In the arena of gastronomy, few endorsements make more of an impact than one from Ferran Adrià. The former El Bulli chef declared Spanish brand Joselito’s products to be “unique, perfect cured ham; an unwavering inspiration for those of us who truly love food”. Produced from pigs that roam freely in Mediterranean forests feasting on acorns and herbs, the meat is salted and hung to dry over the summer before being stored underground to mature, often for several years. This is when the products develop their distinctive flavour. Finally, they undergo a rigorous inspection by a master carver. The range includes Jamón, paleta, caña de lomo, chorizo and salchichón – all naturally cured – and these five feature in a tasting gift box.
What would Christmas be without a tasting of oysters? Hollow, thin and flat oysters are a mixture of soft flavours, sweet and iodine vivacity and a clean nutty flavour.
Not many tinned foods can rival the magic of caviar. And Petrossian, founded more than 90 years ago by two brothers born beside the Caspian Sea, produces some of the world’s finest roe. Among its range are the nutty Tsar Imperial Osseta variety and the rich, buttery Beluga. Purists insist caviar be eaten with a mother-of-pearl spoon, but Petrossian caviar is just delicious on top of smoked salmon, or on a buckwheat blini with crème fraiche.
Rumour has it that the turkeys from Rhug Estate are so pampered, they’re played classical music to help them relax. The birds are bred earlier in the year than usual, to give them more time to mature, and are reared by hand. They eat organic oats and have acres upon acres of land on which to roam. Whatever the secret, the North Wales organic farm produces larger turkeys than average, with succulent , flavoursome meat that is served up at Michelin-starred establishments including Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons and restaurants at the Berkeley and the Dorchester. It’s just the ticket for Christmas dinner.
There’s something very British about port at Christmas. Britain was the wine’s first foreign market, and many of the leading producers are now British owned. However a handful are still in Portuguese hands and one of the oldest – Ferreira – distinguishes itself in another way too. While most houses tend to use miniature formats only for entry-range wines, Ferreira uses them as a showcase for more refined ports. A new line includes 10- and 20-yer-old tawnies, as well as two white ports.
This Christmas, the lead chocolatier and master chef La Maison du Chocolat, Nicolas Cloiseau, has pushed the artistic boundaries with an elaborate chocolate creation. The Wreath of Wonder features 100 individual holly leaves that have been perforated, curled and etched by hand, with some covered in 23kt gold leaf. The leaves are attached to two chocolate discs to form the wreath shape, with an edging of gilded nuts including almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios and pecans. Available only in La Maison du Chocolat boutique, Harrods and Selfridges.
A good party needs two things: great music and a few bottles of the fizz. Luckily, Dom Perignon is on the same wavelength. To launch its new 2006 vintage, and the rose vintage 2004, the renowned house has collaborated with Icelandic singer Björk and artist Chris Cunningham, best known for his work on music videos, to create limited-edition gift boxes. The result is a perfectly matured vintage housed in a distinctive box. Available at Harrods The Wine Rooms, Lower Ground Floor