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All Posts By Ciaran Jarosz

Cupid’s FEAST Gift Guide

For our Cupid’s FEAST Gift Guide in line with Valentine’s Day, we’ve compiled a few suggestions which would be the ideal gift for different types of people. For this purpose, we have reviewed a number of food, drink, technology, and traditional gift ideas to compile unique suggestions for each category which might suit your other half, or as a cheeky suggestion to them for your own indulgence. As always, our suggestions are based off our own experiences so we would always encourage doing further research to ensure the perfect gift.

Food: Doghnut Time

Although going to the florist for Valentine’s Day would typically mean a bouquet of flowers (and we still suggest getting these for your loved one), Doughnut Time offers a very different twist on the idea of a florist. Known for providing unique, handcrafted donuts right to your door, the brand has been providing themed donut suggestions for all manner of special day, including for Valentine’s. While we do think the Valentine’s offering in particular looks beautiful, we’d actually suggest having a good look around the traditional boxes to find the best flavour fit. Alongside the Valentine’s box also sits the Indulgence and Nut-Lover packs which are possibly our favourite suggestions, but there’s a whole host to choose from depending on taste.

Drinks: STARLINO Rosé Spritz Gift Set

Best served as part of an intricate cocktail, STARLINO Rosé blends well with sparkling wine, soda, a slice of grapefruit, and garnish to provide a zesty, fresh and crisp beverage which is ideal for those seeking an explosion of fruit in their mouth. Due to the fruity nature of the drink, there are dozens of other potential combinations to enjoy, including with traditional tonics, mixers, and just about any traditional combination you can think of. It’s truly a delicious and well presented drink (especially when accompanied with the branded aperitivo glass as part of the gift set. Through the combination of these two, those receiving the gift have a wide range of accessible combinations they can explore freely as well as the perfect glass to enjoy it in style. It’s one way to bring the party home this year and our choice selection of this year’s drinks.

 

Technology: Thinkware X700 Dash Cam

The Thinkware X700 is a smart-looking, easy-to-use dash cam which, with its complement of features and accessories, offers great value for drivers seeking a reliable camera with full-HD recording capability at 30 frames per second. Boasting a handy touchscreen interface that’s simple to get the hang of, the X700 provides an excellent 140-degree field of vision with good quality video. You can view footage on screen, go to live view and receive visual and audio warnings about road safety alerts.

A stylish product that offers a number of the features more expensive brands charge a premium for, Thinkware’s X700 boasts, for example, GPS with speed and location logging (with the additional GPS antenna), and Super Night Vision Parking mode with Sony Cmos image sensor. The X700 also combines a pair of cameras that can be run in combination to capture two fields of view – for instance, the lane in front and, for passenger-carrying drivers such as taxis, a view inside the car too. In our case, we positioned the rear-facing camera in the boot to capture images from behind the car. The rear camera offers a 125-degree field of vision in full 1080 HD. You can purchase a single-only front-facing dash cam or go for the two-camera set-up. Handily, you can view your footage on a range of compatible devices including Android and Apple devices, while the PC viewer software allows you easy access to review, save and delete your recordings. Things we really like include the 2.7-inch colour display, the use of h.264 compression to ensure recorded video is sharp and satisfactorily detailed, and the option to either record constantly or choose an automatic mode when the X700 records in one-minute loops, saving the most recent minute and allowing you to archive the latest minute in the case of an accident.

A reliable dash cam that delivers straightforward yet comprehensive features, Thinkware has become a trusted brand thanks to the reliability of its products. The X700 is ideal for first-time users who want good specs with the simplicity of a touchscreen at an affordable price.

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FEAST Xmas Gift Guide, Part 4 | Fitness, Health & Technology Gifts

By Posted on 4 m read

In addition to food and drink treats, we know a lot of you love to keep up to date with the latest technology and fitness products to live a healthy, productive, and engaged lifestyle. As such, we’ve collated a few suggestions which we, at FEAST, feel will impress either for yourself or for others as Christmas gifts this holiday season.

