The holiday season is now just around the corner — Christmas party seasons is in full swing, work is winding up before it winds down, and there’s a general election going on! There’s also that massive untouched shopping list. But fear not.
This is a gift guide designed for food lovers generally, and London restaurant lovers specifically. Scroll through the guide for London-made ceramics found used in some of London’s hottest restaurants, the coolest new soap in the city, the best hot sauce, a coffee brewing kit, hampers, wine glasses, the world’s greatest potato peeler, and much more.
All the items on this guide are either made in the city, used in London restaurants, or available to buy online or in real life at a location in the capital before Christmas. At the bottom, there’s a bonus list of shops, delis, and butchers to pick up those last Christmas dinner table essentials, (perishable) treats, or stocking fillers. Happy holidays and happy shopping.
New cookbooks from three essential London restaurants
Learn — or rather, encourage someone else — to cook like one of London’s best restaurants. Handily, three London restaurants among Eater’s list of 38 essentials have just released cookbooks. First, Black Axe Mangal, Lee Tiernan’s riotous, inimitable grill restaurant that is inspired by his time at St. John, the Turkish ocakbasis of north London, and his friend Danny Bowien of Mission Chinese in America. A little more restraint and some genuinely brilliant basics can be mastered with use of the Quality Chop House debut, whether for those in the market for quintessential British classics like mince on toast, or just a totally fool-proof method for chicken stock, this is the book to get. Finally, in the year that the most iconic British restaurant of its generation turned 25, there are few London restaurant lovers who’ll be disappointed with the new, definitive Book of St. John.
Price: Black Axe Mangal £24.95, The Quality Chop House £20.99, and The Book of St. John £30
Roland Lanier knives and Lazy Eye ceramic plates
Serve food on and cut food with London restaurant approved plates and knives. Michelin-starred Shoreditch restaurant Lyle’s is stylish in almost every respect, and particularly in its selection of these fine crafted French knives by Roland Lanier. Precise, sharp, and with such a price tag, a special gift this Christmas. While Skye Corewijn’s ceramics, seen at Bright and Ombra, are just the sort of finely crafted plates to please the kind of restaurant lover who also likes to make their own gnocchi or artfully present homemade ferments at dinner parties.
Price: Knives from €280; plates — large: £28, small: £20, at Netil Market weekends.
Mahala soap by Emily Griffin
Aesop’s reign is over. This is the 2019 London restaurant-approved soap to buy for Aesop and fans this Christmas. Emily Griffin, who makes the soap at her home on Well Street in Hackney, supplies to a roster of cherished and celebrated London restaurants, including: Jolene, Westerns Laundry, Primeur, Kricket, Darjeeling Express, Brat, Little Duck the Picklery, Duck Soup, Pophams, Bernadi’s, and Nest. The soap is free from parabens and silicones and is made with variety of seasonal scents from added essential oils like bergamot, rosemary, lavender, and geranium.
Nim’s Din Cham Cham Hot Pepper Sauce
Delicious scotch bonnet pepper sauce made in London. Almost everyone wants a new hot sauce to try. Of all the London hot sauce that this writer has tried, this is the best. Chef Nimatu Owino balances the fruity heat of scotch bonnet pepper with the sweetness of softened onions and introduces a layer of umami from tomato puree. A great choice for those who like to eat their gifts, and perfect with bubble and squeak, a cheese course, or on a cold turkey sandwich.
Terracotta egg rack
For egg lovers and design lovers alike. This egg rack is made in England from unglazed terracotta — an exact replica of a traditional card egg box. A niche, but great surprise gift.
Spice blends and peppers from Épices Rœllinger
Fine spice blends from Paris. It doesn’t take long to understand the unique beauty of Épices Rœllinger’s blends and peppercorns. Shopping for them and smelling samples is a gift for the buyer — each unique, intoxicating, and captivating blend created with specific uses in mind: starters and vegetables, fish and shellfish, meat, desserts and fruit. Once tried, these little jars of magic will become indispensable to the home cook.
