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Biscuiteers Advent Calendar Collection

One of my favourite rituals in the run up to Christmas is choosing my advent calendar.  Every year they get more and more luxurious and you generally need to get in there early before they’re all snapped up.

This year, the countdown to Christmas started a little earlier than usual with the arrival of my Biscuiteers advent calendar collection.  I’ve been trying to exercise some kind of restraint, but they’re so yummy that I can’t see them lasting until December!

Biscuiteers is a bijou London biscuit company founded by Harriet Hastings and her husband Stevie Congdon in 2007.  Since then, they’ve become a teatime favourite, particularly in the fashion with bespoke designs created for Anya Hindmarch, Mulberry and Burberry (all the top notch goodie bags contain a special Biscuiteers treat for the way home).

Biscuiteers now has a Biscuit Boutique and Icing Cafe in both Notting Hill and Battersea and all of the biscuits are hand-made by artisan bakers in London.

The Biscuiteers advent calendar collection is a real joy for foodies with a sweet tooth who love Christmas.  The beautifully-illustrated metal tin is filled with 24 festive iced gingerbread biscuits and it’s exciting to see which ones you’ll get.

Each of the four layers is a glorious winter scene with adorable animals of the season including a reindeer, owl, penguin husky and Britain’s favourite bird, the robin redbreast.  Also featured is a petite iced snowflake biscuit, perhaps as something lighter for those days of extra festive indulgence.

Not only do the biscuits look absolutely divine, but they’re a proper taste of Christmas – just sweet enough with a hint of spice.  Of course you can be virtuous and graze on one every day (as per the advent calendar rules), but it’s more than likely that your nearest and dearest will hint/request/demand a piece of the action – and who could blame them?

The Biscuiteers advent calendar collection is available now and is priced at £45. Shop the Christmas Collection now at Biscuiteers!

Beauty, Christmas, Shopping

Christmas Gift Guide: Stocking Fillers

For an extra Christmas gift, fill a stocking with small gifts that are sure to delight.  Tangerines and nuts and optional.

Bleach London Spin The Bleach Bottle Colour Kit, £12, Boots
Flowers of Liberty Betsy Liberty Print Disc Charm Bracelet, £14.95, Liberty
Kate Spade Set of 10 All Wrapped Up Correspondance Cards, £25.95, Selfridges
Diptyque Winter Scented Mini Candle, £26, Space NK
Wedgwood Original Tea Caddy, £8.95, Wedgwood
Benefit Sugarglam Fairies Gift Set, £44.50, Boots
Melvita Sparkling Oil L’Or Bio, £32, Melvita
Rococo Busy Bees, £5.95, Rococo Chocolates

Beauty, Christmas, Shopping

Christmas Gift Guide 2014: Beauty

Christmas is the time to splash out on friends and family with something they may not usually buy themselves.  What could be better than finding luxury beauty gift under the tree, whether it’s a Bobbi Brown limited edition eye palette, a gorgeous Bella Freud candle or an elegant Penhaligon’s Christmas fragrance set…


Bobbi Brown Warm Glow Eye Palette, £59, Bobbi Brown
Penhaligon’s Ellenisia Christmas Collection, £65, Penhaligon’s
Chloé Eau de Parfum 50ml Engraved Bottle, £60, Boots
Bodhi & Birch Rosa Rosa Skincare Set, £80, Bodhi & Birch
Bella Freud Je T’Aime Jane Candle, £38, Harvey Nichols
Rouge Louboutin Nail Lacquer, £39, Christian Louboutin

books, Christmas, Cookery

What To Bake & How To Bake It by Jane Hornby

Baking is one of those things that I love to do, but often leave it to the experts.  I get lured in by London’s exquisite cake shops, but it can be much more rewarding to make your own baked goods and share them with family and friends.

But, what if you lack baking confidence or have missed out on learning the basics of baking?  What to Bake & How to Bake It by Jane Hornby comes to rescue with a step-by-step guide that takes the guesswork out of baking.

Not only is it a hefty hardback with cool illustrations and beautifully-shot food images, it’s actually really useful and suited to both beginners and seasoned home bakers.

Author Jane Hornby is an acclaimed food writer, editor and teacher, who originally trained as a chef.  She went on to be a Cookery Writer and Food Editor at BBC GoodFood and has also written cookery books What to Cook and How to Cook It and Fresh & Easy.  Her ethos is to get people baking and make the recipes as easy to understand as possible.

The book includes 50 easy-to-follow recipes with aerial photos for almost every step.  It’s particularly helpful for gauging whether the mixture is at the right consistency before baking.

The recipes range from classic baked treats to more inventive sweets that are sure to impress.  They are categorised into different sections including Simple Family Baking, Morning Coffee & Afternoon Tea, Special Bakes and Desserts and After Dinner.

Easy items to get started with are a classic Victoria Sandwich, Buttermilk Pound Cake, Vanilla Fruit Scones and Iced Gingerbread Cookies.

I’m particularly tempted to try out the Jaffa Marble Loaf, Red Velvet Whoopie Pies, Cherry-Almond Streusel Slice and Seriously Chocolatey Cookies.

