At the end of November to mark the end of the year I was invited along to Queensgate to sample the tasty treats that were available to buy in stores throughout the festive season, as well as what some of the cafes and restaurants in the centre had to offer. When the invite popped in my inbox, I double checked my diary before quickly opting in as I knew there was bound to be lots of tasty food in store for us to try, and I wasn’t left disappointed.
John Lewis bought a selection of treats that were available to buy as gifts within the store as well as a huge tasty selection of cakes from their cafe. As a recent Gin convert I was really intrigued to try their Unicorn Tears Gin, which was a pretty iridescent gin that made the most fantastic boomerang on my Instastories, as well as the Edinburgh Gin Rhubarb and Ginger Gin. They also had some really fun Christmas baubles from Pickerings which would be very tempting additions for my tree if I wasn’t scared the dogs would run off with them!
For advent calendars (I’m a bit late to the party with this post thanks to a chest infection!) they showcased their Beanboozled calendar, but they do have a board game version of the same available. Featuring ‘Berty Boots’ style flavours of everything between the delicious, and quite frankly disgusting. With identical looking beans in different good versus evil, you never quite know what you’re going to get.
My favourite cakes from the cafe were the Chocolate Orange Marble cake and the Lemon Meringue Slice. Other options included a Caramel Shortcake, Lemon Drizzle Cake and the Cherry Bakewell cake. They kindly gave a Tea and Cake for two which we will be using at some point between Christmas and New Year.
Hotel Chocolat always make the most divine Christmas treats, we always have a few boxes around which we pick up at Christmas (but keep hidden from guests!). Their Mulled Wine Chocolates were definitely interesting – I’m not sure they were entirely my cup of tea, but I did enjoy giving one or two of them a taste (£3.95 for 6). There was also a huge ‘Christmas Gift Box’ of treats with something for everyone included at £35 there was a huge variety of different treats and I can vouch for the ‘Christmas Mess’ ones being particularly tasty.
Pret provided two huge platters of their Christmas sandwiches. Pret has for the past few years always come up as well in the Christmas sandwich rankings, and I can see why! Their Christmas Lunch platter contained thick Norfolk free-range turkey breast slices on delicious bouncy malted bread finished with a delicious dollop of port & orange cranberry sauce. Accompanied with Pret’s herby stuffing – made with beautifully seasoned minced pork, streaky bacon and apricots and all topped off with crispy onions.
Alongside the Christmas Lunch we had a veggie take on the platter which featured butternut squash, rocket and spicy pesto – as well as some humble classics such as cheese and pickle, ham and cheese, smoked salmon, chicken and bacon.
There was many a Melvin the Melted Gingerbread Snowman on the table and I don’t think any of us managed to eat one, luckily they were packaged up so we were all able to take one (or two!) home. I enjoyed Melvin very much at work the next day with a cup of tea!
Lakeland were showcasing some new additions to their Christmas list this year, with Mint Hot Chocolate that was being kept in the slow cooker which was inspired by Peppermint Bark – which was absolutely delicious. They had packs of dried botanicals to accompany your gin (I definitely need to get some of these in for Christmas), PopaBalls to flavour and make your Prosecco sparkle. For some sweet treats they had gin and Prosecco flavoured gum sweets, brandy flavoured dark chocolate called Brandy Beans, as well as some Peppermint Bark bars to try – new to most of us, but apparently a big thing in North America. They kindly gifted us some of their favourites in a goodie bag such as Cook’s tealight candles to neutralise smells (kept in reserve for accidental chargrills at Christmas), smartphone wipes, fresh bag clips which was very generous and many are already being put to good use around the kitchen!
Grasmere is always a firm favourite in our household at shows across the country – and I’m delighted that they’re available in Westgate Arcade. Their Sausage Rolls were delicious – but they also brought along their pork pies, scotch eggs – and their twist on that Bacon n’ Scotch Eggs – something I know Ben would love to try!
I love Carluccio’s and have visited many of them across the UK, I think it’s the closed to real tasting Italian Cuisine that you can get in a chain, but for some reason I’ve never eaten at the one in Peterborough – which is a shame as the building it’s in is a mix of old and new and looks pretty swish. They’d sent over a mixture of favourites from the core menu as well as some of the stars of the show of their festive menu.
The festive menu is available until the 3rd of January and starts at two courses for £17.95, from this menu we started with Pere e Gorgonzola – which was a Pears and Gorgonzola salad and finished with the Coppa di Limoncello Mascarpone, a delicious Mascapone and Limocello cream which was drizzled over raspberries and crushed Amaretto biscuits.
From the main menu we were spoilt for choice on the starters with Insalata Caprese – Buffalo Mozzarella and Tomato Salad (personal fave), Bruschetta served on a gorgeous ciabatta and Chicken Liver Pate with Ciabatta and Red Onion Marmalade. For the main – Abruzzese, a flaked tuna with buffalo mozzarella served on a salad with eggs, croutons and new potatoes.
Marks & Spencer
Bringing a range of drinks to the table to cater for all was the delicious juices to go, the Clementine, Orange and Passionfruit juice was particularly lovely. For alcohol a Golden Creme Brûlée Liqueur, which unfortunately I didn’t get to taste as I’d had my quota of alcohol for someone who was driving.
What’s Christmas without snacks? And M&S proved exactly why they are the king of it. With flaked truffles (that were mouthwateringly delicious), mince pies and some delicious pigs and blanket flavoured crisps which featured some pork crispies. I definitely need to get bag or two in for the Christmas period. I’m a bit of a mince pie snob and tend to go homemade or not at all, and these were a nice alternative as something that was pre-made with nice buttery pastry.
Finally, their Festive sandwich collection (from £3.50), featured a delicious range compromising of Turkey Feast, Brie and Grape, Prawn and Smoked Salmon, and my favourite – Ham Hock and Golden Beetroot Piccalilli. Alongside their sandwiches they featured their Turkey and Cranberry sausage roll, which would taste delicious warmed up!
handmade burger Co.
Last but not least was Handmade Burger Co, who bought along three of their burgers – Avocado and Bacon Chicken Burger, American Cheese Beef Burger & their veg-mex which was a vegan friendly option. To accompany they had their Halloumi Bites (which I could have eaten all day long), Falafel and their delicious Buffalo sauce covered Pit-Wings.
If you’re local to Peterborough and planning a last minute trip to the shops then I hope you’ve found something to stock up on for a well deserved food pit-stop, or whether you’re shopping in the sales and need somewhere to escape and refuel.