Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Christmas Time, Mistletoe & Wine (and cheese...and oysters...)

It's that time of year when everyone goes a little bit crazy in many different ways, some not as positive as others, and hopefully celebrates with loved ones. I will certainly be celebrating with said loved ones - mum, dad, not-so-little brother, Big G (also known as Grandma), two family friends AND my lovely Scouser - on the big day.

Needless to say, Christmas Day is a big event in our house. I cannot imagine being anywhere other than the house I grew up in, opening my massive stocking, giving out presents and getting very excited when I realise even though I didn't tell mum and dad what I wanted, I got some lovely stuff.

Of this big event, food plays a big part. Obviously! We start on the champagne at 12 noon (not a second later if I have anything to do with it) but this year we are commencing with a bloody mary on arrival - at 10.30. After me and The Scouse go out all afternoon on Christmas Eve, and take the hour and a half walk to my parents with our mutt, this will be much needed. When we went to Masterchef Live, my dad bought some bloody mary vodka, which you can buy here - littledevilspices.com - it's a spicy vodka mix that makes the best bloody marys and we will be indulging. Don't worry, we're still doing the champers too!

I have taken the drastic measure this year to introduce one of my true loves into the day's proceedings - not cheese, that comes later, but oysters. I've ordered them from Rosemore Oysters - www.oysters.co.uk - and I have a selection of Jersey Rock and Loch Ryan being delivered on Friday ready for Sunday. I am slightly nervous about cracking them open, but I've done it before with a knife. I like them with lemon only, but I know my little friend Jamie O has a good recipe for a few different dressings which I might try if I find some time...

For the main event, the lunch, which ends up happening around 2pm after the champers runs out, we start with a starter,  as you might expect! Most have smoked salmon (one of my real faves) but mother has to do another option now, for the fussy men, of a platter of cold meats. It actually catches my eye and I sometimes manage to steal a slice of bresoala or parma ham if I'm really lucky.

The only thing I'm not overly excited about at Christmas is the turkey. We had a goose one year and it was absolutely wondrous. But we'd need two geese to feed eight people, so I won't give my mother a hard time. Dad demands the largest turkey that will fit in the oven so I try to avoid the family home post-Christmas Day to avoid the very-Bridget-Jones turkey curry.

Now, to the cheese. Anyone who reads this blog that knows me reasonably well (i.e. gone for lunch with me at least once) will know that my true love - after The Scouse and our mutt - is cheese. The smellier, the better. I will regularly roast a Camembert, I will hunt for new cheeses, eat old ones that smell like feet, I don't much like crackers getting in the way and I've spent sometime perusing this year's options. Even though another guest has been tasked with bringing the cheese platter... This year, I'm going for Epoisses, possibly the stinkiest and strangest cheese ever. It has to stay in it's box otherwise it would be the size of a dinner plate, it's that ripe. I am also hunting for some Blacksticks Blue. I saw it wrapped up looking all squigdy (a word I reserve for cheese) but M&S Kingston seem to have sold out - I'm taking my search to the streets, watch this space.

Readers may now realise I am not a lady with a big sweet tooth. I would prefer two courses of cheese. However, my darling mum does make a chocolate log, courtesy a la Delia. My grandma makes a traditional Christmas cake and of course there's always the Christmas pudding, made originally by my late Granny, now the reins have been taken by my mother. I do not eat these things. Normally, I do end up sticking with the cheese.

The evening normally consists of post-nap Baileys and more cheese - for me. Mum always manages to crack out a retro prawn cocktail and endless slices of bread.

Goodness me, I just cannot wait.
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