Hello World,
How are you? It’s the last day of November and with Christmas only three Saturday’s away, it’s all systems a go go here in Derby. I love Christmas and everything it brings, from quaint foodie fayres to seasonal menus taking prime position at restaurants.

I’ve been to two festive fayres in as many weeks and loved them both. The first was at Derby’s Roundhouse, which saw hundreds of stalls selling everything from fine cheeses to melt-in-the-mouth brownies, whilst Sheena Holland’s Derby Night Market was more of a social get together. There was sampling aplenty at both gigs and I sorely wish there were more of these events that I could hop along to. Here are my highlights from both events. If you didn’t manage to make it, I heartily recommend you check out the next markets. It will probably be next year, but it’s worthwhile keeping an eye out for Sheena Holland, as I think her gig is a monthly occurrence.

Roundhouse Highlights:
Loaf's bread1. Bread from The Loaf in Crich. Their white loaves are soft and yeasty, whilst their Christmas cake is the best I have ever tasted. Seriously. Generous with their moreish marzipan, their fruitcake was packed chock-full of moist fruit and enough cake mixture to make each mouthful fricking delicious. They have a whole variety of delicious breads baked fresh daily. They even offer bread-making classes (how cool is that?), which I’m hoping to pop down to one day, I think that’ll make an excellent blog post.
2. Chocolate from IShouldCocoa. Handmade artisan chocolate at its finest. I bought this delicious white chocolate slab studded with emerald green pistachios, ruby red cranberries & a large circular candied orange (I’m salivating whilst writing this, because the bar didn’t last long, and hence, am dreaming of the chocolate instead).
chocbar3. Pudding from The Litton Larder who make scrummilly, yummilly unctuous sticky toffee pudding. They’re gluten free too and it’s great to see Coeliacs being catered for in the pudding department. I love their packaging too, which is white with duck egg font that makes an excellent minimalist, classy gift.
4. Hartington Cheese Shop have a lovely diverse range of cheeses. I had their smoked tomato and garlic offering, which was delicious on its own and sandwiched between two Jacobs’ crackers. I also tasted and bought (on the back of samples I tasted – see, samples work) their mustard and ale cheese. It may seem a little obscure, but the earthiness of the mustard and yeasty aftertaste of the ale really work.
20141115_1315325. Buffalo Brownies do the best brownies in the whole wide world. I nuked mine for circa 30 seconds and enjoyed with a scoop of vanilla bean ice-cream. The brownie has a molten melt-in-the-mouth middle, whilst the crust is on the right side of chewy. I had their blondie version, which is simply divine. I hear they’re doing hampers too, which would make most excellent gifts for yourself (or if you can bear to part with the brownies, family and beloved friends).

Other worthy mentions include…
Sheena Holland is a purveyor of vintage clothes and beautiful brooches. This rather fabulous lady has an awesome eye for detail and her clothes and fetching fascinators should be in every fashionistas wardrobe. I’ll be writing more about fashion in Derby and Sheena’s shop in particular, so keep your eyes peeled. Sheena has an awesome shop in town – do check her out when you have a spare five minutes. Although I guarantee you’ll be sucked into her magical emporium that sells everything from retro Marilyn Monroe coasters to contemporary scarves and 1980s Diesel pouches; you have been warned…
• Wagamama’s new takeout menu, which I happened to happily stumble across during a trip to Derby’s Intu. It’s a great idea to have samples so that potential customers can check out the food. I’m 90% more likely to make a purchase (I like the taste of) after sampling and I always wonder why on God’s green earth other eateries don’t proffer samples. If you’re a café / restaurateur who currently don’t offer a taster of your wares, you’re missing a trick – trust me.
• Sophisticakes Patisserie & Barry Colenso Master Chocolatier & Chocolate Alchemy had yummy treats galore (is it obvious I have a majorly fierce sweet tooth?), which I’ll dedicate a standalone blog posts to soon.
• Fab & Dandy do quaint bespoke gifts, so if you’re struggling this Christmas to find that special someone something kinda cute, do check out their website if you can.
• Jojacha can do wonderful things with confectionary, with chocolate trees from £15. They’d make totally cool and unique Christmas gifts for children (or even adults – I know I’d love a chocolate tree – who wouldn’t?).

The above places come heartily recommended by yours truly to hit up for your Christmas shopping list. Calling out cafés / restaurants / shops in Derby & Nottingham; if you feel that you have fabulous Christmas offerings and want to be featured on my blog, hit me up. I must dash, beauty sleep beckons and I have an early start tomorrow. I’ll be dreaming about The Loaf’s Christmas cake, what about you?

Sweet dreams,