Northern Munkee’s Top 10 Foodie Gifts for 2017

So, although you might not be ready for it and you might not want to admit it Christmas is nearly here. That time of year when people over-complicate, over-think, over-spend and over-eat; I love it! It’s a time when we forget what food fad is en vogue this week and we just think about what’s the best way to treat ourselves and delight all of our senses.

However, I’m a Yorkshireman so I must have something to moan about and for me there is one part of Christmas that can cause unnecessary strain, stress and disappointment: the Gift. Now, thankfully, Mrs Munkee knows how to keep me quiet and always does really  well with presents but I can’t say that about every gift I get. So if you’re stuck for what to get that hard-to-buy-for person then you’re in luck because I’ve created my Top 10 Gifts for Foodies in 2017. This guide is compiled with some incredible brands and some fabulous ideas for Christmas (or any other gifting occasion) this year.

So, without any further ado, drum roll please, in no particular order…

Northern Munkee’s Top 10 Foodie Gifts for 2017

  1. A Chocolate Safari in Bruges from Coeur de Xocolat

northernmunkeebites.chocolatesafariHow Much Will It Cost Me?: £500 (for two people, with discounts for larger groups)

Where Can I Buy It?: www.coeurdexocolat.co.uk

What Is It?: Food tours and safaris are becoming an increasingly popular way to spend our free time and it’s an incredible way to enhance a short, city break. On this trip you will not only explore the chocolate in its spiritual home but you will be accompanied by David Greenwood-Haigh, Master Chocolatier, who will teach you how to taste properly, share the food’s vibrant history and potentially throw in a food pairing session for good measure. The safari is two nights with one full day in Bruges with ferry, food and accommodation included.

Why’s It On The List?: It’s pretty obvious isn’t it? Bruges is an incredible city in itself but what could be better than a flaneur’s jaunt through its magical streets guided by a Chocolate Mastermind? And possibly a cheeky Belgian beer or two because…when in Rome!

  1. A Cheese Toastie Subscription from Cheese Posties

How Much Will It Cost Me?: £4.59 per postie (if you’re just going for one a week, I darenorthernmunkeebites.cheesepostie you to try just one a week!)

Where Can I Buy It?: www.cheeseposties.com

What Is It?: It’s amazing melted cheesiness that’s what! This is the most beautifully simple, expertly branded and great tasting thing that will ever come through your letter box. The variety of food subscriptions you can get your hands on now is growing day by day and surely this is evidence that this is only a good thing!

Why’s It On The List?: Have you seen one of the greatest non-food related shows on TV, Taskmaster? Well, the prince of all subscription boxes was introduced to me by none other than Noel Fielding (not personally but allow me to have my moment) on an epic episode of that show; so how can it not be on the list?

  1. Small Batch Premium Gin Gift Pack from Daffy’s

northernmunkeebites.daffysHow Much Will It Cost Me?: £49.99

Where Can I Buy It?: www.daffysgin.com

What Is It?: If you haven’t seen the gin revolution then the rock you’ve been living under must be cosy! This is an absolute must for gin-lovers and a real premium offer. An award-winning 70cl bottle of Daffy’s gin between to incredible Spanish crystal gin glasses.

Why’s It On The List?: Just imagine the scene…the Queen’s speech has just subsided along with the last goose-fat enrobed roast spud and you crack out these bad boys to enjoy an incredible Scottish gin. Winner! Need I say more?

  1. Gin Selection and Salted Selection Sliders from Fudge Kitchen

How Much Will It Cost Me?: £16.00

Where Can I Buy It?: http://www.fudgekitchen.co.uknorthernmunkeebites.fudgekitchenchristmas2

What Is It?: These fantastically packaged fudge slider collections are perfect for when those dark nights draw in and you need a naughty sugar fix. The indulgently creamy squares are off-set delicately by micro-distilled gins and Skye Sea Salts which delivers a phenomenal flavour northernmunkeebites.fudgekitchenchristmas1juxtaposition.

