Last Minute Marvellous Christmas Shopping: mroliveoil.com and www.cremenouveau.com
Two very lovely things for you: first, my old friend Mem from Embassy Electrical Supplies in Clerkenwell, but also owner of fecund and fragrant acres in Cyprus and Turkey, has sent me the most beautiful basket of his own farmstead produce as an incredibly welcome, welcome back to Blighty gift.
(This is not Mem, by the way. This is his brother in law, separating the leaves from the olives.)
In it pomegranate molasses (use as balsamic vinegar), candied baby walnuts (can't wait to try these with cheese), marinated olives, syrupy preserved lemons, wild caper shoots with thorns gathered by Mem himself from the surrounding hillside (Mem says these can be whizzed with capers and probably a bit of lemon to make a gorgeously piquant sauce for grilled fish), sweet paprika and a close-your-eyes-and-sniff bunch of wild sage that will have you instantly lying in hot sun accompanied by the hypnotic sound of cicadas. Plus Mem's famous olive oil, which I always thought was the best in the world, but in my basket there is also lemon flavoured and even mandarin.
My olive oil dish runneth over.
I met Mem when we were renovating our house in Clerkenwell and he was chief electrical fitting supplier. Then, in brilliantly eclectic style, amongst the lamps and cables there started to appear plastic bottles of amber liquid. This was the good stuff, which I and everyone in my studio, hoarded.
For your own little bit of Mediterranean heaven go to www.mroliveoil.com.
Second, take a look at www.cremenouveau.com.