I’m looking forward to baking up a storm over Christmas and will be packing What To Bake & How To Bake It in my suitcase (to make a mess in my mum’s kitchen).  A Chocolate Hazelnut Log for Christmas Day dessert would go down quite nicely.

What to Bake & How to Bake It is priced at £19.95 and is published by Phaidon Press.  Buy it online here.


Christmas, Shopping, Stores

Christmas Gift Guide 2014: Foodie

What better time to indulge the foodie in your life than with some tasty treats at Christmas?

Spread the festive cheer with a posh cheese hamper, decadent yule log or a cheeky bottle of Sauternes…

Verden Cheese Hamper, £40, Verden
Pierre Hermé Bûche Infiniment Mandarine, €48, Pierre Hermé
Chateau Haut-Mayne Sauternes 2008, £22.90, Amathus
Choi Time Thousand Year Red Giant Flowering Tea Bulbs, £19.95, Harvey Nichols
Carluccio’s Festa Dei Limoni, £29,95, Carluccio’s
Pistachio Kitchenaid Artisan Stand Mixer, £379, Lakeland

Christmas, Shopping, Stores

Christmas Gift Guide 2014: Luxury

Christmas has a funny habit of making you splurge on decadent things.  If they’re too gorgeous to resist, or can be justified as ‘useful’, then why not?  Here are some ideas for gifts that are sure to impress…


Mulberry Blossom Tote in Hibiscus Calf Nappa, £495, Mulberry
Valentino: At The Emperor’s Table by André Leon Talley, €115 Assouline
Alexander & James Japanese Cocktail Set, £180, Alexander & James
Monica Vinader Baja Mini Bracelet, £495, Monica Vinader
Hermès Minuit au Faubourg Vintage Silk Twill Scarf, £235, Hermès
Shinola Detroit The Women’s Bixby Bicycle, £1,675, Shinola Detroit
Penelope Chilvers Dandy Slipper Velvet, £245, Penelope Chilvers
Heal’s Grey Herringbone Merino & Cashmere Throw, £128, Heal’s


Accessories, Christmas, Designers, Fashion, Shopping

Christmas Gift Guide 2013: Accessories

Accessories make perfect Christmas gifts, whether it’s a cosy faux fur snood, a piece of designer jewellery or a fabulous handbag.  Hermès bangles are collectible classics while this season’s KENZO bags are unbelievably cool and covetable.  Of course, no one can resist a butter-soft Mulberry leather purse and the new bright red colour is particularly festive.

Here are some more ideas for amazing accessories this Christmas…


KENZO Lightning Dix-Huit Leather Satchel, £540, Selfridges
Anton Heunis Spike Opulent Necklace, £239, Cadenzza
Lux Velvet Ear Muffs, £12, Topshop
Colliers de Chiens Enamel Bracelet, £310, Hermès
Shinola ‘The Birdy 34mm’ Watch, €525, Colette
Tree French Purse in Bright Red Shiny Goat, £275, Mulberry
Lily and Lionel for Mr & Mrs Smith See You In Santorini Scarf, £100, Mr & Mrs Smith
Faux Fur Snood, £25, Oliver Bonas
Quilted Gloves, £49 Hobbs

Christmas, Shopping, Tech

Christmas Gift Guide 2013: Tech

Impress the tech junkies among your friends and family with some cool gadgets that make life easier and more fun while on the move.

Google Chromecast is an affordable dongle that plugs into your TV’s HDMI port, allowing users to stream from tablets and smartphones, including apps like Netflix, YouTube, Hulu Plus and Chrome.

Logitech’s Bluetooth Illuminated Keyboard connects to Windows, Apple and Android devices and can easily switch between your tablet, PC or smartphone with a touch of a button.  It also comes with a motion sensor that detects your hands turning the backlight on or off to help you save power when you are not typing.

The Anker Astro E5 Portable Charger is perfect for flights, road trips or just when you can’t get to a power supply.  This portable charger can charge your iPhone almost seven times over.  It is also compatible with iPad, Samsung Note and Google Nexus.

Here are some more tech gift ideas that will win you some serious Brownie points this Christmas…

Google Chromecast, £38.69, Amazon
Belair X6-12 Trailblazer, £289.00, Lomography
Logitech Bluetooth Illuminated Keyboard K810, £89.99, Logitech
Toshiba STOR.E SLIM, £48.26, PC World
Sony SRS-BTM8 Portable wireless speaker, £79.00, Sony
Anker Astro E5 Portable Charger, £37.99, Amazon

Beauty, Christmas, Shopping

Christmas Gift Guide 2013: Beauty

Christmas is the ideal time to pamper friends and family with a luxurious beauty treat.  The Aerin Winter Color Palette from the Holiday Collection is perfect for creating party season looks, while ila spa Body Cream for Glowing Radiance brings a touch of spa indulgence at home.