Why’s It On The List?: These treats are just excellent. Great on their own or with a nice dark roast coffee or smooth whisky or…almost anything!

  1. Trio of Nut Spreads from The Nut Kitchen

How Much Will It Cost Me?: £17.85

Where Can I Buy It?: www.thenutkitchen.com

What Is It?: This is perfect for anyone who enjoys a nutty indulgence. The pack containsnorthernmunkeebites.thenutkitchen a 200g jar of Gianduia Spread, Hazelnut Spread and Almond Spread. You’ll find that these fantastically creamy spreads can go with just about anything: toast, porridge, pancakes, smoothies, ice cream, cakes etc. etc.

Why’s It On The List?: It’s absolutely no secret that I am a nut butter nutter so it’s no surprise that one of my favourite foods has made it onto the list. If you’re not much of a connoisseur you may not fully appreciate that no two nut butters are the same and they certainly weren’t all created equal. These guys have just upped the game!

  1. Dashfire Bitters from Artisan Spirits Company

How Much Will It Cost Me?: £14.90 (100ml bottle)

northernmunkeebites.dashfirebittersWhere Can I Buy It?: http://www.hedonism.co.uk

What Is It?: Quality bourbon or a neutral grain spirit paired with selected spices to give a vividly vintage bitter with a smooth and spicy finish. These beauties are barrel-aged to deliver a distinctive finish.

Why’s It On The List?: Here in the UK we’re more than used to coping with the cold weather but I’ll always appreciate something to just take the edge off it. These characteristic bitters are an awesome flavour-enhancer to add to your festive repertoire and are the perfect gift for that inquisitive foodie!

  1. 70cl Durham Gin from The Durham Distillery

How Much Will It Cost Me?: £27.50

Where Can I Buy It?: www.durhamdistillery.co.uk

What Is It?: This is a small batch gin produced in copper pots with three very distinctivenorthernmunkeebites.durhamgin notes: spicy, savoury and sweet that are all induced by its careful and considered production process. This gin offers the traditional expectations of the drink coupled with the influences of the beautiful Cathedral City of Durham.

Why’s It On The List?: It’s the second appearance for gin on the list so it’s got to be good right? And different to the other one? Well, in that case, I’m two for two! For the gin connoisseur this is a real treat with some subtle nuances in the layered flavour notes. Forget the Fever Tree and go solo on this one!

  1. Peppermill Pizzazz & Sweet Delight from Spice Sanctuary

How Much Will It Cost Me?: £11.98

Where Can I Buy It?: www.spicesanctuary.com

northernmunkeebites.spicesanctuary2What Is It?: Peppermill Pizzazz is a fantastic, Great Taste award-winning, gourmet finishing pepper designed to enhance any savoury food. The Sweet Delight, conversely, is a staple for any baker and will soon become that secret ingredient for your baking.

Why’s It On The List?: Scratch cooking and baking has seen a real resurgencenorthernmunkeebites.spicesanctuary1 over the last few years but I’m a big believer in those little secrets that can help enhance your repertoire that no-one needs to know about. These fantastic spices will help you get the edge over any other competitive cooks or bakers in your family or friendship group!

  1. Stollen Gift Tin from Elizabeth D Bakes

How Much Will It Cost Me?: £16.50

Where Can I Buy It?: www.elizabethdbakes.co.uk

What Is It?: This is a dual layered gift box of stolleny goodness! If you haven’t crossednorthernmunkeebites.elizabethdbakes the bridge and taken the leap with stolen I must say you’re missing out! Big time! There are 16 pieces of the sweet sweet stollen in this pack but I really don’t recommend sharing!

Why’s It On The List?: My first ever proper job was as an Area Manager for a big German Discounter (no prizes for guessing which one), this was my first introduction to stollen… and I haven’t looked back since! Stollen had to feature on my Top 10 Foodie Gifts for 2017 and if I’m going to recommend anything then it needs to be top quality so it could only be Elizabeth D Bakes!

