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Make an appointment with The Doctor’s Kitchen

16th January 2018
Plus win a signed copy of ‘The Doctor’s Kitchen: supercharge your health with 100 delicious everyday recipes’ 

Rupy Aujla is a straight talking NHS doctor on a mission to show that food is the ultimate medicine. We’re minded to agree, which is why we met up with him to talk about The Doctor’s Kitchen project, his latest recipe book, and why he thinks we should start taking culinary medicine seriously.

How did The Doctor’s Kitchen start?  

I started The Doctor’s Kitchen to inspire my patients about the beauty of food and the medicinal effects of eating well. I wanted to bring a reliable, evidence based approach to healthy eating and start the conversation about how we can use food in medicine.

What do you think lies behind the growing interest in food nutrition?

Overall I think people are becoming more inquisitive and I welcome that. We live in an era of information accessibility and the democratisation of healthcare is upon us! Most people recognize that food is very important but they lack the knowledge or motivation to make the first steps. Having a GP literally showing them how to cook is quite revolutionary and motivational for a lot of my patients.

Tell us about your new recipe book… 

I describe it as a culinary journey through food in medicine where I try to inspire people about the incredible health benefits of nutrition using an evidence-based approach. I’m trying to shake off the stigma of healthy eating being expensive or pretentious and making it inclusive for everyone. It’s accompanied by 100 delicious recipes that span cultures and have the science woven into the dishes. I also tackle common fad diets using a balanced open minded approach and science as my guiding principle.

I’ve tried to make it as inclusive as possible. Whether you’re a novice cook or somebody who likes experimenting in the kitchen, the book will certainly appeal. I have a section on cooking staples such as wild rice or greens from scratch and the methods that are proven to retain most nutrition. I also like to experiment with making marinades, pastes and chutneys so there’s a whole section on that. As well as quick meals and slow cooking favourites.

How do you juggle responsibilities as a NHS doctor with The Doctor’s Kitchen?

It can be tough but I’ve learnt to deal with one task at a time and try not to think of the whole to do list which can get overwhelming. I’ve started using google calendar to schedule and that has helped immensely. I try to meditate daily (although that doesn’t always happen). I forgive myself for not hitting targets. I learnt how to reduce my stress over the years by concentrating on my breath during the day and I try to leave time to unwind. Burnout is something I have experienced in the past and I’m very mindful of it.

How important is convenience in your cooking?

Very important! I don’t always have time to create amazing instagramable pictures in the mornings! So efficient cooking and kitchen hacks are essential and these are some tips that I’ve learnt along the way and shared in my cookbook.

 

Then check out his The Doctor’s Kitchen Pistachio and Fennel Slaw recipe available to try on farmdrop.

How important for you is understanding how and where your food was made?

Exceptionally important, especially when it comes to animal products. I think over the years we’ve lost touch and therefore respect of exactly where our food comes from. Life has been sacrificed to nourish our bodies and it’s a very humbling reality that we’ve lost sight of since we don’t butcher or milk the cows ourselves anymore!

I think if we were mindful of that we would care a lot more about where and how our food is produced and probably eat less animal products but certainly of a higher quality. This is why I’m so supportive of what Farmdrop are championing in the UK.

Where are your future plans for the Doctor’s Kitchen?

I’m in the process of starting culinary medicine in the UK, where we teach doctors the foundations of nutrition and how to cook. I also want to change the way medicine is taught to include a large proportion of the curriculum on nutrition, because I believe we need to teach our medical students the future of medicine revolves around food.

To celebrate the launch, we are giving away a signed copy of The Doctor’s Kitchen. Simply enter your details here to be in a chance with winning. Entries close on 30th January 2018. 

Living

8 farm stay holidays guaranteed to beat winter blues

9th January 2018

The farm stay encapsulates the holiday many of us crave: an unfettered getaway, remote from the mundanity of office life, that narrows the divide between food and plate. Question is, what most takes your fancy?

Brushing elbows with a farming family in the Italian countryside, or getting lost (but not, hopefully, too lost) in 4,200 acres of lush Tennessee wilderness? Here are a few picks of the best farm stays around the world to get you started.

