Dulce de leche, pounds 3.75 a 450g jar.
This is an essential jar for anyone who subscribes to the "leave the best bit until last" school of thought. Equally, if people with that sort of discipline drive you mad with their mincing around the plate, this will let you have your cake and eat it. Tasting just like the thick caramel in a banoffee pie, Dulce de leche - "the sweetness of the milk" - is a traditional Argentinian spread, originally discovered by accident through overcooking a milk and sugar rice pudding.
Available from Sainsbury's, selected department stores and delicatessens; for mail order call The Teesdale Trencherman on 01833-638370.
Chocoholics Kissing Chocolate, pounds 1.50
Chocolate and sex - they never seem to leave the house without each other these days. Pendulous bikini activity and general overfilling of the bathtub are the stuff of chocolates semi-clad promotionals. Some say it's an aphrodisiac, and using Chocoholics Kissing Chocolate (or its big brother, Chocolate Body Paint) could help the theory along. This light and slightly nutty chocolate spread belongs in the "brush on-snog off" category and comes with a little make-up brush to aid application. That's another fine mess you've got me in to.
Available from Bhs, call 0171-262 3288
What is it? A superior gift shop, filled with potential presents actually worth buying.
Where is it? In Southend Green, a part of Hampstead with a `village' feel, in the least cool sense of the word. Independent chemists and old- fashioned bakeries jiggle for space with stationers and hardware shops, sadly missing a dolls' hospital but you get the picture.
Who Shops There? Nurses, due to the shop's proximity to the Royal Free, Grandmas with a preference for good, durable toys and doting parents buying wooden letters for newly born's bedroom door: "T,A,R,Q,U,I, and an N please" (pounds 1.50 each)
Stock: Children's toys are short on electronics and long on tradition, wooden games and sock-like glove puppets (pounds 3.95). Musical ballerina bears (pounds 3.95) are about as high tech as it gets. For the grown-ups there is everything from washing baskets, to gold, nobly champagne flutes (pounds 8.95), brightly painted crockery, lanterns, and bits of oriental furniture. There is also a collection of silver and amber jewellery.
Do buy: Wacky, clear plastic purses containing real dried things, from pretty yellow pressed flowers to chilli peppers. (Large: pounds 14.95, small: pounds 8.95)
Don't buy: The screeching and gyrating orang-utan. (pounds 19.95)
Craft Works: 0171-431 4337
Winter Berry Vinegar pounds 6.99
Vinegar may not seem like a gift to relish, but this attractively bottled white wine vinegar infused with cranberries and blackcurrants (not a pickled onion in sight) is about as far removed from Sarsons as Blue Nun is from Chablis. Splash it all over.
Available from Tesco stores (0800 505555)Reuse content