The best Christmas I ever had was in San Miguel de Allende and Christmas always reminds me of how amazing a country that is. Mexicans love celebrating Christmas because they are such a Catholic country. The streets are full of Holy Mary statues, posadas, fireworks and kids going ape shit.
I don’t remember much about what I ate that year. All I remember is that there was pork, corn tamales, avocado and a lot of tequila. Not forgetting copious Negra Modellos! Christmas is a time of bulk siestas, so I like to bring in a Mexican theme if I can.
I've been cooking Christmas lunch at my house for the past 15 or 16 years. Christmas and New Year’s for me, is always about being organised and attempting to chill out, as the Christmas rush is over. Keeping it simple and not getting too bogged down in details is key to a relaxed lunch.
I love to cook bugs or crayfish tails on the BBQ. I find shellfish brings a bling factor to Christmas lunch that's always bound to impress The Outlaws. I cook them shell side down and if I am organised, brush them with a little olive oil, fresh red chilli, pepper, and lemon zest. Otherwise just a squeeze of lemon and a turn of pepper is enough. I might serve them with chopped parsley, or coriander if I’m doing Asian style lunch. It just depends what else is on the table.
My hero dish is usually a beautiful loin of tuna, crusted with fennel seeds and pepper - lightly seared on the BBQ and sliced to serve. But this year I’m thinking of doing a beef fillet with some homemade mustard. The beef will be served with a fresh potato salad with loads of herbs. A side of smoked ocean trout with capers, dill and lemon on pumpernickel is always on the table.
As always, at my house, there’ll be lots of great Chardonnay, some Beaujolais and this year a magnum of Champagne Larmandier-Bernier Vertus to start. At the moment I'm loving the Christoph Chablis, and the 2015 Jules Metrat Bijou Beaujolais. There'll also be some Stone & Wood Green Coast lagers on ice too.
For dessert it’s another simple recipe. Chilled stone fruit and berries. Or a recipe, that a waiter who worked for me years ago passed on. It is toasted Pannetone smeared with a mix of double cream, mascarpone, lemon juice and sugar syrup. This is something my family have come to expect. I love it because it only takes 10 minutes to prep.
On Christmas eve, I’m also having people over so I will make some margharitas! Richard Guardian a Californian tequila lover recently gave me a bottle of Casa Maestri Añejo which is more of a sipping tequila, but anything Mexican gets me in the mood for Christmas.
There will definitely be more Champagne for Christmas eve and some almost frozen beers, which should get my other side of the family in just the mood for our lethal Piñata.