1. Coombeshed Farm, Cornwall, UK

Tom Adam’s Pitt Cue has been a huge part of London’s charcoal-fuelled barbecue and grilled meat movement since he started with a trailer pitch on South Bank. So it was with great intrigue when Adams and British export and New York restaurateur April Bloomfield joined forces to open a B&B farm stay in a rather remote part of Cornwall. A large portion of ingredients used in the restaurant kitchen are grown and reared on site, including the Mangalitza pigs that made Pitt Cue famous.

coombesheadfarm.co.uk

2. Ca ‘de Memi, Veneto, Italy

Ca ‘de Memi, a 40-minute train journey from Venice, is a family-run operation: Ottorino, who helped establish the farm in its modern incarnation, works the land, while Michela, with her daughters, works the breakfast table. The family’s 14-hectare plot is run on the principles of slow food, growing vegetables and herbs and rearing Paduan hens, Muscovy ducks, and rabbits.

cadememi.com

3. Serenbe, Georgia, USA

Here’s one for the sustainable-minded adventurer. A 900-acre farm ­– one that’s part of an environmentally conscious community, no less ­– with 15 miles of footpaths among untouched forests, wildflower meadows, waterfalls, and all the wildlife that comes with it. There’s plenty of opportunity for exploration, while tours of its working farm are available for those more comfortable with someone who knows where they’re going.

serenbeinn.com

4. O’Vineyards, Carcassonne, France

Somewhere between Toulouse and Montpellier is the town of Carcassonne with an imposing 13th-century citadel, complete with watchtowers, battlements and all. O’Vineyards and it’s working winery is found just north of here and guests are free to wander the Syrah and Sauvignon vineyards before taking full advantage of the produce made on site. Five-course dinners and an ample supply of wine provide the main draws.

ovineyards.com

5. Royal Mail Hotel, Dunkeld, Australia

Views of Grampians National Park, close encounters with endangered animals, and tucked-away colonial lodges are abound in and around Royal Mail’s estate. As extraordinary a location as this is, most of the focus at this farm stay is on food and drink. Chefs lead tours of the kitchen’s organic garden, picked clean by resident ducks (rather than maintained with industrial pesticides), the restaurant is headed up by Robin Wickens (regarded as one of Australia’s best chefs), and the cellar, decades in the making, houses around 26,000 bottles.

royalmail.com.au

6. Blackberry Farm, Tennessee, USA

Given its 4,200-acre estate, Blackberry Farm is a farm stay with more than enough variety and intrigue in its natural bounty with which to furnish the bellies and curiosity of its guests. The farm has become a favourite for visiting chefs and producers, not just for the raw materials grown here, but for what’s for lunch too. To top things off, the farm has an on-site World Beer Cup award-winning brewery concocting saisons, pilsners, and pale ales for its guests and the wider market.

blackberryfarm.com

7. Asara Wine Estate, Western Cape, South Africa

Stellenbosch. Arguably one of the prettiest wine regions in the world. Asura Wine Estate, along with its hotel, bumps up against Stellenbosch with some vineyards of its own ­– 104 hectares of mostly red grape varieties are grown here, from Malbec to Petit Verdot. The whole mise en place means it’s a wine lover’s dream with wine tasting, wine tours, and bike rides through local vineyards.

asara.co.za

8. Brown’s Field, Chiba, Japan

Embedding yourself in the Japanese countryside among rice fields, traditional bathhouses, and Ewok-style treehouses sounds almost subversive to Japan’s affinity for the high tech. But there lies pleasure in the simple things. At Brown’s Field, a small farm run by an American ex-journalist and his Japanese wife on the east Chiba coast, everyone from local volunteers to hotel guests are invited to muck in with daily life at the farm. Sound a bit feudal? When rewards of a day’s work are shared at the communal dinner table, you’ll realise maybe Japanese peasant life wasn’t so bad.

brownsfield-jp.com

Bitten by the travel bug? Visit these great food markets of the world on your way.

Prefer closer to home? Don’t miss these six deliciously idyllic UK farm breaks.

Living Thinking

Veganuary: 2018’s latest fad diet or a wider cultural shift?

4th January 2018

This month record numbers of people are giving up meat and dairy for Veganuary. Come February will it be last month’s detox diet or 2018’s biggest food trend?

Following the season of indulgence, the start of the new year is all about abstinence – first came the eschewing of alcohol with Dry January, and now comes Veganuary (Vegan January).

So far this year more than 120,000 people have pledged to give up meat, fish, dairy, eggs and honey for 31 days.

It represents a staggering 3,600% rise from the 3,300 people who signed up in Veganuary’s inaugural year in 2014 and almost half of sign-ups are from the UK, where the relatively new campaign originated.  

Google trends show the search term for the word “vegan” is at an all-time high in the UK.

Veganism is now of one of the UK’s fastest growing lifestyle choices, seeing more than a 360% growth over the last decade, according to the Vegan Society. Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton and singer Robbie Williams both declared themselves vegans last year, further indicating that veganism is transforming from hippy to hipster.

The Vegan Society report that there are now more than half a million vegans in the UK, typically city dwellers, aged between 15-34 and motivated by ethical and compassionate reasons.

Globally, it has powerful ambassadors. Beyoncé famously has a stake in the US-based 22-Day vegan diet and popular popstars Miley Cyrus and Arianna Grande are both outspoken vegans.

