Sunday, 30 November 2014

Peter's Yard when only the best artisan products will do

You have the finest butter that you can buy, you have the best cheeses that you could find, some really wonderful choice cold cuts, with the tastiest chutneys that are available. 

All helped along by some of the finest organic wines, beers, ports and sherries that you could possibly bring to the table of your guests this Christmas, because you love your guests and want them to be more than happy, you want them to be ecstatic with the food at the party you are hosting.

So what crackers do you supply them with? What? Really? Seriously? Those crackers? The ones over... there?

Oh, no! But surely ordinary cheese biscuits made in an industrial complex rather than a real bakery cannot be served at your party?

That's right, common decency says that they can't! 

So, what to do, instead? What you do is you get yourself to Peter's Yard, Britain's premier Swedish artisan bakery. And buy some real, honest-to-goodness real and properly baked crispbreads!

Your guests will love you for going to www.petersyard.com and either buying direct from this Shropshire-based centre of baking excellence or learning on the site the location of your nearest stockist.  

And Peter's Yard are also on the lookout for savvy folks to stock their range of crispbreads in their shops, delicatessens, garden centre foodhall, supermarket, farm shops and restaurants, so please do enquire!

Wilkinsons for gifts, decorations and much more

Wilkinson's was founded by James Wilkinson back in the 1930s.

Since then it has served well the generations after generations of shoppers who have visited its hundreds of stores or in more recent years have shopped on line via its easy-to-use and shopper friendly website.

Each year every branch of Wilkinson or Wilko as it is know more widely known, and its website gear up to provide its customers with all the kinds of things they could need to ensure that they, the customers, can give their friends and family members they type of Christmas they deserve.

You'll find the Christmas shop at www.wilko.com but  for those of us who still enjoy shopping in the High Street for our Christmas goodies, you can use the handy Store Locator button on the top of the website's first page.

What will you find on line or in your nearest Wilko branch?

Christmas crackers, toys, gifts and more, Christmas decorations (for example, The Wild Wood NOEL decoration that is pictured is available from Wilko at a remarkably modest £5.00) and there are Christmas lights (both for your indoor and outdoor trees) aftershave, perfumes, stocking fillers, that lovely new table that will sit all of the family round it in one sitting, with nobody feeling left out!

See, at Wilko you can not only get what you know you want for Christmas, you can also get things you might have never have even considered as being needed at Christmas but, once you own them, you really can't imagine how you even coped without them, before!

For some really good hints of how to make your own Christmas please take a look at 

There are even specially recorded TV programmes to give you hints and ideas like this one!

So this December follow the link to the Wilko website or follow your feet to the nearest branch. And by the way, if you spend £50 or more, the delivery is free. Please ask for details.

Want to make a cake for Christmas? Cake Craft World is what you need

Want to make a cake for Christmas? Cake Craft World is what you need. Just visit their website at www.cakecraftworld.co.uk and you will find yourself in a Wonderland of all things cake.

If you are a novice looking to make your first Christmas cake for friends or family and you are looking for some gentle guidance and a nudge in the right direction, or if you are an expert cake maker who knows exactly what you require to wow the folks with your usual cake making skills, then the friendly people at Cake Craft World will be able to help you add those little finishing touches that add pizazz, glitz and glamour to your cake.

There's a "wow" factor in every section of the website.

Want to learn more about how to bake a cake?

There's a whole library of books for you to choose from.

From cake baking books for the very beginner to more comprehensive cake baking books that really deserve to grace the shelf of every country house hotel kitchen in the country, they are all there, plus there are book to help you produce the best icing ever.

But there's much, much more to Cake Craft World than that!

There are Christmas cake decorations (also available in bulk for the professional or semi-professional cake maker, cake boards (with special seasonal additions to the range as one would expect!) Christmas moulds (for icing or those special chocolate shapes, loved by children from three to 103!) Christmas tins and bakeware, Mince Pie tins and Christmas Pudding mould, special edible sundries, seasonal cake decorations, ingredients to help you make the best cake ever and also seasonal boxes and bags to place them in.

And much more, besides.

But please don't take our word for it. Visit their website at the above link and learn for yourself why the smart cake makers are all going to Cake Craft World.

And if someone you know is going for a December or January wedding, why not check out the Cake Craft World Wedding Cake section?

Cake Craft World: A cake doesn't just have to be for Christmas!

(PICTURED: A Cake Craft World Cake, made using the excellent book, Easy Christmas Cakes, available from Cake Craft World. Incidentally, the cake has not made it 'til Christmastime. A different recipe from the same book will be tried. Will that one last 'til Christmas? Who knows? But it will be fun finding out!)

