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Christmas shopping - top tips please

Would be interested to hear from other Chowhounders what goodies they particulary like to indulge in at xmas...some little gems from supermarkets would be great . Am interested in cheeses, chocolates and liquors for cocktails....but any good tips to try would be appreciated as I have lots of time off between xmas and new year and intend to eat, eat, eat....

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  1. I haven't given this much thought yet, but I was reading a 'ladies'' magazine at the hairdresser the weekend, and they recommened M&S's Salt Caramel Sauce and Tesco's Finest Chocolate Panetone (or is that two n's?). They both sound pretty good to me!

    1 Reply
    1. re: zuriga1

      The M&S salted caramel bites are also heavenly. Quite difficult to track down as they've been so popular, but if you spot them, snap them up -- dangerously edible!!

    2. Oh, good thread. I was trying to find something to mail order for my brother. Main problem is he lives alone so don't want to overwhelm him with say a whole pannetone. Any suggestions for that?

      To the OP, my christmas indulgence is a traditional pork pie.

      1 Reply
      1. re: mr_gimlet

        I think some of the supermarkets have small pannetones. I'm sorry I don't remember which one I saw them in. I don't want one of the large ones either... just a bit too indulgent.

      2. if you're in london this weekend the chocolate fair behind the royal festival hall, near waterloo, is on this weekend. it normally has a good range of attendees - i usually stock on on damian alsopp (water ganaches/no dairy - wonderfully intense flavours) and william curley.

        the lewisham coffee exchange boys should be there too, if you need a caffeine fix.

        3 Replies
        1. re: abby d

          ooh good tip! I'm putting a together a London hamper for the bf's parents so William Curley or Paul A Young would be perfect.

          If it were me, I'd buy some of Waitrose's pretty decent organic smoked salmon and some of their fancy eggs to scramble.

          1. re: abby d

            These are the stalls for the weekend. I'd appreciate any other specific recommendations to look out for from anyone?

            http://www.festivalchocolate.co.uk/ex...

            I'd love to stock up but i'm mentally weak.

            1. re: abby d

              I'm not sure whether to thank you or not! DH and I are headed to London on Friday, and I will whisper sweet nothings in his ear so I'll manage to steer him there after landing at Waterloo.

            2. A few taste tests of Christmas goodies available in supermarkets below by Michelin starred chefs, although there are a few contradictory opinions:

              http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life...

              this one has lots about cheese
              http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyl...

              http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyl...

              Stand out good value items include Co-op Truly Irresistible Christmas Pudding recommended by Marcus Wareing, Angela Hartnett recommends Tesco finest panettone, and Tom Aitkin's recommendation of Aldi smoke salmon?

              Personally i hate the experience of supermarkets, and will always pay a little extra to avoid the damage to my well being. My recommendations for quality food and excellent customer service are Paxton and whitfield (off Picadilly Circus) for cheese and Paul Young (camden) for chocolates if you cannot make it to the festival this weekend.

              1. I bought a quarter bottle of pink Lanson champagne from Waitrose. Extravagant, but just knowing it's sitting in the fridge waiting for one of those Christmas/New Year moments when one feels morose makes the thought of morosity more bearable

                1. Waitrose are selling a gorgeous soft Italian cheese with truffles in it at the moment? (Sorry can't remember the name as the wrapper is always torn off greedily and consigned to bin as the entire thing is gobbled up immediately) It's round, and the cellophane is held in place with raffia.
                  Carluccio's is always good for treats - particularly the torrone and small panettones? Or the Finnochiola salami with fennel
                  If you're into mail order, Inverawe's smoked fish ranges absolutely knock the socks off anything else, and their smoked salmon pate is excellent as well. Good selection of hampers and gift presentations
                  Or Mas Amiel a red dessert wine available from Lea & Sandeman - gorgeous - my find of the year
                  My other find of the year Sipsmith London-distilled gin made in copper stills
                  All available in Chiswick if you're heading west? If you do check out Mortimer & Bennett and Whisk Cooking Solutions for great ideas. Might compensate for lack of Heston's Xmas pudidngs in Waitose?
                  Happy shopping