We're pretty sure it was Aristotle who once said that the "best gifts given are those you can eat". We're 80% sure anyway. Either way, when it comes to gifts, our favourites are most certainly those which are edible, drinkable and, as always, snaffable.
Doesn't matter if it's a hunk of beautifully wrapped, artisan cheese to go with our festive cheese board or a bottle of really, really, really good olive oil , if we can eat it, we're happy. And because we know we're not alone in this, we've gone ahead and rounded up some of the best places to source some delightfully gift-able foods for the season of giving.
From pillowy panettone to hampers overspilling with goodies, there's gifts to suit everyone's wishlist at these special spots...
Yotam Ottolenghi introduced us to heaps of ingredients most of us had never heard of before – harissa and za'atar, we're looking at you – and created delicious recipes that, well, used loads of said ingredients. Which means that, sometimes, it's easier to buy his products than it is to make them yourself. It's very convenient indeed that the chef opened a range of delis where you can do just that, from preserves to spice mixes like dukkah. Christmas time sees the shops stock festive produce like Christmas pudding, biscuits and a whole range of hampers.
18 Brewer Street, W1F 0SH
With rows of jars stuffed full of sun dried tomatoes, wedges of Parmigiano-Reggiano and bags of biscuits, Lina Stores in Soho is our idea of paradise. Opened in 1944, it's been purveying the finest Italian goods ever since, and that means one thing: panettone. There are tiny ones, big ones, ones studded with chocolate, and ones peppered with dried fruit… You just have to try them all, right?
Fink's Salt & Sweet
70 Mountgrove Road, N5 2LT
This café-restaurant serves a banging brunch, brilliant coffees and small plates in the evening, when you'll find diners gorging themselves on roast aubergine with feta, and harissa-marinated lamb shoulder. Yum. Give yourself time to peruse the shelves, too, which hold oils and vinegars; coffees and teas; and gifts that'll make a sweet stocking filler for even the most serious foodies.
Melrose and Morgan
Oriel Hall, Oriel Place, NW3 1QN
We'd like everything in our kitchen to come in Melrose and Morgan's gorgeous packaging, please and thanks. In fact, we'd like everything in our to kitchen to come from Hampstead deli Melrose and Morgan, period. You'll find everything you need to take your festive feast up a notch, and, of course, Christmas hampers crammed with all that festive dreams are made of.
Gail's baked goods need little introduction, but if you ever needed an excuse to get yourself to one of London's best-loved bakeries, it should be a freshly baked loaf of fennel and sultana sourdough that's so big it'll keep you fed throughout Christmas. Other reasons include some of the best mince pies we've come across (and we've tried more than a few), cinnamon stars, iced bauble biscuits, and sour cherry, almond and chocolate drop cookies.