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Ampleforth Abbey Beer, it's ideal for Christmas

Ampleforth Abbey Beer is a traditional monastic beer which is based on a centuries-old Benedictine recipe adapted for use with modern brewing methods.

It was launched two years ago and is already on target to sell 100,000 bottles by Christmas.

And Ampleforth Abbey Beer was named ‘Yorkshire’s Best Drink’ in the Deliciously Yorkshire Awards in 2012/13. It also received the Two Star Great Taste Award and was awarded silver in the International Beer Challenge.

It is sold in around 70 specialist and independent retailers throughout Yorkshire, branches of Booths supermarket, in local pubs and restaurants, online and in the Abbey Shop.

So, what does it taste like? It's like a traditional Belgian Trappist beer, but it is so much more than that.

There's a hoppy earnestness about this beer. It is not for the lager fan, as it is 7%  and full of flavour.

There are hints of rum and also of a good old English pudding, too, but all delicately balanced.

It's not a quaffing ale and works very well as a accompaniment for your Christmas dinner, making an interesting replacement for the more traditional wines.

To buy your ale or one of the other most excellent products from the monetary please visit  http://www.visitors.ampleforth.org.uk/abbey-produce-2.



Tuesday, 25 November 2014

My wife will be happier this Christmas with Genius

My wife suffers from a gluten allergy that, sadly, went undiagnosed for many years.

Now she has the diagnosis she can steer herself away from foods that contain foods with gluten and steer herself toward the fantastic range of  gluten free products that are available from Genius.

What about Christmas? Well, you'll be glad to know that she has it all planned out!

We'll have traditional mince pies (using her famous home made mince meat!) made with Genius shortcrust pastry.

We and our guests will also enjoy some very tasty chocolate and lemon cupcakes and on Boxing Day the traditional Turkey sandwiches will be made with some utterly delicious Genius Triple Seeded bread.

The loaf costs £2.99, the cupcakes are £2.39, the pastry is £2.49.

Expensive? Well, no, not really, because it's well worth that and more money besides to be able to see my wife eat something that she enjoys, without it giving her a terrible stomach ache.

There's also a host of other tasty Genius products that we are getting used to buying, you can find out more about them at www.geniusglutenfree.com

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas with Pusser's Navy Rum cocktails!

With the cold Christmas weather on the way, it's time to look at some tempting Pusser’s rum-based cocktails for a touch of warming festive cheer.

Hot Buttered Rum
This delicious hot toddy is the equivalent of a warm buttery hug in a mug – the perfect antidote to winter.

Ingredients
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 cups light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
Pinch ground cloves
Pinch salt
Pusser’s Rum
Boiling water

Method
1. In a bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt.
2. Refrigerate until almost firm. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the butter mixture into 12 small mugs.
3. Pour about 50ml of rum into each mug (filling about halfway). Top with boiling water (to fill the remaining half), stir well, and serve immediately.

Cherries Jubilee Latte
Festively fruity with a warming hint of chocolate, a glass of this scrumptious blend is guaranteed to make that wrapping marathon feel far less arduous.
Ingredients
30ml Pusser’s Rum (Gunpowder or Blue Label)
15ml Cherry Brandy
15ml Butterscotch Schnapps
60ml Fresh Espresso
30ml Half & Half mix (equal parts milk and cream)
15ml Brown Sugar Syrup
Powdered or Grated Chocolate

Method
1. Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until well chilled. Strain into a tall glass over fresh ice. Sprinkle with powdered or grated chocolate.

Pusser’s Rummy Old Fashioned
A new twist on an old favourite, try leaving a glass of this out for Father Christmas instead of a glass of sherry for a bumper present crop this year.

Ingredients
50ml of Pusser’s Rum Aged 15 Years
5ml maple syrup
A couple dashes of Angostura bitters
Orange twist

Method
1. Combine ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir until well chilled. Strain into a rocks glass over a single cube of ice. Garnish with a fresh orange.

CAFÉ PUSSER’S
Forget about dinner, skip straight to this wonderfully indulgent after dinner delight – the closest thing to velvet in a glass.

Ingredients
30ml Pusser’s Rum
15ml Frangelico
15ml Tia Maria
140g Coffee
Whipped Cream

Method
1. Combine ingredients in coffee mug or Irish Coffee glass. Top with whipped cream.

For the ultimate in Christmas cocktails, Pusser’s rum is the word. Really.


Pusser's is an authentic navy rum, not just a dark rum. The definition of a real navy rum is that is has to be distilled in a wooden still.  There are only two production capacity wooden pot stills in the world and both are dedicated to producing Pusser's rum.