“We think it’s more of a cultural shift than a trend. It’s here to stay,” says co-founder of Veganuary, Jane Land. “We personally feel it’s the biggest social justice movement of our time.”

Will the consumption of animal products be viewed differently in years to come?

Land and her husband and co-founder Matthew Glover make no secret of the fact their ambition is to encourage lifelong veganism. But, inspired by the success of Movember, they decided to introduce the idea with a less daunting month-long pledge.

“It makes it seem much more achievable for people and they have the comfort of knowing other people are doing it with you,” says Land.

“You haven’t got a fear of failure that you’re committing to it forever. It also makes it a lot more palatable for loved ones – people you’re sharing cooking with become a lot more supportive when they think you’re just doing a challenge, likewise with colleagues.”

Why people are embracing Veganuary

There are three main reasons people become (or consider becoming) vegan – animal welfare, the environment, and personal health.

The most popular New Year’s resolutions revolve around health – exercising more regularly, losing weight and eating better – and this has become a major motivation for people signing-up to Veganuary.

“Research has linked this way of eating with lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and lower rates of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer,” says Heather Russell, dietitian at The Vegan Society.

A full-on vegan cauliflower recipe from Farmdrop. The popularity of vegan-friendly recipes has increased as more people appear to be ditching animal products altogether.

After the excesses of Christmas, the health benefits of a vegan diet are appealing – it helps to limit saturated fat and, as long as a variety of foods is consumed, provides plenty of fibre, vitamins and minerals.

These points are hammered home in popular Netflix documentaries such as What The Health (from the makers of Cowspiracy) and Land says they see huge surges in traffic following the release of such films.

However, traditionally, the most popular motivation for a vegan diet is concern over animal welfare.

Recent controversies including the 2 Sisters chicken scandal and supermarket’s fictional farms, along with the rise of information shared on social media, are making people realise that the reassuring images we have of pigs wallowing happily in the mud, chickens scratching on the range and cows and sheep grazing in the fields is no longer the reality for the majority of farm animals.

According to Compassion In World Farming a staggering 70% – of the 75 billion animals farmed worldwide each year are raised in factory farms – where animals are kept tightly packed indoors, fed high-protein grains and growth hormones to fatten up quickly, and slaughtered inhumanely on huge production lines.

For a nation of animal lovers, these reports are a powerful incentive for veganism, especially when combined with the third motivator, the environment.

The widely touted UN stat that livestock emissions currently account for 14.5% of global greenhouse gases – greater than transport’s 13% contribution – is highly surprising and concerning for many.

The WWF report factory farmed animals are fed 75% of the world’s soy and maize harvest when one in nine people are starving in the world – and rainforests that are animal habitats are being razed to make room for the crop.

Then there were the heartbreaking scenes of the devastating effects of overfishing pollution in our oceans in David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II, which inspired many to sign up to Veganuary this year.

Many vegans choose to go plant-based because of the environmental damage caused by industrial animal farming.

Veganuary vs Vegan

But does turning vegan for just 31 days have any benefits?

All evidence suggests the short-term health benefits are pretty impressive. About 87% of the 60,000 people who took part in Veganuary 2017 reported they lost weight and had more energy; 97% of those who took part reported they felt their health was better.

It could be argued this is a strict diet directly following the gluttony of Christmas so it’s not a fair test, but six months later and 66% of Veganuary’s 2017 participants were still vegan and reporting similar results.

Although there isn’t much evidence on short-term vegan diets, it is likely that if people have managed to follow it for a short time period, some of their healthy habits such as increased fruit and vegetables and less meat may be continued,” says Chloe Hall, Community Dietitian at Dorset Healthcare University NHS foundation trust.

Roughly one in 10 new year resolutions is successful. The Vegan Society have run a similar campaign, The Vegan Pledge, since 2008 helping people to become vegan in 30 days all year round. 82% of the people who took the pledge in 2014 are still vegan today.

All indications point to veganism being perceived as less of a drag and more of a force to reckoned with as a mainstream lifestyle diet.

How to be a healthy vegan

“If you are cutting out dairy it is really important to ensure that you are getting enough calcium and iodine in your diet,” says dietician Hall.

Calcium can be found in calcium-enriched milk alternatives, such as almond milk, or dairy free yoghurts, such as soya, plus fortified cereals and enriched orange juice.

On iodine Hall says: “It is difficult to get enough in your diet without consuming dairy products and, therefore, a supplement may need to be considered.”

The only other supplement it is recommended vegans take is B12, especially when new to the regime. It’s an important vitamin for making red blood cells and is only found in meat or specially fortified foods.

While meat is a good source of iron,, an iron-rich vegan diet needs to consist of legumes (such as peas and beans), dark green leafy vegetables, quinoa and tofu.

Nuts, seeds and a daily dose of flax or chia oil are good for Omega 3, which helps to maintain a healthy heart.

And what about vegan protein?

