With only 2 weeks to go until the 2017 Advent Calendar, I thought it would be nice to share about some of our Christmas preparations. With all of the shops helping us get ready, today was the first of the big trips to buy Christmas food. Here are our annual must-haves:
1) Mince pies
Must be topped with icing, and not those mini ones either. I suppose puff pastry all over is OK, and those frangipane ones are nice too, but iced topped mince pies are the Christmas equivalent of cherry bakewells.
2) Zum Fest
You have to get in a decent box of biscuits, and you can't do better than Bahlsen ones from Germany. Zum Fest have chocolates, biscuits, and lebkuchen. Second best are the lebkuchen from Sainsburys, as they have lovely apricot filling (the same jam that holds a decent battenburg together). Plain gingerbread is not as good.
The best cheesy biscuits. They are like Cheeselets but in the shape of trees.
These almond cakes were our go-to gift for friends for many years, particularly the ones from Carluccios. But they have discontinued them, so now we buy Arden & Amici from Waitrose, who import them from Tuscany.
Whether the individual ones in Costa, or the gigantic boxed ones, a decent panettone is essential for creating a Christmas atmosphere. Waitrose has a new cranberry and orange flavour which we are trying this year.
6) Black Forest Hot Chocolate
Say no more.
7) Fruit Jellies and Chocolate Ginger
Staples of the Christmas Day snacks, alongside the mixed nuts in the Tupperware boxes at Sarah's parents' house, these are strictly eaten by one person and no sharing - jellies for Sarah, ginger for Adam. I have found she has a special liking for Finlandia jellies from Helsinki-based Fazer, which you can get at the Finnish Christmas Market in Rotherhithe, London.
This is a Norwegian speciality, dating back to 1915, and each year 45 million of them are consumed by Scandi fans. Conveniently the Norwegian Church is next door to the Finnish Church and has its Christmas Fair the same week!
Do tell us in the comments which Christmas food items you can't do without. And look out for the Advent Calendar in a couple of weeks!