 

Cutting Edge Technology

Especially with remote working on the rise, it’s vital that you always have essential data to hand, wherever you may be. Yet, alongside the need for accessibility, there are also concerns of security, especially when looking at digitalised alternatives for data storage. For the security conscious, iStorage’s diskAshur2 presents a way to have secure and accessible data at all times. A portable SSD with PIN authentication on the unit itself, a secure microprocessor and full hardware encryption, we found the diskAshur2 to address all the key needs of the travelling businessman or security conscious person whist also being relatively stylish and is sure to impress whether it’s for yourself, or provided as a gift to someone else this Christmas.

And another for the person on the go would be the LG TONE Free Wireless Earbuds. Heralded as one of the best pairs of true wireless earbuds yet, we gave the devices a try ourselves and were notably impressed by the performance. Not only do the earbuds rock an impressive depth in sound quality which can compete with some of the best known earbuds on the market, but they also rock a staggering 6 hours of non-stop battery life and are surprisingly comfortable – we had very few if any issues with the units actually dropping out (a constant gripe even to this day) and, thanks to added noise reduction technology and ambient sound mode, these have to be one of our favourite pairs on the market. Whether your loved one is a music lover or listens to audio books on the move, LG’s offering is a wonderful Xmas gift idea which will certainly go down well.

 

Keeping You Fit & Healthy

As we come to the fitness and health products, it’s important to note that these are by no means gifts for everyone, but for the loved one that is all about health, fitness, and keeping their body running like a finely tuned machine, the suggestions below could easily make the ideal present or stocking filler.

 Cannabigold Terpenes+ Capsules comprise of a unique formula of top-quality gold hemp seed oil, pure CBD, and a precise composition of terpenes. Serving as a food supplement, each capsule is 10mg and is a safe and legal source of hemp that has been tested and analysed at every possible stage to ensure the highest grade possible. Although by no means prescribed for any particular medical conditions, CBD from reliable sources has been seen to help with both mental and physical pains. In our brief experiences with the product, they’re about as simple to take as vitamins and while we are by no means scientific experts, we had a positive experience with the product.

Another wonderful product we came across was Natures Plus Collagen Peptides, which is reportedly the only collagen product on the market with a full spectrum profile (all six major types). Being an ethical source, these peptides have been produced with the environment and sustainability in mind across the board, while also offering clear health benefits through this abundant protein source. It’s an easy way to dense protein into your diet and either support general fitness or any form of growth in muscle mass for the more dedicated fitness fans. We do not suggest using these to replace other protein sources as part of a balanced diet but we do suggest giving these a try for yourself.

And for those struggling with anxiety and similar troubles, JS Health also brings it’s own offering to the table. JS Health’s Anxiety + Stress formula is designed to reduce anxiety, stress, and irritability. Combining Vitamin C, B5, and herbal medicines, the formula generally works to relieve mental stresses and pressures which can help clear the mind. We’ve had a little time to experiment with the tablets themselves and, while this is the form of product that can take a while to really kick in, our reviewers are already feeling the relaxing effects. Especially for those who have had a stressful 2020, this could be a wonderful Christmas gift to ensure a relaxed end to the year and great start to 2021.

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FEAST Xmas Gift Guide, Part 3 | Drinks & Cocktails: Delicious Combinations

By Posted on 4 m read

While socialising outside of the household has been somewhat limited this past year, there’s no excuse to let Christmas go to waste and every reason to take advantage of the festive season to create indulgent experiences wherever possible. For this, we’d like to present the below suggestions for drinks, cocktails, and unique combinations.

 

Premium Cocktails & Standout Alcoholic Drinks

 

1. With strong notes of vanilla and apricot, Disaronno Velvet is the latest addition to Disaronno’s line is quite some time. Potentially an attempt to compete with Bailey’s, the amaretto drink can be served on the rocks or as a more comprehensive cream cocktail. Although slightly weaker in alcoholic content than traditional Disaronno, this latest addition still packs a flavourful punch, enough that we feel the drink stands tall on its own, without the requirement for complex mixing. Presented in a beautiful new bottle, the drink is sure to impress as a gift for yourself, or for others.

2. Best served with pomegranate juice, orange liqueur, and fresh blackberries, Beefeater Blackberry Gin goes far above the average gin to provide a dark, rich cocktail which is the perfect gift for gregarious friends wishing to impress at parties or to recreate the long-lost social gathering experience we’ve all been missing over the past year. Striking in colour and both flavour, it’s a gift that will assuredly stand out amongst the rest.