Beans, pulses, soya, and nuts are not only great sources of protein but also valuable sources of iron, zinc, soluble fibre omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B12.

And we actually require a lot less protein than the media and fitness industry lead us to believe – world tennis No 1 Novak Djokovic and British former world heavyweight boxer David Haye are both vegans, while former Wimbledon champion Venus Williams calls herself a ‘cheagan’ (a cheating vegan).

Are you giving up or thinking of giving up meat and dairy for Veganuary? Share your experience in the comments below.

Discover the real cost of cheap chicken and 4 facts that reveal the damage done by industrial farming.

Living

10 of the best alternative things to do in London between Christmas & New Year

19th December 2017

10 of the best alternative Christmas events in London, including festive activities for kids and adults alike, carols by candlelight and some cracking strolls.


Had enough of Winter Wonderland? Rather skip the glitzy windows of the big department stores? Love it when the city is dead in the awkward bit between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve? Here are our favourite, lesser-known, festive haunts, activities and walks to occupy your London Christmas holiday (and satisfy your motley crew of friends, family and second-cousins from Canada).

1. Gather round carols by candlelight at St Martin In the Fields

Christmas events in London

It doesn’t get much more Christmassy than the uplifting sound of carols to an enchanting backdrop of atmospheric candlelight. Some spots for this festive treat may have sold out, but thankfully there are tickets available for performances spanning 20th December and the New Year. Take in the country’s finest chamber ensemble London Concertante perform Viennese Christmas by Candlelight among work by Tchaikovsky and Strauss on Tuesday 28th December, or see in 2018 with a New Years’s Day Extravaganza with the Festive Orchestra of London, featuring works by Handel, Mozart and Bach.

St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, WC2N.

Nearest stations: Charing Cross and Leicester Square.

2. Discover hidden London on foot

A snowy Hampstead Heath earlier this month. Photo (c) Ashley Coates via Flickr.

Take this treasured time to slow down and go for a big ol’ walk across London town. Walking across the capital might seem alien due to the ‘I need to get from A to B as fast as un-humanly possible’ mindset the rest of the year, but now’s the time to slow down and drink it in. Spot over 30 species of birds along the Lea Valley Walk and other green routes along the Lea Valley Regional Park, admire the beautiful canal sides of West London over a relaxed amble from Little Venice to Camden, or adventure over river valleys, heath and parks with a route across Hampstead Heath, Primrose Hill and Regent’s Park.

3. Head to the Horniman Museum

Christmas events in London

If you’re yet to visit this South London treasure, now’s the time to go get your Horniman on. Stuffed full of extensive collections of anthropology, natural history and musical instruments and tucked away in Forest Hill, the museum is home to a stunning 16 acres of garden complete with views across London and a Victorian conservatory, as well as a highly acclaimed aquarium. Catch the British Wildlife Photography Awards exhibition before it ends on 14th January. Oh, and don’t forget to visit the museum’s furry and feathered friends on the animal walk, home to alpacas, goats, rabbits, chickens and more. Entrance is free, with a small fee for the aquarium and ticketed events.

Horniman Museum, 100 London Road, Forest Hill, SE23 3PQ. Open daily 10am – 5.30pm, except 24 – 26 December.

Nearest station: Forest Hill

4. Take a stroll in Postman’s Park

Nestled next to St Paul’s Cathedral and bordered by Little Britain (have a chuckle at this street sign), Postman’s Park is on the site of the former headquarters of the General Post Office and is one of the largest parks within the City of London; as well as one of the most beautiful. It’s enchanting gardens are home to the mesmerising Watts Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice – a wall of 54 memorial tiles that commemorate men, women and children, who lost their life while attempting to save another. The touching stories of everyday heroism will really bring the true spirit of Christmas home. You might recognise it from the film Closer too. It’s closed on the 25th and 26th of December and on New Year’s Day, but if you’re in the area on Boxing Day, take a Victorian Christmas tour with your guide Hazel (book in advance) and delve into the Dickensian history of our festive traditions.

Postman’s Park, St Martin’s Le-Grand, EC1A.

Nearest Station: St Paul’s.

5. A Christmas Carol by candlelight

Christmas events in London

Is it possible to do too many things by candlelight at Christmas? We don’t think so. Head on down to The Charles Dickens Museum in old London Bloomsbury for a very festive performance of the Dickens classic A Christmas Carol performed by actor Dominic Gerrard. There’s also the opportunity to explore Dickens’s home dressed lavishly for Christmas (arrive an hour beforehand to explore the whole house), and soak up the atmosphere as darkness falls. There are still tickets available for performances from 19th to 30th December (book in advance).

The Charles Dickens Museum, 48 Doughty Street, WC1N.

Nearest stations: Russell Square and King’s Cross.

