During the Christmas season a lavish food hamper is the final flourish of gourmet indulgence. Here are 10 of the finest…
1) From the restaurant of Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, the Chocolate & Champagne Christmas Hamper (£175) is filled with a variety of delights from Ducasse’s Parisian bean-to-bar chocolate factory, La Manufacture de Chocolat. Among the highlights of the wicker hamper is a 1kg milk-chocolate bar, while the bottle of Champagne NV Selection Alain Ducasse Brut takes centre stage, as it is not usually sold via retail in the UK.
53 Park Lane, London W1 (020-7629 8866; www.alainducasse-dorchester.com).
2) Fortnum & Mason’s new Gentleman’s Basket (£65) includes a 10-year-old Islay single-malt whisky, vintage marmalade, Papua New Guinea milk chocolate, buttery macadamia-nut shortbread and a stainless-steel Izola hip flask inscribed with the words “To My Health”. For her, the Lady’s Basket (£65) contains that vital bottle of Fortnum’s London Dry Gin, plus Fever-Tree tonic water and gin chocolate truffles. After indulging in such epicurean delights, repair to the bathroom for a warm soak fragranced with the enclosed bath truffles, and then retreat further from the world behind a silk eye mask.
181 Piccadilly, London W1 (020-7734 8040; www.fortnumandmason.com).
3) Harrods’ blockbuster of a hamper is The Supreme (£1,250), containing a collection of charcuterie, salmon, cheese and confectionery that demands a larder to rival that at Downton Abbey. Wines and spirits that stand out include Domaine Bachelet-Monnot Chassagne-Montrachet, Côte de Beaune, Baron Philippe de Rothschild Mouton Cadet Saint-Emilion 1930 Réserve Bordeaux and The Macallan Amber, from the 1824 Series. Plum pudding is the pièce de résistance.
87-135 Brompton Road, London SW1 (020-7730 1234; www.harrods.com).
4) The Queen’s cheese supplier Paxton & Whitfield has created The Gourmet (£235), presented in a wooden box and containing a jar of the finest English stilton, cheddar pounder, Caradon Blue and camembert de Normandie – with a stainless-steel stilton scoop, slate cheese markers and Paxton & Whitfield soapstone serving board. Accompaniments include shredded pork with sloe gin, Wiltshire fruit loaf, white truffle honey, spiced plum chutney and sweet cucumber pickle.
93 Jermyn Street, London SW6 (020-7930 0259; www.paxtonandwhitfield.co.uk).
5) Gathering a continental array of goodies, The Mount Street Deli Christmas Hamper (£150, pictured) contains Gyeacquot Brut house champagne, Scott’s truffles, Ouse Valley jam collection, sloe gin Christmas butter, Paxton & Whitfield cheddar pounder, The Ivy mince pies, panettone al chocolate, Sicilian green nocerella olives and truffle honey. A gourmet restaurant-led feast.
100 Mount Street, London W1 (020-7499 6843; www.themountstreetdeli.co.uk).
6) More chocolate comes, unsurprisingly, from Hotel Chocolat, whose Ultimate Christmas Hamper (£300) chocolate feast of truffles, slabs and wreaths also features gourmet tinsel in the form of Hotel Chocolat prosecco, cocoa gin and tawny port.
4 Monmouth Street, London W1 (020-7209 0659; www.hotelchocolat.com).
7) Foie gras is traditionally served as a festive starter in France, and some of the best can be found at Fauchon. The Parisian gourmands’ delight this year is Le Foie Gras Ultime (€270), containing jars of duck and goose (and a specially designed knife to cut them with precision), and accompaniments including fine fig chutney and a bottle of Sauternes.
+331-7039 3800; www.fauchon.com.
8) From the home and farm of Prince Charles, the Christmas at Highgrove Hamper (£200) contains produce made with organic ingredients, such as cranberry and almond shortbread, Christmas preserve, brandy butter, cranberry sauce, florentines, iced Christmas cake and fudge – plus bottles of Côtes du Rhône, bordeaux blanc and cuvée champagne blanc – all presented in a wicker basket with leather straps.
10 Long Street, Tetbury GLP 8AQ (0845-521 4342; www.highgroveshop.com).
9) Nopi, the Soho restaurant of chef Yotam Ottolenghi, has released a Nopi Hamper (£100) themed around Nopi: The Cookbook, a signed copy of which is included. Key ingredients include ajwain and annatto seeds, chipotle chillies, gochujang red pepper paste, dried rose petals, barberries of Iran, tamarind pulp and the black glutinous rice of southeast Asia. A world of culinary delights for the keen cook to experiment with during the year ahead.
21-22 Warwick Street, London W1 (020-7494 9584; www.ottolenghi.co.uk).
10) And for those suffering after the Christmas night(s) before, Harvey Nichols’ Boxing Day Box (£230) contains all the ingredients for the perfect Bloody Mary, plus tea, coffee, pasta, nuts, drinking chocolate and, yes, more wine. A selection of games smooths the path to re-entering the spirit of Christmas once the pain has settled.
109-125 Knightsbridge, London SW1 (020-7235 5000; www.harveynichols.com).