3. Reputed for its essence of lavender and cranberries Monkey 47 Schwarzwald Dry Gin offers a little class for the gin lover that appreciates simplicity and quality. Best served as part of a combined bitter and sweet cocktail alongside maraschino liquer, lemon juice, and orange bitters, this helps to bring out all of the powerful sugary flavours while keeping the drink classy. Perfect for the lover of bars and classy environments who has been missing the high-life over 2020.

4. Combining local and traditional botanicals, Dunnet Bay Rock Rose Gin is a flavourful, fresh, and zesty gin which can work in just about any gin-oriented cocktail. Our advice would be to keep it simple, utilising a high quality tonic, and garnishing with either orange or rosemary to create a crisp, professional cocktail for settling down in the evening. It’s the perfect gin gift for those who have already tried many of the big name gins and wants to try something a little new, but to the same high standard of craftsmanship.

5. For something a little exclusive, the ideal gift might just be Ciroc’s Limited Edition Black Raspberry Flavoured Vodka. Presented in a a classy black bottle, this five-times distilled vodka packs a flavoursome and fruity jam punch, accompanied by a touch of citrus. We’d recommend trying this delicious flavoured vodka with red vermouth, a lemon wedge, and dry tonic water to emphasise the citrus flavours and pack a powerful punch.

6. For the whisky lovers, we’d love to suggest Copper Dog Scotch Whisky, comprising of eight single malts and bringing a sublime sense of honey and spice to the party. Lemony, sweet, but with a bitter finish, we’d recommend serving this whisky with some early grey syrup, medium cider, star anise, and a lemon wedge, all heated up in a small saucepan to bring together a powerful yet dense flavour portfolio. It’s the kind of whisky that can work its way into a vast range of cocktails due to the subtle and easily complemented flavours.

7. A delicious wild card in the gift guide comes Cazcabel Honey Tequila, made with 100% natural honey and a dose of sweet nectar. Incredibly rich and sweet as one might expect from a honey tequila, one needs very little addition to elevate this drink and arguably, it packs all of the essential flavours right out of the bottle. We’d recommend trying with some lime, soda, and lemonade to help balance out the strength of the drink, but this also makes Cazcabel’s offering the ideal gift for tequila lovers who wish to make simple, clean cocktails.

8. Bringing delightful British produce to the fore, we’d suggest Lugger Rum as a beautifully presented, Devon-spiced rum which remains powerful not in vanilla, but in the core spice portfolio. Key spicing ingredients include nutmeg, orange-peel, cloves, and an element of vanilla which works, as one might expect, ideally with cola where the spices can be allowed to breathe and maintain prominence in the cocktail. It’s a rum which simply works.

9. Offering something slightly different to the palette, Hawksbill Caribbean Spiced Rum then presents itself with a flavour bolstered by vanilla, raisin, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and sea salt. Unlike more traditional rums, this interestingly comes with a more herby profile than overpowering spice and interestingly works quite wonderfully with less common pairings such as ginger ale which helps to enhance the core profile and add a bitter kick to the drink.

10. Coming back to the gins we’d also suggest a unique offering, Tanqueray Flor De Sevilla. Made with Sevilla oranges and fine botanicals, the drink brings a bittersweet but complex orange flavour that simply needs to breathe. Pair with a premium tonic, keep it simple, and enjoy a delightful burst of everything Sevilla is adored for – the potential addition of a cinnamon stick also serves to deepened the sweet tones without being overpoweringly orange. With this gift, it’s all about giving the experience of Sevilla itself, and so ideal for those who have a love for all things Spanish.

11. For the final entry in the guide and the last of the wines, we also consider Rumor Rosé to be well worth a mention. An elegant drink is provides a smooth, easy-drinking experience which blends a range of different grapes for a crisp, light, and yet surprisingly dry finish. Due to the easy-drinking nature of the wine, it’s one we’d be more than happy to suggest drinking on its own and requires no significant pairing to truly enjoy. The perfect drink for the wine lover seeking new experiences.

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FEAST Xmas Gift Guide, Part 2 | Gift Hampers & Selections

By Posted on 3 m read

Aside from bits and pieces that can form a larger gift, sometimes it’s nice to get something all as one, and for that purpose, we also have a few ideas of larger compositions and experiences that might work for Christmas this year. Featuring new and unique brands as well as subscription service, we’re sure you’ll find something iconic for your loved one’s here.

