Practically all of 2020 has been filled with challenges for the hospitality industry. As well as meal kits, many restaurants and food businesses have countered this by launching or revamping new products for the season - including advent calendars. The idea presumably being, if doors have to stay largely closed to family and friends as people continue to limit social contact, at least calendar doors can hold a small, but meaningful, gesture. With new coronavirus restrictions casting a shadow over Christmas, the thrill of having something to look forward to has somehow become more significant. While there are plenty of food related gifts out there, Eater’s first advent calendar shortlist covers those that offer something a little different.
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.
Little Moons has launched its first calendar offering vegan and gluten-free mochi bites in 12 different flavours. The mochi are made by wrapping bite-sized balls of gelato in a layer of rice flour dough. Flavours include Himalayan salted caramel, Alphonso mango, Uji matcha and strawberries and cream. They are available to buy from Selfridges.
Supermarket Mighty Small, which stocks items from independent and local suppliers has launched a Christmas Mystery Box filled with a curated selection of its best selling products this year, from condiments, snacks and drinks to cooking ingredients. It is also donating a meal to Food Cycle, its partner charity, for every Christmas bundle gifted.
An art-themed twist on the usual gin and whiskey calendars this year, Bombay Sapphire has teamed up with the London Graphic Centre for its 12 Days of Creativity calendar. Designed to help people take advantage of the time from December 25 to January 5, each day holds an item related to mixology or visual art. The calendar features a QR code which unlocks a series of video tutorials led by house mixologist, Franck Dedieu, showing how best to use the items behind the doors. Craft beer advent calendars are also increasingly commonplace, and Siren — stocked by many top restaurants in the city — is a winning pick.
After the success of its launch last year, Poilâne’s calendar includes some new surprises. With an illustration by Axel Charrier, showcasing the original bakery in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, the calendar doors open to a new baked item from Apollonia Poilane’s repertoire every day.
Generally, savoury calendars can be a bit thin on the ground but Snaffling Pig’s renowned pork scratchings calendar is back this year with bigger packets than before. Every door contains one of six flavours like black pepper, maple or festive pigs in blankets. Add-ons like DIY kits and beer are also available.
For those for whom money is no object, Hide has launched its first experiential advent calendar to celebrate the run up to Christmas for £2,000. The calendar centres around the delivery of a different item every day for 24 days including sweet and savoury delicacies from Hide, drinks from Hide Below and the option for additional add-ons, including a kitchen experience, a tour of wine supplier Hedonism and a meal for two at Michelin-starred Hide Above.
Okay, chocolate too
Traidcraft has three different calendars on offer this year, milk chocolate ones for adults and children and a dark chocolate one as well. Each mini chocolate shape is made from cocoa beans from Kuapa Kokoo, a fair trade co-operative of smallholder farmers in Ghana. Update: CURRENTLY SOLD OUT.