6. Step into Britain’s Christmas past

Christmas events in London

Ever stopped to wonder why we deck the halls, send cards, fill stockings and pop a tree in the living room to celebrate Christmas? Well neither had we, but the folks at The Geffrye Museum have the history of Britain’s odd-ball festive traditions covered. Within the walls of the museum’s stunning period rooms you’ll find an evocative glimpse into how Christmas has been celebrated in English homes over the past 400 years, complete with trees, fairy lights, paper chains and some exceedingly jazzy festive curtains. Admire the 1965 living room that rekindles memories for those who grew up in the 60s and grab this opportunity to visit the museum before it closes for a two-year refurbishment in January.

The Geffrye Museum, 136 Kingsland Road, London, E2. Until Sunday 7 January 2018. Closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day. Free entry.

Nearest station: Hoxton.

7. Tour London’s Christmas lights on bike

Christmas events in London

Fingers crossed that it’ll be lovely weather for a bike ride together around town. Ideal for getting the body going after all that glorious sitting down, tours kick-off from the London Bicycle hire centre on Southbank, where you’ll get tooled-up with a bike, helmet and lights for your festive ride. Taking in a route via quieter streets and cycle paths, you’ll see all the glory of Westminster, palatial houses with tree in their windows on the back streets of Kensington and Chelsea, and the world-famous light displays of Sloane Square, Bond Street, Carnaby Street and Covent Garden, with a return that catches the particularly picturesque and iconic views from Waterloo Bridge.

www.londonbicycle.com, Gabriel’s Wharf, Southbank. Tours take place from 3.30pm daily until 6 Jan and are suitable for children over 10.

Nearest stations: Waterloo and London Waterloo East.

8. Dennis Severs’ House at Town Hall Hotel

Christmas events in London

Haven’t made it to Dennis Severs’ House in Spitalfields (above)? The characterful and lovingly preserved Victorian four storey home-meets-museum paints a ‘still life drama’ with the 18th Century Huguenot family at the centre. At this time of year guests are treated to wandering the house’s candle-lit chambers whilst stepping into the family’s yuletide celebrations. This year, the team behind the house have extended their Christmas installation to the grand Edwardian halls and corridors of the Town Hall Hotel in Bethnal Green. Get throughly into the festive spirit with the hotel’s seasonal menu inspired by the house, with dishes including sloe gin and treacle cured salmon, wild boar penny pies and douglas fir roasted haunch of venison.

Town Hall Hotel, Patriot Square, Bethnal Green, E2.

Nearest stations: Cambridge Heath and Bethnal Green tube.

9. Volunteer in the capital this Christmas

Christmas events in London

One of the best things you can do (at any time of year, let alone Christmas) is give back. Whether it’s managing donations or working in a soup kitchen, brighten up someone’s day and hopefully even someone’s year by bringing them some cheer will a small act of kindness. Crisis organise the largest volunteering initiative in the country and seek over 10,000 volunteers for a huge variety of roles. With just one day’s notice you can help transform a site with festive decoration or bring cheer late into the night. There are even roles to run feel-good activities such as massages, cooking and crafts, and you can volunteer with friends too. Team London makes volunteering in the city incredibly easy. Simply search from over 50,000 opportunities by interest and area and you’re guaranteed to find a role to suit you.

www.crisis.org.uk

www.volunteerteam.london.gov.uk

10. Go sledging on Hampstead Heath (if snow comes)

A post shared by Tim Katz (@katztim) on

If enough snow falls, then head for new heights. Visit to the highest point in the capital at Whitestone Pond in Hampstead (between the West Heath and Hampstead Heath) or check out Parliament Hill for some stellar views and great powder (probably). Or if you’re south of the river, try Brockwell Park in Brixton for a range of slope gradients so there’s something for everybody. It’s also near plenty of welcoming cafes to warm up in. This excellent guide will equip you with everything you need to know to choose the best spots for sledging.

Whatever you’re up to this festive season, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Visiting Somerset or have friends celebrating in the West Country? Take a look at our 10 festive things to do in Bristol & Bath.

Still planning? Here’s our guide to having an ethical and green Christmas and 10 time saving strategies for Christmas cooking.

This article was originally published on the Farmdrop blog in December 2016 and has been updated.

Living

The ultimate Christmas wine guide: 14 top picks for a merry festive season

15th December 2017

With so many Christmas wine options out there, don’t let your choice of festive tipples fall flat. From crisp aperitifs to cheese and pudding friendly digestifs, our wine buyer Lucy Lettice shares her top 14 picks.

Celebrating organic

Under £10

La Jara Prosecco, £9.95

Christmas wine

Your light and refreshing, one stop shop for all your celebrating needs, soft effervescents and easy to drink.

Tasting Note: Straw yellow with greenish reflections. Delicate scents of acacia flowers and golden apple. It is fresh, aromatic and sparkle with a light and delicate foam.

