Chocolate, chilli oil and a cheesemonger’s hamper
We’ve all got that one mate who’s never missed an episode of MasterChef, drools over ceramic lemon juicers, and gets promotional emails from Kitchen Aid. When Crimbo rolls around, it’s also likely that said mate already owns every chopping board and wine stopper under the sun, making your job as Santa’s little helper an absolute ball-ache.
If you’re done standing in the TK Maxx home section comparing wooden spoons and cookie cutters, these culinary offerings could save your time and sanity this Xmas. Each prezzie is also lovingly crafted, brewed, and stitched by a local indie business – take that Jeff Bezos.
Read on for a list of Christmas gifts and gadgets that’ll ensure your foodie friends feel the love this festive season.
How much: £20
Where: Dormouse Chocolates
Chocolate through the post every month really is the Christmas gift that keeps on giving, and thanks to Dormouse Chocolates you can give away just that. With a new bar pushed through the letterbox each month, members will be living Wizzard’s dream as Christmas comes every day (well month) depending on the length of the membership.
According to Dormouse: "Bars range from new origins we are trying out, to new flavours we are playing around with" and new membership slots are announced around the 16th of every month. Awarded on a first come first served basis, subscriptions can last either three, six, nine or 12 months, with existing flavours ranging from bread and butter pudding to bramble crumble – Milk Tray who?
How much: £15 - £60
Where: Seven Bro7thers Brewing Co.
Tipsy touring is the best kind of touring, and thanks to Seven Bro7hers brewery you can give your bros a behind the scenes bash with a few added tipples. Absorbing brewing tips and tricks whilst tasting some signature brews and blends, visitors are given a two-hour slot to stroll and get squiffy, with plenty of pit stops and party tips along the way.
Vouchers can be bought for either one, two or four people and tours take place at the brewery’s Salford site. Gifted customers can then head over to the Seven Bro7hers website to book their slot and pencil in their mammoth hangover.
Seven Bro7hers Brewery, 63 Waybridge Enterprise Centre, Daniel Adamson Road, Salford Quays, Manchester M50 1DS
How much: £20
Where: Chorlton Cheesemongers
Christmas ain't complete without too much brie, and a hamper full of "unusual and surprising cheeses" chosen by Chorlton Cheesemongers sounds like every cheeseoholic’s festive dream. Great for the friend who always brings the charcuterie, these boxes contain a minimum of four cheeses, changing from day to day with a mix of blues, softs, cheddars, regionals, and washed rind. Perfect with chutney and a glass of champers, you’ll just have to hope your cheesy companion brings their hamper to the next Christmas do.
Chorlton Cheesemongers, 486 Wilbraham Road, Chorlton, Manchester M21 9AS
What: Christmas Board-in-a-Box
How much: (from £57, £35.50 without alcohol)
Where: Abeja Tapas Bar
Tinsel, tapas, and twinkly lights are absolute festive must-haves, and thanks to Manchester’s smallest tapas joint Abeja, you can create the perfect Spanish sharing board in your own home. The Christmas Board-in-a-Box comes with a bottle of wine, aromatic vermouth, a sharing charcuterie and/or cheeseboard, artisan chutney, olives from Malaga, extra-virgin olive oil from Granada, picos breadsticks, and a stocking filled with Spanish Christmas sweets. With the option to pre-order your box now, these essentials from España are all beautifully hand prepped, wrapped and delivered to your door via UPS. Packaging is also completely eco-friendly.
Abeja Tapas Bar, Hatch, Oxford Road, Manchester M1 7ED
How much: £16.99
Where: Pippy Eats
A cookbook is a foolproof option when it comes to foodie Xmas findings, and you can never have too many on an Insta-worthy kitchen shelf. If Ottolenghi and Mary Bez are a bit too mainstream though, the Dumplings and Noodles cookbook by Mancunian Pippa Middlehurst has over 70 recipes and techniques that cover everything from bao to biang biang and wontons to wok skills. Exploring the methods and ingredients behind the nation’s fave Asian dishes, this read is versatile, hearty and guaranteed to cause some kitchen counter clutter. Described as "an essential guide for modern cooks", it just needs a festive red bow and an invite to the next dinner party.
How much: £35 pp
If you can already picture that pal who makes every drink lethally strong and decants their gin into an Evian bottle, this MOJO cocktail masterclass could be the perfect remedy for your pre-drinks PTSD. Teaching you how to shake, mix and muddle a range of their signature tipples, the class also gives participants the chance to taste their makings and learn some trade secrets to take to the next soirée.
Bookings can be made for up to 30 guests (practically a party) and each class is two hours long. With a mix of live demos, games, and "try it yourself" activities, this gift gives the whole group-chat a chance to get their mixology Mojo back in time for the New Year.