First introduced to the Royal Navy in 1655 as a substitute for beer, Pusser's rum is one of the most historic and traditional rums still available today.  Daily issue for over 300 years has produced its own litany of colourful expressions.  The name is a corruption of Purser, the person who issued the rum each day.

Production of Pusser's rum today is in exact accordance with the original blend and it is the only rum approved by the Admiralty.  Pusser's is 100% natural and Gunpowder Proof is still produced at Navy strength, which is 54.5%.

Sailors in the British Navy had a daily tot of rum for over 300 years until the practice ended on 31 July 1970 or Black Tot Day.  July 31 is now one of the biggest celebrations in the Naval calendar and is celebrated around the world.

To compensate Royal Navy personnel for the loss of the rum ration, the Admiralty donated the funds for two years of rum rations to a new charity, the Royal Navy Sailors Fund (known as the Tot Fund), which provides for serving Naval personnel.  Pusser's is the official rum of the Royal Naval Association and donates a percentage of all sales to the fund.  Pusser's is now the fund's largest source of income and has given more than $1.5m to date.

In 1978 Charles Tobias, a former marine, obtained the rights and blending details of the Royal Navy's rum from the Admiralty and Pusser's Ltd on Tortola in the British Virgin Islands was born.  Pusser's rum was launched in 1980 with Admiralty approval.

In 2001 Pusser's started winning awards and continues to do so, winning two gold and two silver medals at the Spirits Business Rum Masters Awards in both 2012 and 2013.

You can visit their website at http://pussersrum.com.

The That's Christmas verdict? One of our tasters said: "Pusser's Rum is perfect! I score it 8 out of 10 and I'm not a rum drinker, normally!"

(That's Christmas would like to thank Jodie Hart and her colleagues for helping us put together this article.)

U'Luvka Voda. It is the spirit of pleasure

Have you heard of U'Luvka Vodka? I hadn't until recently.

We had a beautiful gift box of U'Luvka Vodka, my wife and I.

On the presentation box is the legend: "The Spirit of Pleasure." I know that one can't always rely on what one reads on adverts or presentation boxes, but in this case, "The Spirit of Pleasure" is perfectly correct. U'Luvka Voda truly is "The Spirit of Pleasure."

It is claimed that it is based on an ancient recipe originally created a famed Polish alchemist, Sendivogius for King Sigismund III of Poland, for use by the Royal Court.

This modern version of this legendary spirit is created in small batches by the alchemical descendants of  Sendivogius, using highest quality Polish rye, wheat and barley.

When you pour it into the glass there is that unmistakable sweet scent that one only ever gets from a truly great Vodka.

The flavour sets U'Luvka Vodka into a class entirely of its own.

There's a whole range of  flavours, from hints of summer grasses, of spices and fruity notes and others besides.

My wife, a confirmed gin  aficionado, said: "This is better than gin. So much better than gin! And you can put that in your review!" And so, as you can see, I have done.

But don't take the maker's bold, but truthful, statement or our own unbiased review for granted. Just buy a bottle of U’Luvka Vodka and see for yourself.

You can buy a special presentation box with a 100ml bottle, we loved the unique shape of the bottle, and two very unique legless and etched shot glasses for just under £20.00, the ideal gift for the Vodka lovers in your life. And trust me, they will thank you for it!

Or if you wish you can buy a Magnum bottle for £69.00.

To purchase the magnum visit 

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Catch the flight of The Wild Geese Irish Whiskey

Voted as 'Best Irish Whiskey' The Wild Geese Irish Whiskey is a worthy holder of that accolade.

The distillery that produces it claims that it is smoother because they distil it for longer.  And it is smoother. 

They produce several whiskeys all which are highly original and unique, yet all carrying a certain sense of specialness.

Classic Blend is 40% vol Irish Whiskey that has a buttery smoothness that has hints of fruits, with a tang of the grain and a finish that is pleasing and warming.

Rare Irish Whiskey is a 43% vol Irish whiskey that is smooth and has hints of citrus fruits and notes of spices that make it even more interesting than you'd think possible.

Single Malt is a 43% vol Irish whiskey that more than gives Scotch single malts a run for their money. It's lively, vibrant and has an earnest woodiness to it that makes it eager to please. You know the malt is there, waiting for you, beguiling you.

Limited Edition Irish Whiskey a 43% Irish whiskey that is a rare treat. Yes, there's malt, yes, there's the 'usual' fruit notes, some spiced notes to be observed and yet... and yet... this whiskey has a quality to it that makes you look, with regret at your empty glass and say: "Oh! It's gone!"

