Welcome to 2021's newest foodie trend – the staycation hamper06/28/2021
Turn your soggy break in Blighty into a gourmet getaway: Welcome to 2021’s newest foodie trend — the staycation hamper. We rate six of the best…
- Many specialist food retailers and caterers are offering a staycation hamper
- Sudi Pigott says perfect holiday tuck box contains basics and gourmet goodies
- Gives verdict on a selection of the best hampers available to purchase in the UK
What could be more idyllic than a staycation in the British countryside? OK, it may not be your first choice, but it’s what many of us will be doing this year, so we need to make the best of it. And some enterprising foodie folk are helping us do just that.
The problem with many country cottages is that they are often a good 40-minute drive to a half-decent supermarket. There will be a village ten minutes away, but it may have just one shop, stuck in a time warp with a few tins and sliced, white bread on the shelf beneath the light bulbs and shoelaces.
What’s often missing are treats. Gorgeous sourdough, handmade chocolates, even a posh ready meal for the evening after a long drive down.
Sudi Pigott gives verdict on a selection of the best staycation hampers – including Farmison & Co Family Staycation Box (pictured)
That is why many specialist food retailers and caterers offer a staycation hamper, the perfect holiday tuck box containing not only the basics for a few family meals but gourmet goodies, too.
So which should you order for delivery to your cottage door?
Farmison & Co Family Staycation Box, £59.50, farmison.com
WHAT’S INSIDE? Online Butcher of the Year 2020, specialising in meat from conscientiously-farmed heritage breeds, Farmison & Co has a holiday box containing the core of three evening meals that each feed a family of four: chicken, leek and bacon pie; flat iron steaks; and herb and lemon spiced spatchcock chicken. It also includes Yorkshire bacon and handmade sausages for breakfast plus beef and bone marrow burgers and fashionable-again corned beef.
VERDICT: Even when I nearly incinerated the pork, apple and fennel sausages on an unfamiliar grill, they tasted fantastic — herby with fennel seed, fruity with apple, and plump with juicy pork.
Though the bacon shrank more than I expected (both grilled and fried), it tasted like the traditional bacon I remember fondly from holidays 20 years ago in Suffolk, where there was a fine village butcher of the kind that’s so rare nowadays.
Nothing beats the uncomplicated joy of a good pie, and the chicken, leek and bacon one included here had a surprisingly light crust and big flavour. Perfect to pop in the oven after a long drive or busy day sightseeing.
The goodies are delivered in a special insulated box, apparently good for 72 hours — useful if there are delays en route or there’s no one to pop it into the cottage prior to your arrival.4/5
POSH READY MEALS
Noble House Prepared: Luxury Staycation Bundles, £95 for two meals for two people plus a range of luxury essentials, noblehouseprepared.com
Sudi said Noble House Prepared: Luxury Staycation Bundles (pictured) has plenty of vegetarian options including an impressive Thai butternut squash curry
WHAT’S INSIDE? A selection of superior Noble House Prepared ready meals made by executive chef Owen Sullivan in Noble House’s own kitchen. Sullivan spent many years leading the restaurants of Gordon Ramsay in the UK and overseas. There’s a passionate commitment to provenance and supporting artisan suppliers with sustainable credentials. Pre-Covid, Noble House was a top-end catering and events company that counted Sir Elton John as a client.
Then the pandemic forced a pivot into gourmet meals and hampers that have been such a success, it will keep on doing them even after restrictions end.
My hamper came with a lamb tagine meal for two plus five-spice Chantenay carrots and a mix of lentil and rice to bake along with a double portion of apple crumble.
It also contained a vegetarian Thai butternut squash curry for two, coffee, Tempus British charcuterie, chocolates and a bottle of sparkling rose.
VERDICT: I expected good things and wasn’t disappointed. The lamb tagine was generous in flavour and packed with the tenderest of lamb — an elevated take on gastro-pub fare. The Chantenay carrots, lentils and rice mix were rather special, too.
Plenty of vegetarian options are on offer, including an impressive Thai butternut squash curry with lemongrass and galangal.
The apple crumble reminded me of the outstanding version my late mum used to make, and was similarly suffused with cinnamon.
Some would have liked a pot of cream to go with it, however, and the coffee beans were only so-so. 4/5
Imp & Maker, Ultimate Staycation Experience Hamper, £400, impandmaker.co.uk
Sudi said Imp & Maker, Ultimate Staycation Experience Hamper (pictured) is very indulgent and has the finest beef she’s ever eaten
WHAT’S INSIDE? Founded in 2020 by Lincolnshire farmer and businesswoman Sarah Louise Fairburn, Imp & Maker caters for discerning foodies.
With this hamper, four people could definitely stay ensconced in their cottage without going shopping, or even needing to find a pub, for a whole weekend.
