James Martin invited Sous Chef founder Nicola Lando to share her top gift tips this year - and here’s her list! From world peppers to cast iron tools from Sweden’s oldest foundry, these are the gifts every chef and food-lover would love to find under the tree.
Season to perfection
Broaden your seasoning selection, with a fantastic selection of peppers from around the world. Many people won’t have tried some of these flavours, harvested from Madagascar, Cambodia, Indonesia and Malaysia – they’re a fantastic way to explore the world through food.
Start your pepper exploration with Voatsiperifery. This long tailed pepper is beautiful to look at, and has a fruity fresh flavour that works particularly well in cacio e pepe or chocolate desserts.
This citrusy pepper is hot and punchy, with cooling menthol notes. The distinctive cool-heat makes it a great choice for seafood and fish. Harvested by hand in Cambodia, it’s known as the ‘grand cru’ of the pepper world.
Red pepper is the same plant as black pepper, but is treated differently. It’s picked when the berry is slightly over-ripe and has started to develop a thin surface of mould, giving the pepper a fruit fermented flavour. Not unlike ‘noble rot’ on wine grapes. Once picked, it is soaked in boiling water then plunged into ice to retain the colour. Fantastic with seafood and creamy sauces.
Use the best tools
These cast iron spice grinders from Sweden’s oldest foundry are some of our most popular products – loved for their ergonomic design and fantastic power. A simple twist of the hand creates the perfect grind, and you can control exactly how finely you grind your pepper and spices depending on the dish you’re making.
Built to last, this weighty grinder sits perfectly in the palm of your hand. Choose your bespoke combination of spices – cloves, black pepper, even star anise – and flavour anything from mulled wine to homemade stuffing mix.
With an in-built storage chamber, you can keep your pre-ground spices next to the stove or at the table to season as you serve. The heavy cast iron crushes cardamom, cumin seeds and peppercorns easily. ANd the walnut lid keeps your ground spices fresh until you want to use them.
Finest French jams
Christine Ferber is known as the queen of confiture in France. She makes fabulous jams loved by Michelin chefs including Alain Ducasse and Pierre Hermes. The softly set jams are flavoured with fruit from the mountains and forests of her local Alsace area. Every jam is made in small batches, using copper cauldrons that Christine personally tends at 5.30am every morning.
A magical blend of fresh sour cherries, suspended in kirsch jelly – this jam is like a dessert in its own right. Sinfully good on buttery toast, and a crowning touch for chocolate cakes and ganache. Or serve with crepes for a decadent breakfast to remember.
Upgrade your vinegar
Sometimes all a salad needs is an extraordinary vinegar to bring it to life. No need to mix with oil for a vinaigrette, these are some of the world’s finest vinegars and should be put centre stage. The perfect gift for flavour connoisseurs.
Forvm vinegars are often served at Nobel Peace Prize dinners, and are used in some of the world’s very finest kitchens. These are vinegars that will alter the way you think of this complex condiment – much like fine wine. The sharp-sweet fruity vinegar has layers of flavour that bring crisp green leaves, fresh tomato and roasted vegetables to life.
Giuseppe Giusti has been making vinegar using the same recipe since 1605! They age their vinegar in original casks to create the most amazing complex flavour. Rich, sweet, sharp and fruity – this 25-year-old vinegar is streets apart from any other balsamic we’ve tried. The flavour has been developing for a quarter of a century, so no wonder it’s special.
Aged for just 12 years (still a considerable length of time!) – this bottle is a fantastic entry-level balsamic to reignite your love for the dark, syrupy vinegar. Although balsamic has perhaps slipped out of fashion, it’s certainly due a renaissance – and these are the bottles to convince anyone.
Equally, go for the 8-year aged balsamic vinegar for a taste of what makes Giusti balsamic so special – before graduating to the 12 or 25 year bottles.This has all the signature notes of black pepper, mature fruits and liquorice that we now look for in exquisite balsamic.
Smoke your own salmon this Christmas
Smoking food has been one of the biggest trends we’ve seen in 2021. And we know that customers love being able to create signature smoking blends for salmon, seafood, veg and steaks.
Use to create you own side of hot-smoked salmon, or even give your Christmas spuds a beautiful smoky depth by par-boiling and then finishing in the smoker for a few minutes before roasting.
Slightly smaller, at 7”x11”, this smoker is fantastic for a steak or for adding beautiful smoky notes to roasted veg such as butternut squash, carrots or parsnips. Or try making your festive starter and smoke a few scallops or langoustine.
Finest Italian panettone!
We’re known for our wonderful selection of panettone, and each year we work really hard to make sure our range of these Italian cakes is better than ever. We have a few flagship panettones that are really special though – we look forward to them arriving for most of the year! Read more about what makes a great panettone here.
BACK SOON! Click Notify Me to hear as soon as they land in the warehouse. These Italian classics take 3 days to make - and every hour counts! They are slow-leavened for incredible flavour and then hand scored and shaped before being baked. Each panettone is made using a traditional recipe, and the very finest ingredients – with Madagascan vanilla and beautiful pieces of citrus fruit studded throughout.
A Christmas tradition at Sous Chef, these Dolce & Gabanna panettones are some of the most beautiful (inside and out) that we've tried. Fiasconaro was founded in Castelbuono, Sicily in 1953 by Mario Fiasconaro. Mario started out as an ice-cream maker and pastry chef, and his first great masterpieces were mountains of profiteroles. Today, the company makes some of Italy's best-loved panettones.
This superb panettone comes with a velvety-smooth, sweet almond spread - use the butter knife that is included in the giftbox, to spread the nutty cream over slices of panettone. The slow-prove sourdough cake is covered in creamy white chocolate - a snow-inspired dessert to serve throughout the festive season, or tear pieces off and enjoy with your morning espresso.