Making the Most of the Holidays

More Seasonal Tips from Guy Salter

Guy Salter’s Christmas gift ideas got such a remarkable response that we prevailed on him to share a few more suggestions…

………………………

I was blown away by how much you liked my rather random Christmas wish list, so here’s a handful of other thoughts – but less on gifts and more how to get the most out of your pandemic-constrained festivities, with a focus on things to do with your loved onesApologies if it is UK-focussed and a bit food and drink-heavy but I’ve assumed your wings are as Covid-clipped as ours, so what follows can hopefully all be done at, or not far away from, home…

………………………

Image: The Royal Albert Hall

Carols at the Royal Albert Hall. From £57.50 to join in person or £16 to join from home

I don’t know about you and your household, but Christmas just isn’t the same without at least one moment of wassailing.  For those of you who can (and feel comfortable with the precautions the Albert Hall has taken), go in person to Kensington Gore.  For those that can’t (or don’t), the concerts are live-streamed as well. 

………………………

Image: Netflix

The Queen’s Gambit

For those of you who haven’t watched this yet, do.  My partner, Manoon, insisted I give it a try and he was spot-on.  When you do, make sure to gather your household around you.  In our house, we are aiming on watching at least one thing together each day of the holidays, as otherwise what’s the point if everyone just retreats to far flung corners with their own devices.

………………………

Mushroom Risotto

After all the stress of worrying about what’s going to happen to Beth, nothing better for the family than some simple comfort food. Plus a great way to use leftovers but of course one of our greatest dishes in its own right and so good at any time of year, especially when made with love.  The only absolute must have is high quality stock but if you are doing a traditional Christmas you’ll have had plenty of opportunity to make some…  If you don’t eat meat, lots of the right kind of veg makes for a wonderful Unami-rich base, especially if you add a touch of miso.  I’m sure we all have our own approach but mine is simply softening some shallots in a bit of olive oil, then the mushrooms, the (arborio or similar) rice, wine and then stock, stock, stock, stir, stir, stir.  Twenty minutes later you should have a glistening unctuous rice feast fit for the Gods – and your Covid-bubble.  If you are feeling indulgent, consider adding a small bit of that alpine butter from the River Café I mentioned last time, just after it’s done and leaving in the pot with a lid on for five minutes.  I think it gets even better if you do this and it enables you to get everything else organised and so serve it piping hot.

………………………

Image: Southbank Centre

Winter Light

I really like the idea of the growing trend for outside events which force back the winter darkness and make the most of those otherwise dreary lost hours. 

………………………

Image: The Happy Kamper

Glow 2020 at RHS Wisley, £14.95 per adult

Tickets to this wonderful illuminated landscape are few and far between but I would strongly recommend a visit to Wisley in day light too.  It’s a gardener’s garden and stunning even in its winter colours.  Again, make sure you drag everyone along, even the kids.  Just what we need to banish Covid-gloom.  Kew does something similar.

………………………

Image: Great West Way

Windsor Great Park

Somewhere else to visit with your Covid-bubble, although no lights this time. If you’re like me and still mostly WFH, you aim to get out at least once every day for as long a walk, run or cycle as you can.  The trouble is boredom with our usual haunts.  For a Londoner, Windsor Great Park is surprisingly quick to get to and a step up from one’s local urban green space.  It can be done by train (Egham) but if driving, probably best to park at the Savill Garden car park, as it’s a good mid-way point between the Long Walk leading to the castle and the Virginia Water lakes.  The 250 acre Valley (woodland) Gardens alone are vaut le détour, even in mid-winter the variety of trees and shrubs are impressive. If you don’t own a car, there are normally Zipcars a plenty.

………………………

Image: Field & Flower

Creedy Carver Whole Duck. Field & Flower, £18.95

What to feed the family after these exertions, especially those who were reluctant to come out?  Seems the ducky confit in my last post inspired some culinary adventures (some more successful than others), so I’m doubling down here with a suggestion for those who do eat meat and end up turkied-out post-Christmas.  Or as a January mid-week treat.  Creedy Carver’s ducklings are so special that my advice is to try the whole bird.  Realistically this will feed four, five or six at a pinch.  Keep things simple:  salt the skin and let it air dry in the fridge for at least 24 hours (if you’re like me, you do this for chicken as well), wipe dry, then roast at about 210°C fan for thirty minutes or so until it’s clearly feeling the heat.  Then reduce to 160°C fan for about another hour and a half, less if you like your duck rarer.  Needless to say, success is crispy but not dried out, so a decent rest while you make the gravy is essential.  Pour out and keep most of the fat (for your next confit or potatoes), a little flour to bind, whatever alcohol you have to hand and of course some good stock and you’re done.  If your tastes run in that direction, add a dollop of Seville marmalade (the bitterer the better), then either leave it at that for classic, or add some five spice and soy for a more Chinese take.

