‘Tis the season: stocking filler ideas for foodies

‘Tis the season: stocking filler ideas for foodies

by Great British Chefs 28 November 2016

Struggling to find the perfect gift that can also fit in an oversized sock? The number of food producers in the UK means buying presents for enthusiastic cooks is easy.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews.

Stocking fillers are by far the most enjoyable thing to shop for, and nowadays they're as much an opportunity to indulge loved ones as the main gifts themselves. We've had great fun collecting together our most desirable picks to pop up in our Christmas stockings this year, from 99p veg peelers to luxurious aprons. Whether the foodie in your life enjoys baking or spherification, there's something for everyone.

Edible treats

Edible stocking fillers are the true way to many a foodie's heart. A good benchmark for buying is to consider the receiver's store cupboard – you're aiming for that kind of treat which is both small enough to fit into a big woolly sock but packed with enough luxury to last until next Christmas; the kind of ingredient that might seem excessively decadent in a day to day shop. Think some good-quality truffle oil, for example (we recommend Belazu's white truffle oil), or something a bit weird and wonderful, like secret Italian ingredient bottarga – a kind of dried fish roe that when grated over the simplest of pasta dishes, adds a sublime umami flavour and hit of luxury. The Fish Society sells it unwaxed and of the highest quality for just £12.90 for 75g, a steal compared to the prices it can fetch in speciality delis.

Ramping up the luxury factor even more, how about indulging your favourite foodie in a tin of caviar, just in time for throwing a New Year's Eve party, or just for them to eat themselves on a particularly decadent night in with a bottle of champers (we're not ones to judge). Caspian Caviar's gift set includes a 50g jar of their house selection caviar, with goose foie gras and a bottle of Moët thrown in for good measure.

For the avid baker in your life, try investing in some next-level cake decorations. Some crystallised flowers will add a splash of colour and give them a chance to test out flavours without taking the plunge themselves.

Every family has a hothead; feed their fiery desires by throwing some super hot chillies in the sock, such as some dried Trinidad moruga scorpion chillies, amongst the hottest in the world. Just make sure you include a health warning.

For the budding molecular gastronomist (who can't quite be bothered to invest the time to do it themselves) a little pot of some molecular marvels might be a winner. Try these beautiful balsamic pearls for those wishing to add a fancy twist to their favourite dishes.

Caspian Caviar

Unforgettable experiences

Perhaps you’re not after an actual gift but would rather someone have a fantastic meal out, pick up some new skills or get away from it all for a few days. There are all sorts of foodie experiences from Gordon Ramsay, from special menus to masterclasses and nights away. Our top picks include the incredible three-course meal for two at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, the Masterclass Experience at Michelin-starred Pétrus and a Sunday roast for two at the iconic Savoy Grill. If you can’t decide on which one is best, let your recipient choose with an all-encompassing voucher that’s valid at all Gordon Ramsay restaurants in London.


Make your own…

For those who prefer a more hands-on approach, there are all sorts of 'make-it-yourself' kits on the market.

Gin is one of the country's most well-loved tipples, so why not treat your gin-loving loved one to the kit needed to make it at home. This gin-making kit from The Fowndry is packed with botanicals, bottles and even some snazzy labels – everything you need to turn a plain old vodka into a fabulous bottle of gin.

If gin ain't your thing, have a crack at making your own cheese at home. This cheese-making kit promises a bountiful stock of mozzarella or ricotta in just two hours, which will give the Boxing Day cheese platter a seriously impressive point of difference.

Not so much a 'make your own' as a 'grow your own', try slipping a mushroom growing kit in your pal's stocking this Christmas. Grocycle promises a simple way of growing delicious oyster mushrooms at home using spent coffee grounds – a perfect gift for the ecologically-minded.

For those hellbent on trying molecular cuisine at home, look no further than this handy spherification kit, ideal for those hoping to recreate the wobbly delights of El Bulli et al in the safety of their own kitchen.

Gordon Ramsay

Gadgets and gizmos

It is a likelihood that if you're in a relationship with a foodie, you'll have spent many hours in cook shops, mouth agape at the giddying array of gadgets and gizmos on offer, promising you culinary nirvana in the form of an egg-slicer or spiraliser. Or maybe you are that foodie, in which case, send a link of this article to your loved one sharpish.

Here are some dazzling contraptions that won't end up gathering dust in the back of the cupboard. First of all, forget those fancy latex-handled wonders – the king of all peelers is the speed peeler, and they're cheap to boot.

Another must-have gadget loved by chefs and foodies alike is the Microplane. These aren't just any old zesters – the blades remain super-sharp and are aligned in such a way that you have perfect, consistent results each time. Definitely one of those gadgets where you'll wonder how you got by without one.

For any fish fan, investing in a pair of proper fish tweezers is a no-brainer. No longer will you spend hours looking for that pair of tweezers in the back of the medicine cabinet, or resort to mouthfuls of bone-riddled fish fillets.

For the cocktail enthusiast, try this rather swish copper cocktail muddler for some high-end mashing of limes for mojitos.

You may wonder how the simple genius of a rolling pin could be improved. Surely any cylindrical object would do? Naysayers may scoff, but this adjustable rolling pin is a thing of genius, taking all the guesswork out of rolling thickness for budding bakers. Encourage the perfect piping with this spectacular piping bag kit, with a giddying array of nozzles so your loved one will never get bored of icing cakes (it's always good to encourage tasty pursuits).

For something a little more flashy, invest in one of these fantastic cook's blowtorches, perfect for finishing off creme brûlées, charring fish skin and adding a cheffy finish to all manner of dishes.

Know someone who has plenty of time for fungi? This handy mushroom knife comes complete with a brush for all of your trimming and cleaning needs.

Ring moulds are a must for any home chef taking their presentation to the next level, while the avid baker will have new culinary horizons opened to them with the addition of a silicone baking mat. It may not be the most glamorous of gifts, but these are a must for those wanting to tackle tuiles, next-level sugar work and chocolate tempering.

Design marvels

Finally, if your loved one has all the gadgets and tasty treats they could ever wish for, it may be time to invest in some beautiful crockery so they can serve their favourite culinary creations in style.

Japan Centre provides some of our favourites, from kitsch-cool lucky cat chopstick rests to classic Japanese elegance in the form of beautiful teacups, bowls or beautiful chopsticks.

The creations of Jersey Pottery often grace seafood restaurants around the land, but you can take a piece home (and fit a mug in a stocking – just about) with these fishy creations.

Beloved by a new generation of hip young chefs, Enrich and Endure create hand-crafted linen aprons in Northern Ireland with quality-assured, long lasting techniques and fabrics. They are thoroughly built to last.

And to finish, these elegant little stag head cork stoppers will come in handy for keeping a lid on all those festive tipples this year.