Marks and Spencer Christmas 2017 range - a sneak preview
AS a reward for having been good all year the Irish News was invited to London for a sneak preview of the Marks and Spencer Christmas range.
The grand unveiling of the decadent goodies you'll be nibbling this Christmas plus the gorgeous gifts you'll wrap for freinds, family and pets alike took place in what is best described as a luxe underground bunker.
To be fair if you got wind that the end of the world was nigh this is exactly the kind of cellar you'd want to spend your last hours holed up in, feasting on Christmas dinner with all, and we mean all, the trimmings, followed by decadent desserts and cheese.
You'd be expected, nay obliged, to open all the windows on the Paddington Bear advent calendar in one go and scoff what you found. And the crackers? Well, they're not going to pull themselves are they?
Here's a selection of the sweetest treats and tastiest dishes we spotted in the M&S winter wonderland.
Tudor Pie (£20, 1.5kg)
Look at it! It's glorious. The culinary adventure was a favourite of Henry VIII who liked to have something impressive to serve friends. This one weighs 1.5kg and is made in Yorkshire using a traditional recipe and cuts of pork and turkey with cranberries, chestnuts and stuffing.
Wrapped around that is a rich hot water crust pastry, finished with a cranberry and port jelly and hand decorated with ornate pastry leaves. Almost too good to cut into. Almost. You could serve it for lunch on a day you simply cannot face having to cook anything from scratch or cut finer slices and serve as a starter on Christmas day.
Ultimate Yuletide Log Sausage Roll (£6)
Surely M&S has set some sort of world record with this giant sausage roll. Kudos if you slice and serve as party food. Henry VIII would be so jealous.
A lighter alternative comes in the form of beetroot and vodka cured Lochmuir smoked salmon (£12, 300g)
Baked Camembert with smoked cranberries and a sloe gin glaze (£10, 580g)
A mild and creamy mould ripened camembert with cranberries and pumpkin seeds that you pop in the oven to bake. Did we mention it's finished with a cranberry and sloe gin glaze? Now wouldn't this be perfect as a starter?
After that we get to the main course and things step up a gear.
Christmas turkey, priced by weight
Would you look at those bad boys? You could serve the turkey with truffled cauliflower cheese and mini beef filled yorkshire puddings (£9) or these beauties:
Vegetarian butternut squash and sweet potato rosti (£6)
And to complement all that there's bread sauce (£3) made with double cream, bread and a hint of nutmeg, cranberry and port sauce which contains a generous splash of ruby port (£3), posh turkey gravy made with Marsala wine (£4) and vegetarian onion gravy (£2).
After you've eaten all that, had a snooze and watched the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special it's time for dessert. You could try the 12 month matured Christmas pudding (£14) but what could be better that this ridiculously cute cake?
Santa's Stuck In The Chimney cake (£20, 1.5kg)
It's adorable, it tastes delicious and everyone will be talking about it until new year's day. Win, win and win.
This, by the way, is a milk chocolate jaffa bombe twirling and commanding the attention it deserves. It's hypnotic isn't it???
Salted caramel pine cones (£12 for 16)
Not to be confused with those on your wreath... Bite into one and as the chocolate cracks you'll think you're in gastronomical heaven. M&S has also created prosecco mallows, a shimmering chocolate bauble (£10 158g) and a Sparkle and Fizz chocolate bar (£5 for 165g).
Crisps, glorious crisps
Just when you think you can't eat any more on St Stephen's night you'll hear the distinctive sound of someone opening a large bag of crisps and as the crisps tumble into a bowl you will react like Pavlov's dog.
This year's flavours include smoked salmon, cream cheese and champagne hand cooked crisps and miso, soy and ginger parsnip hand cooked crisps and Bloody Mary red hand cooked crisps. All 150g bags are £2 and the Bloody Mary variety pack a punch.
And what better to have with your obligatory bedtime cup of tea than a Mini Christmas Colin the Caterpillar? They cost £2 per packet. Happy Christmas!