenham Court Road, where the smell of the freshly baked brownie mince pies and plum-pudding brownies is almost too much to bear. Paul has gone all out for Christmas, as usual, and is selling something to please everyone: from classic Christmas cookies to gold, frankincense and myrrh bars and Chateau Chivrac mulled-wine truffles.

Paul’s hot chocolate is £3.95 per cup and is available in all of his stores


Panettone is quintessentially Christmassy, but gelato, on the other hand, is not usually associated with filling one with festive cheer. But if that gelato happens to be the uncompromisingly delicious Gelupo gelato and also happens to be stuffed inside an Italian panettone, then you have yourself a surprising festive treat. Gelupo’s panettone is usually filled with bitter chocolate, pistachio, hazelnut or espresso chocolate gelato, but it is worth investigating their seasonal flavours as well, including Nutmeggnog, Christmas pudding and Italian Panpepato.

Gelato-filled panettones come in small £4.50, medium £22 and large £30

Created by Phil Owens & thrice logo web 2 Media for Bespoke Menu Design