Oh bring us a figgy pudding and a cup of good cheer
PUBLISHED: 13:25 14 December 2009 | UPDATED: 16:26 20 February 2013
Lynn Wood of Heart of England fine foods recommends festive fare with a generous dash of local flavour.
If you struggle with buying Christmas presents and keep falling into the trap of socks, bubble bath or vouchers, why not make a hamper of regional food and drink for a foodie friend or family member? It shows youve put thought and effort into their present and supports local businesses. You can fill the hamper with their food and drink favourites. For drinks you cant go far wrong with a bottle of fizz, so try Wroxeter Roman Vineyards Brut Vintage Reserve, or Clee Sunburst, a pink sparkling wine from Ludlow Vineyard. For beerlovers, choose a bottle of Christmas Cracker from The Wood Brewery, Craven Arms. Aroma Tea & Coffee Merchants, Shrewsbury, offers a range of roasted coffee and speciality teas including a Shropshire Brew.
Shropshire is lucky enough to be home to some fantastic cheesemakers so youre spoilt for choice here. Perhaps try Tanatside with cranberries from Shropshire Cheese Company, Llanyblodwel; Wrekin White or Newport varieties from Mr Moydens Handmade Cheese, Newport, or Applebys Smoked from Applebys, Prees. To accompany the cheese include some chutney. Try HEFF Diamond Awardwinning Spiced Carrot Chutney from Heathers Harvest, Shrewsbury. She also produces jams and marmalades including orange and whiskey marmalade, apple and ginger jam and raspberry and apple jam. A Christmas hamper wouldnt be the same without Christmas cake so contact Handmade in Ludlow; The Connoisseur Cake Company, Whitchurch or Snapcake, Shrewsbury, and order one for yourself while youre at it.
The Best of Taste Company, Oswestry, produces jewelled fruits in a Madeira sauce which is a great alternative to a Christmas pudding and makes a range of fruit coulis including cranberry with orange and Cointreau, and damson and sloe gin. For something different, Image on Food of Market Drayton, has Santa gingerbread men, reindeer shortbread, gift bags of mini cookies, cookie bouquets and cookie cards Christmas cards with a cookie inside which can be send out on your behalf. And no hamper would be complete without a box of chocolates so make sure theyre local and try Bonbonniere, Shrewsbury, or Chokolit, Bridgnorth.
If time is against you, you could opt for a ready-made hamper. Bings Heath Smokery, Shrewsbury, provides lovely hampers full of foodie favourites. Varieties include Christmas Cracker, Bings Stocking and Shropshire Celebration. And if all your time has been taken up Christmas shopping and youre yet to order your bird for Christmas dinner, make sure look across the border into Worcestershire and contact Goodmans Geese, Great Witley, who produce geese and turkeys. They also produce goose fat which is perfect for roast potatoes. If you fancy a fish starter or main course, try Fish-in-a-Box, Newport for a range of options including smoked salmon, prawns and mackerel.
Then treat yourself to some festive limited edition ice cream from Top House Dairy Ice Cream. Indulge in Figgy Vanilla, Christmas Ice Cream, or Celebration Cherry soaked in Kirsch as a reward for all your hard work. Remember to visit your local farm shop or independent retailer to see what regional food and drink they are stocking and pay a visit to the HEFF Shrewsbury Food and Drink Fair in The Square, Shrewsbury, on Friday, December 4. Contact details of producers mentioned and retailers near you at www.heff.co.uk