Guy Warner: A Cotswold Christmas menu
PUBLISHED: 11:27 05 December 2016 | UPDATED: 17:02 05 December 2016
Cotswold Life's Good Food Guy introduces the local producers who really make your Christmas...
No matter what else goes on at Christmas time, the star of the show for many of us is undoubtedly Christmas lunch. Let’s face it – stockings are all too often just for the kids, but the slap up meal, that’s definitely something the adults look forward to most. So, the pressure is on to get it right.
You can’t go far wrong buying local – not only are the ingredients fresh and full of flavour, but if the cooking is not quite up to scratch, regaling the guests with stories about where the food they are eating has come from is a good distraction! It’s also, of course, the season of goodwill, and I really believe that by choosing local produce I am doing my part – albeit a small one – to help our local producers here in the Cotswolds. So, here’s my ultimate Cotswold Christmas Menu – take from it what you will, but I promise you, unlike with so many gifts at Christmas time, you won’t be disappointed!
Regular readers will have heard me bang on about the award-winning Coln Valley Smokery smoked salmon in previous columns, but if you’re doing a starter, then this really is the one to go for. These are artisan products in the true sense of the word, traditionally smoked in London brick kilns for a subtle smokey flavour that you just don’t find on regular smoked salmon. Serve with La Parisienne or Hobbs House granary bread and a wedge of lemon and your guests will thank you forever!
For the main event, you simply can’t beat Adlington’s turkeys. Believe me, I’ve tried but these are the ones I always come back to. No other turkey seems to offer the creamy moistness of these fellas – they are simply a joy to eat. If you’re looking for a real show-stopper, then try Adlingtons three-bird roast - turkey, duck and pheasant; goose, chicken and pheasant; or duck, turkey and guinea fowl – the easy way to please everyone at once! For accompaniments, try making home-made stuffing with sausage meat from The Cotswold Farmer, and order a few of their delicious pigs in blankets to sit around the turkey.
You can take your pick of local vegetables to serve up alongside your meal – our fields are full of winter veg, all ripe for the picking. Any good farm shop or local farmers’ market will offer a great selection of locally-grown cabbages, parsnips, carrots, cauliflower and broccoli, all with that just–picked freshness.
Sauces and condiments are what can really take up your time at Christmas but with good locally-made versions you can afford to cheat. Kitchen Garden Preserves cranberry sauce is a fail-safe bet, being hand-made using just cranberries and cane sugar – it tastes pretty much how you’d make it at home, without any of the faff.
Sweet treats abound at Christmas but a good bet is to serve up a selection of the unbelievably good, squidgy, gluten free brownies from Fair and Square – cardamom and pistachio or the salted caramel are particular favourites. A sticky toffee pudding from The Cotswold Pudding Company always hits the spot, or for simplicity, spoon one of The Cotswold Pudding Company’s sticky sauces over Spot Loggins vanilla ice cream – I can’t get enough of their salted caramel sauce. If you’re looking to wow guests, then order a fabulous fruit tart or gateau from Cacao Bean in Moreton-in-Marsh or to keep things traditional try one of the home-made Christmas cakes from Faithfull’s Quality Baking – whether you prefer it iced or with glazed fruit and nuts on top, it’s your choice.
And to finish off, the course that we do best here in the Cotswolds – the cheese board! Really, it’s a case of take your pick from the fine selection of local cheese makers but personally, I like to keep it simple with one soft, one hard and one blue. In that case, I’d choose an organic brie from Simon Weaver, a tangy Leonard Stanley from Godsell’s Artisan Cheese or perhaps a single Gloucester from Jonathan Crump and a Royal Basset Blue from Brinkworth Dairy.
I suppose I can’t really go without a word or two about drinks – it is Christmas after all! Warm up the morning with the Gourmet Mulling Syrup from Selsey Foods, toast in the season of goodwill with Three Choirs Classic Cuvée and accompany the cheeseboard with a smooth organic sloe gin from Bramley & Gage. There you have it – a local Christmas in a nutshell. Then all that’s left is to sleep off the afternoon in front of the TV – enjoy!