The 2020 North East Gift Guide for Foodies

The ultimate gift guide for foodies in 2020, focusing on regional, independent and small producers.

One of the best things to come out of this year, is our appreciation for local businesses. Communities across the UK have rallied to support the small, independent gems that we’re so lucky to have.

Businesses have diversified and adapted, in some cases becoming bigger and better in the process. It’s been amazing to watch. And what’s even better is the declaration of so many that they will be striving to shop local as much as possible this Christmas.

And so, to be of assistance, I’ve put together the ultimate list of foodie gifts from across the North East and beyond.

Stocking fillers…

The gift guide for foodies starts with food and drink related inspiration from business across the north east to ensure you’ve got a happy little scranner on your hands this year:

The Cookhouse Recipe Book

I am genuinely a little bit obsessed with Anna Hedworth and her restaurant, The Cookhouse based in Ouseburn. Her wholesome and inspiring cookbook is filled with over 100 different recipes and details Anna’s story of being a self-taught chef and her journey to opening the award-winning restaurant. It’s an absolute must for any North East foodie.

The team are also offering the most insane looking hampers, gift sets and wine boxes ahead of the festivities – all of which you can shop online!

Parlour Made

For the cheese fiend. Based in the beautiful village of Mordon in County Durham, Parlour Made is a business I make a beeline for as soon as I spot them at a farmer’s market or food fayre.

Amazing handmade cheeses that are genuinely some of the most delicious I’ve had. I’d highly recommend the Mordon Mediterranean with Garlic, the Durham Camembert and Hattie’s Blue – for those who believe in the smellier, the better.

You can buy all of their produce on their website as well as some pre-made gift hampers, crackers and chutney.

Geordie Gifts

Geordie Gifts are a Newcastle-based business, offering a wide range of gifts with a wonderful North East twist. From Christmas cards to keyrings, notepads to tote bags, they’ve literally got a Geordie inspired gift for everyone.

They have tea towels, oven gloves, mugs, coasters and even fridge magnets that are guaranteed to put a smile on north east foodies face.

Screaming Chimp

Based in Witton Gilbert, Durham, the Screaming Chimp company produces award-winning chilli sauces and snacks and can usually be found brightening up food festivals and fayres across the north.

Niall and the team are so passionate about what they do, you’re immediately sucked in and before you know it spending tens of pounds on sauces of every level of spice. It’s worth it though, they’re packed full of flavour. And whilst the heat is the main element, taste and texture are clearly important when it comes to new sauces too. I’d recommend their Pineapple number, which is great for marinating chicken. And I’ve spotted a Merry Chimpmas Cranberry Sauce that might just have to make an appearance at the Proper Scrumptious table this year.

Sausage Roll Fridge Magnet

If Greggs isn’t a legitimate religion for you, you’re not really from the north east are you? The North East Gifts company has produced pretty authentic looking sausage roll and cheese pasty magnets, which kind of defeats the object of sticking something on your fridge that helps you lose weight… but I’m all for it.

Greggs inspired fridge magnets from North East Gifts

At just £6.50 each, these handmade gifts are a cracking little stocking filler idea for someone who just proper loves a Greggs.

Got a sweet tooth?

What is Christmas without chocolate? Calories don’t count during the festive season, and it’s a bloody good job with this lot:

La Chocolatrice

La Chocolatrice is an independent chocolate shop based in Newcastle and are fast gaining attention on social media for all the right reasons. Their thick, chunky chocolate bars aren’t just indulgent but pretty as a picture too. They’re giving the likes of Hotel Chocolat a serious run for their money. Plus you’ll be supporting local too.

You can shop their extensive product range online, sign up for a chocolate workshop or purchase a gift voucher for the sweet-toothed recipient in your life.

A Christmas Treat Box

The treat box is the trend of 2020 with so many bakers and cake makers diversifying their offer during lockdown to provide us with delicious baked goods in the comfort of our own home.

A custom treat box from Cakes by Gabrielle.

My personal recommendation, especially for those hyper-local to me in County Durham, is Cakes by Gabrielle. A self-taught baker, Gabrielle’s talent and attention to detail will actually scare you. Her treat boxes come bursting with different delights, from brownies and cupcakes to macarons and truffles, they are the ultimate indulgence and perfect for those who like a bit of all sorts. Follow her on Facebook to keep up to date with her treat box selection.

Other super talented treat box bakers in the North East include Piece of Me Bakes, based in Washington and Cadence Cakes in Newcastle.

Stick the kettle on…

Are you even from the North East if you don’t love a brew? Here’s how you can enjoy a cracking cuppa and support our region at the same time:

Durham Coffee

This father-daughter team with a passion for good coffee are putting Lanchester on the map with their speciality coffee. Durham Coffee are the first local, independent roasters in the county, sustainably producing it from their coffee shop in Lanchester itself.

When retail is open, you can shop instore, or head over to their website to browse their Heritage Range, which consists of seven different coffees and roast profiles. All named after iconic Durham sites, places and tourist attractions.

