Written by Colin Fraser
As the velvety tones of Andy Williams singing starts to swirl through my head, that must mean one thing, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Christmas day itself is gone in a flash, but for me I’m a true fan of the run up – oh and boxing day leftovers of course!
Frantically dashing around shops like the tardy McAllister family rushing through the airport, I’m usually on the back hoof with my Christmas shopping. Always coming to my rescue however, are top notch local food brands acting as fitting gifts for the loved ones.
From pantry fillers to last minute Christmas day table additions and treats ready to be scoffed as soon as they are unwrapped, here’s a few ideas to give this year’s gift list a festive local twist.
A big part of Christmas for me is getting the board games out of storage and trying out the latest challenge fad of the year. Taking on the heat of the hot sauces of the Singularity Sauce Co. will definitely fit the bill for those who like it hot.
Creating small batches of its fiery sauces, the Singularity range push the boundaries of heat with epic flavour. Add to your dinner time recipes, dish up ready to dunk crisps or just be a maniac and drop straight onto your tongue, these sauces are versatile, impressive and will definitely be a gift with a lasting impression. I recently tried the Purple Naga Viper Brain & Blueberry sauce and its sting still lives on *grabs glass of milk*.
Ticking the ‘pantry filler’ checkbox firmly is the products From Bakery Lane. Simply walk into any local farm shop, deli, larder or cafe and you’ll be sure to see something from its extensive homemade range waiting to be perused.
The jams, marmalades, chutneys and jellies made with locally sourced ingredients are just crying out to be added to any gift selection and its Christmas Jam offers the perfect festive dollop to your christmas feast this year.
With a motto of “Life’s too short, eat dessert first”, it’s no surprise that the bakery goods from here are top notch too. Always a sell-out on its website and any market stall, you need to be quick to get your hands on its range of brownies, traybakes and flapjacks. You’ll be hooked on the Rolo brownie – trust me!
With jam on the mind, that takes me nicely to its even sweeter cousin, honey. When I’m not stocking up on local honey to remedy hay fever, a regular gift purchase for me is the honey from Udny Provender.
Creating stunning honeys characterised by the flowers its bees feed on at the time, every jar of honey is never the same making each batch truly individual. Take your choice of light blossom honey or darker heather honey which can be bought by the jar along with a range of vinegars and craft shrubs. Perfect for the festivities, Udny Provender has packaged up its products into hampers and gift boxes to make your giftee feel like queen bee – the cocktail boxes using its shrub range will create a buzz for sure.
Blending my two favourite things together (not literally of course), Morningdog Coffee offers those with caffeine fiends in their circle a perfect blend.
Offering small batch, single origin coffee beans, Morningdog Coffee carefully curates its speciality coffee range bringing the best flavours to your home brew.
Pouching up whole beans or ready to brew with cafetiere and filter, your coffee lover will be well served. If you want to make sure your giftee never faces a no coffee crisis, a coffee subscription could have you painted as a saint.
As a lover of peanut butter, I’ve tasted my way through many a jar finding some firm favourites and some never agains. What I love more than a great peanut butter is a local one and for a while it was hard to find a Scottish nut butter – let alone a North-east one – that was until Hungry Squirrel came onto the scene.
Taking flavours to the next level with the likes of espresso almond, cookie dough cashew and chai spiced almond, there’s plenty to go nuts for. Fill your gift supplies with packs of regular and taster sized jars or pick individual jars based on your giftee’s taste. Nothing says Christmas more than its Nut Cracker jar, so be sure to land that in your order.
I’m a regular in the parlour of Mackie’s 19.2 and no matter when I visit there is always something new to catch my eye. As I spooned my way through my double scoop tub of coconut white chocolate and chocolate brownie, I spotted a new addition to its counter – a Mackie’s Mini Collection of its chocolate bars.
Packing up a selection of traditional milk, mint, honeycomb and dark mini bars into a classy wee box, this makes a fitting (and tempting) treat for chocolate lovers. Standing out from the big brand chocolate bars out there, Mackie’s super smooth recipe is made right on the farm using the milk from its cattle herd. If you like its ice cream, you’ll love its chocolate.
If you’re after a bottle of festive cheer (otherwise known as booze) I’d have to point you in the direction of Aberdeen Whisky Shop. With shelves lined high with, as it’s Instagram says, “Whisky? Whisky! WHISKY! And gin, rum, tequila and other stuff!” – sounds like heaven to me.
Stocked to the brim with plenty of local names and others from across the globe, you’ll get plenty of inspiration here. For gin lovers my recommendation would be a classy bottle of Old Tom Maple Gin from Aberdeen based House of Botanicals.
So hopefully this guide has made the Christmas shopping that little bit less chaotic. If not, I don’t even think Santa can help you, so stock up on some coal and write out your ‘It’s the thought that counts’ gift tags.