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Mulled Wine Gift Set

The mulled wine gift set from Just Ingredients lets you turn a bottle of red wine (even a fairly mediocre red wine, it has to be said) into a very acceptable and tasty traditional Christmas mulled wine.

The kit contains a vanilla pod, a cinnamon stick, cloves, bay leaf, star anise, and a couple of slices of orange.

All you have to add is some sugar and the juice of two oranges and a bottle of red wine.

Within 15 to 20 minutes you can be ladling out some very acceptable mulled wine.

However, it can taste a little sweet as it uses 170g of brown or white sugar. So you might like to experiment with the sugar levels. People who are diabetic might consider not using sugar at all and adding artificial sweeteners to taste to the individual servings of mulled wine.

It costs £6.70 (enough for two bottles of mulled wine) so makes an ideal addition to your Christmas provisions cupboard or a splendid stocking filler for the adventurous foodie in your life. 

To learn more visit  http://www.justingredients.co.uk.



Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Christmas is on the way, greet it with a Smiggle!

What, exactly, is a Smiggle?

A Smiggle is a cross between a smile and a giggle, and it's often the reaction people get when they see the Smiggle product range!

Such as:

String lights (£15) that make your house sparkle! These twinkling wonders will make your home glow with a riotous rainbow of colours and a cute daisy design.

Or there's the even more spectacular Optical light mega (£10): They'll really bring the light of Christmas magic to your eyes!

They can really light up any room this Christmas. A veritable fountain of light in six glorious colours!

Smiggle shops are all over the place. To find out where please drop by to them at www.smiggle.co.uk.



Cherry Good news

There's some really Cherry Good news for those who will not be drinking alcohol this Christmas. There is a fantastic cherry 'mocktail' made with Cherry Good, the delicious cherry juice drink!

With Christmas just around the corner, it’s time to add some sparkle to the festive season with Cherry Good’s own special Mulled Mocktail.

Bringing everyone’s favourite winter warming flavours together, this alcohol-free alternative is the perfect way to get some festive cheer without risking the fuzzy head afterwards!

Created with the rich flavours and delicious scents of Montmorency cherries, Cherry Good is the perfect refreshment for any festive occasion.

By itself, it's a sweet drink, yet with a touch of tartness.

Here is the recipe:

Ingredients:
• 1 litre Cherry Good Original (or Light, if you'd rather cut the calories!)
• 1 sliced and zested orange
• 7 whole cloves
• 1tsp vanilla extract
• 2 cinnamon sticks
• 1 star anise
• honey (to taste)

Method:
1. Place all ingredients in a saucepan and simmer over a
medium/low heat for around 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. When the mixture is steaming and spices have infused, add
honey to taste.
3. Strain into heat proof glasses and garnish with a cinnamon
stick and orange twist.
4. Enjoy the festive flavours!

You can buy Cherry Good in Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Waitrose and Morrisons for around £1.50.

Even more Christmas drinks for you to make yourself

Auchentoshan

The Auchentoshan Three Wood – Christmas Delight Cocktail
Ingredients:      
4 fl oz. Milk                                                                                                                                                      
1 fl oz Auchentoshan Threewood
3-4 Heaped Teaspoons of a high quality Spanish Hot Chocolate powder
2 tablespoons of Scottish double cream

Method:
Step 1: Add the chocolate powder into a glass teacup.
Step 2:  Heat your milk to boiling point on the stove.
Step 3: Fold the hot milk into the powder
Step 4: Add in your measure of Three Wood and stir briskly anti-clockwise until thick
Step 5: To serve add freshly whipped cream

Licor 43 Christmas serves

Cran de Berry 43
Ingredients:
·         30 ml Licor 43

·         Cinnamon stick

·         10 ml lime juice

·         40 ml cranberry juice

Method:
Shake Licor 43, cinnamon stick, lime and cranberry juice with a dash of grenadine and ice cubes in a cocktail shaker. Serve in a tall martini glass with a sugared rim.

Licor 43 Apple Pie
Ingredients:
• 25ml Licor 43
• 100ml cloudy apple juice
• Dash Angostura Bitters
Method:
Pour Licor 43 into a glass and top with cloudy apple juice and Angostura Bitters. For an extra treat top with whipped cream and cinnamon.

Spanish 43 Coffee
Ingredients:
• 25ml Licor 43
• Black coffee
• Whipped cream
• Cocoa powder
Method:
Warm the Licor 43 and pour into the coffee. Top carefully with the whipped cream and garnish with cocoa powder.

