Recently, I was contacted by Fforestfach Retail Park, Swansea, who are putting together the Fforestfach Guide to Christmas to give people the best fashion, homes and food advice from a team of bloggers. My mission, if I chose to accept it, was to become their food expert by hunting down the best Christmas gifts for foodies and treats at the Parc and using a couple of my favourite items to concoct some Christmas recipes. I literally jumped at the opportunity – it was a much-needed push to make a start on my Christmas shopping!
It took us around an hour to drive from Cardiff to Fforestfach Retail Parc, but it was clearly signposted so we had no trouble finding it. As parking is free for up to four hours, we had plenty of time to explore the different shops and it was great to be able to drop our bags off in the car rather than having to lug them around all the shops.
Shopping for Christmas gifts for foodies at Fforestfach
We began our shopping trip in Homesense, a homeware store owned by TK Maxx that offers discounts of up to 60% on RRP. I can’t believe I’ve never been here before.
Homesense has it’s very own Global Food Emporium featuring imported produce like this fig infused balsamic dressing (£1.99). This is the perfect place to come if you’re looking for Christmas gifts for foodies. At the end of this blog post, you’ll be able to find out what I made using that!
I was also tempted by this Tarall’ro striped farfalle pasta (£2.29), made using beetroot.
These Belgian donut chocolates (£4.99) would be the perfect Christmas present for someone with a sweet tooth. I know my sister will love these!
Besides food, Homesense had an impressive range of festive kitchenware and tableware and I couldn’t bear to leave without this sprout teapot, which was an absolute steal at just £7.99.
I also picked up a couple of sparkly silver plates, so I can serve up my festive food in style! At just £3.99 for the big plate and £2.49 for the side plate, I couldn’t believe the value for money. The plates are of an excellent quality and I hope you’ll agree that they look great!
After dropping our bags off in the car, we headed over to Boots. I don’t know about you, but I find Boots is one of the most festive shops on the high street at Christmas time. I always look forward to flicking through their Christmas gift guide and the in-store displays always look great.
Yet again this year, Boots have got a stunning selection of Christmas gifts for foodies. My eyes were drawn to this nutcracker-shaped cookie tin (£12.50), which would make a lovely Christmas gift for cookie enthusiasts of all ages. I think my niece will be delighted when she opens this on Christmas Day.
Coffee geeks will love the selection at Boots this year, and I picked up this espresso duet set (£16.50) for a friend who practically runs on coffee.
As my dad is a big fan of spicy food, I think he will love this Nando’s sauce and caddy (£12.50), including garlic peri peri, hot and XX hot peri peri. The best part about it is that I actually got this gift free of charge, as it was part of the Boots 3-for-2 Christmas deal.
After our trip to Boots, we popped into Marks & Spencer. This isn’t the biggest M&S I’ve been to by any means, but it does have a decent clothing selection and a lovely range of Christmas gifts for foodies.
Baked Camembert is one of my favourite festive foods, so I treated myself to this Camembert cheese baker (£15).
The last shop we visited was Poundland. I can never resist a look around in Poundland; there’s a lot of stuff in there that I don’t really want or need, but I’m often able to pick up branded food and drink products for less than they cost in the supermarket. You could save quite a lot of money if you bought all your Christmas snacking food in here.
Poundland are probably one of the best shops I know of to buy cheap stocking fillers, like this chocolate Santa (£1).
This year, Poundland have also got an attractive range of festive baking equipment and accessories, and I picked up a set of three star-shaped cookie cutters for just £1. These could be used to create festive edible gifts for your loved ones, which can often be more sentimental than shop-bought presents. Take a look at my recipe at the end of this blog post for inspiration.
After a few hours of shopping, we were feeling a little tired and peckish. We popped in to Costa Coffee to see if we fancied anything in there, but we ended up going to Caffe Nero instead as it was a little less busy. I was slightly disappointed, as this pigs in blankets panini (£3.85) really caught my eye!
The Christmas menu at Caffe Nero included a selection of festive sandwiches, cakes and bakes, including the option to build your own festive hot drink from a choice of roasted hazelnut, clementine, salted caramel and gingerbread. We couldn’t resist the look of the decadent salted caramel cake (£2.95 per slice to eat-in). I paired mine with a hot roasted hazelnut latte with whipped cream and marshmallows (£3.80), while my partner opted for a caramel latte with whipped cream and syrup (£3.45).
I made a great start on my Christmas shopping at Fforestfach Retail Parc, crossing four presents off my list and even coming away with a few treats for myself too! It really is a fantastic shopping destination for Christmas gifts for foodies and tasty treats this Christmas, and I would happily make the journey here again in future just to see what’s new in Homesense’s Food Emporium! Read on to discover more about the festive recipes I made using some of my foodie finds from Fforestfach Retail Parc!
Fig and goats' cheese salad
When I picked up the fig balsamic dressing from Homesense, the idea for this recipe came into my head almost straight away. Fresh figs are one of my favourite festive foods, and they taste great with hot, crispy-coated, gooey-centred goats' cheese. What I love about this salad is that it's so quick and easy to make, yet it's so impressive, it wouldn't look out of place as a starter on the Christmas Day dinner table. It would also make for the ideal dish if you're fancying something a little lighter on Boxing Day, and you could even throw in a couple of leftover roasties.
- 2 fresh figs
- 50 g pecans
- 2 handfuls pea shoots or rocket
- 70 g goats' cheese
- 40 g breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 1 egg beaten
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp CasaRinaldi fig balsamic dressing
Arrange the peashoots or rocket on a plate.
Slice the figs and arrange them on top of the leaves.
Halve the pecan nuts and scatter them over the dish.
Roll the goat's cheese in the flour, dip it in the beaten egg and then roll it in the breadcrumbs until fully covered.
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and fry the goat's cheese for a minute or two each side, until golden brown and crispy.
Carefully arrange the goat's cheese on top of the salad.
Drizzle the balsamic fig dressing over the salad to taste, and serve immediately.
These festive shortbread stars are so cheap and easy to make, and they'd be lovely boxed up as homemade Christmas gifts or packed into hampers for your nearest and dearest.
- 150 g plain flour
- 125 g butter cubed and softened
- 50 g caster sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Remove the butter from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature for 15 minutes or so.
Place the flour in a large mixing bowl and rub the butter into it, until the mixture starts to look like breadcrumbs.
Gradually mix in the caster sugar and vanilla extract, and work the mixture until you're able to form it into a ball.
Wrap the dough in clingfilm and leave it to chill in the fridge for an hour.
Preheat the oven to 130°C/Gas Mark 2, take the dough out of the fridge and let it rest for five minutes or so.
Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out onto a floured work surface, to around 1cm in thickness.
Use star cookie cutters to cut star shapes out of the dough, placing them onto a baking tray lined with parchment.
Bake the shortbread for 30 minutes, until a light golden brown in colour.
Remove the shortbread from the oven, leave to cool for a little while and then sprinkle with caster sugar while still warm.
Win £50 to spend on foodie treats/gifts at Fforestfach Retail Parc!
To celebrate my partnership with the Fforestfach Retail Parc Guide to Christmas, you have the chance to win £50 to spend on festive nibbles and Christmas gifts for foodies at the Parc this Christmas! To enter, simply visit the Fforestfach Facebook page. Entries close on Thursday 21st December at 12pm. Be sure to follow Fforestfach Retail Parc on Twitter to keep up with all their news and updates.