Christmas

Have a Sweet Christmas - Festive Desserts from Around the World

Some of Epicure Digital Marketing's Favourite Christmas Sweets from Around the Globe!

Not everyone likes mince pies. Shocking, but true. I remember looking after a couple of kids in Germany during my brief stint as an Au Pair, and both of them being positively horrified at my beloved Christmas confection. This is what makes Christmas such an important holiday, and its food so emotive – it is tied up with how we grew up. Really clever restaurant marketing – like really clever food - taps into this well of emotion and uses it to connect with people. So, this week we are celebrating London’s multiculturalism by discovering mince pie equivalents around the world.

Christmas Sweets

Argentina, Spain, Peru, Puerto Rico = Turrón

This delicious nougat-esque dessert is a Christmas favourite throughout Spain and Latin America. Made of honey, sugar, egg white and almonds, it can be formed into almost any shape, comes in a number of different consistencies and be filled with any other ingredients – from dried fruit to puffed rice – as long as the core ingredients are always ther. The oldest surviving recipe can be found in a Manual de Mujeres (“Women’s Manual”) from the 16th century, this ancient festive treat takes its name from the Latin word torrere meaning “to toast”.

Turròn is a Christmas Sweet from Spain and Latin America

Denmark = Æbleskiver

 Hipster delight waiting to happen – these are essentially round spheres of pancake-y goodness, normally served with jam and covered in icing sugar. Made from a mix of buttermilk, wheat flour, eggs, sugar, and salt, they are formed in an oiled pan composed of little half-spheres where they are tweaked with a long skewer halfway through to form their distinctive shape. Sort of like a sweet, globe-shaped Yorkshire pudding. Originally served with the apple slices from which they get their name, nowadays they come with gløgg – Scandinavian mulled wine – which I’m sure we’ll all agree is way better.

France, Canada = Bûche de Noël

Based on the pagan tradition of the Yule log, these are delicious sponge cakes, rolled up and iced to look like a log, and you can read all about them Here

Germany = Stollen

This traditional German delicacy is essentially a sweet bread filled with dried fruit, nuts, and spices, slathered in melted butter and rolled in icing sugar as soon as it comes out of the oven, which sometimes has a marzipan rope in the middle. Beloved across the country, it is particularly popular in Dresden which has been holding a “Stollenfest” at their annual Christmas Striezelmarkt (“Striezel” was an old word for Stollen) since the 15th century.

Tasty Stollen for Christmas

India = Allahabadi Cake

It may not be a country-wide tradition, but Christmas is indeed celebrated in some parts of the India subcontinent. One of those is Hindustan in the northwest, where the Christian population prepare Allahbadi Cake for Christmastide. This traditional Indian rum and fruit cake is made with maida, eggs, clarified butter, sugar, petha, marmalade, nuts, ginger, and fennel and gets its name from the north Indian city of Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh.

Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago = Christmas Black Cake

Looking for Christmas cake with a kick? Then you should head to the Caribbean where rum cake is the traditional holiday dessert. Developed from traditional English favourites – like figgy pudding – in Jamaican black cake, dried fruit is soaked in rum for many months, before being added to a caramelised sugar and water mix. The result is a light but boozy black cake which – if not consumed responsibly – may well get you seasonally sozzled.

 

The Philippines = Puto Bumbong

Sticky purple rice anyone? It may sound a little odd, but this Filipino dessert is a Christmas favourite. Made with a special type of glutinous rice, called pirurutong, this pudding has a distinctive purple hue. The rice is soaked in saltwater, dried overnight, and then poured into a bamboo tube called a bumbong. This is then steamed until the steam rises from the tube before being served with a type of rice cake called bibinka, topped with butter, shredded coconut, and brown sugar. 

Portugal = Bolo Rei

Literally “King Cake” this Portuguese cake is enjoyed during the 12 Days of Christmas, between December 25th and Epiphany. Although the recipe was originally from France (where the Galette des Rois is also a popular dessert celebrating the Three Kings) it found its way to Portugal in the 19th century. With a large hole in the middle, it is designed to resemble a crown and is covered with ‘jewels’ of crystallised and dried fruit. The dough itself is soft, white and filled with raisins, nuts and fruit and has one hidden dried fava bean. Whoever ends up with the bean has to buy the bolo rei the following year.

Scandinavia = Gingerbread

Probably one of the oldest desserts around, gingerbread was first introduced to Sweden by German immigrants in the 13th century. It can now be found all over the world in many different forms – from soft like a cake to crunchy like a biscuit, but it is particularly prevalent in Scandinavia. In essence, gingerbread is any baked good flavoured with ginger, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon and sweetened with honey, sugar, or molasses. Believed to ease indigestion by Swedish nuns in the 1400s, it now has fewer medicinal uses, except for those of an emotional kind. Scandinavian gingerbread is most popular in its thin, brittle biscuit form, known as pepparkakor (Swedish), pepperkaker (Norwegian), piparkokur (Icelandic), piparkakut (Finnish) and…brunkager (Denmark being a little bit different there).