Midori
Tipsy Elf

Glass: Rocks glass

Ingredients:

·         30ml Midori
·         200ml Apple cider
·         1 Cinnamon stick
·         2 Cloves
Method:
Shake over ice and serve. Garnish  with a cinnamon stick and lemon

Bowmore
INGREDIENTS:
75g unsalted butter  
50g soft light brown sugar  
50g caster sugar  
50g golden syrup  
125ml double cream  
1tsp sea salt
1 tbsp Bowmore

METHOD:
Melt the butter, sugars and syrup in a small heavy based pan and simmer for 3 minutes. Add the cream, whisky and sea salt then simmer for another minute or 2 until it thickens. Cool the caramel then dip the chosen glass rim into it and then into some fine caster sugar. Spoon a small amount of sauce into the bottom of the glass and then chill in the fridge for at least an hour. Pour Bowmore into the glass and enjoy.


And here is a link to a masterclass in a unique way to serve Bowmore!
Try at home: Bowmore Whisky and Mark Sargeant present the Salted Caramel Crust

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Extreme Beast radio controlled car with 2.4GHz

From Maisto Tech you will find the brand new 2.4 GHz “Extreme Beast” radio controlled car.

It operates on the 2.4GHz frequency is a ready to go after only one hour of charging.

And when we say "go" boy, does it go!

Because it's super-fast and looks like a real beast of a car, yet handles like a real treat.

It's not just a toy, it's a proper hobbyists dream.

It's fast and is well able for on or off road with it's super-sized wheels and tyres.

Expect to pay about £50.

It's available from Hawkin's Bazaar and other retailers.

How good is it? Just watch the video and form your own conclusions.


Bump 'N' go Bubble train.

The Bump 'N' Go Bubble Train is a fantastic toy for any little boy or little girl who is a fan of trains or of bubbles.

It cleverly avoids obstacles and whilst it traverses your lounge it constantly blows bubbles (a bottle of bubble liquid is supplied) whilst flashing its lights and making realistic train sounds.

It requires 3 AA batteries, which are not included, so please do remember to purchase plenty of batteries before you wrap this toy up.

It's a brightly coloured toy and is designed for all little boys and girls aged two years and older. Although we do not doubt that parents, grandparents and aunts and uncles might well be getting just as much pleasure out of this toy!

It will cost about £12 and is available from Amazon and other retailers.

For the magical mermaid in your family

My Magical Mermaid is a tremendous toy for the little girl (aged 3 and up) in your family.

She's a beautiful little Mermaid, but she is a Magical Mermaid, too, because she can swim with realistic, lifelike swimming motions!

I mean, what's not to like about that?

She is battery powered but there's none of that nonsense of suddenly realising you have no batteries, because My Magical Mermaid not only comes complete with batteries the thoughtful manufacturers have very kindly included a pair of additional batteries, too!

She automatically swims in the water doing an elegant back-paddle, or see her special mesmerising display.

My Magical Mermaid also has a power saving mode to help preserve the batteries.

She is available from Amazon and other retailers and is made by Zuru and she costs about £12.


 

A machine for making educational chocolate treats

When I was a child I always loved to get a plastic net filled with chocolate coins.

They came wrapped in a gold or silver cover and had a design embossed on the chocolate.

I always wondered how they did it.

Children of today don't have to wonder, aimlessly! Now they can actually see the whole process for themselves!

The Chocolate Coin Press  costs a very modest £20 and they are available from John Lewis.

The Chocolate coin maker creates chocolate discs, then it warps them up in gold foil and presses a coin design onto each face.

How does it work? The base of the coin press is filled with hot water.

Then the four coin dishes are placed on each corner.

Chocolate drops are poured into these dishes,  are gently heated by the base, causing them to gradually melt into the all-important coin shape.

The discs are then removed from the press and placed in the fridge until they become solid.

The now set chocolate discs will then be placed in a special slot in the machine where they are wrapped in gold foil using the press.

They are then passed through the machine for a second time, which allows it to imprint the coin designs on each side.

Finished coins can be emptied into the red net bag and eaten later. If they last that long, that is!

It comes complete with 150g of chocolate ready to get you started on your career as a chocolate coin maker!

More drinks for Christmas

Jim Beam Bourbon is one the best Bourbons that are available.

It comes all the way from Kentucky and is an ideal drink for the Christmas season, bringing the warming tastes of the best of American summers.

It's great by itself, on the rocks or as the basis for many good cocktails.

My wife and I enjoyed it with some home-made cinnamon sugar, which was perfect.

But then came some Jim Beam's Devil's Cut 90 Proof Bourbon.