Mojo, 59A Bridge Street, Manchester M3 3BQ
How much: Various prices
Where: Bud Garden Centre
For friends with foodie interests and green fingers, a bush from a bijou garden centre in Burnage could be an absolute belter. With a range of grow-you-own plants that produce herbs, fruits and vegetables, gifts can be bought in several different shapes and sizes ranging from crab apples to coriander.
Although a little harder to mask with wrapping paper and a garish gift tag, these plants are suitable for both urban and countryside yards, and the Bud Garden also offer free veg growing advice and tricks of the trade to pop in an Xmas card.
Bud Garden Centre, Omer Drive, Burnage, Manchester M19 2JN
What: Handmade Custom Knife
How much: Various prices
Where: Boli Knife
Whether your mate's after a custom-made shucker or an all-round kitchen chopper, Kip Kaboli is making handmade knives in his cellar that are nowhere near as dodgy as they sound. With each blade, handle and material chosen to fit your customised needs, you’re involved in the making process from start to finish, with regular updates sent each step of the way, #sendknifepics. Orders can take a few months to complete depending on intricacy and size, so time to get hinting if you fancy your own Christmas cutter. The superstitious among you might want to tape a penny to the knife to be returned by the receiver in order to avoid severing the friendship.
What: Illustrated Oven Gloves
How much: £22
Where: Eleanor Bowmer Ltd
Designer, illustrator, and all-round textiles queen Eleanor Bowmer is bringing us the niche kitchen wrap-ups we never knew we needed with her illustrated oven gloves, tea towels and personalised aprons.
With a range of bold and colourful patterns that feature everything from animal print to astrological gems, these gloves are made from 100% British cotton making them durable, easy to clean and heatproof – they’d be a bit crap if they weren’t. Ideal for the foodie fashionista friend you always ponder over, you can also cop a matching apron or tea towel and pop a big fat tick next to someone on the nice list.
What: Mixed Baklawa Box
How much: £12 - £48
Where: Syria Sweets
Although Syrian sweets aren’t the most conventional stocking filler, this filo feast platter is putting the Cadbury’s selection box to shame this Xmas. Made from scratch by owner Safwan Alnajar, the assorted box of baklawa comes in four different sizes and can be shipped nationwide, saving Santa some space on his sleigh for your Magimix.
The Arabic treats also come with assorted fillings of cashews, walnuts, pistachios, and almonds, drizzled with the usual sugar syrup and wrapped in a branded box ready for your friends and fam to enjoy.
Syria Sweets, 2 Dagenham Rd, Rusholme, Manchester M1 5ED
How much: £21.50
Where: Rice Over Everything
Great for those shameless chef friends who bombard your WhatsApp with food pics, these oils and sauces are handmade in Manchester by a Burmese home cook with a passion for fire and flavour. The Chilli Jar Set comes with a Burmese chilli oil that works great with noodle and rice dishes, a shiitake and peanut chilli jar that can be used as a silky sauce, and a dried shrimp and fish sauce that serves as the perfect dip for dumplings. With the set of three coming in at just over 20 quid, these jars are a pantry essential that pack a serious punch.
What: Throwing Lessons
How much: £90
Where: Little Torch Ceramics
PSA: this isn’t a lesson on how to chuck inanimate objects. However, starting in 2022, Matt Cronshaw from Little Torch Ceramics is offering throwing lessons that are appropriate for both complete beginners and well-seasoned potters. Using porcelain clay and a Ghost-worthy potter’s wheel, you can give the gift of wobbly mugs and saucers this Christmas with taster lessons for you and a friend.
One lesson is recommended for a fun intro session, but they can also be booked in bulk if you’re feeling inspired. For a single lesson, guests have time to throw 2-3 pieces which will then be trimmed, glazed and lovingly posted by the studio to keep forever. When booking for a pressie, select "no date" on the booking page and specifics can be finalised at a later date.
Little Torch Ceramics, 65 Cornbrook St, Old Trafford, Stretford, Manchester M16 7QB
What: Wine Carrier
How much: £20
Where: Isca Wines
If clutching an exposed bottle of Barefoot rosé en route to the park all feels a bit too lockdown summer, then provide your pals with this cotton wine bag that slings over the shoulder and carries two bottles of vino simultaneously. Perfect for hands-free strolls and bike rides, the wine carrier comes in the perfect forest green, with each compartment separated by a handy fastener - allowing you to store your wallet, keys, and a couple of glasses, just in case necking it from the bottle isn’t really your style.
Isca Wines, 825 Stockport Rd, Levenshulme, Manchester M19 3PN
Read Again: Top things to do in Manchester: November 2021
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