 

Hampers & Premium Gift Ideas

Teaming up with small British brands, this year sees MOMA releasing its Best of British Vegan Hamper as the perfect Vegan Christmas gift. With half of hamper sales being donated to Age UK, it’s a gift which keeps on giving and comprises a range of MOMA’s own well-regarded oat products alongside festive additions such as Meridian’s Mine Pie Filling, Booja Booja Truffles, Cocoba Hot Chocolate Bombs, and even skin and health products from Tiger & Co and Skin Glow London. Although we’d certainly say this is a gift for those who appreciate their oat products, the wider composition here is a lovely hamper for vegans to experience new products and brighten up their Christmas year. The additional charitable goals then serve as the icing on the cake for this gift.

While we’ve already covered some traditional Christmas tipples, why not build your own beverage hamper out of Mondo Brewery’s own selection of beers? Known mostly for their balanced IPAs, Mondo Brewery actually offers a wide range of beers, including American-style pilsner, pale ales, and much more. We’ve tested a range of Mondo Brewery’s ales and, while we could easily select personal favourites, the real allure this year is to build your own selection, try something new, and spice up this Christmas with something unique. Flashily designed packaging to suit, whatever collection you select is bound to impress whomever you get them for.

For those who want to experience premium spirits but without the alcohol, a great idea this year is the Sea Arch Coastal Juniper & Tonics Gift Pack. Including a bottle of professionally distilled non-alcoholic spirit and two cans of Double Dutch, all-natural skinny tonic (along with serving instructions), the drink is crafted to a surprisingly high standard and does a great job at rivalling premium alcoholic spirits, but is the ideal gift for a free-from lover who wishes to enjoy all the flavours and none of the intoxication.

Sometimes it’s all in the surprise. Another hamper offering this year comes with Mighty Small’s Mighty Christmas Mystery Box. Although you can absolutely build your own bundle of small brand, unique and high quality goodies, by selecting the mystery box you can surprise your loved ones with a bundle of mystery products (all bestselling from 2020) which both gift giver and receiver can get just as excited about at the same time. Potential inclusions comprise of teas, sauces, biscuits, snacks, and just about everything one might traditionally build a foodie hamper from.

Once again, we find sometimes the best gift is the surprise one. While the Craft Whisky Club does offer it’s own range of bottle boxes which can be enjoyed, the true uniqueness here is in the subscription service. Providing your loved one with one or two full size bottle(s) of small batch and artisan whisky every 2 months, you’ll be just as surprised as they are with what’s received. Each time, a different whisky is sent out, and in our brief experience of the service, we can say you’ll certainly be impressed by some of the brands you might never have heard of, but stand out as stand-alone gift ideas in and of themselves. Naturally, this is the de facto gift for the dedicated whisky lover.

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FEAST Xmas Gift Guide, Part 1 | Food & Drink: Tasty Treats & Accompanying Tipples

By Posted on 5 m read

While we are all very well accustomed to to enjoying richer food over the Christmas period, sometimes it’s not about the quantity or the overwhelming richness, but about small, powerful explosions of taste that you can share to bring a little class, a little romance, and a unique experience this Christmas. To serve that very purpose, this year we’ve put together our suggestions for an indulgent selection you can try this Christmas – a composition of meats, cheeses, and wines to accompany.

 

Succulent Meats & Delightful Cheeses

A classy combination of salami, nduja, coppa, koji-cultured bresaola, and saucission, the London Smoke and Cure Charcuterie Box (£29.50) offers an eclectic selection of flavours and textures to enjoy. Whether as a gift or part of your own indulgent experience, this professionally presented gift box comes with a whole host of delicious cured meats to snack on during the day, or evening. Crafted by hand in London, you can enjoy the finest cuts, with powerful flavours as a result of the air-drying process to create an intricate depth of flavour in each of the meats. Ideal for the cultured meat lover, it goes without saying that everything from the salami through to the saucission assuredly packs a flavourful punch, so it’s the ideal treat for pacing yourself with or to be paired with wine.

