By Chris Dwyer
Dec 6, 2021
THAT SONG THAT STICKS IN YOUR HEAD though you can’t quite remember all the days… but you never forget the partridge in a pear tree. Well, we wondered what would happen if “my true love” was less keen on giving maids-a-milking than perhaps the fruits of those farm labors. You know, real delicious food and beverage gifts you’d actually want to receive this Christmas — a modern-day luxury update on partridges, pears, French hens and a-laying geese suitable for selective foodie-inclined T+L Southeast Asia readers.
So here are 12 days of very special eats and treats, for when only the best will do at Christmas.
(All gifts available for delivery to Hong Kong, and most to most Southeast Asian capitals, and sundry other places worldwide — check the websites for details.)
12. Bottles of Champagne
Depending on where you come from, the song either has 12 “lords-a-leapin” or “drummers drumming,” but we only want one thing that famously comes by the dozen: bottles of Champagne, natch. A case of the recently released Krug Grande Cuvée should do the trick, the 169th edition released since 1843. Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs and Meuniers combine to deliver flavor notes of brioche, honey and hazelnut. Cheers!
Case of 12 Krug Grande Cuvée 169th edition, US$2,100; avize.com.hk
11. Chocolate Biscuits
Spoil Santa with Babbi Viennesi Classic Piccoli Piaceri and milk. Whether you call it a cookie or a biscuit, the name of these beauties translates from Italian as “little pleasures” and we couldn’t agree more with the thought of these nestling under the tree — if you can prevent yourself from eating them in advance, that is. Decadent, delicious and oozing Italian style, these are Christmas gifts for the foodie with a sweet tooth: layers of wafer filled with fine vanilla cream and then covered in dark chocolate. Mmm.
US$65 for a box of 40 Viennesi; babbi.co.jp
10. Ultimate British Cheese Platters
What’s better than one delicious mature cheddar cheese from the Snowdonia Cheese Company in picturesque Wales? How about a dozen different flavors on a platter, alongside five jars of pickles and a whopping four kilograms of stilton? If that doesn’t give your favorite foodie cheesy Christmas dreams — of the best kind — then no gifts will. Their Red Devil cheddar features habaneros and peppers, so watch out for a cheeky kick under the mistletoe.
US$410 from goldenpigshop.com
9. Bottles of Moutai
Kweichow is the world’s most valuable liquor company, thanks to the clear, colorless but seriously potent baijiu liquor, considered China’s national spirit of choice. Moutai Extra is crafted from sorghum, wheat and water, before high temperature fermentation, distillation and then 10 years of aging. As to its effects, well, back in 1974, U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger told the future Chinese President Deng Xiaoping: “I think if we drink enough Moutai, we can solve anything.”
Kweichow Moutai Moutai Extra, US$1,770 per bottle; watsonswine.com
8. Jars of XO Chilli Sauce
There’s umami, and then there’s umami from XO Chilli sauce, the beloved savory condiment first created by The Peninsula Hong Kong back in the early 1980’s. This gastro stroke of genius features dried scallops, garlic, chilli, dried shrimp, shrimp roe and more, for a maritime-inspired sauce that seems to go well with absolutely anything. Some have been known to call it the ‘Caviar of the East,’ but we’re just happy having a jar (or eight — they make great hostess gifts!) on hand this festive season.
US$50 per jar; peninsulaboutique.com
7. Wagyu Steaks
While wagyu means ‘Japanese cow,’ cattle with the same bloodlines have been successfully bred overseas, most notably in South Australia at Mayura Station. Their animals are truly looked after, spending their entire life on a vast open farm where they are rotated from pasture to pasture and fed Cadbury’s chocolate. We’re not kidding. The multiple-award-winning meats that result are used by some of Asia’s finest Michelin-starred restaurants, but, happily, you can also source cuts to craft at home.
From US$300 per kg; wavespacific.com
6. Bottles of Whisky
If whisky is your bag, then gifts don’t get much more sought-after than a signed set of six Islay Scotches by Hunter Laing. Industry legend Jim McEwan has provided tasting notes and signed each of these legends, all at cask strength from single casks: Bunnahabhain 30-Year-Old, Caol Ila 40-Year-Old, Bruichladdich 27-Year-Old, Laphroaig 18-Year-Old, Ardbeg 26-Year-Old and Bowmore 30-Year-Old.
We love these Italian Christmas sweet breads, originally from Milan, especially when served with a sweet wine like an Asti. Not all panettone are created equal, however, and multiple-Michelin-starred chef Italian Niko Romito (sample his fare in Asia at the Bulgari Hotels in Shanghai and Beijing) is known as a genius with all things baked. His one-kilogram classic is crafted in his Abruzzo baking lab and comes in two versions: classic or with chocolate. Only 2,000 of these soft beauties are crafted every year, so order now while you can.
4. Afternoon Teas
Ahhh, afternoon tea. A totally unnecessary, wholly delicious and decadent culinary bonus in between the two main meals of the day. What’s not to love about elegant sandwiches, pastries, scones and more cakes than you can count, all paired with a cup of something warm or glass of something fizzy? What’s more, in certain Asian cities the Mandarin Oriental package this fabulous British tradition and deliver straight to your door, meaning all you need to do is boil some water and bust out the Champagne flutes.
US$115 for tea service for two; mandarinoriental.com
3. Balsamic Vinegars
There are plenty of balsamic vinegars available on the market, but very few can match the history, integrity, style or quality of Il Borgo del Balsamico. From their base in a former castle south of Modena, they produce some of the finest available, especially their DOP Gold Label, aged more than 25 years, which equates to the height of in-the-know luxury for foodie Christmas gifts. Perfect whether in salads, recipes or even dripped on vanilla ice cream (trust us!) you can taste the centuries of experience and aging in every delicate mouthful.
US$220 for 100ml; ilborgodelbalsamico.it
2. Tins of Caviar (because one is never enough)
There’s showing off, then there’s half a kilogram of caviar to get the party really started. All the way from Bordeaux, the signature caviar from Royal Caviar Club is produced from 10-year-old Baerii sturgeon and boasts a full wave of nutty umami from the tender dark grey pearls. The unusually large eggs are perfect when added to dishes — but at Christmas, by the spoonful seems the only way to go. Their Alexandre Mareuil Caviar Champagne Box in swish leather makes pairing even easier, as bubbles are included.
Premium Baerii Rare Caviar 500g, US$5,500 as part of the Alexandre Mareuil Caviar Champagne Box; royalcaviarclub.com
And a One-Pound Truffle — snuffled from under an Italian treeeeee
Gourmet en Provence ensures that making it rain at Christmas lunch has never been so decadent, thanks to their monster white truffles from Alba, in Italy’s Piedmont region. These real-deal one-pound beauties, with their heady notes of fungal forest floor, offer the ultimate in bragging rights at the festive table — and may even make sprouts taste vaguely edible. Chefs including Guillaume Galliot at Hong Kong’s three Michelin-starred Caprice swear by it, so bring on the fungi, a sharp slicer — and Boomerang to reel in those IG hearts.
A 1lb White Truffle costs US$3,850; plantinkaviari.hk