Delicatessen shopping at Christmas
PUBLISHED: 14:47 20 December 2013 | UPDATED: 14:51 20 December 2013
Anna Rose recalls her Eastern European roots as she prepares to celebrate her very Warwickshire Christmas
Acknowledging our Eastern European roots, as a child I would regularly visit local delis with my Mother who would be in search of continental foods that couldn’t be found at supermarkets and that would allow her to replicate dishes that she would have made in her native Poland. Visits for me would always end in purchasing some kind of European chocolate bar or little gingerbread biscuits covered in orange cellophane which I would receive with much gratitude. So for me, deli visits were very much a pleasurable experience and even when visiting delis these days, I fill up with nostalgia.
Memories of delis from the ’70s and ’80s to one side, it has been interesting to watch how deli shopping has enjoyed a renaissance in recent times with many people enjoying the different offering it provides. One such example can be found in bohemian Moseley, just a stone’s throw away from Warwickshire County Cricket Club. Lewis’s of Moseley is a gastro treasure trove and premier delicatessen. Already achieving an acclaimed reputation as a purveyor of quality foods, it has become a favourite on Birmingham’s food scene and was celebrated as an independent newcomer at the city’s #FutureFoodies event in the summer.
Lewis’s of Moseley is a true reflection of the modern day deli, acknowledging the demand for more specific and/or exotic foods satisfying the need for those looking for a purchase with a difference.
I normally pop in to Lewis’s in the day time so attending a recent late-night opening and preview of their Christmas range, (warm mulled apple & cinnamon in hand), I enjoyed seeing the shop transformed into a gastro grotto. The main highlight for me was the cheese board. Ideal to end Christmas lunch with or indeed for canapé/drinks parties over the festive period, Lewis’s cheese recommendations accomplished variety as well as championing the region and showcased how to make a special occasion out of a cheese board. Hereford Hop, Blue Shropshire and Stinking Bishop to name a few were featured and were accompanied by nutty biscuits, fig chutney, slow baked Dottato Figs (perfect for soft cheese) and dried Moscato grapes. The dark Moscato grapes, are dried out and their decadent bitterness comes through when placed with a little Dottato fig and when married up with the sharpness of Shropshire Blue or with a little goats’ cheese.
Other gorgeous things to try in store are a variety of oils, truffle honey, retro-style tins of ground paprika, porcini stock cubes and pannatone.
Shopping at delicatessens in general gives you the chance to become acquainted with items you wouldn’t find in your local supermarket or High Street convenience store and provides the occasion to try new things. The beauty of Lewis’s is that although, like all delis, a large focus is on meat, but vegetarians are catered for with ranges of cheeses, anti-pasti and sweet goods. Being vegetarian, I’m always on a mission to find something new to eat or an ingredient that will enhance the dishes I cook and delicatessens offer that facility. It also provides the prime opportunity to support local, independent businesses and get the personal shopper experience of having someone on hand who can knowledgably and passionately talk you through the products, make suggestions and recommendations.
Deli shopping at Christmas for me is a must as I enjoy the ritual of purchasing indulgent fancies for the festive season and creating a little culinary Christmas opulence in my kitchen. The warmth of nostalgia I get whilst deli visiting makes the trip all the sweeter. No matter how frequently/infrequently I go, I will always feel that delis will play a part in my shopping ritual. They are not just for Christmas, for me, they’ll always be a way of life – with or without the gesture of little gingerbread biscuits being bought for me.
By Anna Rose: www.wordinvegways.blogspot.com