Storm Tea

An English tea merchants based in Newcastle who are passionate about sourcing high quality, authentic teas across the world. The team behind Storm Tea travel extensively to find the best growers and farmers, they’re an ethical company who want to share the never-ending health benefits of the teas and spices they source.

As well as whole-leaf pyramid teabags (biodegradable), they sell a serious range of loose leaf teas and a couple of hand-crafted speciality teas. Not your usual Yorkshire brew and definitely nothing you’re likely to pick up in your local supermarket either. Their website is awesome too, they detail the process, the ingredients, the benefits, the location and how to brew the perfect cuppa for each individual tea.

I’ve got a serious obsession with Chai at the minute, and lowering my caffeine in take, so their organic, naturally caffeine-free Indian Chai tea is on my list this year.

Afternoon Tea

It’s no secret that our hospitality industry has suffered recently and any serious foodie will be missing frequenting their favourite spots whether it be for a pint, some good scran, boozy brunch or even an afternoon tea. Many venues are still offering gift vouchers with extended expiration dates and of course, cashflow for them now for services the provide in the future will be much welcome.

My favourite spots for an a good afternoon tea include Wynyard Hall, Matfen Hall or Fifteas Vintage Tearoom in Bishop Auckland.

Afternoon Tea at Matfen Hall

Let’s get boozy…

It wouldn’t be a Proper Scrumptious gift guide if there wasn’t an extensive alcohol section now, would it?

Durham Distillery

You can’t go wrong with booze at Christmas, can you? Durham Distillery, possibly most famous for it’s gin production was the North East’s first small batch craft Gin distillery when it was founded in 2014.

In addition to their classic gin, a soft, floral number, the team have now extended their distilling to include Sloe Gin, Vodka, Cask-Aged Gin, a Strawberry and Pink Peppercorn liquer and most recently, a mango gin.

Whilst it doesn’t quite scream Christmas, this fruity little number might be perfect for the gin-guzzling friend longing for the summer. Don’t forget to share a link to the Durham Distillery website too, it’s packed with cocktail inspiration!

Laneberg Wine

English wine is a huge trend at the moment. It seems that alongside baking banana bread and taking up yoga, discovering just how good us Brits can be at producing wine, was one of the biggest things to come out of lockdown.

The Winery by Laneberg Wine is the first of its kind in Tyneside and the furthest winery in the north of England, based in the Team Valley, Gateshead.

2018 was their first vintage and have since been scooping up all kinds of awards. You can shop their hand-crafted wine online as well as pick up cases for Christmas too.

Durham Brewery Tour

A couple of years ago the girls of the family all bought the boys of the family a pair of tickets for a tour of our local brewery. We all went not long after Christmas and had such a fantastic day sampling ales, beers and lagers as well as how the beer itself was made and stored. Durham Brewery’s philosophy is:

“Beer is special; beer is interesting and although we have been continually creating award winning beers since 1994, we never get tired of experimenting.”

I think that quote alone will excite any beer lover, making this the perfect gift. Please note that tours are suspended at this time, but you can still purchase Open Date gift vouchers as something to look forward to once this shit show is over.

Caps Off

Caps Off Bottle Shop, Brewey and Kitchen. I rave about them quite a lot don’t I? It’s just amazing seeing local folk doing awesome things and bringing a bottle shop, brewey and amazing bait to Bishop Auckland is up there for me.

Specialising in locally brewed beers, ales, ciders and spirits they champion the north through brilliant booze.

Whilst I’d highly recommend you visiting them in person, for now and for great gifts ideas, you can order from an extensive list of alcohol online. This means you can hand-curate a gift box of specialist and artisan ales for the beer drinker in your life, making it even more special in my opinion.

Makin’ memories…

Sometimes the most memorable, giving the gift of experiences is one of my favourite things about this time of year. Here’s some hand-selected ideas for the foodies:

Arches Cookery School

I was super lucky enough to get a voucher for Arches Cookery School last Christmas and absolutely loved my experience. Sarah Muir, owner of the school, is a classically trained chef who has cooked her way across the world and for some of the biggest names in show businesses, too!

All of the vegetables and herbs you’ll use are cooked right there on the farm. You’ll start your day with introductions over a cuppa and some freshly baked goods before a mixture of demonstrations and sampling Sarah’s delicious food. I learnt knife skills, about flavour profiles and the importance of seasoning in the first hour alone. You get to take home all your cooking too. Sharing optional.

Her stories of divas, drama and tour buses are as fun as the cooking itself. And with such as wide variety of cookery courses available, there’s literally something for everyone.

Triple A Food Tours

If you read my review of my experience on one of the Triple A Food Tours a couple of month ago, you’ll likely have already booked yourself a spot. If you’ve yet to read it, you need to catch up, and then tell me you’re not desperate to eat your way through the streets of Newcastle city with the lovely Amy.

Newcastle Food Tour with Triple A Food Tours

In addition to the Taste of Newcastle tour that I took part in, there’s also the Wine and Cheese tour (already bookmarked as a Christmas day out for me and a friend) and a delicious sounding tour of the Northumberland coast. Just think of the seafood…

A Tasting Menu Experience

We’re so lucky in the north east to have such an array incredible restaurants, and to serious foodies, there’s nothing more enjoyable than a really good fine dining experience. You’ll honestly be the favourite this festive season, rocking up with this gift.