A limited edition Diptyque seasonal candle under the tree is a tried and tested way to bring a smile on Christmas morning and Chloé Roses de Chloé is a stunning modern floral scent that is sure to delight.  Here are some more ideas for fabulous beauty gifts…

Aerin Winter Color Palette, £45, John Lewis
ila spa Body Cream for Glowing Radiance, £63, ila spa
Diptyque Indian Incense Scented Candle, £45, Liberty
Penhaligon’s Vanities Collection, £50, Penhaligon’s
Chloé Roses de Chloé eau de toilette, £44.20-£54.40, John Lewis
Superdry Bento Beauty Box, £25, Superdry
Errol Douglas Infra-red Pro Dryer, £49.99, Boots
DOSE Nail Polish Trio, £15, Selfridges
Bourjois Poudre de Riz de Java, £9.99, Boots
LAQA Lip Pencil Bossy Boots, £13, Austique
Chanel Rouge Coco Hydrating Crème Lip Colour in Mademoiselle, £24, House of Fraser
Mandara Spa Tropical Blooms Body Oil, £7.50, Time to Spa

Christmas, Shopping

Christmas Gift Guide 2013: Foodies

The holiday season is already a dream for foodies, but you can never have too much festive indulgence!  Whether it’s a set of the finest Kusmi Teas, an ice cream maker to concoct gourmet flavours or a quirky gold burger necklace, these gifts are sure to delight bon viveurs this Christmas….

Pizza Pilgrims: Recipes from the Backstreets of Italy, £12, Amazon
12 Hole Cake Pop Maker, £26.99, Lakeland
Assortment ‘Brunch Teas’, €22, Kusmi Tea
Wahaca Pestle and Mortar, £18.50, Boots
Glenda Lopez Burger Necklace, £69, MyFlashTrash
Maille Supreme Condiment Collection, £29.99, Selfridges
Ice Cream Deluxe, £75, Cuisinart
Cake Ispahan, €20, Pierre Hermé
Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve, £42.50, Alexander & James

Christmas, Restaurants

Preview: Christmas at Carluccio’s

This week’s weather may have had us melting, but Carluccio’s Christmas wonderland on St Christopher’s Place was quite literally the coolest place to be.

What could get you more in the pre-Christmas spirit than a giant pasta Christmas tree, a traditional Italian food market, a feast of seasonal bites and of course, faux snow!

Carluccio’s is my ‘go to’ place for exquisite Christmas foodie gifts, as they are of the highest quality and the packaging is always gorgeous.

We visited in time for a late lunch and grazed on the finest salumi, marinated olives, roasted vegetables, artisan breads and parmesan freshly chipped from an enormous wheel.

The Carluccio’s Christmas range has so many sweet delicacies to choose from, but my favourites have got to be the meringue-based Fiocchi di Neve, Meringhe di Gianduja and Roccette, and the candied orange Clemente in Camicia and Lunette d’Arancia.

A heavenly new addition to the Christmas range is Lingotto di Fichi – a mixture of Calabrian figs, candied peel, walnuts and rum, coated in a thick layer of dark chocolate.  It’s rich, dense, incredibly boozy and a fabulous stocking filler.

More kid-friendly treats are the adorable little Pinguini gianduja filled milk chocolates and La Gita milk chocolate and gianduja filled santas in their Christmas van.

For a thoughtful gift that is sure to delight, give a hamper filled with gourmet pasta, delectable sauces, panettone, gianduiotti and truffle honey.

I’m particularly excited about the amazing chocolate-filled advent calendar and a flame fountain, to give my Christmas panettone a bit of pizzazz.

Carluccio’s Christmas range is available in stores and online from the end of October.  For more information, visit:

See more of the Carluccio’s Christmas range below…

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Christmas, Shopping

Christmas Gifts For Foodies 2012

Foodies are spoilt for choice at Christmas, whether it’s gourmet hampers, cool kitchenware or beautifully-packaged delights.

Here are a few of my favourite Christmas foodie treats…

My Cointreau Evening Bag, £559, Selfridges
Cointreau ambassadress Dita Von Teese designed this chic vintage-style handbag, containing everything you need for a classic Cointreau cocktail and a decadent evening.

Book of Tea – Classic Edition, £25, Tea Palace
Keep warm in style over the festive period with Tea Palace’s adorable book of tea.

Captains Favourite Gift Set, £45, Paxton & Whitfield
This indulgent gift set from Paxton & Whitfield, London’s oldest cheese shop includes a bottle of Tawny Port, Stilton and malted crackers in a traditional wooden box – perfect for the Christmas dinner cheese course or entertaining over the festive period.

Le Tre Marie Panettone, £24, Stores
Le Tre Marie is often named the best panettone and for me, Christmas Morning breakfast wouldn’t be the same without a slice.

Rococo: Master the Art of Chocolate, £17.50, Amazon
The inspiring founder of Rococo Chocolates Chantal Coady shares her chocolate-making tips, so we can make delectable sweets at home.

Cantucci & Vin Santo, £23.95, Carluccio’s
No one does Christmas quite like Carluccio’s.  What a treat it would be to find this beautifully-packaged Cantucci & Vin Santo gift set under the tree.

Maille Casserole Set with Mustard and Spoon, £25, John Lewis
Cook up a post-Christmas Bourgignon or Cassoulet, when you can no longer tolerate the sight of turkey and sprouts.

Have you found any fab gifts for foodies?  Which foodie gift would you love to find under the tree this Christmas?