The Week in Food

Taste of Christmas
We blogged about Taste of Christmas, 2 – 4 December, ExCel London, last week, but we’re reminding you again because it looks to be the best Taste ever and that’s saying something. Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall will take the stage together on Friday in a culinary double-act to start the weekend as it means to go on.  Saturday tickets are already sold out (there will be a few available on the day), but there’s so much happening on Friday and Sunday, you’ll want to either skip out of work on Friday or bunk off from Sunday lunch to get there.  Food, demonstrations, marketplace, shopping, huge and we mean huge celebrity chefs, brilliant atmosphere, great fun.
Durham City Traditional Christmas Festival

The Gourmet Spot


Meanwhile, up north in the grounds of the historic and beautiful Durham Cathedral, the Advent season is ushered in by the Durham City Traditional Christmas Festival with a St Nicholas children’s lantern procession, glorious concerts, crafts market, gift stalls, tours of Durham Castle, Santa and his pony (with pony and trap rides available), carols and — here’s where toptable gets on its bike — a local suppliers food market.  If after all that culture, festivity and joy you need a bite to eat, toptable has half a dozen really brilliant restaurants in Durham: The Gourmet Spot, Bistro 21, Oldfields Eating House, Filini and The Pumphouse Restaurant, all top diner rated or very nearly so.
Real Food Christmas Market
The South Bank in London hosts two weekends of the Real Food Christmas Market this year, 2 – 4 December and 16 – 18 December — the first weekend featuring Food Busker John Quilter from his iconic Piaggio three-wheel van.  Stroll the nearly fifty food stalls and stock up on artisan and local produce and products for your holiday parties and Christmas lunch.  It’s a jolly atmosphere, even before you wander over to the Christmas Market with its sixty wooden gift chalets, gluhwein and charming carousel for the children.  And when you’ve done your good work of shopping and provisioning?  Head for one of these terrific South Bank restaurants, including special offers at Skylon, Zen China Restaurant and Gourmet Pizza.
StockMKT @ Bermondsey Square
While we’re on the south side of the Thames, a pop-up nighttime market appears as if by magic this Friday, 2 December, from 5 – 10 pm.  Inspired by the nighttime markets of the Far East but with a London twist, StockMKT will feature foods and gifts from local suppliers, seasonal drinks supplied by Shortwave (the independent cinema and bar), street food vans, music by DJs Culture Cuts and hands-on art workshop with Art Stars.  Nope, there’s no direct toptable connection, but this sounds brilliant, and we are replete with nearby restaurants, loads of which have top diner rating or special offers or both.