Forman & Field
Christmas in a Basket, £139.95
Will Heaven, managing editor
This arrived with beads of condensation on the box. ‘Ah, smoked salmon,’ said a seasoned hamper hand. It was top-notch and the succulent ham could have fed an army happily for weeks. At The Spectator it lasted days, and the truffles vanished more quickly. My only quibble? Like Jacob Rees-Mogg, I think unsalted butter is ‘a sin against the Holy Ghost’. True of unsalted brandy butter, too.
The Sweet Hamper, £120
Victoria Lane, deputy production editor
The centrepiece here is Ottolenghi’s new cookbook Sweet, packed with cake and pudding recipes made with exotic stuff such as saffron, tahini and rosewater. To help create the recipes, the hamper includes ten of the more recherché ingredients (mahleb, freeze-dried strawberries, gianduja, and so on) along with a bundt tin, sugar thermometer and tea towel. For adventurous bakers.
Indulgent hamper, £100
Camilla Swift, Spectator Money online editor
A stylish black wicker number, packed full of all those things you gaze longingly at in Waitrose but never actually buy. Our favourites were the Belgian chocolate and ginger thins, but you can guarantee that the bottle of cava or the salted caramel dipping sauce won’t hang around for long. Perfect for anyone who loves tea time.
Fattoria La Vialla
The Grand Party, £150
Nick Hilton, broadcast producer
In the rolling Tuscan hillside outside Arezzo, where Fattoria la Vialla is based, the locals would scarcely recognise a traditional British hamper. Fattoria’s Christmas offering contains no smoked turkey or plum pudding, but bags of pasta, potted olives and bottle after bottle of sumptuous wine. This iconoclastic assembly will transform Yuletide yawns into manic, Chianti-fuelled, gesticulations.
Cannon & Cannon
The Perfect Charcuterie Board, £55
Freddy Gray, deputy editor
If you are a Brit, this hamper should make you feel proud to think we can put together such a fine collection of animal flesh. Cannon & Cannon’s salamis are exquisite: for me, the English one with rare-breed pork, seaweed and cider narrowly topped the Welsh one with veal, pork, sage and thyme. But best of all was Scottish venison salami, tender and yet firm, with an exciting chilli after-taste.
Berry Bros & Rudd
Chef’s Pantry Hamper, £140
John O’Neil, researcher
Store-cupboard luxuries including Calvestra olive oil, Pommery mustard and inky balsamic vinegar will be treats every time they’re used, while truffle and porcini sauce with pasta makes such an easy supper it’s almost a night off for the cook — the ideal present. And, of course, there are Berry Bros’ fine wines too…
Buyers’ Picks, £150
Lara Prendergast, online editor
I trust the Harvey Nicks buyers to know what’s what, and this hamper doesn’t disappoint. Inside a black wicker box (much cooler than a boring old brown one) sit salty liquorice, raspberry jam and cinnamon curd. The Union coffee is excellent and has been keeping The Spectator editorial team perky during Advent.