Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Good Pud Guide; FOOD SPY

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Good Pud Guide; FOOD SPY

Article excerpt

Byline: CHARLES CAMPION

NOT so many centuries ago Britons were still eating mince pies made with real mince as a way of using up the animals that had been slaughtered for Christmas, and plum puddings contained plenty of expensive spices because they helped preserve the fruit for the long weeks between harvest and the festival of Christmas.

Thankfully for all last-minute Christmas shoppers buying puddings and mince pies this week, it is a fairly straightforward exercise. Christmas puddings are only as good as the quality of their ingredients - start with the best dried fruit and candied peel and you end up with a good pud, cut corners and you are doomed.

This means that the shopper can usually spot a good pudding as it will be the expensive one. And that rule of thumb tends to work for mince pies as well.

Two suggestions. First, don't serve the Christmas pudding immediately after the turkey and trimmings when everyone is stuffed. Eat your pudding on another occasion - cut it into slices and fry it in butter until it is hot through and has a crusty outside, then serve it with good quality vanilla ice cream.

Secondly, heat the mince pies up in the oven and then cut a hole in the top for a dollop of brandy butter. It will melt into the mincemeat and lubricate and intoxicate both you and the filling. Here is a checklist of shops that stock fine puddings, cakes and mince pies.

. Fortnum & Mason, 181 Piccadilly, W1. Fortnum's King George Christmas Pudding, 454g [pounds sterling]16.95 (0845 300 1707) www.fortnumandmason.co.uk.

. Paul Rothe & Son, 35 Marylebone Lane, W1 (020 7935 6783). This charming old shop specialises in Wilkin & Sons Tiptree jams and preserves. Wilkin Christmas puddings: traditional [pounds sterling]7.95 1lb; [pounds sterling]19.95 2lb; organic [pounds sterling]9.95 1lb.

Mince pies home-made in store 95p each or [pounds sterling]1.25 deep filled.

. Macaron, 22 The Pavement, SW4 (020 7498 2636). …

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