Festive Food Gift Guide

Well, with Christmas just weeks away now it will soon be time to find that Christmas jumper lurking at the back of the wardrobe and spend hours untangling the lights which you spent hours last year nearly folding away.

This year, to help you all out, I have come up with this handy guide to assist you in buying a foodie gift - why spend time trying to find a gift for a loved one or a friend that will end up in the back of that drawer? You know the one I mean; it's the one for all objects that don't really have a place to call home. This year get them something they will use and with a vast array of amazing products in Devon and beyond there is something for everyone.

I'm going to start close to home, just outside Exeter, with a one man band and his company called Eat the Smoke. With a range of fantastic rubs and sauces which are so versatile, you can use them all year round. A lot of time and love goes into these products, so your lucky loved one receiving some of these can be assured of the highest quality and, with some very exciting new products on the way. this will get your creative juices flowing. Read all about the genius here.

For a healthy oil alternative, rapeseed really is the way to go - and you don't need to look further than Somerset's award winning single cold pressed extra virgin rapeseed oil from Fussells. This family run business farms one of the best rapeseed oils around and with years of experience they really know how to produce an amazing sunshine yellow product. 

To go alongside the oil, they have produced an array of complimentary products from dressings to mayonnaise, an array of gift packs this would make a excellent gift and also sell gift vouchers for their cookery classes in the demo kitchen. If I was you I would grab one for yourself before Christmas as their garlic oil, used to cook your Christmas day roasties, is match made in heaven. Buy Fussells here.

Now we all know we are going to be eating leftover Christmas meat or veg for days after the main event so, instead of shoving it inbetween two slices of bread, why not make a curry? Boom Kitchen curry kits are, in my opinion, the best curry kits on the market. These will liven up your Boxing Day, and the lucky recipient of one of their outstanding party kits or a subscription gift will be thanking you for a long time when their meat and veg gets the BOOM it deserves. Read about Boom Kitchen on my blog post here.

This year has been the year of gin and I'm glad to say that the South West has got an amazing array of local gin distilleries. If you are looking for a gift for someone who loves a gin and tonic then a bottle from a South West producer will guarantee you are at the very top of their Christmas card list for years to come.

This has been a hard one to pick as the quality of gins is staggering but for the sake of this guide, and all you lovely people out there, I've tasted a few (all in the name of research you understand); Barbican Botanist, based in Plymouth, get my vote. Hand crafted in small batches of 21 litres with botanicals such as juniper, milk thistle and lemon zest, this gin is the one I would want for Christmas. A full flavoured gin with a perfert balance - only problem, will one bottle be enough? Buy a bottle on their gintastic website Little Gin Box, where you could even choose, um... well... a little gin box selection!

Another gin worthy of a mention is the new kid on the block, Exeter Gin, which was only launched a few months ago. Focusing on Exeter's Roman heritage, this gin has been inspired by the ingredients that the Romans would have had access to and, with the flavour of orange finishing on your palate, this is a perfect Christmas gin and would make an ideal gift.

Still on the subject of a drop a Christmas cheer, but this time for the beer lover in the family, I would highly recommend Black Tor Brewery. Located in the heart of Dartmoor and using only the best ingredients, this one-man operation produces beer that speaks quality and recently produced a brew for Devon Air Ambulance with some of the proceeds going towards this amazing service. All of  the beer is available in gift packs - this makes the beer a must for any beer fan but be warned, they won't want to share so grab your own. Read all about the range of beer here when I visited the brewery.

Now, I'm a lover of all things chilli and I try many, many chilli sauces, rubs, chocolates, oils, crisps - you get the picture. We are very lucky to have some amazing chilli producers around; South Devon Chilli Farm have an vast array of all things chilli to purchase from chillies grown on the farm, Dartmoor Chilli Farm also has a very good range to please any chilli nut and Bad Boy Chilli who sell chilli 'mash' product that is so simple yet so clever and great even for chilli beginners.

But I wanted to choose a chilli product that is a little bit different and this range from South East based Mr and Mr's B's Seriously Buzzin Hot Sauces really impressed me when I met them this year at a trade show. Their products really got me buzzin and are very different from anything on the market and, with the addititon of honey runnig through the range to work with the chilli, is a match made in heaven. It's the bees knees and whoever is lucky enough to receive a selection will beeee very happy  read all about the range here when I was lucky enough to recive a gift pack to try.

For an amazing gift for the meat lover in the family be sure to pick up Darts Farm Winter and Christmas Book; not only is it full of wonderful products to make your Christmas day feast really special but it also offers a fantastic range of butchery masterclasses from beef butchery to charcuterie and tailored made experiences with Master butchers Alastair and Philip or even buy online. You will be sure to go home and spend the next year cutting up carcasess on the dining room table. 

Of course, you can visit Darts Farm and buy anything you need for stocking up the Christmas cupboard from vegetables and honey to gifts fom The Orange Tree, Global knives from the Aga shop, and cider, beer or wine from the Cider Works and Ale House. If you have visitors, I highly recommend taking them there as an outing, there really is something for everyone, young and old.

For that special person in your life, or someone with a great palate for mature things, the talented owner of Wildmoor Deli has come up a range of gift boxes. I was lucky enough to be invited to taste some of the produce in the boxes and I can say each box has been expertly put together so that every item matches perfectly. A lot of time and effort has gone into the boxes and you could kill two birds with one stone if the person receiving this gift has children - they will love the contents and the kids will love the box!

So this year, don't struggle to drive to the city centre, find a parking space, walk around for hours trying to find your family and friends presents. Stay at home, pull up a chair, grab a cup of mulled wine and a mince pie and order one of these fantastic food gifts. Not only will you be ordering a gift made with passion and dedication but you'll be supporting local companies who, not only work hard at Christmas but all year round to make products we want to eat and showcasing our county and beyond.

There are so many products or producers I could include but that would be a full website in itself. Of course if you need more inspiration, then do have a look on Taste of the West or Food and Drink Devon for some fantastic award winning produce.

Happy shopping!

I'd love to hear if you buy any of the above, or any other great artisan products - do tell me on Twitter or Facebook and I might include them in a further guide i am planning for the new year.


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