George Dennis highlights the finest festive treats to be found around the borough
Christmas food has the power to take us back. With the first sip of mulled wine or the last morsel of roast turkey come warm winter memories, be it a place, a person, or a reminder of home.
Festive flavours are deeply connected to specific times and to specific moments. While we all dig into different festive spreads over the Yuletide, we all keep our culinary traditions as a way of remembering.
Over the past month I have been talking with a handful of restaurant and café owners across Haringey about those flavours, recipes and ingredients that make Christmas uniquely their own. It’s not only been a chance to get an early glimpse of the pastries and spiced lattes in preparation across the borough, but also an opportunity to learn a little more about the personal stories behind the recipes.
For Marco of Geographical Indications, a British produce deli-bar in Crouch End, Christmas will always be about “getting fat and staying together”. We spoke at length about the Italian biscuits and cakes of his childhood on Liparai – a small island off the north coast of Sicily.
Spicchitedda and nacatuli are festive biscuits made through an intricate process of pinching, cutting, and baking. The combination of cloves, almonds, and mandarins with vincotto – a cooked wine – make Christmas and, for Marco, Christmas is home.
The same is true for Frederico Viciani, director of Table 13, a cosy bakery, café, and wine bar in Tottenham Hale. For Frederico it is another Italian classic that captures Christmas: pappardelle ragu, made with either beef or pork sausage. This is quintessential ‘grandma’ cooking – warm and hearty.
I also had the opportunity to speak with Jesse Sutton-Jones, co-owner of Sourdough Sophia’s. Set to a background of cruffins and croissants, Jesse explained to me that preparations for their festive offerings were already underway. As we spoke, their filling was fermenting ready to pack an endless stream of mince pies, already pre-ordered from across the country. The right mince pie filling, for Jesse, is the ultimate taste of Christmas. We can also expect fresh sourdough stollen filled with boozy fruit and spices – a recipe in keeping with Sophia’s German heritage – as well as artisanal panettone from a pasta madre starter.
The team at Abraço, an independent coffee bar in Green Lanes, also found the time to tell me about their plans for delivering Christmas flavours. They are excited about pairing a turkey, Brie and cranberry sandwich with their homemade mulled wine. Continuing throughout December they’ll be playing with the aromas of Christmas in both their spiced carrot and lentil soup and their Bailey’s style lattes.
Haringey’s culinary diversity and breadth of talent will certainly make our borough the perfect place to share food with friends this Christmas. Whatever the “normal” festive table spread might be for anyone, perhaps this is the year to try someone else’s normal.