It contains two colossal tomahawk steaks, a hessian sack of Lincolnshire Melody potatoes, British Blue eggs, posh bacon and sausages, Jamon Iberico de Bellota (sublime acorn-fed cured ham), lots of organic, heritage veg and salad, plus condiments like Tiptree ketchup and Potts’ horseradish and chilli mustard.
There is also Cartmel sticky toffee pudding and toffee sauce, Peter’s Yard sourdough crispbreads and four cheeses, typically vintage Lincolnshire Poacher, Colston Bassett stilton and Baron Bigod brie. Nibbles include truffle and pecorino Belazu mixed nuts and some moreish olives. There’s a good haul of booze, too, including Massingberd-Mundy Burrell’s Dry Gin and a magnum of Reserva Rioja Ondarre 2014.
VERDICT: Very indulgent — and so it should be for the price. But what’s a holiday for, if not spoiling yourself? Everyone should try a tomahawk steak, probably the finest beef I’ve ever eaten.
I followed the instructions to the letter and it was cooked rare to sublime perfection.
Each steak would easily feed three. Up the stakes even further and serve with Melody spuds made into potato dauphinoise with Vintage Lincolnshire Poacher (instructions provided).
Only the box of chocolates was lacklustre.
It feels like one’s every food whim has been considered here. Bliss. And £5 from every hamper is donated to Farm Africa’s Livestock For Livelihoods project, helping women in Uganda and Ethiopia launch their own sustainable businesses. 5/5
Dukeshill, Holiday Welcome Box, £95, dukes hillham. co.uk
Sudi said Dukeshill, Holiday Welcome Box (pictured) has excellent goodies including moreish chocolate-covered honeycomb
WHAT’S INSIDE? Dukeshill have been in the hamper business for several generations, though their staycation box is a brand-new addition to the range.
The business started out with producing hams ‘the old-fashioned way’ and their outstanding Wiltshire cure long-brined ham, beautifully moist and mild with a hint of sweetness, remains central to their business.
As well as 400g of honey-baked baby ham, the box includes pork chipolatas and bacon, smoked mackerel fillets, Isle of Mull Cheddar, cheese biscuits, chocolates, lemon drizzle cake, jam, butter, pancakes, ground coffee, Darjeeling tea pyramids, plus rosé wine.
This would do breakfast, snacks and tea for four over a weekend.
VERDICT: The small ham is delicious for a ploughman’s, though you do need to supply the bread.
I didn’t like the lemon and poppy seed pancakes that could be microwaved or toasted, but the other goodies were excellent.
Superb bacon with no shrinkage, even though I baked it in the oven for 25 minutes, and proper pork bangers that keep their shape. The mackerel fillets were deliciously succulent. I was disappointed by the stodgy, very sweet lemon drizzle cake, though the chocolate-covered honeycomb was very moreish. 3.5/5
Forman & Field, Ultimate Staycation Package, £149.95, forman andfield.com
Sudi said Forman & Field, Ultimate Staycation Package (pictured) is a great choice for fish lovers and is pleasingly quirky
WHAT’S INSIDE? During lockdown, Lance Forman, fourth generation owner of London smokehouse and founder of the Forman & Field gourmet food delivery firm (with in-house chef, Roux-trained Lloyd Hardwick), realised that creating a holiday box with premium fish would be timely.
This contains enough for main meals for four to six over a weekend, making it very good value. Plus there’s homemade mushroom & tarragon paté, cheese straws, cheeses, crackers, spicy nuts, chorizo sticks, lemon and pistachio cake and two bottles of English wine: Bolney Lychgate rose and Biddenden Ortega white.
VERDICT: A great choice for fish lovers who want a couple of easy meals plus gourmet extras.
The sole goujons with caper, lemon and parsley paired with potato latkes (more cake-like than shredded potato and onion) and homemade chicken sausages also make a good minimal-effort supper after a busy day. The Brick Lane herby and cream cheese bagels with smoked salmon are perfect for a picnic. Pleasingly quirky. 4.5/5
Daylesford Organic, Breakfast Hamper, £80, daylesford organic.co.uk
Sudi said Daylesford Organic, Breakfast Hamper (pictured) has some of the best smoked salmon she’s ever enjoyed
WHAT’S INSIDE? Smoked salmon, half a dozen Cotswold Legbar eggs, Oxfordshire honey, plum compote, strawberry jam, sourdough bread, red, white and blueberry granola and prosecco plus a caddy of English breakfast tea, ground organic coffee, cold-pressed orange juice and a bottle of prosecco — enough for one luxury breakfast for four.
VERDICT: It seems a little on the pricey side for a relatively small breakfast selection, though the quality is sublime. Some of the best smoked salmon I’ve ever enjoyed, eggs with bright (put the shades on) yolks and first-rate sourdough bread. Gently roasted ground coffee that lacked distinctive character, but excellent tea. The runny honey is gorgeous. The house prosecco is the best I’ve tasted in a long time.4/5
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