Twenty twenty, then? Whew.
Before we bid farewell to a brutally cruel and uncertain year, let’s pause for a moment and consider the time left to buy a load of really nice stuff for those we like or love.
This is a gift guide aimed squarely at food lovers, readers, and those among us enthusiastic about nice things. Below you’ll find some of the year’s biggest cookbooks, most useful gadgets, niche beers, limited edition cups, seltzer subscriptions (!), biscuit jewellery, biscuity gingerbread, ceramics (natch), and much more.
For those who are untaken by any of the magnificent items listed here, there’s a load of restaurant hypebeast gear here, which might appeal. And for more edible presents, there’s Eater London’s comprehensive guide on where to buy food and drink online or in the city too.
With that, happy holidays, happy shopping; take care and stay safe.
Cook, Eat, Repeat by Nigella Lawson
This book was completed during the first lockdown, so could be considered one of the first COVID-19 cookbooks. Nigella — queen of food descriptions — has returned to the chatty style of her first cookbook, with essays interspersed with musings and recipes but this time with pictures too. This is a great present for those who like to read as much as they like to cook from their cookbooks, suited to both lone dwellers and family cooks. This year more than any recent time, Nigella understands that food is more than just sustenance. This is reflected in the recipes for the likes of rice pudding cake, mine-all-mine sweet and salty cookies, and pappardelle with cavolo nero and ‘nduja.
Buy: Bookshop (£24) | Hive (£16.09)
In the Kitchen: Essays on Food and Life
A varied selection of essays by 13 writers, including Ruby Tandoh, Rebecca May Johnson, and Juiliet Annan, whose fascinating essay is modelled on the late Nora Ephron’s ‘Serial Monogamy.’ The essays are about home cooking, eating, and the myriad ways they can shape lives, from grief to love. There are no recipes but as Mayukh Sen writes: “I find solace in some food writing for a reason other than satisfying the itch to cook.”
Belly Full: Caribbean Food In the UK and Belly Full Likkle Cookbook by Riaz Phillips
Author, activist, and Eater London contributor Riaz Phillips has released a second edition of his seminal book, Belly Full: Caribbean Food In the UK, in time for Christmas. In it, Phillips charts the history of Caribbean culture across the U.K., from London to Liverpool, through its restaurants, cafes, bakeries, and food shops, telling the unique stories of each individual proprietor behind the business. It’s available for pre-order now, and for just an extra £3, can be bought with the second edition of the Belly Full Lil Caribbean Cookbook alongside.
Buy: Belly Full (£23)
Admittedly, no-one needs a single use kitchen tool, but this inexpensive spring onion shredder is worth the space and it would be a great stocking filler. Don’t forget to put the spring onions into ice water after shredding for perfect curls to garnish hoisin duck, stir fries or grilled salmon, or use to slice several perfect rounds at a time.
Stoneware Water Jug
Popham bakery, with branches in Hackney and Islington is famous for its bacon and maple danishes as well as other seasonal pastries. It also has on online shop with a curated selection of ceramics, glassware and linens, some of which are used in the bakery. This white, slightly speckled stoneware jug from Tony Joslin would be an elegant way to get the daily 2 litres.
Buy: Pophams (£45)
Netherton Foundry Prospector Pan (20cm)
This spun iron pan is a celebrity, gracing the cover of Diana Henry’s book From the Oven to the Table and with starring roles in a wide array of books and magazines. It is designed for everyday cooking and to travel between the hob, oven and table. It is pre seasoned, lightweight and more heat responsive than cast iron. Above all it is beautiful and yes, it is induction safe.
Brass Coffee Scoop and Clip
Now everyone is attempting to become baristas at home, this pragmatic and beautiful brass coloured scoop will find many happy kitchens. From Hay, it is ingeniously designed with a crocodile clip to keep any bag of coffee as airtight as possible while being on hand for the next brew.
Buy: Goodhood (£8)
Honey and Co Hamper
Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich’s mini chain of restaurants has assembled an intriguing group of hampers. Some are themed around the duo’s cookbooks, whilst others are Christmas- or breakfast-themed. The breakfast hamper enables the recipient to recreate a Honey and Co breakfast at home, with a recipe for shakshuka, two mini cast iron pans, an enamel coffee pot, ashura cereal, jam and other delights. Hampers from £60, breakfast hamper £75. Shipping nationwide and beyond.
Buy: Honey and Co (£60)
Hot Sauce from Peckham Sauce Co.
For those who always need hot sauce in their bags, fridges or on their turkey sandwiches, this is the answer. Batch one hot sauce produced by Peckham Sauce Co by fermenting Dutch and scotch bonnet chillies with garlic, coriander, cardamom and a blend of other secret spices.
Christmas Eve Grazing Box from Waakye Leaf
A luxury Afro-inspired Christmas Eve grazing box from Waakye Leaf Afro Fusion caterers would make a brilliant early present and Christmas Eve supper. Details are usually on Instagram first, with both sweet and savoury boxes available, and bee warned, they sell out quick.
Ghanaian Hamper from Aftrad Village Kitchen
Create an affordable hamper from individual products ranging from bofrot mix, the Ghanaian iteration of delicious deep-fried dough, to spice blends and shito. Prices start from £5 for bofrot mix.