If your budget allows, you’ve got the Raby Hunt in Darlington – a two Michelin star venue (that I’m scheduled to dine at in December – will genuinely post dogshit through No.10 if it’s rescheduled again). Or you’ve got the Michelin starred House of Tides in the heart of Newcastle.

Well on their way to a Michelin star I’m sure is The Patricia in Jesmond. Before we were barred from mingling, I treated Mama Jan to their tasting menu and we were absolutely blown away by the quality, flavour and service. An incredible price too, £55 for 6 courses of some of the best food I’ve been lucky enough to eat. Also only serving natural wines, the attention to detail and passion for the finest ingredients is clear throughout.

Not quite the North…

So, whilst I’m all for supporting the amazing local businesses we’ve got across our region, shopping small and/or independent from across the UK is just as good. So I’ve compiled a small handful of other gorgeous gifts from those beyond the north east:

Japanese Style Linen Apron

I’m a little bit in love with this style of apron. They have pockets. Which I believe is all that really needs to said.

The Prancing Hare are based in Birmingham and are passionate about the raw beauty of fibres. Working with natural and ecological materials from across Europe and creating homely garments from linen, cotton and silk. The colours available are absolutely stunning too. All of their collections are available to purchase on Etsy.

Ghana Kitchen Salt

Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen was founded in 2010 with the aim of starting an African Food revolution. Zoe wanted to make the flavours from her heritage more accessible and change perceptions of what West African food is. Since COVID-19 hit, her predominately catering based businesses had diversified into focussing more on education people on the ingredients and flavours of Ghana.

As well as range of spices, there’s a particular product on her online shop that caught my attention – the Ghana Kitchen Salt Set. A pack of unique salt blends including Okra Salt, Hibiscus Salt and Extra Hot Chilli Salt for just £10.00.

And if you’re not entirely sure what magic you can create with these African spices, not only can you purchase Zoe’s cookbook but there’s an abundance of recipes available for free on her website!

Sausage Roll Kit

Farmison and Co are an online butchery based in Ripon, North Yorkshire. I order from these guys often as the delivery is swift, there’s extensive choice and the quality is second-to-none. I’ve already got my Christmas turkey on order for 2020.

In addition to the meat, they have a gift section online including a cure your own bacon set and curry kits too. I’ve got my eye the Sausage Roll Kit that they stock, it’d make an awesome addition to our Boxing Day buffet.

British Charcuterie

Another huge trend in recent years, charcuterie isn’t just a foreign import. Meat is the most important part of charcuterie and we’re pretty good at producing high-quality meat in UK farms. There’s a rise in exception British charcuterie providers across the nation, including The Real Cure based in Dorset.

An impressive range of meats available to shop online as well as gift packs and hampers, you can team The Real Cure produce up with a selection of Parlour Made cheeses an you’ve got yourself an incredible little Christmas cheese board.

Pump Street Chocolate

Pump Street is a bean to bar artisan chocolatier based in Suffolk. They aim to bring you the finest chocolate available, working directly with cocoa bean farmers across the world.

They produce limited edition bars with some really unique flavour profiles including their Panettone chocolate, Hot Cross Bun, Eccles Cake and Gingerbread. There’s mini bars of their staple flavours for foodies to find their favourite as well as drinking chocolate and fancy selection boxes.

Me? I’ve got my eye on their Dark Milk Caramlised Hazelnuts.

Blackford’s Limoncello

We’re big fans of limoncello in our house. My dad used to work in Italy often and would bring back huge bottles of limoncello that would come out on special occasions and is still ordered at every family outing following a meal or to give a toast.

Blackford’s based in the Cotswolds produce limoncello from lemons imported directly from Sicily and the Amalfi coast: organic, unwaxed and handpicked by vetted growers.

Grasping the Grape

I love good wine. I don’t know anything about it, unfortunately. I just know what I like and what I don’t. But I’ve made it my mission to educate myself and why I like the kind of wines I like and hopefully be able to be a bit more brave when picking wine from a refined list in a restaurant or pick up new varieties in the supermarket without worrying I’m wasting a tenner (or more).

Grasping the Grape is a new book from Maryse Chevriere, which aims to demystify the different grapes to help you identify the wines that you like. In addition to the essentials, the book provides FAQs, a guide on being a better shopper as well as a handy plan of action for food and wine pairing, PLUS a drinking game to help you become a sharper taster – always up for a drinking game. Available to buy from Waterstones for £12.99.

Grow your own Mushroom Kit

The award-winning mushroom kits from Merryhill Mushrooms are guaranteed to work. After not being happy with the products currently on the market, the team behind these funky little funghi kits got to solving the problem.

A range of mushroom varieties to choose from, and all available to order online, this is a perfect gift for anyone who loves to grow their own.

Essentially, this gift guide for foodies is just my Christmas list for any family or friends reading…

What’s on your list?

Lots of love, LB x

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