  1. Chilli Jam Gift Box from Single Variety Co.

northernmunkeebites.lemondropchillijamHow Much Will It Cost Me?: £17.00

Where Can I Buy It?: www.singlevariety.co.uk

What Is It?: This is a fabulous collection of three chilli jams made from three different varietals: Jalapeno, Lemon Drop andnorthernmunkeebites.jalapenojam Anaheim. Chilli jams aren’t anything new but they’re becoming ever more trendy and multifarious in their uses. The entire range produced by Single Variety Co is phenomenal and brilliant quality so you won’t be disappointed if you gift these this year.

Why’s It On The List?: We all know that one chilli fiend don’t we? northernmunkeebites.anaheimchillijamWell now you don’t need to worry about what gift to get for them…or…if there’s a risk of your Christmas Day meal being a little pedestrian why not melt some of the Lemon Drop Chilli Jam into your Nan’s gravy? Just a thought!

I’d love to hear about your favourite gifts for Foodies in 2017…pop a comment below!

Northern Munkee.

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Food Review of Christmas 2016

Well, the decorations should now be stuffed back into the loft, the ‘good’ cutlery should have returned to hibernation and the last scraps of turkey should have been consumed. Christmas 2016 is done.

So I want to take this opportunity to look back at my personal Christmas and some of the brilliant food discoveries I made…

Preparation is Everything 

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If you speak to Mrs Munkee, she’ll tell you that I can get quite stressed in the kitchen. If there’s ever a moment when I run out of workspace it’s just not worth being in the vicinity for fear of a passive aggressive torrent of abuse. So, this year, as a pre-emptive strike, I sought advice from Master Chef DGH on how to reduce the work on the big day.

I already do the majority of the vegetable preparations the day before but the gem I will keep with me for life is freezing roast potatoes. As well as being a god-send for timing on the day these were the best spuds I’ve ever tasted; a brilliant sweet, crispy and fluffy tatty!

Here’s DGH’s recipe.

Your Turkey Needs Good Friends 

If you’re like me you’ll see the benefit of investing in a quality bird however if you’re going to surround it with sub-standard accompaniments then you might as well pluck and roast a sparrow.

I would always recommend making as much as you can manage from scratch however, we all know that a little help in December is welcomed. So here are a couple of fantastic products that did my meal proud:

Mr Crumb Stuffing

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I can understand if you’re offended by the idea of buying in stuffing, I get it; but you’d be wrong.

This stuffing is superb. It is light, multi-textured, fresh and, best of all, very easy to do. Having this on my Christmas table offered a great sweet, spicy juxtaposition to juicy turkey.

Heck Festive Baubles

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I first came across this company on an Alex Polizzi (check spelling) documentary and, it I’m honest, the show didn’t put them in the best light. If you take that as you’re only interaction with Heck then I feel sorry for you because their meat is phenomenal.

Heck produced a fresh meat selection just for Christmas called Baubles. These are little meatballs of high quality, high meat, high flavour greatness! One of my favourite elements of the Christmas meal are the pigs in blankets but I didn’t need them this year!

Merry Twixmas 

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t look forward to Twixmas, that joyous period between Christmas and New Year’s Eve when the world is still sleepy and we believe that we’re obliged to eat ALL the food in the house!

The question is, though, how do we make that Twixmas period extra special without completing the unthinkable task of leaving the house? This is what I did…

Just the Jelly 

northernmunkeebites-justthejelly

I love these little pots and I’ll tell you for why: their versatility. If you haven’t experienced this concept before they’re a rich jelly infusion with fantastically concentrated flavours. This year I used them as a meat accompaniment, a cheese accompaniment, a soup enhancer and a gravy enhancer!

Casa de Mont 

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I can’t tell you the amount of time I’ve salivated over these beauties and done nothing about it; but I decided this year I was going all out!