It has a heady, woody taste to it that has echoes of it's brother bourbon, but which takes you on a journey through a variety of spices and flavours.

You have to sip it, really sip it. Because it really is that good.

Amidst the bourbons we found our bottle of Courvoisier Cognac.

Wow! What can I say? We were, once again, blown away by this cognac. If creating this drink was all that France was known for, it would be enough to earn France its place in the sun.

Delicious and an ideal companion for Christmas, sat by the flickering fire, eating mince pies and sipping Courvoisier. Charming and enchanting.

Then we came to our bottle of Auchentoshan 12 year-old Scotch. Triple distilled for three times the three times the flavour?

Yes, that's so! My wife is not, it has to be said, all that keen on Scotch. But she nodded in bliss, smiled and said: "That hits the spot!"

We then moved on to a bottle of Licor 43, or Cuarenta Y. An ideal friend of the cocktail maker, this Spanish liqueur is a combination of fruit juices and 43 different herbs and spices, hence the 43 in the name.

You can taste vanilla and the warming Spanish sun. It's a thick, sweet golden liqueur, we mixed it with ginger ale and were pleasantly impressed with the result.

We next worked with some Jim Beam Red Stag, which was flavoured with black cherry. Some products that are cherry flavoured taste a bit like bubble gum, but red Stag with Black Cherry is pure cherry, through-and-through. Along with the wonderful taste of Jim, Beam, of course!

Were we flagging? Not a bit of it! Next we tried some Jim Beam with Honey and marvelled anew at the bourbon maker's artistry in creating yet another wonderful drink, so suited to Christmas and the New Year.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Give the chocoholic in your life the ultimate Christmas gift

Yes, you can give the chocoholic in your life the ultimate Christmas gift, this year.

If you have been  spending ages tracking down the best Christmas present ever for the chocolate lover that's close to your heart, look no further, because you have found that special present in the very appealing shape of Chocolate Ecstasy Tours www.chocolateecstasytours.com.

Chocolate Ecstasy Tours provide guided chocolate tours around London and Brighton.

These acclaimed walking tours take the chocolate lover on a tour the likes of which they might not even have imagined, visiting gorgeous chocolate boutiques, sampling the chocolates in the company of chocolateries who are at the height of their profession.

Tours cost from surprisingly modest  £33. They will include the Mayfair Chocolate Tour for samples beloved of the Queen and of the late Roald Dahl; the connoisseur’s tour of Chelsea’s top chocolateries; an ultra-caffeinated Coffee and Chocolate Tour in Notting Hill; a perfect date Evening Tour that finishes with a cocktail in a secret bar; and the brand new seaside Chocolate Tour in Brighton.

Talented guides 'walk the walk and talk the talk' when it comes to chocolate. They love taking the small groups of tour guests to exquisite chocolatiers to sample the divine creations and interspersing these delights with fascinating local history.  VIP discounts on chocolate purchases are also included for those who wish to top-up their gift with extra chocolate!

Chocolate Ecstasy Tours has a Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence and is one of the top 30 activities to do in London. Tours and Golden Ticket gift certificates can be bought online. Gift vouchers can also be printed from home, perfect for those last-minute purchases!

Visit www.chocolateecstasytours.com to buy the perfect gift. Want to talk about a private booking? Then give them a call on 0203 4321 306 or email info@chocolateecstasytours.com.  


Celebrate Christmas in West Park hotel style

Harrogate's West Park hotel, restaurant and bar will be the place to celebrate Christmas and the New Year.

This season residents and guests will be enjoying two very exciting Christmas cocktails, created specially for the West Park Hotel by Mark Young, the bar manager at West Park Hotel, Harrogate’s latest destination bar and luxury boutique hotel.


West Park Cinnamon Berry Fizz

Enjoy a little yuletide cheer with this delicious cinnamon berry fizz cocktail to help keep spirits high this festive season.


Ingredients for one cocktail:

15ml Chambord

15ml Crème de Peche

15ml Cinnamon Gomme

15ml Bronte Blackberry Sloe Liqueur

7.5ml Cranberry Juice

100ml Prosecco

Holly Leaf for garnish



Method:

Combine the first five ingredients in a mixing glass and shake with ice then strain into a chilled flute.

Add crushed ice and top up the flute with Prosecco.

Finish with a crushed ice crown and holly leaf for garnish.









West Park Smoky Gingerbread Manhattan

Create a talking point this Christmas by offering guests this wonderfully smoky festive drink, complimented perfectly with the traditional taste of Christmas gingerbread men.

