I’m writing this at least three weeks before Christmas, yet there’s fairy lights everywhere, the world are declaring they’ve already bought (AND WRAPPED) all their Christmas presents, and I’ve heard the ‘C’ word so many times i’m ready to flee the country. But hey, it’s inescapable. We’re in full-scale Christmas warm-up and everyone is raring to go.
With that in mind, I’m aware this is my only round-up before the special day has been and gone, so here are a few things for you to consider this festive season..
Winter Wonderland at Coq d’Argent
After the success of last year’s Lodge d’Argent winter pop up, Coq d’Argent is back with a rooftop winter wonderland, this time with an Arctic theme. With two cosy tents on the heated ring terraces, festive lighting, fur blankets, snowy decorations and an ‘Aurora Borealis Cube’ there’s plenty to get you in festive spirit. You can sup on Northern Lights-inspired Hennessy cocktails and a winter warmer menu including dishes like venison meatballs and Tartiflette, it’s the perfect place to get warmed up for Christmas.
Coq d’Argent, No.1 Poultry, London EC2R 8EJ. Nearest station – Mansion House, Cannon Street
World of Tales comes to German Gymnasium
I’ve told you about German Gymnasium before, and this month its terrace is back as a winter wonderland. Thanks to a partnership with Lufthansa, Monkey 47 gin and Fever-tree, it’s being transformed into a German story-teller-themed haven, decorated with winter foliage, twinkling lights, warming throws and decorative details inspired by fond fairytales including Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, Rumpelstiltskin, The Golden Goose, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and Hansel & Gretel.
From a wolf-adorned cup of ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ to Grimm’s Potion, a hot gin and tonic made from Monkey 47 Gin, Fever-Tree Aromatic Tonic, apple juice and blueberries, there’s plenty to keep you entertained. And if you’re hungry how about Roasted fresh chestnuts, Currywurst well as oyster and caviar dishes.
German Gymnasium, 1 Kings Boulevard, Kings Cross, London N1C 4BU. Nearest stations – St Pancras, King’s Cross
Christmas at Conrad London St James
From dinners to drinks, afternoon teas and huge banques, Westminster-based Conrad London St James is laying on all sorts for the festive season in its Blue Boar Restaurant, Emmeline’s Lounge and Blue Boar Bar. It’s also within spitting distance of Christmas markets at Elizabeth Street and the Southbank Centre, Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland and carol services at Westminster Cathedral if you want to tie in a visit with some other festive fun
You can try a Winter Afternoon Tea in Emmeline’s Lounge, complete with truffled duck and clementine rillettes on toasted brioche, followed by festive sandwiches and cakes. If you’re after some festive fine dining, until December 23 the Blue Boar Restaurant is offering a set menu including roast Norfolk turkey with chestnut and cranberry stuffing and charred Hereford beef short rib with shallots and a bone marrow crumb. And for Christmas Day itself, there’s a luxurious festive lunch, starting with Champagne and canapés, followed by a decadent five-course meal.
And if you’re already thinking to New Year, you can repeat the experience with an extravagant five-course meal on New Year’s Eve or drinks at the Blue Boar Bar.
Conrad London St James 22-28 Broadway, London, SW1H 0BH. Nearest station – St James’s Park
Bay Tree Slow Cook Sauces
Everyone always harps on about slow cooking but the fact they still involve ‘cooking’ means I’ve never quite embraced the trend. Saying that, I tried The Bay Tree’s Slow Cook Sauces and I think they might have converted me. I literally just chucked the Hearty Beef Bourguignon one in before work and at the end of the day there was a gorgeous rich, tasty stew waiting for us. They also do Zesty Orange Casserole, Classic Minted Hotpot, Rustic Cider and Apple Stew and Comforting Cacciatore. I loved that they also have ‘quick version’ in case you’re not slow cooking when you can basically use them as a sauce.
Bean and Pod Chocs
I’m always on the lookout for new Christmas treats and I think I found them. Bean and Pod have launched their handcrafted artisan chocolates for the festive season and the Milk Chocolate Cocoa Dusted Salt and Pepper Almonds have stolen my heart. A classic idea with a bit of a crazy twist that just works perfectly. I can see a fair few boxes of these disappearing down the hatch this Crimble!
Everyone loves a Christmas tipple. I’m usually a Baileys girl but am thinking of maybe trying honeyed cream liqueur Amarula. Distilled in South Africa and produced from the fruit of the Marula tree, Amarula is aged for two years in French oak barrels before being blended with cream to create the caramel-coloured liqueur. You can serve it over ice, mix in a cocktail or even put in a pud. Worth a go?
RRP £12.50. Amarula is sold in Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Waitrose and Asda