Furthering the selection of meats, this time for your own cookery, and also adding in a selection of wonderful cheeses comes Aubrey Allen’s British Upstairs Downstairs Box (£100). Featuring six tender and marbled fillet steaks in a frozen compartment and a combination of Tunworth, Pitchfork Cheddar, Beauvale, and Michaels Mount cheeses, the box not only lays the foundation of our cheese experience with award-winning cheeses, but also coming well equipped with Aubrey Allen’s very own flash-frozen steaks for keeping you or your loved one’s belly warm over the Christmas period. In terms of the steaks, gift givers or hungry customers can enjoy what we can only describe as fine dining standards of meat, at the peak of its condition, which will be sure to impress.

Regarding Aubrey Allen’s cheese collection, lovers of camembert cheeses will be delighted by the Tunworth, providing wonderful nutty tones. Offering a relatively robust flavour comes Michael’s Mount goat cheese which perfectly suits crackers, chutneys, and other strong fruity flavours such as accompanying wine. From the Pitchwork Cheddar offers a subtly different approach to traditional cheddar with a slightly acidic twist, yet combined with a luxuriously creamy texture that is sure to satisfy. As for the Beauvale, for the more daring cheese lovers, expect a milder blue cheese which is positively melt-in-the-mouth; given the more subtle flavour, it’s ideal for those experimenting with blue cheese or less accustomed to the full force that blues are known to offer.

To complete the cheese selection, we’d also suggest Colston Bassett’s Stilton, an impressively creamy cheese which we actually found to be wonderful when combined with Michael’s Mount goat cheese or used in in a similar suit, alongside fruity accompaniments and crackers where the cheese can easily provide an essential balance to powerful sweet or savoury flavours. Pick up the Taylor’s Eye Witness Natural Slate Board & Cheese Knives set as an addition, or individual gift for cheese lovers, to complete this cheese experience with its beautiful slate texturing and combination of flat, parmesan, hard cheese, and soft cheese knives – all adorned with solid oak wood handles. There’s no use enjoying the finest of cheeses if you can’t enjoy them in style and, backed by Taylor’s Eye Witness’ prestigious reputation for quality knives, this gift is sure to impress with the overall finish and workmanship.

 

Standout Wines for with Meats & Cheeses

For with your cheeses and your meats, it’d be a mistake not to suggest a selection of wines to accompany. For this, we bring a combination of both potent and smooth wines to help cleanse the palette and add vibrant fruity tones to the already-delicious flavours experienced. Although each of these wines will pair wonderfully with different elements of the above, we’d suggest giving them a try both with and without as each has its own individual allure.

For with your cheeses it would be amiss not to suggest a fine pairing, and what could be better than Tempus Two Copper Series Prestige Cuvee. Dubbed a showstopper fizz, this prestige cuvee is the latest addition to Tempus Two’s growing wine portfolio and combines prominent tones of pear and apple, this delightful tipple can comfortably cleanse the palette between morsels and, while working wonderfully with the selection of cheeses, also stands tall as a drink for just about any occasion or to accompany seafood.

To accompany the delicious charcuterie, we greatly enjoyed the Campo Viejo Rioja Gran Reserva which is actually known to pair wonderfully with many red meats, as well as many of the more powerful cheeses on the market. Notably smooth and sweet, the wine does require one to separate the sediments by decanting, but once done, this rioja contains rich, oaky and earthy tones alongside its prominent fruitiness. Truly a wine of indulgence, the drink is able to go blow to blow with even cured meats to create a delightful flavour experience.

Another perfect accompaniment to meats of this type proves to be the Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Shiraz, which we found to be the ideal accompaniment for simple steak dishes and for other red meats too. Smooth and fruity, yet with a strong body, the drink is iconic of fruit-driven Shiraz and offers a tender sweetness which feels natural and highly enjoyable. Although quite a powerful drink, we find the offering Jacob’s Creek to be a sure-fire way to introduce a new drink to your loved one’s list of favourite Christmas tipples.

And for the evening, we also have the perfect combination suggestion. Celebrate heritage with wines and chocolate from the House of Commons very own store. What could be a more iconic pairing suggestion than the House of Commons Bordeaux/Claret with After Dinner Mints. Relatively light bodied, this fine wine has a slight dry edge but drinks splendidly as you take an edge off at the end of the day. Paired with the iconic after dinner mints where quality is to the highest standard, it’s the ideal little combination of indulgence after a day of splendour and one which is rich enough to leave an impression as a gift, but not so much that it can’t be enjoyed alongside other Christmas treats.

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