An alternative to turkey, and the star of and Christmas supper or Boxing Day Buffet, this honey and mustard gammon really is a showstopper. In my parents’ house, we have always had turkey or chicken on Christmas day, but whenever we were hosting the wider family for Boxing Day tea, there as always ham home-cooked ham in the buffet line up. While it was intended for Boxing Day tea, we always cooked it and ate it for dinner on one of the days before Christmas, usually the 23rd or 24th December. Freshly cooked, hot, and served as a roast with potatoes, vegetables and gravy, this has become one of my favourite winter dishes, and is an essential part of Christmas.
Crammed with sellers of all things food and drink, from larger companies to small artisanal producers, there is definitely something here for anyone who likes eating food. Which is everyone, right?!
Now that Halloween is over, the anticipation of Christmas festivities has moved to centre stage, with shops already sparkling with decorations and gifts. It’s clichéd, I know, but I really do love autumn and winter, especially now, in this little post-Halloween, pre-Christmas limbo. Crunchy leaves in vibrant red, copper and bright gold litter the ground outside, waiting to be walked in, kicked about, enjoyed, and jumpers and boots have made a convincing comeback in my wardrobe. There aren’t daily frosts just yet, but I can’t wait to see the beautiful silver spray of delicate, glittering lace over leaves and spiders’ webs in the morning sun. I don’t think I have long to wait. This morning I had to de-mist the car windows with the heating on max for a good 5 minutes before I left for work.
Before holly, trees, presents and cards, my first whiff of Christmas in the air is always signalled by the reappearance of mince pies in my life. Usually in early November, hopefully sooner. The garish boxes appear in the supermarkets far earlier, but, call me fussy, these can never match up to a home baked mince pie. I’m talking dreamy wafts of Christmas seeping through the house, leading to bites of crumbly, buttery pastry melting away in my mouth to reveal tangy fruits, rich spices and a hint of alcohol, all rounded off with the sweet drizzle of glace icing over the top. The pie in my hand almost falls apart in surrender: ‘eat me!’, and the filling is jewelled with glace cherries so red it’s almost offensive. But it’s Christmas: red goes.