“So here it is, Merry Christmas, everybody’s having fun…”
I know, I know, I should be arrested (or even put in a straitjacket) for mentioning the C-word this early, but bear with me for just a few minutes.
I could not possibly not share the delights Waitrose have put together for us all. I have been hanging on to this for months, so hear me out, lovely people!
Christmas with Waitrose is stylish and undeniably refined, with European flavours sipping through here and there, glitter disseminated all around in a joyful glitzy touch, yet discreet, understated almost. It is sophisticated yet back to basics. I am simply and utterly in love with it!
The gorgeous Christmas ornaments definitely have a Scandinavian influence, with bare wood, whites hues, understated designs all about elegance and simplicity. Less is more and Waitrose is once again spot on!
Even the crackers are something else. The people at Waitrose have worked hard to bring us crackers that are top of the range, innovative, with goodies in the likes of a selfie stick, a wine pourer, a stylus you can use on your phone or tablet, an atomiser or headphones, to name just a few. I know where I am getting my crackers this year!
The children’s section has a playful air about it, a retro feel that makes me feel all fuzzy inside. Imagine a ‘back to basics’ Christmas spent playing with real games, a Christmas stripped of modern technology, phones and social media, a Christmas to bond with your loved ones again.
The games you can get from Waitrose this Christmas are simple, the kind of games our parents and grandparents used to play. They are not ridden with rules or complicated operating systems. They are bare, fun and oh so pretty!
The gingerbread house kit looks sturdy enough for little hands to build without creating too much mess or the huge disappointment that their edible artwork might collapse after five minutes.
As for the reindeer baking kit, it can become a gingerbread man kit after the festive season has ended. Talk about reusable!
I had a good chat with Stuart Owen, product developer in the bakery and biscuit session.
Gluten-free diets are catered for with some Coeliac-friendly food, including a ‘free from’ Christmas pudding. Disappointingly, very little is available for multiple food allergy sufferers.
The bejewelled fruit cake has a spectacular air about it although dried fruit is not my cup of tea.
If like me, you cannot face a slice of Christmas pudding, you will have a range of options when it comes to dessert. Look at this red velvet chocolate cake shaped like a tree stump!
How about this stunning Ombré Chocolate Cake with salted caramel icing sandwiched between the layers of sponge?
My favourite? A refreshing white forest semifreddo made with white chocolate, kirsch and black cherry.
The Kir Royal Meringue Stack also looks right up my street.
Continental influences are obvious in the bakery section, with Chocolate Panettone, Cranberry & Orange and even Prosecco-flavoured Panettone.
Granted, the Speculaas Biscuits might not look terribly appetising or as pretty as mince pies, but give them a go: they are scrumptious!
The Piñata Christmas Cake hides a decadent chocolate sponge.
As for this trio of Baubles, it is 3 cakes in one: a chocolate bauble, a fruit one, and a vanilla sponge, to make everyone happy on Christmas Day!
The Tropical Buche is refreshingly different, with its citrusy undertones and tropical flavour. Listen to this: passion fruit mousse, mango and lime curd on a white coconut blondie. How tempting does that sound? Believe me, I tried it and I would have gone home with one had it been available to buy there and then.
Here are a few of the savoury delights on display:
– Ginger, clementine and star anise ham
– Gammon with bourbon glaze
– Turkey paupiettes (oh so French!)
– Golden Turkey crown
– Clementine and cranberry glazed salmon side
– an impressive array of cheeses. This goat’s cheese Camembert would give another dimension to the Vegetable Tatin.
As I was about to leave the press event, I spotted the pop up Waitrose restaurant serving 3 course meals to guests. I could not refuse, could I? I went for the vegetarian option, and wow, Waitrose have really upped their game when it comes to a meatless Christmas.
The starter, Red Fox Leicester Cheese and Quince served with Waitrose 1 Roast Fennel and Parmesan Foccacia was perfectly balanced, full of flavours yet not overpoweringly cheesy in the slightest.
The main course was my absolute favourite, and I hope Waitrose make the wise decision to offer it all year round. The Roasted Beetroot, Carrot and Red Onion Tarte Tatin was made of a thin layer of flaky puff pastry topped with perfectly cooked vegetables and slightly caramelised red onion. It was served with all the trimmings and I ate every last crumb.
Although Christmas Pudding is normally something I run away from, I tried Remy Martin’s version and rather enjoyed it.
The passion Fruit, Mango and Lime Yule Log did not disappoint. The sponge was light, the fruit purée full of zing and the creamy topping dreamy without being over sweet. It would without the shadow of a doubt be my dessert of choice for a Christmas get-together.
Disclosure: I was invited to a Christmas Press Event organised by Waitrose and thoroughly enjoyed everything that was on offer. I had planned to spend under an hour there but ended up tasting all the innovative treats that had been lined up for us for just over three hours.