On the television …
In the rollup to Christmas there are quite a few programmes you might want to set the Sky Player or video for or, being totally old-fashioned, actually watch them live for a few hints as to how you might want to wrap the big day with a touch of celebrity culinary panache. Highlights not to be missed include Christmas At River Cottage (Dec 18, 7.50pm More4 ), recently shown on Channel 4; Raymond Blanc’s Christmas Feast (Dec 19, 6.30pm, BBC2 ), pictured; The Hairy Bikers’ Christmas Party (Dec 20, 8pm, BBC2 ); Home for Christmas (Dec 21, 7pm and 8.30pm, RTE One ); Jamie’s Christmas with Bells On Part Two (Dec 21, 9pm, Channel 4 ); and Rick Stein’s Spanish Christmas (Dec 21, 9pm BBC2 ). —
On the wine shelf …
Condado de Haza 2007 Ribera del Duero (Independents, €22 )
I simply cannot get enough of this 100 per cent Tempranillo beauty from Spain. With American oak definitely knocking about in the background, it is rich, lively, and very satisfying from its black cherry, blackberry, and smoke on the nose with promises of coffee to its succulent and lasting complexity of fruit in evidence on the palate. If you buy one Spanish wine this Christmas, this is it.
Boas Vinhos Branco 2008
(Independents, €10.99 )
While this is certainly not the first wine you would pick from the shelf, it is worth a punt if you are on an adventurous bent. Made from Encruzado and Cercial grapes that are as well known in Ireland as the Lake Tanganyika hurler-of-the-year, the nose has hints of green apple lolling in a grassy meadow while on the palate it is fresh, balanced, and more than generous. A well priced aperitif that will suit most palates over the Christmas.— Paul O’Doherty.
On the cookery book shelf …
River Cottage Veg Every Day
With Christmas nearly upon us and families and friends preparing for the big day, there are always a couple of vegetarians coming in for dinner on the arm of a loved one that are going to say ‘no thanks’ when the turkey and ham gets passed around.
So, with them in mind, and following on from the recent programme of the same name on Channel 4, consider one of the best vegetarian books, with modern twists, on the shelf this Christmas.
It’s also everything a Christmas bumper recipe book should be with lots and lots of intriguing and innovative dishes that will even entice meat-eaters to wonder why the vegetarians seem to be getting all the better options.
Along with numerous recipes for dips, salads, soups, pizzas and bruschettas tapas and tarts, I would certainly recommend trying out the stuffed cabbage leaves, squash stuffed with leaks baby beet tarte tartin, mushroom risoniotto, leek risotto and chestnuts and vegetable biryani to name but a few of too-many-to-mention favourites. —