………………………

Image: The Real Flower Company

The Real Flower Company DIY Christmas Wreath, £65

Just as there’s been a run on the best free range turkeys, so good quality Christmas wreaths seem to have been a casualty of Covid, at least in Central London. Even my local go-to source (the Florist’s shop at Rassells in Earls Court Road), weren’t able to supply me with a simple well-made but undecorated one this year.  So good to see The Real Flower Company, who I have known so well ever since they were a Walpole Brand of Tomorrow, are still offering this DIY kit.  Perfect way to get the Christmas Bubble a-bubbling.

………………………

Image: Royal Collection Trust

Masterpieces from Buckingham Palace. The Queen’s Gallery, £16 per adult

If you live in or near London and you and your extended Covid-bubble are desperate for some culture (or you just want to get away from them for a bit), consider this.  It should be a real treat to see pictures of this artistic and historic significance eye-to-eye (normally they are hung in profusion in the Picture Gallery at Buckingham Palace, which for those of you who know it, is a magnificent ensemble but doesn’t allow for much intimacy). 

………………………

Image: Living Architecture

Living Architecture’s Life House, about £1,000 for a mid-week stay

The only trouble with day excursions, especially now, with so many more of us around than usual, is you’re likely to find many others doing the same as you.  So this is for those of you who feel like venturing out a bit further and getting some proper seclusion, space and dirt in the soles of your Naglev’s.

………………………

Image: WildLand

Kinloch Lodge, Sutherland. WildLand, about £16,200 a week

To really get away from it all and experience a proper Winter/Dark Sky Hit, this is a wonderful very comfortable house in an amazing part of that amazing and little known county, Sutherland.  Also means you’ll be supporting the unsung work of Anne & Anders Holch Povlsen, landowners setting a new tradition.

………………………

Image: Kora

Kora Women’s Xenolith Sweater, £190

If you’re venturing that far north, you need the right kit.  One of you sent in this excellent-looking alternative to my mid-layer suggestion in my last post.  Quite a bit more expensive but Kora is a brilliant company making high performance fabrics using Yak wool and contributing to the local nomadic Tibetan communities who supply it.

………………………

Image: Purdey

Swarovski CL Companion 10×30. Purdey, £950

A very special gift to unwrap around the fire after a day on the hill.  I treated myself to a pair while at Purdey during LCW this year and literally haven’t looked back.

………………………

Image: Purling London

Purling London Bespoke Chess Set, from £6,000

One more gift idea, seeing as we are in the season of giving.  If your special loved-one has been inspired by Beth’s adventures in The Queen’s Gambit, what about this as an extra present to get 2021 started auspiciously?  The good thing about this option is it can be last minute, as there’s nothing to be delivered yet. Purling also do many other great looking sets that are very much less than going the full bespoke route.

………………………

DIY Porchetta. Farmison & Co., £27

I can’t leave you without one more foodie suggestion.  In case you missed out on getting the family a Bronze free-range, here’s an alternative, which is great at any time of year.  Plus it’s fun making up your own version and experimenting with stuffing and flavour combinations.

………………………

Image: Hedonism Wines

Dhondt Grellet Les Terres Fines. Hedonism Wines, £54.90

And finally something to open at a second past midnight on the thirty-first.  I’ve been addicted to single grape wines from Champagne ever since my first sip of Salon and now there are so many first class Blanc des blancs, including of course from here.  So I did wonder whether to suggest something English or one of my favourite pinot-only sparkling wines but let’s raise a glass to Savoir Faire and our shared European culture on the day the Brexit Transition ends, with this Champagne-made beauty.

A very happy Christmas & New Year to you and your loved ones and looking forward to a much better 2021.

………………………

 

Please feel free to share this page with your family and friends.

Sign up to our newsletter below to get the latest London Craft Week news and curated content delivered straight to your inbox.

Obviously please check your local Covid-19 guidance.

More news

A Look Back at 2020

As we come to the end of an extraordinary year, we want to thank you for your continued support and...

Guy Salter’s Christmas Gift Ideas

Our Chairman & Founder, Guy Salter, shares a few last minute thoughts about what to buy that person in your...

London Craft Week 2021 – Open Call

Would you like to be part of LCW 2021? We are now welcoming proposals from brands and independent makers who...