A Few More of My Very Favourite Things….. spread the joy (or the tapenade)!

Chrissy tableauJack's Chrissy Tableau is up

lovely flowers

  • I have really never missed a meal. It is because I regard food as very special, very delicious and very full of love. I  am also rather greedy and very curious. I want to try new things, other people’s foods, experiment with recipes, lap up more and more cookbooks and also share what I know and learn more.
  • I am using bullet points because I feel this is a definitive festive blog and I hope it will inspire you, de-stress you and help you enjoy a lovely holiday with friends and family without guilt and with joy (plus I don’t know how to get rid of them, yet! )bentobox.jpg

Yesterday I met a fellow foodie who is developing a clever idea which sounds like something every teenager would love to munch on. I wish him much luck and hope his product will be on shelves soon (I will keep you informed), something to do with chocolate, crunchiness and oats…. there, now  I have your interest! Phew, got rid of those bullet things!

He told me I was the first food blogger he had met. Heavens, I felt quite a responsiblity to be wildly interesting in a foodie sort of way and to be very knowledgable. By blogging, I do really  hope that I am sharing something useful for you, something which might make our lives easier, more palatable. less guilt-afying (don’t we parents suffer from that guilt thing!).  I also try and pick up knowledge where I can, follow lots of food blogs, read loads of cookbooks plus medical research papers, and above all, I try and cook a lot!!!!!

One thing I have learned over the years is that often it is the simplest things that are best. Warm scones from the oven. Mushrooms on toast. Honey on greek yoghurt with homemade cranola warm from the oven. Boiled eggs with toast soldiers. A plate gleaming with gold such the japanese pottery above, on a dark warm wood table, waiting for soup on a cold winter’s day.  I have also learned that I can’t completely healthify everything nor can I micro-manage all foods my kids eat to make sure they are healthy. But I do try and teach my kids by cooking from scratch and offering them a rainbow of foods to try.  Best of all though is sitting down with friends and family on a festive day.

Here are my top tips for sprucing up your Christmas table, easing your entertaining and making your lives more delicious all round.

  • Get everyone to cook a dish for the festive table or at least give them a job. Even the littlest of the little people can help by laying a table. Do the family favourites, it doesn’t have to be a traditional Christmas dinner. We are making dishes from all over the world on December 25, Spanish, Vietnamese, British, Antipodean, we’ll be using them all. But you can also buy in a few special things to make life easier……

Order something from the festive menu at La Gone’s Christmas menu for lovely, well prepped Lyonnais cuisine (the citron tart and the Chocolate fondants are particular family favourites) and the baquette here is always good – Noordeinde 200.

Order a dark chocolate tart, Pecan Pie or Lemon Meringue pie and bread from Patisserie Phillipe Garlene, all I can say is seriously delish!

Michel’s baguettes and tarts are also rather divine on Oude Molstraat and of course there is our favourite spelt bread from Lekkerbrood (you may like to ask for a couple of deep frozen spinach pies for boxing day eats as well)

Get your special cheeses from either Ven or De Ruijter on Elandstraat 158. The wild mushroom tapenade at De Ruijter is also quite to die for, served on toasted crostinis.

For the fishavores, we’ll be ordering cooked lobster and any other fishy treats from Smitvis in Rotterdam, http://www.schmidtzeevis.nl. As we don’t usually buy any fish, we will be giving thanks to the sea gods for this extra special treat.

The carnivores will be buying from Matia Boucherie on Bankastraat 48 or asking the team at the Ven for their advice. My kitchen diaries recommend Slagerij P.J. van den Broek as well. Poultry and Quails eggs will be purchased from Marqt.

Buy in some mini or oaty bagels from The Natural Bagel Company at the Ven.

Grab an organic ready made fondue from the farmer’s market, Ekoplaza or Marqt. Make Welse Rarebit or serve as fondue with loads of fresh veggies and pickles on an icy day.

Buy Fresh flowers for your table without impacting too severely on the the environment at Flowers for Tomorrow on Noordeinde 100.

Check out the Glass house on the Grotemarkt which will be hosting an organic market on December 15,22, and 29th.

And if you do happen to pop to Amsterdam try the salted caramel chocs at Unlimited Delicious, Harlemmerstrat 122 or if in Brussels, Chocolates by Ingelbrecht , the Fleur Blue Earl Grey and the Tonka Bean ganache 70% are too die for – http://www.jyvara.be – they are simply the best chocs I have ever had!

And if you are not cooking then here are my picks for good food and service – do check to see if they are open on Christmas day and Boxing day. Often you will find there is a set menu but you will have to book in advance. You will be fed well and should enjoy excellent service at any of the restaurants below….

Han Ting





My very last but most import tip –  is to eschew presents this year and instead choose a favourite charity such as Oxfam Unwrapped, Heifer.com or Mary’s Meals and spread the joy a little. You can buy flocks of ducks, a couple of goats, a shower, WC or food and education for those less fortunate in the world. That will save the bother of shopping in the festive rush and wrapping! Enjoy!

An abridged version of this will appear on Dutchbuzz.nl’s website over the holidays

truffle-heartsome yummy lunchy stuffraspberry tart in Antwerpchrissy candles

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