Tasty Gingerbread for Christmas

Wherever you are from, Christmas desserts seem to have a few things in common – they are sweet, warming, and comforting, just like Christmas should be. So, whatever you eat this Christmas, may it be delicious.

Merry Christmas!

Your Ultimate London Christmas Drinking Guide

Epicure Digital Marketing's Favourite Yuletide Drinking Spots

Any pub can heat some wine and put up a bit of tinsel, but transforming your gin joint into a winter wonderland or coming up with fresh, festive takes on a cocktail? That takes real skill. This week we have rounded up the most creative Christmas offerings from some of London’s best bars and cosiest pubs for the ultimate Yuletide drinking experience.

If you are on the search for some Christmas magic with your eggnog, you will be spoilt for choice this year. Bars across the city have been taking festive decorating to a new, immersive level, becoming ideal examples of what we covered in our last blog. It was hard to choose but we have managed to narrow it down to our top three.

1)      Scottish Winter Terrace at the Rib Room

This Knightsbridge restaurant has transformed its terrace bar into a Caledonian haven, complete with a forest of pine branches, tartan blankets and (what else) whisky flights curated by William Grant & Son. There will be live music on Fridays and Saturdays, Scottish-inspired bar snacks, and Christmassy whiskey cocktails such as the delightful Cinnamon Sour (12-year Glenfiddich, sloe gin, pomegranate liqueur, sage syrup, Angostura bitters). Open until January 25th, you be hard-pressed to find a better place to sing Auld Lang Syne to welcome in the New Year.

Scotch Whisky

2)      Hot Gin Terrace, Rosewood London

Holborn Hotel Rosewood London have paired up with Sipsmith gin this winter in a celebration of the beverage which has been warming Londoners for centuries. Inspired by the frost fairs of the 1700s, when the frozen Thames would become a winter playground – Rosewood have launched a menu of historical hot toddies. Including the delectable Hot Winter Julep (with peppermint tea and crème de cacao) and the Hot Mulled Sloe (sloe gin and warm apple juice) this is the perfect way to celebrate Christmas like a true Londoner.

3)      Cortina d’Ampezzo Winter Terrace, Sartoria

From London to the Italian Alps, this Savile Row favourite has created a festive experience inspired by Italy’s favourite ski resort in the Dolomites. Pairing up with Campari (who else), Sartoria’s Libare bar is offering a number of festive twists on Italian classics, including a range of seasonal Negronis.

Campari

Christmas Pubs

But a truly British Christmas would not be complete without a trip to a cosy pub and London is chock-full of them. For the ultimate festive experience, opt for one with an open fire and homey seating – need a little help knowing where to start? Give one of these a try.

1)      The Antelope – Tooting

A local favourite, The Antelope may attract a younger crowd, but it still has some of that old London feel. Featuring wood panelling, stained glass windows, mismatched comfy chairs and the requisite fireplace, this is the perfect pub in which to while away a wintery afternoon.

2)      The George Inn – London Bridge

This historic venue is the only pub to be owned by the National Trust. London’s oldest surviving coach house, it is tucked down an alley way by London Bridge, but is beautifully signposted with its name arching over the alley’s entrance in gold. This 17th-century watering hole still has its original beams and gallery and is worth a visit in its own right – after all, it is basically a historical location!

Can't beat a mulled cider... 

3)      Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese – Fleet Street

Another one of London’s historical pubs, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese is also one of its oldest, dating back to the 16th century. A favourite with the likes of Dickens, Tennyson and Conan Doyle, it too boasts an open fire and is deceptively large.

And – just in case you are still thirsty – there’s more! We have barely mentioned mulled wine or hot chocolate, without which no Christmas is completely, so here is a final quick guide of where to head for the very best examples of each.

Mulled wine and Cider

Bavarian Brewhouse

  • Opt for proper German Glühwein or winter apple Schnapps, served by a ‘Santa Fräulein’…

Santa Baby!

  • With singalong Christmas songs and a 1950s American living room setting, you can get both red AND white mulled wine at this pop-up!

