Christmas with M&S
What do you love most about Christmas? Is it when you gather round to decorate the Christmas tree? (If you’re anything like us, this invariably involves untangling fairy lights from the year before. Thankfully, I have a very patient husband!) Perhaps it’s the quiet time taken to write Christmas cards, sealing them with your love and wishes for a great year ahead. It could be the joy of present buying and wrapping, or the fun of having the whole family around the dining table for board games, booze and banter. In our household, it most definitely revolves around the feasting! From the moment Scott and I open the doors of our chocolate advent calendars on the 1st December, right through to the big day itself, we allow ourselves this time to indulge, entirely guilt-free. Mince pies for elevenses? Mulled wine and truffles alongside midweek puddings? Well, if we are starting off each morning with a chocolate snowman or reindeer anyway, then we simply must start as we mean to go on!
This year, Marks and Spencer have launched their biggest ever Christmas campaign. Using the hashtag #MyMarksFave, the nation has been encouraged to join the conversation (via the powers of social media) and share their favourite festive foods from the wondrous M&S Foodhall (you can find mine over on my Instagram feed). Celebrating old and new favourites, Marks and Spencer have masterminded a show-stopping range of Christmas food to compliment the main event this festive season. A luxurious ‘Three-Fish Roast’ (a perfect alternative to turkey), an irresistible ‘Parsnip, Camembert and Chestnut Pithivier’ (a great option for non meat-eaters), or perhaps a gluten-free ‘British Outdoor-Bred Pork, Chestnut and Thyme Stuffing Wreath’? The sheer indulgence doesn’t stop once you’ve polished off every last savoury crumb and all those tasty trimmings, because, of course, then it’s time to pamper your sweet tooth. Choices range from a beautiful ‘Raspberry and Prosecco Panna Cotta Terrine’, to a decadent ‘Belgian Chocolate and Cherry Dessert’, crowned ‘best dessert centrepiece’ by BBC Good Food in this year’s Christmas Taste Awards. I don’t know about you, but, my mouth is positively drooling with all this tantalising talk!
Fortunately, this is fortuitous timing, because, much to my excitement, Marks and Spencer recently got in touch to ask if I would like to visit my local branch in Bath to select a handful of my best-loved Christmas products to showcase to you here. They, in turn, would set about choosing their top picks for me to sample too. Yes, yes please, I hastily replied! Gathering my tote bags, I soon hotfooted it down to Stall Street, where my nearest store is located, thrilled to discover what delicious delights I could find…
Armed with my basket, I couldn’t wait to stock up on all those scrumptious, seasonal sensations that I know will bring so much pleasure and joy to us and all of our visitors this Christmas time. From buttery rich mince pies crammed with plump wine fruits, cranberries, clementines, cherries and brandy (best served hot with a mountain of clotted cream, of course), to a spicy, sweet and creamy, mince-pie liqueur, new to M&S this year. The ideal accompaniments to our evenings curled up in front of a roaring fire watching Christmas movies!
Photographed above, we have the show-stopper that is this hand decorated ‘Shimmering Tree’ made with Belgian milk chocolate. Guaranteed to halt conversations across the dining table the moment you present it to your guests! A centrepiece that will add a touch of luxury, decadence and many ooo’s and ahhh’s, I’m sure! If you come to my house for a cup of tea or a glass of mulled wine, then expect to be treated to an old time festive favourite - the traditional ‘Chocolate Yule Log’.
‘The Signature Collection’, featured below, showcases an exquisite selection of carefully developed chocolates, with wonderfully unusual flavours including; ‘Smoked Sugar and Honey, ‘Mango Caramel’ and ‘Coconut Milk’. I mean, you could share them, but…!
If you were to ask me, Christmas simply would not be Christmas without the addition of a festive biscuit box. This year, Marks and Spencer have pulled out all the stops with their ‘Classic Teatime Biscuits’. A selection of plain, chocolate, cream filled and iced biscuits - honestly, all the best ones! From ‘Golden Crunch Creams’, ‘Jam Sandwich Creams’, ‘Triple Belgian Chocolate Cookies’ (drool!), to ‘Bourbon Creams’, ‘Shorties’ and a beloved childhood favourite, ‘Iced Party Rings’! You’ll be fighting over each and every one.
To balance out all those sweet helpings, I opted for some savoury snacks. No party is complete without a giant bowlful of crisps for all to dig into. These ‘Winter Berries and Sparkling Prosecco’ hand cooked crisps, (which the team at M&S picked out for me) are an unusual combination and will be sure to fizz and tingle your tastebuds. They are slightly sweet and so as a savoury snack may not be your flavour of choice this Christmas. However, there is a great, creative range of Christmassy crisps on offer, so you will likely find a new favourite, or, of course, reach again for the classics…
My visit to Marks and Spencer pointed me in so many delicious directions, and it was great to see such a varied range of festive food suitable for meat lovers and vegetarians. Visit your local store or peruse their party food online, and be sure to have a very Merry Christmas. What will be your #MyMarksFave?
Now, back to that mince pie!
Thank you so much to Marks & Spencer for gifting me a selection of their products this season, and to Megan at Grayling PR for reaching out to me in the first instance.