Food Pairing: Perfect as aperitif. Excellent with soups, salads and smoked salmon blinis.

Under £30

Champagne Faust Carte d’Or, £27.95

Christmas wine

If you don’t want to make that swap, this is Champagne at its best, rich yellow in colour, steady fizz in nature, and heaps of toasty bubbles on the palate.

Tasting Note: The Pinot Meunier grapes add fruitier flavours into the mix, bringing layers to the green apple, floral, and herbaceous flavours of the Chardonnay. The blend strikes just the right balance between sweetness and acidity.

Food Pairing: Delicious with creamy cheeses and spicy chutneys.

The best of English

Around £10

English Three Choirs Willow Brook, £10.45

Christmas wine

A great intro to English wine – fresh fruit, surprisingly aromatic, fantastic value!

Tasting Note: A soft, aromatic wine that combines the soft floral notes of Schonburger with powerful richness of Siegerrebe. Distinctive, subtle sose petal aromas lead onto rich, spicy, lychee characters on the palate, and a soft, rich off-dry finish.

Food Pairing: Delicious on its own or as an interesting accompaniment to oriental and spicy chilli based foods.

Under £15

English Lyme Bay Shoreline, £12.95

Christmas wine

Produced on the same Lyme Bay coastline in Devon as some of Farmdrop’s fresh fish. Clean, crisp and chalky but very refreshing.

Tasting Note: Dry, light and aromatic wine with notes of nettle, lemon, rose petal and grapefruit.

Food Pairing: Best served with the finest seafood caught all along the English coastline. Try with crab, lobster and oysters.

Under £25

English White Pinot Noir, £24.95

Christmas wine

This wine is one to champion the best of Burgundy: oaky & oily complexity. It’s almost hard to believe it’s grown on Surrey soils.

Tasting Note: Pale straw in colour with some evident peach, honeysuckle and smoky characters. This complex wine displays a fullness and roundness that is rare in wines from England. Full bodied; rich and silky with a steely backbone of acidity.

Food Pairing: Enjoy lightly chilled as an aperitif or pair with roast cockerel, prawn tempura, or even spicy red meat dishes.

Under £30

English Albury Classic Cuvée, £29.95

Christmas wine

Nick, his daughter Lucy and a lovely Italian lady produce this wine made from biodynamic grapes. Winner of awards and winner of my heart (I’m adding a few cases to my basket this Christmas!).

Tasting Note: Subtle fruit on the nose, red berries from the Pinot and a little light citrus from the Chardonnay, long, mouth-filling palate that lingers and satisfies. Fresh and lively, ripe acidity complemented by a subtle sweetness.

Food Pairing: Pair with freshly made mackerel pâté with pickled cucumber

The People Pleasers

Côtes Du Rhône AOC, £10.95

Christmas wine

A low sulphur wine which has developed plenty of character in the bottle already. Best to open this one and leave it to breath before drinking.

Tasting Note: This is a wine made to impress with magnificent characters of herbs, smoky bacon and cherries. A beautifully structured wine that is easy and effortless.

Food pairing: Once at room temperature a perfect accompaniment to- more substantial dishes, particularly those that feature heartier meats or cheese.

Vieilles Vignes Chardonnay, £14.50

Christmas wine

I love this wine! So much character, and I know after a couple of years it will develop even more. Deep and rich, not for the faint hearted but a real show-stopper.

Tasting Note: A fine, classic Macon Villages bouquet with aromatic tones of pear, white flowers and a touch of exotic fruits. Gentle, creamy and yet perfectly balanced with a telling cut of fresh acidity and a trace of minerality.

Food Pairing: Great with oily fish such as tuna and salmon as well as cured meats.

Henri Bourgeois Pouilly Fumé ‘En Travertin’, £22.95

Husband and wife Baptiste and Estelle took over the family domaine in the heart of Viré Clesse in 2004. Organic since 2006, they make slow fermentations using only natural yeasts.

Tasting Note: Bright and fresh with mineral notes and the charming floral and smoky character typical of the region.

Food Pairing: Perfect to pair with oily fish like soy glazed salmon or any white-sauce based sauce or Crottin de Chavignol goat cheese with toasted sesame seeds.

For those wanting to try something different…

Dom Vigneaux Syrah, £11.45

Christmas wine

One of our few biodynamic wines, every bottle is different. A little fizzy, very fruity, medium tannins, abundance of complexity.

Tasting Note: Black fruit and plums/cherries on the nose, with an earthy farmyard character. Good structure on the palate, mouth-drying tannins and a long finish with hints of spice.Food

Pairing: For this spicy wine, only pair big bold flavours, rich sweet potato curry or spicy stew.

Vinho Verde, £12.45

Christmas wine

Green by name but not by nature. A classic vino verde, crisp, clean and refreshing – great with fish.