Ingredients for one cocktail:

30ml Whisky

30ml Pain d’Epices Gingerbread Liqueur

15ml Vermouth

15ml Apple Juice

Gingerbread men to garnish

Method:

Place all ingredients into a mixing glass.

Shake with ice then stir until combined and strain into a carafe.

Add a 1 inch cube of food grade dry ice* to the carafe, leave to ‘smoke’ for one minute then strain into a chilled martini glass (with ice ball).

Serve with freshly baked gingerbread men


*NB Follow safety precautions when handling dry ice. Do not add directly to the drink and do not consume.

Credit: http://www.thewestparkhotel.com

(That's Christmas would like to thank Mark Young, the West Park hotel and Eve Tindall for assisting us in the preparation of this article.)

Saturday, 15 November 2014

These biscuits really are Jule's Finest

There are certain Christmas traditions that every family indulges in. Stilton and Port, Sherry and mince pies and some fancy biscuits.

This year you should make your biscuit selection to be Jule's Finest.

Jules Destrooper is the top biscuit baker in all of Belgium and has been for nearly 130 years.

And Jules' Finest Selection Box is a stunningly tasty collection of seven biscuits that are, it has to be said, amongst the Rolls Royces  of speciality biscuits.

Each one is baked to perfection, using a secret recipe, with craftsman-blended spices. Chocolate, nutty, buttery, crunchy caramel, there's something for everyone this Christmas.

Luxury Belgian biscuits at a non-Luxury price of a very reasonable £4.99, available from Tesco stores.

Best by twice the amount you are planning on, because they will be gone well before Christmas if the family see them!

Boris and the Dumb Skulls

What can one say about the latest book by author Frank Hinks' Ramion series?

It tells the story of Boris who used to be a punk rocker with a huge safety pin through his nose, but he doesn't have a safety pin any longer. Well, truth to tell, he hasn't got a nose any more, or a body for that matter, because Boris is a skull. A singing skull. And a special, faithful companion to Griselda the witch. The evil witch.

Sadly Griselda has been imbibing of a little too much of the hard stuff, the really hard stuff, evil spirits, which has encouraged her to bully Boris and the dwarves who decide to launch a punk band, with Boris as the head, sorry, lead singer.

They antagonise Griselda by performing their favourite punk anthem, Pretty Vacant and after she puts a curse on them this spurs them on to form their own punk band.

Besides Boris, Griselda her evil, yet dead ancestors, you'll meet victims of the guillotine who refused to die (yet kept on fighting and/or dancing), a music shop in Sevenoaks, a dancing dad, a body collector, a cat, a set of vampires, The Polhill Arms pub and much, much more besides.

What of Griselda's plans to take Boris as a bridegroom, providing she can get his body back? 

Will the band be a success? What will The Gardener make if it all?

Written and illustrated (with some pretty seriously fantastic colourful drawings) by Frank Hinks, the story is either charmingly alarming, or alarmingly charming, I'm not sure which.

However,  what I do know is that any child who gets this book for Christmas will be in for a real treat and it's a more than OK way to get into the Ramion series of books by Frank Hinks.

It's a hardback book and reportedly ideal for helping children who find getting  into reading a bit of a chore somewhat more fun and inviting.

It costs a very reasonable £7.99 and is the 16th book in the Ramion series and it is published  by Perronet Press, ISBN 97809 5470 4698.


EDITOR: Picture taken from front cover of the book.)

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Bring a touch of the Summer to your Christmas fayre

As a long-time fan of Crabbie's Alcoholic Ginger Beer, I would not have thought that you could improve on perfection.

I am happy to say that I was proven to be wrong, when I tried Crabbie's Strawberry and Lime flavoured Ginger Beer.

Yes, there's the traditional warming ginger flavour we have come to know and love. But! There's now so much more to enjoy with Crabbie's Strawberry and Lime flavoured Ginger Beer.

There's also now a subtle hint of zesty lime and also a strong, yet not overpowering, taste of real strawberries.

Serve chilled and over ice this is the ideal drink for just chilling with your friends and family during the Christmas and New Year holidays or even as an interesting replacement for the more traditional wines to accompany your Christmas Dinner.

And the Raspberry Ginger Beer is equally tasty and just as satisfying in its own unique way.

Here is a cocktail you can try
Crabbie’s Moscow Mule

50ml vodka

25ml freshly squeezed lemon juice

20ml sugar syrup

Crabbie’s Original Alcoholic Ginger Beer

Plenty of crushed ice

GLASS: A long Collins

METHOD:

Add the vodka, fruit juices juice and syrup to a cocktail shaker.

Shake well and strain into a glass filled crammed with ice.

