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Friday, 9 August 2013
Words & Photography by Simeen Kadi
We don’t often get glorious weather like this in an average London summer, but there are some things you can depend on at this time of year. High streets full of winter clothes when what you really need are some flip-flops. And the supermarkets doing their version of Fashion Week A/W – the big Christmas reveal.
I went along to see what Waitrose has in store for us this festive season and had a lovely afternoon enjoying a Christmas lunch and scarfing mince pies while, through the open windows, birds sang and the sun shone on the lush summer garden.
This year Waitrose has really pulled out all the stops with 900 Christmas products in-store, 450 of which are new this year. I started with a Salted Caramel Vodka (delicious with fresh limes and ginger ale), enjoyed with cinnamon pretzels and popcorn coated in dark chocolate, and ended with an exquisite snowflake (White Forest Chocolate Snowflake) and every mouthful was a delight.
Some real innovation and Heston magic shone throughout; a clever take on a prawn cocktail, served as a canapé shot.
And, of course, the famous Heston Christmas Pud. This time the special surprise is a molten chocolate centre. Since I don’t think the photo does it justice I will leave it up to your imagination to conjure up a suitable image.
There are plenty of options for party food and I tried Heston’s Corn Muffins with Chilli, Ham Hock and Piccalilli Terrine as well as Oriental Pork Lolipops (much nicer than they sound) and Duck Liver Parfait with Mandarin Jelly.
The main event has been made super stylish and easy to prepare. None of this rising at dawn to prepare the turkey. Waitrose has already boned, stuffed, marinated and glazed your favourite Christmas protein. There is Bronze Turkey with Pork, Chestnut and Apple Stuffing and a deboned one, stuffed with winter fruits. There’s Oak Smoked, Stout and Molasses Matured Gammon and huge Legs of Lamb studded with Rosemary and Garlic – all ready to slam in the oven. And with scrumptious sides from the trad sage and onion stuffing to Salted Caramel Parsnips and ready to roast Goose Fat Potatoes, this Christmas, cooking an impressive dinner should be a doddle.
The Puddings look amazing, too. From the glittery Decadent Opera mousse cake with coffee and brandy flavours to Heston’s Chocolate Ginger and Caramel Gateau I was mesmerised by row upon row of beautifully decorated confections.
Even the cheeses look like sumptuous puddings. As well as the more traditional cheese truckles, there is a White Stilton ‘Christmas Pudding’ with Cranberry, Dates, Apricot and Courvoisier and Waitrose has even stuffed their Camembert with Figs, Pecan and Honey, ready to bake and serve.
Traditionalists may tut with disapproval at the idea of a ready-made Christmas dinner. But, when it looks and tastes this good and has been made using quality ingredients it means you can serve a fabulous meal without the days of drudgery and preparation. So more time downing champagne and staring bleary-eyed at the telly.
Until then, there’s the matter of the best Summer in years to attend to.
Waitrose Christmas foods will be in stores from October.