Price: £11 each, available from Postcard Teas and Poilâne
Coffee brewing travel kit
Travel-friendly speciality coffee brewing set. One of Britain’s leading coffee roasters, Origin, are offering a number of “bundles” for coffee lovers this Christmas. Among them, the Aeropress and grinder travel bundle. The set includes the Aeropress brewer for failsafe filter; a compact hand grinder; neat carry case; plus a 250g bag of Colombian whole bean coffee roasted to a profile that will satisfy the novice as much as the nerd. There’s also a useful, uncomplicated home brewing guide for instructions on every method of domestic coffee brewing.
Nude ‘Stem Zero’ wine glasses
Lightweight, durable elegance for wine enthusiasts. This handmade Turkish crystal glasses are “so fine and light [they] defies industry standards,” their creators say. The Nude Stem Zero collection calls itself the “world’s toughest, yet finest, lead-free crystal range.” In London, they are used at Trivet, in Bermondsey, selected by sommelier and former director of wine at the three-Michelin-starred Fat Duck in Bray Isa Bal. About the Nude glassware, he says, simply, it is more durable than the widely admired Zalto.
A design classic, an ergonomic masterpiece. Invented in 1947, the Zena Swiss ‘REX’ peeler is a kitchen essential, a gadget to transform the labour of peeling vegetables. The lightweight handle, flexible, pivoting blade cuts precisely, while the side loop is effective for removing knots and blemishes. A perfect stocking filler.
Ancestrel Wines and Mons cheese Christmas DIY hamper
A very on-trend, natural wine-loaded hamper, some of which appear at Kiln in Soho. The selections above include:
Champagne Bourgeois-Diaz, Crouttes-sur-Marne, Cuvée 3C £39
Vini Libre, Christophe Bosque, Gorges, Divin Poison 2018 £25
La Petite Baigneuse Maury, Château d’Eau 2016/15 £29
Luca Di Piero Civita, Nocciola £10
Luca Di Piero Civita, extra virgin olive oil 2018 £16
Vacherin Mont D’Or from Mons cheese £13
Skye Corewijn, Porcelain wine holder 500ml, £35 (out of picture; see Corewijn’s Lazy Eye Ceramics above and below.)
Available from Ancestrel Wines, Spa Terminus
Fergus Henderson’s Christmas lunch hamper
Packaged in a wicker box, as chosen by the man Fergus Henderson himself. Includes: Bottles of St. John Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2015 and Louis Roque La Vielle Prune de Souillac; a large St. John Christmas pudding; St. John-branded pig ash tray; pig logo apron; a copy of The Book of St. JOHN; and a packet of Rare Tea Company St. John English breakfast blend.
Starr Bottle opener
Never lose a bottle opener; never need another. Starr is one of the world’s oldest, and reliable industrial-grade bottle openers. The American-made cast steel unit is commonly found in pubs and bars and, soon, in the most savvy domestic kitchens. Screw into the wall or to a cupboard door to avoid ever having to root through the utensil drawer again.
Lazy Eye ceramic coffee cups and condiment holder
Coffee cups and condiment holders used in London restaurants and bakeries. Skye Corewijn’s beautifully rustic handmade coffee cups are used by, clockwise left-right, Pophams London Fields bakery and Koya City, Japanese udon noodle bar; the condiment holder can be found at Bright, P. Franco’s modern European sister restaurant in Netil House, Hackney.
Price: Clockwise, L-R: £14, £15, £15 at Netil Market weekends.
A list of brilliant London retailers for gifts, stocking fillers, food, and wine:
- The Butchery — Spitalfields, Forest Hill, Bermondsey, Brockley
- Turner and George — Angel
- Quality Chop House Shop — Clerkenwell
- Leila’s Shop — Shoreditch
- Indian Spice Shop — Drummond Street
- Neal’s Yard Dairy — Borough Market, Bermondsey, Covent Garden
- La Fromagerie — Marylebone, Bloomsbury, Highbury
- Salthouse Bottles — Brockley
- Noble Fine Liquor — Broadway Market
- Gnarly Vines — Walthamstow
- Dynamic Vines — Bermondsey
- Provisions — Holloway
- Lina Stores — Soho, King’s Cross
- General Store — Peckham
- Divertimenti — Chelsea
- Kitchen Provisions — Stoke Newington, King’s Cross
- Borough Kitchen — Borough Market, Chiswick, Hampstead, Islington
- Blenheim Forge — Peckham
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