Add a generous measure of Crabbie’s Original Alcoholic Ginger Beer, or use the Strawberry and Lime or Raspberry versions, to be a little adventurous.

GARNISH with a wheel of fresh lemon

Gin lovers, Whitley Neill Gin will make your Christmas

Although I am not, in the ordinary run of things, a gin aficionado, I can report that  Whitley Neill Gin will make your Christmas, if you are a gin lover or not.

It is a superbly produced example of the art of the true handcrafter of small batch gins.

We were supposed to be using Whitley Neill Gin to develop some new Christmas cocktails, but my wife, who is a true gin aficionado, would not hear of such sacrilege.

"You are not going to mess around with my gin, by adding other things to it!" she told me and so this Christmas there will be no gin cocktails. Well, certainly none that are to be made with Whitley Neill Gin!

What does it taste like? What makes it so special. so unique?

It's warming, so is an ideal stiffener after a bracing Christmas walk through the frosty countryside.

And when you taste it (sip, by glorious sip!) you know you are in the presence of pure gin making genius.

I couldn't quite get my head around the intoxicating mixture of flavours. It's gin, but like no other gin I have ever tried before.

My wife, who is knowledgeable about such matters, said: "It's because it's produced using African flavours, plus more traditional botanicals. It's the Baobab tree fruit and Cape Gooseberries, really. That's what makes it different and that's why you aren't adding anything to it!"

So, that's me told!

http://www.whitleyneill.com  will tell you all you need to know, including the fact that they have been small batch producing gin in an antique copper still for well over 250 years.

I think, when nobody is looking, I might try to make at least one gin cocktail. Actually, no. I've just had another sip and I'll take my wife's advice and enjoy Whitley Neill Gin as it comes!

Happy Christmas comes no happier, I think, than with Whitley Neill Gin and some organic mince pies!


Monday, 10 November 2014

Celebrate Christmas and New Year with a "Gold Standard" glass of bubbly!

This Christmas and New Year, why not really push the boat out and treat yourself, your family, friends and guests to a real "Gold Standard" experience, with a very special bottle of genuine 22 carat gold flake  Blue Nun Gold Edition Sparkling wine?

True, it's not champagne, but it has a good, clean fruity taste, with a warming, biscuity finish and the gold flakes really do dance and shimmer in the bubbles in the glass.

It's ideal for sharing over Christmas dinner, for drinking round a cosy real fire with some Stollen or some mine pies, or for welcoming in the New Year.

It's a truly luxury drink, but it does not come at anything near a luxury price, as it's available for just under £10, far less if you shop around.

Our taste ten panel declared it "delicious" but have asked me to remind you that it is best severed chilled or at least, slightly chilled.

And they add a note of caution, do be careful when you take the top off as it can be a bit lively!

The That's Christmas advice? You really can't go wrong with some Blue Nun Gold Edition Sparkling Wine.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

New Christmas Cocktails

These new Christmas Cocktails are new, specially designed and tested by the team at That's Christmas.

All drinks used are available from all good quality wine and spirit merchants and most top end supermarkets.


Tequila Rose Christmas gift Cocktail
Two shots of Tequila rose in a tumbler, add two to three teaspoons of Cinnamon sugar, mix well and serve with a sprig of mint as garnish, if desired.

Lamb’s Navy Rum Present
Two shots of Lamb’s Navy Rum, a dash of orange liquor and two teaspoons of ginger sugar, mix well and serve, with ice.

Bootlegger White Grain Spirit Fruity shooter
Take a shot glass filled with Bootlegger White Grain Spirit and then add two good size squirts of Robinson’s Squashed Orange and Peach highly concentrated soft drink.
The fact that it is low calorie is good news, as is the fact that the delicious flavour is brought to the drink with no risk of diluting the alcohol content of the drink as would happen with other mixers. There are a range of other Squashed flavours, so why not experiment and give them a try, this Christmas?

Lambs’ Tale
Incidentally, adding Squashed to Lamb’s Spiced Rum creates a taste that combines the best vanilla ice cream you ever tried and an explosion of fruit flavours in the mouth! For a super enhanced drink, try Lambs’ Spiced Rum with Vimto Squeezy super concentrate. It’s delicious!

 Spiced and niced
Requires Lamb’s Spiced Rum and Southern Comfort.
2 parts Lamb’s Spice Rum and 1 part Southern Comfort and stir.
To add a bit of sparkle stir in one or two teaspoonfuls of Cinnamon Sugar and stir well.
If desired, serve with ice.

(Oh, yes, drink responsibly, blah, blah, blah)