It's even more glorious when one doesn't have to step foot into a ghastly supermarket chain.
Do you leave everything to the last minute?
When it comes to organisation I’m about as useless as a pedal-powered wheelchair – I haven’t even thought about what food I’m going to put in front of 14 family members in just 10 days time never mind ordered it.
For many of us Crimbo dinner is the most important meal of the year. It is planned to precision in a lot of households and the prep starts months in advance. Christmas cakes are whipped up in March to allow for months of ‘feeding’ with copious amounts of booze. Chutneys and pickles are jarred around September. Turkeys are ordered in November, and if you are anything like my crazy mum, you’ll have a bag full of Victoria sponge ends in the freezer, shaved off a cake you made in March and saved for the Christmas trifle.
I have enough on planning tonight’s bloody dinner. In the past I’ve tackled Christmas dinner on Christmas eve when I’ll inevitably log onto Sainsburys online to be told all delivery slots were booked three weeks ago… by the organised people. So it’s then a mad rush to the supermarket where I’ll fight my way through the crowds to get to the refrigerated turkeys. Like the runt of a litter of little piggies, only the sorry looking birds are left. Wrapped tightly in far too much cling film.
This year however, I’m shunning the supermarkets – it’s all the rage to shop local you know? And with so many lovely little independents just a mile down the road in the Yorkshire market town of Otley, I’m going to do things a little differently.
If fact this year I’m super organised; so much so that I’ve even done a little research on where to get some of the best produce for Crimbo dinner without having to step foot into a ghastly supermarket chain…
Here’s the best of my ‘shop local’ festive findings in Otley…*
Turkey from Middlemiss & Sons butchers – you have until 6pm on Xmas Eve to bag one!
Middlemiss & Sons butchers have been providing top-class meat, poultry and game to the good folk of Otley since 1881. The company raises its own free-range and hand-reared bronze turkeys on their farm in Askwith, just three miles away from the company’s shop on Market Street. Available to buy right up until 6pm on Christmas Eve, the grain-fed birds cost just £9 per kilogram – that’s £1 less than a kilo of Sainsburys Taste the Difference, free-range turkey!
Fruit and vegetables and lots more from Otley’s farmer’s market
This Sunday (December 18) is the final farmers’ market for the year and it’s a special Christmas edition. It’s an ideal place to stock up on Christmas dinner essentials from sprouts to spuds, cheeses, crisps, chutneys, cooked meats, fish and loads more – all bought straight from the producers, all of which are within a few miles of Otley.
Speciality Christmas pork pies at Weegmanns
One of the centrepieces of the traditional Christmas buffet in my house is a pork pie, so head to Weegmanns – they call themselves the ‘pork pie people’. The pies are so good, there’s usually a queue around the block, and one of their highlights is a ‘laird pie’ stuffed with chicken, pork, cranberries and stuffing, and described by some as ‘Christmas in a your mouth’. The award-winning butchers has a number of prestigious accolades under their apron, including an award for the best Black Pudding in Yorkshire.
Mince pies from the Bondgate Bakery
Best Bakery award winner at the 2016 Farm and Deli Show, Bondgate Bakery is the perfect place to pick up mince pies. In operation since 1984, the bakery produces its pies from a special recipe and stocks a number of other Christmas products including stolen, the German fruit bread. Six for £3.80.
Hams from Wilkinson & Sons
Otley’s third award-winning butchers, Wilkinson & Sons, is the place to go if you’re looking for a Christmas ham. Open since 1932 and retaining a tradition of sourcing its meats from the Otley livestock market, the butcher stocks gammon from farms in Leeming Bar in North Yorkshire (£6.40 a kg). The company also offers bronze turkeys, a range of pies and its own condiments, including cranberry jelly.
Christmas pudding from Patisserie Viennoise
If you’re looking for Yorkshire produce with added French flair, check out the delights at Patisserie Viennoise on Westgate. Owner Trevor Backhouse trained in Juan-Le-Pins in France and has been supplying sweet treats to locals for more than 30 years. Trevor’s wares are so famous, he even baked gold-medal winning heptathlete Jessica Ennis’s wedding cake. The Patisserie Viennoise Christmas cake is based on an old recipe from Trevor’s mother and is laden with brandy and Guinness. Prices start from £11.
Christmas beers from The Curious Hop
There’s a fabulous collection of craft beers, real ales and ciders at this artisan shop on New Market. Special Yorkshire Christmas offerings include Rudolph’s Ruin from Vale of York’s Rudgate brewery (£2.16 a bottle), Winter Warmth (£2.29) from the Great Newsome brewery and Jingle Bell Rock (£2.48) from the Pennine Brewing co. There are also a number of mini kegs available (£14-£18), including White Christmas by Bradford’s Saltaire brewery.
Fine wines and spirits from Chez Vin
If you’re looking for a decent tipple to match your meat on Christmas Day, speak to local wine expert and owner of this boutique bottle shop David Lawson. David particularly recommends a 2013 Conde de Haro Cava made in the same method as Champagne that gives a similar flavour for half the price (£14.99), while for post-dinner port, he has a couple of niche offerings from the Quinta do Sagrado winery in Porto – an LBV for £19.99 and a 10-year-old tawny port for £29.99. From a local perspective, David also stock’s 11 Yorkshire artisan gins, including Mason’s and Robin of Locksley.
Merry crimbo folks – make it a tasty one!