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Eating out on Christmas Day

Whether it’s a professionally cooked turkey dinner you’re hankering after or an Indian feast, here are 5 places to eat out at on Christmas Day if you’re determined to sidestep a stint in the kitchen:

The Orange Public House & Hotel, Pimlico: Sister to Marylebone’s Grazing Goat and Knightsbridge’s Pantechnicon Rooms and Belgravia’s The Thomas Cubitt, this gastropub with rooms (pictured) is keeping its ovens stoked on Christmas Day. Book now for it set menu (£80) and the likes of white bean soup, blood orange sorbet, pancetta-wrapped turkey, Devon lamb rump and spiced apple terrine (plus Christmas pud for the traditionalists).

Tayyabs, Whitechapel: Long a stalwart for those who’d rather eat their own shoes than sage and onion stuffing, this Punjabi institution may not offer many frills but what it lacks in festive finesse it makes up with in sheer, gluttonous pleasure. If it’s a spice kick you’re after its range of chops, biryanis and curries is as far from a devil on horseback as it’s possible to get. Book ahead for the slow-cooked lamb.

Galvin Brasserie de Luxe, Edinburgh: A Christmas lunch has to be pretty special to beat your Mum’s cooking but you don’t get much more special than this classy Galvin-overseen outpost at Edinburgh’s Waldorf Astoria. Unsurprisingly the focus is on Gallic cooking, albeit with a Scottish twist; its £90 Christmas Day menu trots through a ravioli of Scottish smoked salmon and daube of Aberdeen Angus beef before hitting quince tarte tatin and a Valrhona chocolate trifle (the Christmas classics are also on offer).

Restaurant James Sommerin, Penarth: If you’re not distracted by the spectacular sea views, you will be by the food at this new outpost from former Crown at Whitebrook chef James Sommerin. The Christmas Day menu here (£140) is a seven-course affair, starting with duck liver creme brulee and apple sorbet and finishing with coffee and mince pies. Along the way it trips through scallop with cauliflower and spices, and goose with pumpkin, sage and Brussels sprouts.

Freemasons at Wiswell, nr Clitheroe: Winner of the Good Food Guide’s top UK pub for 2015, this Lancashire inn knows its onion gravy. For £95 a head the meal kicks off late morning with drinks and mince pies before settling in for a five-course feast of a lunch. The traditionalists will be happy with turkey but choices also include Nidderdale lamb, Cornish crab, slow-cooked beef and “Mum’s secret” sherry trifle.

 

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Christmas cottages

Whether you’re dreaming of a chocolate box cottage to cosy up in over Christmas and, er, tuck into your own box or ten of chocolates or a minimalist party pad for all the extended family, it’s not too late. Here are seven crackers that still have availability for next week:

Coachman’s Cottage, Cornwall: In Marazion, this snug seaside cottage is traditional on the outside but has plenty of contemporary comfort inside, a perfect winter bolthole for two. Four nights over Christmas costs £450 and they’ll throw in festive decorations, wine and chocolates.

Coastguard Lookout, Dungeness: For some, Christmas is less about getting together and more about getting away from it all. If you fall into the latter camp, consider this former radar monitoring station on the Kent coast. Sleeping five, it was stylish converted by Clerkenwell design company Johnson Naylor. No cluttering up its clean lines with tinsel, though. Four nights over Christmas costs £899.

Cwt Crannog, Cardigan Bay: If it’s adventure you want, albeit with a bit of comfort, these two farmworkers’ huts (rented as one booking – one is a bedroom and sitting room, one a kitchen and bathroom) in West Wales sleeps up to four and you can pre-order a fish pie or veggie tagine to set you on your way (plus free-range eggs, butter, home-baked bread, jam, local bacon and sausages for breakfast). A week’s rental over Christmas costs £516.

Polly’s Place, Hackney: If it’s a London Christmas you’re after and you’ve got a bit of cash to spare this bohemian bolthole in Hackney sleeps four and makes a decadent party pad. Rates start at £1,090 for four nights over Christmas week.

1 Ford View, Kippford: An off-the-beaten track Scottish retreat, this shoreline cottage sleeps four and sites in the pretty village of Kippford (think Cornish fishing village with a smattering of Tunnocks Teacakes). From £560 for a week over Christmas.

Cockshutt Cottage, Gloucestershire: Traditional and lived-in with flagstone floors and an open fire, this country cottage sleeps four. Rental costs £720 over Christmas week and the owners put up a tree, order a turkey and hang a wreath on the door.

Inshriach House, nr Aviemore: A grand but soulful Edwardian house in the Cairngorms, if you can’t agree on whose turn it is to cook the turkey this year, don’t. Book this country retreat (pictured) instead and it will sleep 17 of your nearest and dearest. Glamorous yet somehow homely, it comes with a grand dining table and a huge farmhouse-style kitchen. Five nights over Christmas costs £2,800.

 

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Five top Christmas breaks

Let someone else stuff the turkey, wash the dishes and clear up the paper party hats this year while you sit by the fire tucking into cava – or your own secret stash of Quality Streets. Here are five top picks for a Christmas hotel break:

Ellenborough Park, Cheltenham

If it’s champagne receptions, afternoon teas served on fine china, a five-course Christmas lunch and posh mulled wine after wintery walks through the Cotswolds you’re after, you’ll get the full monty here (pictured). From £1,699 for two for three nights, all-inclusive.