Not only is this ham incredibly tasty and last forever (slight exaggeration) but it also makes an impressive centre piece. I think I’ve started a new Twixmas tradition!

So, that’s enough turkey and tinsel reminiscing for one year. I love hearing from you all so leave me a comment below and let me know your fantastic festive food finds!

Northern Munkee.

Pudding it into Christmas!

This week’s entry is inspired by a disagreement between my wife and I over the Christmas Lunch menu…
Now, just for a bit of context, I’d like to make the point that I am a proud Yorkshireman. I grew up under the White Rose and I will always have flat caps and whippets in my blood. I now live on the darker side of the Pennines in St Helens, which is where my wife hails from, and she is a proud Wooly Back. It’s safe to say that they do things differently over here so when it came to planning our Christmas meal this sparked a conflict of opinions. To Pudding or not to Pudding?
My thoughts are that Yorkshires are for Sunday roasts only; the Christmas dinner table is full of all the trimmings and doesn’t need a lardy pancake. My wife, however, believes that puddings are a natural fit to the meal. I can see her point but I still disagree so I wanted to turn to the world for support (or otherwise) on the subject.
So my question is: what is the pudding etiquette (or ‘petiquette’ for those who enjoy elision)?
Traditionally Yorkshires started their life serving a very different purpose. Most regions had their own version of this treat but it’s most familiar guise is in Yorkshire. They were designed as a fatty food to fuel the mine and mill workers in the county’s industries and would have been much bigger than the ones we serve today; they may have even been flavoured with sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.
The only direction I can find on petiquette was to do with height, as introduced by the Royal Society of Chemistry in November 2008 stating that a Yorkshire pudding can only be a Yorkshire pudding if it is at least 4 inches tall. Whilst this was quite interesting, it didn’t help my conundrum.
Growing up, I was aware that Yorkshires were eaten in different ways though. I had friends, albeit from deepest darkest Barnsley, who would enjoy the batter pudding as a separate course with a vinegar and mint sauce. I also know of many pubs who would serve in a similar fashion but as a bar snack.
So, after about 30 minutes of indignant e-research, I relented. There is no such thing as petiquette and a pudding is a pudding is a pudding. However I strongly believe that there is pudding treason (or ‘peason’ to continue the theme). So my wife and I, like all good teams, found a compromise. Which was: if you’re going to serve Yorkshires, do the history justice and make them and do it properly. They’re really easy and impressive there’s no need to buy any readymade monstrosities; Aunt Bessie is no friend of the Yorkshire!
To help save you from committing peason I’ve included my favourite recipe for beautifully fluffy homemade puddings passed down by the Yorkshire chef, David Greenwood-Haigh:

‘The secret to making Yorkshires, as they are fondly known, is to pour well rested, cold batter into slightly smoking hot fat and put immediately back into a really hot oven. It is as simple as that.

Ingredients

  • 20g Beef dripping
  • 2 large free-range eggs
  • 200 g plain flour
  • 200 ml milk
  • 100 ml water
  • freshly ground sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Method

Preheat the oven to 225°C/425°F/gas 9.

Get a pudding or muffin tin and grease each of the compartments with the dripping.

Put the tray into the oven for 10 to 15 minutes so the fat gets really hot; you should be looking for a blue haze just above the fat.

Meanwhile, beat the eggs, flour, milk, water and a pinch of salt and pepper together in a bowl until light and smooth. Then pour into a jug.

**Northern Munkee tip: add in a couple of splashes of cider vinegar to your batter before you let it rest, it adds a great juxtaposition in flavours and it tastes bloody lovely!**

Carefully remove the tray from the oven, then share out the batter evenly into the compartments. Put the tray back in the oven to cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until risen and golden.’

Fore more recipes from David visit: http://www.coeurdexocolat.co.uk/recipes

Happy Christmas and have a brilliant New Year!

Northern Munkee