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SPRINKLING some last-minute inspiration onto your seasonal shenanigans, you can count on Confidentials to help with all your festive food and drink needs, gift ideas and even activities over the holidays. Read on for sparkling afternoon tea, premium personalised presents, and a whole world of wicker hampers…

2019 12 12 Kettle Bell Kitchen Christmas Hamper Crop

Oven-ready Christmas

Best be quick if it’s a clean-eating Christmas you’re dreaming of – it’s last orders today for getting the Kettlebell Kitchen festive feast delivered in time for the big day. The KBK Christmas Hamper includes a ready-made six-course dinner for two with, apple and parsnip soup, ham hock terrine with onion marmalade or veggie potato and leek terrine with soft egg, turkey dinner with all the trimmings or mushroom pithivier and mushroom sauce with truffle, chocolate fondant, brandy oranges and butter, Christmas pudding and brandy sauce, and mince pies and fruit loaf. That should keep you going. It’s £99, with a bottle of Prosecco thrown in (if you want it), and, if you quote HAMPER10, you’ll also be treated to money off.

2019 12 12 The Lowry Festive Afternoon Tea

Let us tray

Last week, we tested out festive afternoon tea at The Midland; this week, we’re crossing the water to The Lowry Hotel, where it’s three tiers for the newly refurbished River Restaurant. Dig into the slap-up sarnies and seasonal sweet treats every day for £24 per person or £33 for the Champagne or G&T options. Savoury wise, the festive finger food includes a roast turkey sandwich with apricot stuffing, smoked salmon and watercress, egg and cucumber, and a Provolone cheese butty with sweet vine tomato chutney. For afters, behold a Santa-inspired chestnut and chocolate macaron, cranberry and clementine cupcake with pine frosting, spiced gingerbread cake with candied fruits, and – if you can face biting into him – a snowman meringue.

2019 12 12 Wahaca Corn Exchange Festive Feast

Season's eatings

Still waiting for seasonal inspiration to hit? You could do worse than pop by the Corn Exchange, where you can eat, drink and be merry – and pick up some gifts while you’re at it. Push past the Christmas markets (don’t get Gordo started), and you’ll find classes, cookbooks and gift cards galore. Head to Salvi’s deli for a range of present-perfect Italian produce, grab vouchers for Escape Hunt, or sign folk up for gin-tasting in Alston Bar & Beef’s speakeasy or a Banyan Bar & Kitchen masterclass, where they can learn the art of crafting their own gin creations or cocktails (the gift that keeps on giving). Refuel with Cosy Club’s mulled wine martini and vegan Christmas menu or take a trip down Mexico way at Wahaca, where there’s a festive feast for you (pictured), including a mince pie empanada with brandy butter ice cream.

2019 12 12 Honest Burgers Xmas Burger

Patty season

While everyone else is going for broke with frankly terrifying mountains of salty meat and cheese topped with skewers of deep-fried everything - Quarter House and Solita, we’re looking at you, you naughty, naughty things - Honest Burgers have confidently launched their much more restrained Xmas Burger. Keeping it simple with one of their Honest beef patties, smoked bacon, a deep-fried disc of camembert and a splodge of cranberry sauce - served with a side of their famous rosemary salted chips - this one is for those who appreciate subtle ostentatiousness. For us that depends on the day - after our Xmas do last week, no amount of carbs and fat was too much. On an evening where a more moderate touch of luxury was in order, this one hit the spot and crucially we didn’t require the services of a forklift truck to get us home after. You can get your mitts on the Honest Burgers Xmas Burger (£12.50) until Christmas Eve.

2019 12 13 Treetop

Festive hits

While we’re crossing tasks off your Christmas to-do list, here’s another: keeping the kids from complaining as the school hols stretch into next year… Take a family trip to The Printworks Amazon Forest-themed Treetop Adventure Golf and get competitive on one of the two indoor 18-hole mini golf courses. There’s free face-painting and glitter tattoos Thursday to Sunday noon until 4pm, and festive fayre in Pizza Cabana. Toppings include Cumberland sausage, bacon and pigs in blankets, while the berry veggie Christmas pizza combines cranberry sauce, stuffing and fresh rosemary. Feeling festive frazzled? Sneak a snowtini at The Thirsty Toucan or a non-alcoholic minced pie-napple mocktail or naughty or spice mocktini.

2019 12 13 Selfridges Crop

Selection boxes

Our next idea has your name on it – literally. While-you-wait posh present personalisation is yours for the taking at Selfridges online or in the Trafford Centre, where, for £59.99, they’ll add a message or name of your choice to a boxed bottle of Veuve Clicquot Champagne. Selfridges food hall is a must-go for festive hampers – costing from £60 for the likes of champers and choccies, and running through choices such as the alcohol-free cocktail or salmon and whisky gift boxes right up to the top end of the thousand-pound Selfridges Selection Christmas Day Hamper. Which we’re already ordered. Obvs.  

2018 09 13 Hollands Pies Board

Eyes on the pies

Apparently the Holland’s Pies prize has been the one of the most popular so far in our fabulous advent calendar GIVEAWAY, but don’t worry if you missed out because the Lancashire bakers are giving away A YEAR'S SUPPLY of their brand-new Deep Fill Mature Cheddar Cheese & Onion Pie (available in Asda and Farmfoods) – and the chance to learn how to make it. A collaboration between one of Britain’s oldest pie-makers and Britain’s oldest cheesemaker Wyke Farms, it’s proper tasty, and the lucky winner will learn how to make it from scratch with Holland’s resident pastry expert and new product development chef Geoff Hughes. Tell Geoff about your fondest memories of Holland’s Pies on Facebook or Twitter to be in the running…

20180712 Tast Table

Tast the difference

Highly acclaimed Catalonian restaurant Tast – owned by multiple Michelin star restaurateur and chef Paco Perez and Man City’s Pep Guardiola – has a new head chef in the casa following the recent departure of Miquel Villacrosa. Alejandro Calvo from Santander (no, not that one) has been named as the new captain of the kitchen. Calvo started as an intern at Enoteca, Perez’s two-star restaurant in Barcelona before going on to work at Terra in S’Agaro, where he helped to obtain a Michelin star this year – making a six-pack of spanglers for Perez. With seven years of experience in Perez’s restaurants under his belt, Calvo is an exciting prospect for the restaurant which aims to step things up even more in 2020.

Hungry for more? Read our round-up of New Year’s Eve eats here