Kinloch Lodge, Skye

Another decadent option but one with a Caledonian twist, book in for Christmas at this much-loved Scottish hotel and restaurant (one Michelin star) and the magic begins with the lochside setting. Seasonal cocktails, a traditional Christmas feast and a fireside dram or two add to the appeal. From £600 per person for three nights, dinner, bed & breakfast.

Fairways B&B, Somerset

A more intimate affair is on offer at this luxury B&B outside Crewkerne. Book its two double rooms and private guest sitting room and owners Tim and Sarah will give you the kind of experience you’ve always hankered after at home but never quite achieved. The couple are former cheesemongers and food is a big part of the attraction here. From £1200 for four people for three nights, including suppers, breakfasts, Christmas lunch and nibbles. Alcohol is BYO.

The Bell at Skenfrith, Monmouthshire

It may be a rural inn but this gourmet getaway is no common or garden country pub so no wonder Christmas here is a special event. A half way house between a luxury hotel experience and a traditional pub stay, expect all the festive frills (afternoon teas, candlelit dinners, champagne Christmas lunch and lavish local breakfasts) but none of the fuss. From £550 per person for three nights, all-inclusive.

Charlotte Street Hotel, London

For a London Christmas this Fitzrovia bolthole comes up trumps. You can book per night – as many or as few as you like – over Christmas week and, while mulled wine, mince pies and a full and festive English breakfast are the only seasonal add-ons, it’s right in the heart of things – a great option if you want to do your own thing, whether that’s catching a service in one of the capital’s spectacular churches, a plate of pad thai in place of turkey, watching It’s A Wonderful Life in the hotel’s screening room or booking in for a lavish Christmas lunch (£95pp) at the hotel’s restaurant. Doubles from £306 per night, family rooms (with extra beds and child-friendly extras) from £438.

Christmas gifts 2014

The best Christmas gifts for cooks and food lovers 2014

Dear Santa,

We would really like the following foodie gifts for Christmas 2014, please. As we are also fond of a good cocktail, we’ve thrown a few bartender gifts into the mix as well, plus some homewares and kitchen kit. We’ve been really good this year, promise! Love from, the olive team.

Swatch banana shake watch

Swatch banana watchAt last, now we can express our love of food in watch form! This snazzy ‘banana shake’ watch from Swatch comes decorated with great big bananas, and has a bright yellow dial for maximum impact. We like the clear numbers too, and because the strap is made from white rubber it’s very comfortable and easy to wipe clean if you get it messy in the kitchen. We also love Swatch’s ‘Miss fraise’ watch, covered as it is in plump strawberries – there’s even one on the watch face (pictured main image, above). Both £32 from WatchShop.com, with free delivery

Reindeer door mat 

DeerForestWashable, colourful, soft underfoot, super absorbent and decorated with reindeers! This deer forest turtle mat is just the ticket for our kitchen at Christmas time. It’s a ready-made decoration in fact, as well as being a handy mat for mucky shoes, or for sticking under the oven to catch any flying turkey grease. £47.95 turtlemat.co.uk

Great British Bake Off apron

apronWe’re big fans of Great British Bakeoff, and would never touch anyone’s Baked Alaska without being asked, so this apron from The Great Gift Company makes us laugh. £12 thegreatgiftcompany.co.uk

Square frying pan

eggpanThis tiny frying pan is just the right size for 1 fried egg (square of course) 5 fish fingers, a handful of cocktail sausages or a square omelette to fold in half and put in a baguette (don’t judge us, try it). A perfect stocking filler. £12 greenpan.co.uk

Pretty ramekins

Ramekins 2.jpgFill these lovely looking dishes with jams and preserves, chocolate mousse, baked eggs or dips, they will look gorgeous on the table. £25 alicepeto.com

Tanqueray No 10 martini gift set

Tanqueray setA silver martini glass trumps glass if you feel like showing off your bartending skills. The stainless steel bowl detaches from the stem and is the perfect glass for a gin based cocktail. £100, alexanderandjames.com

Crosta & Mollica Panettone

PanettoneWe tasted a lot of panettone in the run up to Christmas and we really like this one by Crosta & Mollica. The smart, modern packing makes this a brilliant host/hostess gift. £12.99/1kg, crostamollica.com

Belvoir mulled winter punch

Belvoir Winter Punch_HRFirst thing’s first, how festive is this mulled winter punch bottle label? It tastes just as Christmassy, and although it’s the perfect drink for teetotallers over the Christmas period, we also love it with warmed up with red wine. £2.46/750ml bottle, available from Sainsbury’s, Asda and Waitrose belvoirfruitfarms.co.uk

Weird & wonderful restaurants of the world print

printWe love this quirky print from I know this great little place. 32 of the world’s most remarkable and unusual restaurants (anyone ever eaten in Cornwall’s Carnbrea Castle?), all beautifully illustrated. £24, store.greatlittleplace.com

For goodness cake apron, pinnygirls 

pinnyAprons are going retro, and more flattering! This pinny is seamed at the front to contour and slim your figure, and there’s a higher neckline than normal aprons – good news for when things get really messy. It’s pretty too, with scalloped detail and pretty trims. pinnygirls.com/shop