Tasting Note: This is a wonderfully refreshing natural wine, with an exceptional sappy, mineral backbone, coupled with lively green apple and citrus acidity. The slightest spritz in mouth, further enlivens the palate.

Food Pairing: Crisp and refreshing, pair with creamy risotto or spicy paella.

Malvasia Orsogna IGT, £12.95

Christmas wine

Another of our biodynamic wines, this wine is rich and earthy. Traditionally used to make Madeira, Malvasia is rarely 100% varietal but this one is!

Tasting Note: Tropical aromas of melon and papaya, fresh and juicy, with bright citrus notes of white grapefruit with a balance acidity.

Food Pairing: Salty salami would go fantastically with this earthy wine.

As a digestif

Reserve Port (half bottle), £12.95

Christmas wine

Deliciously sweet port, great with goats and soft stinky cheese, as well as raisin-heavy Christmas Pudding.

Tasting Note: Complex, super ripe berried fruits are gently spiced, and its sweet and unctuous palate is both elegant and balanced too, with real length.

Food Pairing: Enjoy near a warming fire on its own, or with mature cheeses.

Amontillado Sherry, £13.95

Christmas wine

Sherry is seeing a comeback. No longer is it just the grandparents’ favourite but for the real foodie. Pair this salty savoury wine with Padron peppers or quince topped cheeses.

Tasting Note: This Pedro Ximenez is structured and complex, it is dry and woody with hints of eucalyptus; full body.

Food Pairing: It will partner heavier foods such as mushroom-based sauces and aged cheeses.

Like to be ahead of the food curve? See the food trends set to be big in 2018.

New to English tipples for your Christmas wine? Here’s 5 myths that give it a bad rep debunked.

Living

10 festive things to do in Bristol and Bath this Christmas

14th December 2017

10 of the best hidden gem Christmas events in Bristol and Bath, including great days out, festive drinking, markets, cheese (lots of it) and carols with a twist.

Clifton Suspension bridge in the snow, Avon Gorge, Bristol. (c) Paul Townsend via Flickr

 

Cities like vibrant Bristol and beautiful Bath do Christmas very well indeed, their streets bustling with market stalls by day and awash with partygoers by night. But what if you’re looking for something a bit off the beaten track? There are plenty of hidden gems for you to discover this Christmas and New Year.

1. Celebrate the solstice with a cocktail

Celebrate the winter solstice with The Green Manalishi cocktail at Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Do you like to complain about the commercialisation of Christmas? This one’s for you. Abandon the high street and tap into your inner druid instead. From 4.30pm on Thursday 21 December (marking the year’s shortest day/longest night), HMSS will welcome guests to celebrate the solstice with a Stonehenge inspired cocktail which even contains a chip of prehistoric stone. Herbal, zesty and chilled, The Green Manalishi cocktail also includes Bacardi Carta Blanca, hemp orgeat, lime, and aloe vera oil. Drink the darkness away and dream of summer.

Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Whiteladies Gate, Whiteladies Road.

2.  Gingerbread decorating at Hobbs House Bakery

Hands up who bakes biscuits for the tree that always get eaten before the big day? Not just us then. This year, join Father Christmas (yes, the big man himself) at the Hobbs House Bakery Cookery School on Thursday 21 December for a free evening of gingerbread decorating, and take home a delicious decorated biscuit for your tree. Fingers crossed it’ll be late enough in the day for your spoils to hang in there for just a few more days…

Hobbs House Bakery, North Street, Bristol BS3 1JL.

3. Walk the Bath Skyline

Discover Bathwick Wood on the Bath Skyline Walk. Photo: National Trust / Chris Lacey.

Most of us put on a pound or two this season (those mince pies aren’t going to eat themselves, are they?) plus it’s all too easy to stay indoors when the temperature drops. Blow away the cobwebs with a brisk 6-miler and be rewarded with views beyond compare. See Bath from up high, through meadows and ancient woodlands to secluded valleys, all just a short stroll from the city centre. Perfect for a big family yomp before you all strangle each other.

Bath Skyline, Bathwich Hill at Cleveland Walk, Bath.

4. Après ski without the ski

Kick back at the Apres Ski Bar.

If adventuring up a mountain just for something mulled doesn’t appeal, then this will make you very happy. Forget skiing and go straight to the après bit with wintry drinks served at alpine lodges in both Bristol and Bath this year. Take a break from Christmas shopping while you warm yourself by the fire, sitting at fur-lined benches in snug hideaways decorated with vintage skis. Enjoy hot chocolate, mulled cider and wine while you keep up your strength munching on mountain snacks. All those snow sports really take it out of you, don’t they?

Apres Bar Bristol is open 11am-11pm until 16 January 2018, Millennium Square, Bristol BS1 5DB.

