So, just to whet your appetite, and as a little stocking filler, how about these cute packets of different varieties of teas (bags, by the way, in case loose tea frightens you) from the BelleVue Tea Lady?
Alternatively, of course, you could drink the tea while you're writing cards, wrapping presents, and putting up the Christmas decorations. In that case, you'll be needing something to go with the tea and to help keep you going. Preparing for Christmas is hunger-making stuff, after all. So perhaps consider having some festive cookies to nibble? These, made by the self-styled 'Biscuiteers', come in a dinky tin, and are available from Interflora:
I suppose you could always send them to someone you know, rather than keep them for yourself. But really, why would you? ;) Actually, they come very well packed, and the tin is plenty sturdy enough to resist the vagaries of Royal Mail, so if you know someone who has a sweet tooth and likes eating the hind legs off biscuity reindeer, then you might just have found the perfect present.
If sweet things aren't your, er, thing, then you might want to delve into the wonderful world of umami, the 'fifth' taste. It's not a particularly new concept, but it's novel enough to these shores, and it's what everyone's been talking about for the last few months. Foremost among those is Laura Santtini, who has both published a cookery book earlier this year - stuffed full of suggestions on how to give your food that 'magic' umami taste sensation - but has also launched a range of products (available from Selfridges) to make it that much quicker and easier for you to do so. The talk of Twitter in recent weeks has been her Taste No.5 Umami paste. I can vouch for this myself, too - I've used it in both a rabbit pie and a venison stew, with great results on both occasions. There's plenty more in the Santtini range, including the salacious-looking Carnal Sin rub. I haven't yet tried it, but I can report that it certainly smells promising, with lots of Eastern aromas to boot.
Try rubbing it into the turkey skin for something a little more exotic for your Christmas dinner...
Regular readers of this blog will know that chocolate tends to be a recurring theme. And that I'm a bit of a snob about it. I try not to be, but I'm afraid I just can't help myself. So I was a little sceptical when I was offered some Thornton's chocolate to try. Then again, I know they've been trying to up their game lately, and I was keen to see and taste the results. And you know what? They've won a whole host of awards for their new range of chocolate, so they're on their way. And better still, so far as Christmas is concerned, they've packaged them in a rather attractive fashion, too. Great for stocking-fillers again, or equally good for your own personal chocolate stash. I leave it to your conscience. (The one with pistachio is particularly good, though, so you might want to hang onto that one, at least.)
Hmm - me, too. Probably time to have a mince pie, then. I'm a bit partial to a good mince pie, and I'm quite fussy about them, too. Not all mince pies are created equal, after all. Happily, those sent to me via Abel and Cole, from the Authentic Bread Company, meet my requirements. The pastry is nice and short, and the mincemeat is pleasingly moist and uncloying. And I, for one, prefer my mince pies to be dusted with icing sugar rather than caster sugar, so they scored on that count as well. In fact, I defy you not to eat the whole box (of 6). If you don't, I will.
But then, just as you congratulate yourself on having got the presents sorted and having eaten your quota of mince pies, the front doorbell always goes at this time of year, doesn't it? Neighbours 'just popping round' to deliver cards, and all that malarkey. Aaargh.
Best to have something ready for them, then. For wine, I think I'm probably going to be stocking up on a very drinkable range of both whites and reds from the Australian award-winning vintner, McGuigan. But for food? A few goodies from Unearthed might do the job. Try the olives, cured meats, barrel-aged feta (my particular favourite, and great with in a pasta with chorizo, butternut squash, and sage), and panettone (always handy for making a quick pudding with, too, remember).
Right. There you go. Don't say I haven't tried. If you still haven't got any ideas for Christmas, don't come whining to me. I'm simply too busy munching my way through that lot ^^ to care any more.