Your feast is in the post

Armchair cooks should start preparing Christmas food now. By Serena Mackesy

T here is one thing that makes Christmas stand out for the epicures among us and that is that it is the one time of year when gluttony is not only acceptable but is a positive virtue. The annual explosion of turkey and pudding has, since the demise of the servant culture, been limited by the strength of the individual's will to spend time in supermarkets.

But things are looking up. The dedicated gourmand can nowadays fill the larder with every accoutrement of a lavish Yule without straying from the safety of the armchair. The day of luxury by mail order has come.

With it comes the death of the average dinner. Everyone knows that free- range is best, and the resurgence of rarer turkey breeds such as the bronze and the Norfolk Black has muted our taste for the white-feathered inhabitant of the freezer marts. Now everyone can get to a barnyard.

And, of course, if your palate has wearied of white meat, the choice of alternative fodder of a more outre kind is almost overwhelming. Your Druidic board can groan beneath the weight of wild boar, ostrich, smoked salmon steaks, bison or peacock, hand-thrown chocolates, firm, ripe cheeses and hampers of jellies and pickles and ruby wines.

Or maybe you think all this excess is a little tasteless. In which case you should try something low-key, like Seldom Seen Farm's Three-Bird Roast. This consists of a goose stuffed with a chicken stuffed with a pheasant, the whole thing layered up with spiced pork and orange. You'll be glad to know that everything has ben boned beforehand.

POULTRY

Derek Kelly Turkeys Ltd, Springate Farm, Bicknacre Rd, Danbury, Essex CM3 4E (01245 223581) 3kg free-range bronze turkeys pounds 30.39 inc. delivery; 3kg white pounds 28.27. Last orders 15 Dec.

Eastbrook Farm Organic Meats: High St, Shrivenham, Oxfordshire SN6 8AA (01793 790460). Turkeys from luxurious surroundings. Organic white or bronze pounds 7.16/kg inc delivery; free-range, pounds 5.95/kg. Last orders 8 Dec. Also duck, geese, gammon and organic hampers.

Copas Brothers, Lower Mount Farm, Long Acre, Cookham, Berkshire SL6 9EE (01628 529595). Free-range bronze pounds 5.20kg and barn-reared white turkeys pounds 4.70/kg. Also geese pounds 7/kg. Delivery pounds 10. Last orders 14 Dec.

The Hereford Duck Co, Trelough House, Wormbridge, Herefordshire HR2 9DH (01981 570767). Specialise in their own free-range, organic strain. pounds 2.15/lb. Average bird 4-6lb. Delivery pounds 10 for orders under pounds 50. Last orders 21 Dec.

Seldom Seen Farm, Billesdon, Leicestershire LE7 9FA (0116 259 6742). Free-range geese pounds 2.50lb. Three-bird roast (see introduction); pounds 4.75/lb for an average 10-12lb package. Courier delivery pounds 12. Last orders 10 Dec.

Goodman's Geese, Walsgrave Farm, Great Witley, Worcester WR6 6JJ (01299 896272). Free-range, grass and corn-fed geese pounds 5.95/kg; bronze turkeys pounds 4.60/kg. Courier delivery pounds 11, or two birds for pounds 15. Last orders 25 Nov.

GAME

Fletchers of Auchtermuchty, Reediehill, Auchtermuchty, Fife KY14 7HS (01337 828369). Home-reared venison, hung to perfection. Boneless haunch pounds 6.20lb, casserole cuts pounds 3.98/lb, sausages, haggis and other delicacies. Last orders by end Nov to allow for hanging. Delivery pounds 8.95 for orders under pounds 80. Very small orders by first-class post.

The Game Larder, Ryshett Farm, Chessington KT9 2NQ (01372 749000). Locally stalked roe and fallow deer pounds 2.30-9.80/lb and partridge pounds 5.80 (French pounds 3.60), plus woodcock, pheasant, wild duck, grouse and wild boar pounds 5.20- 7.60/lb hung to order. Bison pounds 10.50-pounds 20.20/lb, ostrich pounds 18/lb, emu pounds 18/lb, crocodile pounds 9.60/lb, kangaroo pounds 4.90/lb. Delivery pounds 10 up to pounds 100. Last orders 19 Dec, but allow for hanging time.

Barrow Boar, Foster's Farm, South Barrow, Yeovil, Somerset BA22 7LN (01963 440315). Wild boar pounds 4.50-pounds 13.20/500g. Kid, ostrich and oven-ready peacock at pounds 5.49/500g. Delivery pounds 8.50; two weeks notice if possible.