Pepper Jelly from Genny Graham
All based on scotch bonnet peppers, condiment chasers can choose original pepper jelly; ginger lime pepper jelly; orange cumin pepper jelly; or just go for all three. These pepper jellies are sweet and sharp with citrus and spice and can be used as a condiment, glaze or dip. £5.50 for a single jar, or £18.99 for a gift pack trio.
Pottery Class from Skandihus
Stylish ceramics from London based ceramicist, Stine Dulong grace the tables of The Connaught Hotel, Nobu as well as cookbooks (Nigella’s last two books, Michael Zee’s Symmetry Breakfast). A range of classes are held in the studios, from beginner to expert. For a feel of clay throwing and learning the basics, the taster day course is an excellent place to start.
Buy: Skandihus (£45)
Herb Gift Box from Petersham Nurseries
A gift box which you can personalise with a message, containing a selection of six wildflower seeds including cornflower and foxglove. This would make a colourful start to spring 2021.
Kitchen fabrics from Bonita Ebuehi
Graphic designer Bonita Ebuehi, produces a range of stationery and homewares in bright eye catching prints. Choose from plantain, scotch bonnet or corn printed on aprons, gloves and tea towels From £10
Biscuit Jewellery from Lily Charmed
For the many biscuit lovers out there — Brits spent £19 million on them in the first three months of 2020 lockdown. This company produces a range of food- and drink-themed sterling silver or gold plated jewellery, including cuff links, necklaces and charms. Judging by the nation’s love of biscuits the rich tea and bourbon biscuit necklaces and cufflinks should be popular. There is also a range of other foods like ice cream, peas in a pod or objects like teapots. For the true biscuit devotee, pair with this book written by historian Lizzie Collingham, a history of biscuits (with recipes) from 3,000 years ago till the present time. Or pair with actual biscuits — and no, a Jaffa Cake is resolutely not a biscuit. The clue is in the name.
Las Olas Spiced Rum
For people who want to Drink Rum, not have it obscured in a cocktail, Samuel Williams, Samuel Adewale, and Dion Polius’ Las Olas is their expression of the rum traditions of Barbados, Jamaica, Guatemala, Honduras, and Belize. It’s a blend of white rums from the two Caribbean islands, with a complexity that veers between sweet cherry, roasting coffee, and an adult vanilla richness. Now fully restocked, with a gift set option that includes a branded shot glass and two steel straws for sipping.
Buy: Las Olas (£35)
Macintosh Ales Box
Hazy hoppers, avert your eyes. This box of 12 bottles of bitter from brewer Charlie Macintosh — formerly of Lyle’s, in Shoreditch — is a guaranteed hit. The Maris Otter barley from Norfolk that goes into it is floor-malted — a lengthy process that draws out a rolling caramel sweetness and has largely been pushed to the wayside by commercial malters. Fuggle and Goldings hops from Kent provide a clean, balancing bitterness to a beer that drinks superbly, and the label’s a delight to boot. Delivers both nationwide via courier and in London via Macintosh himself.
Buy: Macintosh Ales (£36)
Roaster’s Selection from Manifesto Coffee
Alex MacIntyre’s name will be familiar to anyone embedded in London’s speciality coffee world and should be familiar to anyone who just likes the city’s cafes. His series of cafes questioned the norms of bar design, drink design, and ergonomics, and produced drinks of outstanding quality. Now he’s roasting in Perth, Scotland, alongside Lukasz Lewaszkiewicz, and the style of business is as forthright as its name. Coffees are given price transparency; flavour notes are illustrated for clarity; and the bags are uncluttered, with a QR code on the back for full information. This selection is of five coffees, and can be ordered as a subscription as they change with the seasons.
Kapihan Limited Edition cup
Adorned with beautiful artwork depicting the coffee production process, this cup from Battersea Park panaderia and cafe Kapihan is both beautiful and functional: it’s a double-walled Thermos tumbler with a switch-lid for drinking despite looking like a piece of ceramic art. David, Nigel, Rosemary, and Plams Motley’s bakery — the first three siblings; Plams David’s wife — is one of the most exciting and considered in London, and this bit of stellar merch is no different.
Buy: Kapihan (£25)
Seltzer subscription from Something and Nothing
In another version of 2020, hard seltzer / alcoholic fruity fizzy water hypebeast White Claw came over to the U.K. and took over drinking. As it is, it’s non-alcoholic fruity fizzy water that has been more of a hit, particularly these sleek cans from Something and Nothing that come in cucumber; hibiscus and rose; and yuzu flavours. The subscription gets 72 cans per month, so it’s very much for at least a couple / flatmates who love seltzer, unless someone in your life is truly nuts about the stuff or really, really loves making highball cocktails. Smaller orders and a one-off 72-er are available, too.
12 Pieces of Grasmere Gingerbread in a Presentation Tin
God-tier side car for a cup of tea right here. Sarah Nelson’s age-old kit — whose recipe is guarded with the sort of security reserved for Big Mac Special Sauce or Coleman’s English mustard — is still produced daily and exclusively from a tiny little stone building in the Lake District village of Grasmere. A cult product, its outsized reputation is richly deserved. It is neither biscuit, nor cake — better, in fact, than both. It is certainly not bread! No, slabs of crumbly, dusty brittle with a toffee-like centre specked with small studs of candied ginger is a textural masterclass; a sweet, faintly confected spiced note sits beneath what really tastes like a good cookie or toasty cake mixture. Bought in a tin, which can be upcycled in all sorts of ways, this is a terrific edible stocking-filler.