I’m rubbish at selecting gifts. By now, most of my friends seem to have everything they need, and can get anything they want long before I find out they want them. (And if they can’t afford something, then neither can I.) It’s a good situation to be in but it makes finding gifts difficult. This time of year, magazines will have spreads on ‘what to buy the guy/gal/cat/dog that has everything’. It’s a good question. My solution is treats. Treats like a hamper of goodies.
When I was a student, I received – and gave – gifts of treats. Those days a plastic bag made a good hamper, or a shoebox, and the content would be nice eats and drinks, sometimes home made. These days, there are other options. I recently received a hamper from Highland Fayre. What I like about hampers and gift bags is that you get a collection of interesting things, bits and pieces that you might not have picked up yourself but that is interesting to try.
So it was with great interest that I unwrapped an elegant cardboard box. When I teased open the lid, a layer of white and red striped paper was the first sign of the rather pleasing berry theme that was to come. This was the Scottish Artisan Treasure Hamper, and there were indeed treasures under the lid. Incredibly well packed, safely stowed for even the roughest journey, I found:
- Simply Add Chilli Wild – a chilli and strawberry sauce that sings with heat and fruit flavours. I absolutely love this. It’s great with a tart cheese, rather nice on toast and great in with sausages.
- The Kindness Baker Luxury Shortbread Rounds – crunchy ad sweet, these were lovely with a coffee. And a cup of tea. And a glass of water. They were just lovely.
- Berry Scrumptious Selection of Raspberry and Strawberry Chocolates – perfect petite fours.
- Super Jam Raspberry and Cranberry Jam – fruity, fresh and fun. This goes on toast, adds zing to scones and cream, and I’ve used it to flavour the icing on a ginger cake.
- Stag Stornoway Cocktail Oat Cakes – with great oat flavour, these are just what our cheese board needs. They work great with paté (meat and veggie) too.
- Arran Cheese Shop Scottish Cheddar with Raspberry & Cranberry – a prettily waxed truckle of cheese which sliced, fits the oat cakes as if they were made for each other. It was sweet, more than savoury, and an interesting, creamy texture. not my favourite cheese ever, but I’m glad that I’ve tried it. Christopher was a fan.
- Summer Harvest Raspberry Dressing – I’m not big on dressing my salad, but Christopher is and raspberry is his favourite so there was much cheering when we found this. It’s got good balance of sweet and tart and is great with salads and rather nice with steamed veg too.
- Gordon & Durward Original Scottish Vanilla Fudge – this didn’t last long because it was seriously moreish fudge. We’re both fans of fudge, but can usually stop after one or maybe two pieces. Usually. Not with this stuff.
- Roots Soda Co Kaleidoscope – Roots Soda Co create interesting sodas using small batches and fun flavours. Kaleidoscope is strawberry, basil and balsamic and is rather more yum than that might immediately suggest (kind of orangey to my palate). There were two of these, which made me very happy. Our bottles were from batch 66.
Highland Fayre specialise in hampers and have a great range. They’re doing Christmas hampers at the moment, so if you want to give a gift of consumable fun to a friend or family member, now is a good time. I like the Wee Festive Artisan (£35) which has tea, jam, Christmas cake, mince pies and chocolate stars. Rather a nice boxing day coffee break. The Festive Christmas Fayre Hamper (£45) is perfect for bringing to family, especially if you’re in charge of the food.
It’s not all Christmas, though. The Hampers by Product search is handy – find hampers for special diets, or fitted picnic baskets, get a chocolate or cheese and wine hamper, or, like I did, an artisan hamper. The special diet section has four hampers, one for diabetics – which I think is a really nice idea – and three for coeliacs.
The great thing about hampers is that the joy of unwrapping continues with each new bottle, jar or box you open.