Loch Fyne Smokehouse, Clachan Farm, Ardkinglas, Cairndow, Argyll PA26 8BH (01499 600217). The famous Loch Fyne kippers, pounds 11.52 for 10 pairs; smoked salmon pounds 19.25 side unsliced; fresh oysters pounds 4.80 dozen. Delivery pounds 5.95. Last orders 15 Dec.

Summer Isles Foods, Achiltbuie, Ullapool, Highlands & Islands IV26 2YG (01854 622353). Smoked salmon tasting pack (four types) pounds 17.50; two smoked salmon steaks for pounds 9.50. Join the smoked salmon club and get a different product monthly for six months for pounds 60. Last orders 2 Dec.

CHEESE

The Fine Cheese Co, 29/31 Walcot St, Bath BA1 5BN (01225 483407) More than 100 British cheeses. Next day delivery pounds 6.95. Last orders 20 Dec.

Hamish Johnston, 48 Northcote Rd, London SW11 1PA (0171-738 0741) Fine range of British, French and Irish cheeses. Delivery by first-class post; orders preferably by 5 Dec.

Neal's Yard Dairy, 17 Short's Gardens, London WC2H 9AT (0171-379 7646). A broad range of farm cheeses. Try a selection for pounds 20-25 plus pounds 6 for courier delivery. Last orders 15 Dec.

Paxton and Whitfield, 93 Jermyn St SW1Y 6JE (0171-930 0259) Whole Stilton pounds 75, baby Stilton pounds 27.50, British farmhouse cheese selection pounds 15. Last orders 15 Dec.

PUDDINGS

Anton Mosimann, 11b West Halkin St, London SW1X 8JL (01628 782254). Light version of traditional pudding, suitable for vegetarians and 227 calories a portion. Add brandy butter. 737g pudding, pounds 9.99 p&p. Last orders 15 Dec.

Fortnum & Mason, 181 Piccadilly, London W1 (0171-734 8040). 1lb pud is pounds 4.95; 4lb monster including ceramic bowl is pounds 18.95; 2lb vegetarian pud pounds 8.50. Delivery pounds 4-pounds 4.50. Last orders 8 Dec.

Morel Bros, Cobbett and Son, Unit 7 129 Coldharbour Lane, London SE5 9NY (0171-346 0046). Bespoke Christmas pudding of the traditional variety, 900g pounds 9.95. Last orders 18 Dec.

CAKES

Traquair House, Innerleithen, Borders EH44 6PW (01896 830323). Ancient house and brewery produce its own spice cake: a light, bread-like mixture of treacle, spices and ale.

Meg Rivers Cakes, Middle Tysoe, Warwickshire (01295 688101). Bakery specialising in seasonal concoctions; Christmas cake is a rich fruit with brandy.

CHOCOLATES

Charbonnel and Walker, 1 The Royal Arcade, 28 Old Bond St, London W1X 4BT (0171-491 0939). Christmas boxes decorated with braid and lurex - all sizes from pounds 8 for two to pounds 230 for 10lb.

Norwood House Chocolate, Norwood Bottom Farm, Norwood Bottom, Otley, Yorks LS21 2RA (01423 3222230). The home of the Chocolate Society. Box of bittersweet chocolate nuts pounds 12.50; handmade bon-bons pounds 3.45 for four, pounds 31.96 for 50.

HAMPERS

Lightwater Village Gift Services, North Stainley, Ripon, N Yorks HG34 3HT (01765 635321). Large selection of foodie treats from pounds 10.99 for a basket of red wine and Wensleydale to pounds 145 for a groaning conglomeration of everything including cherries in kirsch. Last orders 8 Dec.

Panzer's, 13-19 Circus Rd, St John's Wood NW8 6PB (0171-435 0165/0171- 722 8596). Epicurean luxury, from the Paddington at pounds 42 (includes smoked salmon, brandy butter, merlot, pretzels) to the aptly-named Hedonist at pounds 205 (caviar, foie gras, champagne, you name it).

James and John Graham, Market Square, Penrith, Cumbria CA11 7BS (01768 862281). "Hampers without melon balls!" Rich, meaty and old-fashioned country delicacies. From pounds 35 in a box to pounds 320 in a wicker basket. Last orders 15 Dec.

Presents of Mind Ltd, Berwick Barns, Terling Hall, Hatfeld Peverel, Essex CM3 2EY (01245 381220). Wine selections and hampers strong on titbits and posh condiments from pounds 25.90-pounds 500. Hampers made to order with luxury items such as foie gras and caviar. Last orders 15 Dec.

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