What did you find under the tree this year?

Amongst the usual Christmas gifts of socks, gloves and scarves, there were a few culinary treats for us under the tree this year; some attractive bannetons, a sugar thermometer, personalised aprons, some foodie books, a cheese making kit, ceramic measuring spoons, an ice cream maker…  All we need now is a bit of time to play with our new toys!

We also exchanged some homemade gifts with each other (what better to give to people passionate about food?!) including clotted cream fudge, spiced biscuits, peanut brittle, salted caramel truffles, chutneys, curds, bramble gin, limoncello…

It would seem the FFO staff are as busy in their own kitchens as they are here!

A year of celebration!

As we near the end of 2012, we can celebrate what has been, despite the challenges of the financial climate, a great year for FFO. In our 25th anniversary year, we have shown that we are at the top of our game, committed to producing high quality food that is seasonal and stylish but above all full of flavour whilst providing an excellent and bespoke service for our customers.  Here’s hoping we have even more to celebrate in 2013!

We’d like to wish all our customers, suppliers and staff a very Happy New Year!

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It’s THAT time of year again!

Over the last couple of months, we’ve been up to our elbows in dried fruit and nuts, spices and an excess of brandy here in the FFO Kitchen as we’ve made preparations for the festive season.  We’re now well into the swing of things; sorting Christmas orders for cakes, puddings, mince pies, meals for those moments when friends and family drop in at short notice, chutneys, pickles, gift hampers… and that’s not to mention the drinks parties, dinners, carol concerts and winter weddings we’re also catering for!  With our new menus out, this time of year is always busy for us but it hasn’t been all work and no play; we’ve also found time to taste test some great new products and ingredients ready for winter entertaining.  There was great excitement in the kitchen last week when a new range of chocolate arrived for us to test in our desserts and this week we’ve put aside an hour or so to try some different coffee and tea blends.

Brandy soaked Christmas pud

Brandy soaked Christmas pud

When it comes to our own Christmases (it still seems a long way off at the moment, many mince pies still to make!) we’re anticipating the usual arguments at home over tradition vs. ‘something different’!  Should we eat turkey or goose on Christmas Day or go for venison, beef or perhaps rabbit this year?  Will it be fish again on Christmas Eve or shall we ring the changes with an Indian or Thai meal?  We’re about half and half in our families for those who’d welcome a bit of variation and those in favour of convention, although everyone seems to agree that whatever is eaten for the main course, there must be a Christmas pudding to follow, even if the alternatives turn out to be more popular!

We’re also about half and half of those in favour of or anti brussels sprouts; there would be outrage from some if they didn’t appear at the Christmas table but for others their absence certainly wouldn’t be missed!  If you are serving them this year, there are countless ways of adding a bit of interest; in the past we’ve shredded them and served with crushed juniper berries, tossed them with broken chestnut pieces, sautéed them with cubes of pancetta, added lemon and thyme or apple and walnut oil…no doubt they’ll appear in a new guise this year!

If you are looking to keep the Christmas flavours classic this year but would like to vary things just a little bit, why not try serving mulled cider (apple or pear) or white wine?  You can use the same spices that you would for mulled red wine (try experimenting with cardamon and star anise) but honey works well instead of sugar and ginger and slices of apple (and some juice) are also good additions.

Don’t forget to look out for those ingredients in season and at their best at this time of year.  Among the highlights:

rabbit, goose, mackerel, apples, pears, celeriac, brussels sprouts, turnips, beetroot, salsify, jerusalem artichokes, leeks, chestnuts, wild mushrooms…