This week I've been eating... seasonal sandwiches
A sandwich is food for the distracted. A piece of culinary miniaturisation – a full meal, stripped of fripperies, and enclosed by two rounds of bread. The Earl of Sandwich's card-table snack was merely a rearrangement of his dinner – which would undoubtedly also have been some meat and carbohydrates. Inevitable then, that the most elaborate meal of the year gets a reworking. Christmas sandwiches are everywhere – but which is best?
Jamie Oliver puts on a fairly good show at Boots with a full £3.90 worth of moistish turkey, sausage, and decent cranberry sauce. But, oh, Jamie, why onion bread? M&S (£3.95) doesn't make that mistake with its three-course affair which starts with salmon (passable), travels through turkey and bacon (cracking) and ends with brie (peaky). But Pret's £3.25 "nut roast dinner" is what I'd choose. It's small, moist, sweetened by cranberry and carrot and won't leave you snoring at your desk.
Sup and smile
It's a bold claim made by Krug champagne: its pop-up restaurant (5-8 December) will apparently have every diner leaving giddy with happiness, the result of an "endorphin-releasing menu". Not sure about that – but there are things about the Institute of Happiness that will get you smiling. The location, for instance, in a glass cube in the midst of a Victorian cemetery in London's Highgate. And the presence of Nuno Mendes, the Michelin-starred chef, in the kitchens. And of course, then there's the champagne – all Krug Special Cuvée. The only thing that won't have you smiling is the price, £220 a head. kruginstituteofhappiness.com
Heston Blumenthal wrote the foreword to Tony Conigliaro's new book, Drinks, which gives you some insight into the esteem in which the bartender is held. From his tiny bar at 69 Colebrooke Row in London's Islington, he has made his name as the go-to man for strange and unusual cocktails – and you can see most of them in the book. Including things such as the Plume, the ingredients for which include gin, tea, a pea shoot and er, white sand. Sounds pseudy, and it is. But that's half the charm of the beautifully produced book, which is half drinks book and half memoir. £25, eburypublishing.co.uk
Christmas is about cheese for me – in sandwiches, after Christmas dinner, and for tea on Boxing Day. But this year I'm going easy on the blues. Instead it's all about Teifi's unpasteurised cheese. The True Taste Award-winner makes a variety of dense and creamy gouda-style cheeses, which, though mellow, develop a deeper, umami tang not dissimilar to Parmesan over time, so they're perfect for the long haul between Christmas and the new year. Perteificheese.co.uk
Choc and awe
Expensive chocolate has its place. But there's something deeply pleasing about cheap chocolate. Maybe it brings memories of childhood; maybe it just melts in the mouth quicker. Either way, the coming together of Cadbury's Dairy Milk and Oreos is a triumph of mouth-coating loveliness. You get the slick of chocolate and then the crunch of the biscuits and it's heaven. £1.39, sainsburys.co.uk