Apres Ski Bar is open 10am–11pm until 20 December, Abbey Hotel North Parade, Bath BA1 1LF.

5. The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever!

Grayson Perry, Gay Black Cats MC, 2017.

No, that’s not journalistic hyperbole but the name of the Grayson Perry exhibition at Bristol’s Arnolfini. On show for the first time outside London, this major exhibition features over 25 of Perry’s latest works – ceramics, cast iron, bronze, printmaking and tapestry – and continues his interest in combining delicate craft with scenes of contemporary life. Admission is free and there is no need to book, making this exhibition an ideal antidote to the madness of the festive season.

Grayson Perry: The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever! Tuesday – Sunday, 11am-6pm (closed Mondays) until 24 December.

Arnolfini, Narrow Quay, Bristol BS1 4QA.

6. Eat, drink and watch classic movies

Christmas is all about a) eating loads of amazing food, and b) watching classic films, right? Combine these two fine activities at the Gourmet Picture Company’s Bath events this year. Top chefs Rick Stein and Tom Kerridge are taking up residence for a fortnight in a cosy Christmas theatre in Royal Victoria Park, Bath, curating three-course meals (including ice-cream at the interval) for gourmet movie goers to enjoy while watching films such as Elf, Die Hard and It’s a Wonderful Life. And for a post-Christmas treat? How about The Hangover on New Year’s Eve? You’re welcome to bring your own, of course.

Tickets £45. Various dates until 31st December. The Gourmet Picture Company, Royal Victoria Park, Bath.

7. An American Christmas in Bath

If you’re curious to know how our American cousins celebrated Christmas then head to the American Museum in Britain. This year’s festive exhibition, ‘A Little Party Never Hurt Nobody’, is a jazz age-inspired Christmas extravaganza where you can discover what Americans did to let their hair down in days gone by. Enjoy glitz, glamour and decadence with a Gatsby-esque tree in the Central Hall, while a 17th century home in Massachusetts offers more modest thanksgiving festivities. The museum’s season finishes on Sunday 17th December, closing with an afternoon of family fun – see the choir performing in and around the Museum, make festive Christmas cards, and pop in to see Santa in his grotto before he zooms home to the North Pole.

Admission from £4.50. The American Museum in Britain, Claverton Manor, Bath BA2 7BD.

8. Let there be cheese!

For some, the C-word doesn’t stand for Christmas, but instead for cheese. From classic Stilton to cheddar studded with cranberries, no festive season is complete without it. If you’re a cheeseaholic on the hunt for something new for your Christmas cheeseboard then Cheese Fest is a mature and melty dream come true. Visiting the city for the first time, Cheese Fest brings fromage from the UK’s best cheese makers and traders, making it the perfect Christmas present for your tastebuds.

Tickets from £4. 16 and 17 December, 10am-6pm.

Motion, 74-78 Avon Street, Bristol BS2 0PX.

9. Last minute shopping, market style

The Sunday market at Bristol’s Tobacco Factory is a legendary celebration of local food producers all year round. At Christmas they take this up a notch or seven, with over fifty stalls selling locally produced food, drink, gifts and crafts, plus mulled cider, roasted chestnuts and festive singing from local choirs. Not got your tree yet? (Well done!) Get hold of a top quality Nordmann Fir from local crew, Ali & Joe’s Christmas Trees.

Tobacco Factory, 16, 17 and 24 December, 10am.

Raleigh Road, Bristol BS3 1 TF.

10. Sing a song of Christmas

Christmas at Bristol’s Spiegeltent.

Christmas just ain’t Christmas without carols. If you’re fed up with the same old songs on radio rotation then get out there and see some live music instead. These two top options in Bristol this Christmas will get your fingers popping quicker than a bottle of festive fizz. The London Community Gospel Choir will be performing at the Christmas Spiegeltent on Bristol’s harbourside on Sunday 17 December. Expect an uplifting collection of gospel, swing beat, R&B and soul music – these are harmonies to warm your heart. If vintage is your thing, The Marionettes are a 1940s 3-part harmony trio who will be singing at the New Bristol Brewery on Friday 22 December. Join them for rosy-cheeked merriment while you rock around the Christmas tree.

The London Community Gospel Choir, 17 December, 8pm. Tickets from £22. Christmas Spiegeltent, Waterfront Square, Off Canons Way, Harbourside, Bristol BS1 5LL.

Ding Dong Merrily on High, The Marionettes are singing, 22 December, 7pm. Tickets £3. New Bristol Brewery, 20A Wilson Street, Bristol BS2 9HH.

Visiting London or have friends celebrating in the big smoke? Take a look at our 10 alternative things to do in London between Christmas & New Year.

Still planning the big day? Here’s our guide to having an ethical and green Christmas and 10 time saving strategies for Christmas cooking.