Yes, it is a little early … and it did feel a bit weird setting off to a Christmas party just 24 hours after arriving back from hot and sunny Spain, but in the world of big food business, Christmas necessarily has to start even earlier than at Harrods. The lovely people at Roche Communications sent me an invitation to the Carluccio’s Christmas Press Review and Party and being such a fan of Carluccio’s, I couldn’t resist … even though it’s so hot outside the government are sending out heat warnings. Carluccio’s had tried to put us in a winter mood by spreading fake snow outside.
Strangely, people were talking about it and saying it seemed to actually have the effect of cooling us down. We were partying at the Carluccio’s in St Christopher’s Place just off Oxford Street and behind Selfridges. I turned up late afternoon after a busy and slightly hectic day and even though it wasn’t much after 4pm decided that it definitely wasn’t too early for prosecco and gratefully accepted a glass – even though there was a non-alcoholic alternative on offer. One of the first things that caught my eye was an enormous panettone.
Panettone is the star in any Italian Christmas and my family always has one for breakfast on Christmas morning. Last Christmas I did buy one from Carluccio’s in Richmond (my local branch) and very good it was too. Inside the cafe there was lots of lovely food to try: gorgeous hot dishes like lasagne, seafood pasta, stuffed peppers and melanzane parmigiana and some of their excellent focaccia with cherry tomatoes on top.
There was a wonderful indulgence of sweet treats too: gorgeous little babas soaked in limoncello, panforte and fiche al rhum – chopped Calabrian figs, candied peel and walnuts fed with rum and covered in dark chocolate.
There were tempting displays of Christmas gifts from the edible to a gift set of coffee cups with a pack of ground coffee; from large hampers to small stocking sized gifts, i.e. something to suit every pocket and any occasion. I often go to Carluccio’s for foodie gifts for friends and family – not to mention the odd foodie gift for myself!
I buy a lot of my pasta from Carluccio’s – I especially like their orecchiette and trofie. I was therefore intrigued to see a special Christmas pasta – Pasta di Natale – flavoured with spinach and beetroot.
I’ll definitely have to go back for some of this! There were lots of other great gifts and even chocolate filled crackers and advent calendars; lovely tins of biscotti.
When it comes to Christmas you’ll find plenty to please any food-loving – especially Italian food-loving – friends and family. But why wait until Christmas? If you haven’t taken a good look in your local Carluccio’s Caffe yet, stop by, because they have some wonderful and very tempting things. Meanwhile, I came home bearing an early Christmas gift of a jar of those wonderful limoncello soaked babas – now who is going to come and share with me?