Southbank Christmas market

  • London’s answer to the Weinachtsmarkt, do your Christmas shopping and your Christmas drinking at the same time on London’s lovely South bank.
Mulled Wine

Christmas cocktails

Spaniards Inn – Festive Bliss

  • Chambord, spice syrup and Prosecco

The Lodge, Clapham – King’s Tipple

  • Hot apple juice, King’s Ginger Liqueur, dark rum and fresh mint

Dalloway Terrace – Bourbon Brittle

  • Old Spot-infused Makers Mark, praline vodka, and hot chocolate

 

Hot chocolate

Fortnum and Mason - Chocolossus

  • Go for dark or milk chocolate and add giant raspberry, vanilla, or salted caramel marshmallows
Hot Chocolate

Veneta

  • Head to St. James’s Market and ask for a shot of orange and grappa syrup in your Venezuelan bitter hot chocolate with cinnamon-infused milk

Rabot 1745

  • Borough Market’s “cacao-concept-restaurant” does hot chocolate to die for. Get yours infused with nutmeg, gingerbread, or even a shot of rum!

Cheers to Christmas drinking! Get in touch over Facebook or Twitter and let us know where and what you will be sipping this Yuletide, or tag us in your Christmas drinking pictures on Instagram @epicuredigitalmarketing. 

Tips to Avoid a Cliché Christmas

The keys to avoiding clichés in your Christmas marketing are simple: creativity and content.

Aim to capture the imagination and generate content, and always be sure that your marketing links up with what you are doing in the restaurant itself. The cardinal rule? Do not compromise your restaurant’s identity just for the sake of accommodating Christmas. Quite apart from anything else, it looks lazy and lacklustre. Instead, take the basic ingredients of “Christmas-ness” and exercise your creativity to see how you can make them work for you.

Christmas with Epicure Digital Marketing

The Ingredients

Atmosphere

Basics = Joyful, Fun, Vibrant, Comfortable, Family-orientated.

Christmas, and the run-up to Christmas, is all about feeling. Once you have passed the age of Santa and toys, for most of your customers the festive season begins to be about a general sense of warmth and wellbeing. The key to achieving prime seasonal success? Tap into those feelings and try to replicate them in your restaurant. This can be achieved by something as simple as having Christmassy accessories for your staff – to keep the tone light, and silly – or by running special family offers and deals for groups, to emphasise the conviviality of the season. 

Food

Basics = Turkey, Cranberries, Roast vegetables, Spices, Wine

Here is where you can really have some fun. Does your restaurant cook a specific cuisine? Rather than opt for a standard Roast Turkey dinner, why not interpret Christmas through that cuisine? If your cuisine comes from a country which celebrates Christmas, then it can be as simple as highlighting and capitalising on the Christmas foods we do not normally eat in the UK. For example, our client Bel Canto is serving salmon, boeuf en croûte and the traditional French bûche de Noël. All delicious, all authentic French customs, but not what we Brits tend to do!

Last year, our client Chakra took it in the opposite direction, and interpreted Christmas food in their own unique, Indian way. There was Turkey curry with ginger, roasted masala potatoes, and roast butternut squash Galouti.

Take the ingredients of Christmas and make them work for you.

Christmas with Chakra

Extras

Basics = Snow, Christmas Trees, Red and Green, Gifts, Fairy Lights

The other festive trappings can also be used to your advantage. Use them in your visual marketing, in the décor of your restaurants, even in the way you present your food – if you want to get really creative! Just try to think laterally – how can you represent snow, gifts, Christmas trees in a way which is clever but clear?

Christmas with Epicure Digital Marketing

The Marketing

Email Marketing

Why not borrow from other Christmas traditions here and entice your customers by offering them Christmas “gifts”? Try a “12 Days of Christmas Approach” offering a different deal or extra over twelve of your quieter days in the run up to the 25th. This could be anything from a free glass of wine to a one-off chance to try a special Christmassy dish. Whatever approach you take, use Email Marketing to remind people to make the most of the Christmas season by trying out your unique offering.

Social Media

Stick to those Christmas basics and keep it FUN! Christmas is a chance to be jolly, so make the most of this, even if you are traditionally a more serious enterprise. Pose Nativity scenes with your staff for Instagram, Snapchat them singing their favourite Christmas songs, engage your followers on Facebook and Twitter by discussing favourite Christmas traditions, and make everyone’s mouth water by sharing high quality pictures of your food.

Blogs

Blogs are where people can come to find out more information about what it is you are doing, and it is a real opportunity for you to show off the full extent of your restaurant’s creativity. Talk about the inspiration behind your Christmas menu, why you are serving what you are serving, discuss Christmas stories and traditions, and share fun Christmas recipes with your readers.

Epicures love Christmas spaghetti

Christmas Packages

Perhaps a more banal element of Christmas marketing, parties and corporate events could be your bread and butter this season, so make sure they are all perfect and ready to go. The ideal Christmas package will be well thought-out, clear and easy to understand, good value for money, and come at a range of different price points.

Need help marketing your restaurant this Christmas? Get in touch HERE to see how we could help.