We're championing fresh food that packs a flavour punch, from salads and vegetable-packed bowls to grains and light desserts.
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Looking for superior building blocks for a culinary extravaganza? Or maybe you're hoping to outsource as much of the work as humanly possible to preserve your sanity, as well as the lives of your nearest and dearest. Either way, check out our go-to list for Christmas staples and last-minute options, state by state. It should go without saying, but it's a good idea to get in touch with your providore or butcher at least 14 days before Christmas Day to confirm your ham and turkey orders, especially if you're buying up big.
AROUND THE NATION
David Jones started putting out its Christmas product as early as October this year. Among the highlights are the new 'Salumi' range of old-school Italian smallgoods from Icebergs' Rob Marchetti. Simon Johnson is also stocking the range, along with favourites such as Duchy Originals puddings and cakes. And for the full splash-out, damn-the-air-miles-and-expense, they may also have jet-freighted French black truffles, season permitting. The Essential Ingredient is especially good for sauces and trimmings (not to mention last-minute KitchenAid purchases), and their tinned duck fat is just the thing for seriously crisp roast potatoes. Jones the Grocer has great stocking stuffers, as well as chocolate and cheese. For detailed seafood tips, see John Susman's rundown of the season's best buys.
NEW SOUTH WALES
Lucas Quality Meats (02 9389 3616) has been our office pick for hams this year, and you can't go wrong with Terry Wright Finest Premier Meats (02 9398 1038) or Vic's Premium Quality Meat (02 9317 6900) for your designer proteins (and don't forget the jamón Ibérico for that 2008 touch). Quattro Stelle (02 9150 8251), too, is hamming it up. If something more bespoke is your thing, try Feather & Bone (02 9554 7636) for rare-breed beasts. For things marine, Sydney Fish Market (02 9004 1100) is your best bet and has extended hours in the lead-up to the day itself, unless you've got something sorted with your local fishmonger. If you really don't want to tangle with car parks and trolley rage at all, consider Animal Vegetable Mineral. The thinking person's grocer, they deliver to your door, and this year are doing an all-in-one Christmas pack with the bird, the pig, the vegies and the pud. For sweet specialists, it's always hard to go past Yellow (02 9357 3400) for superb puddings (and savoury treats to boot), while new kid on the block Adriano Zumbo (02 9810 7318) has also put together a full Christmas collection.
For suckling pig hams and a range of other Black-Pig label treats from Saskia Beer, try Black Pearl Epicure (07 3257 2144) or pop into Village Meats Rosalie (07 3367 3396) for its house-smoked Bangalow hams, Dakota Vale free-range turkeys from the Sunshine Coast, Rannoch Farm quail or to pre-order a pheasant or goose. Paddington's Meat-ting Place (07 3369 9522) is the spot for any meaty, organic needs. Samies Girl at Hamilton (07 3131 4123) is open for fresh seafood treats from 6am on 23 December right through to 6pm on Christmas Eve, or for pristine local Kooringal rock oysters from Moreton Bay place an order direct with Jane Clout (0419 786 631) by 20 December. Jocelyn's Provisions (07 3852 3799) has handmade mince pies, individual puds, cute gingerbread trees and stars, or, for those who want to keep things cool and creamy, a fresh mango-cheek trifle in a heavy glass bowl. For chocolate treats, it's got to be Monty's (07 3369 3135), which has everything, from Charbonnel et Walker to hardcore cocoa-dusted single-origin cocoa nibs.
You know Enoteca Sileno (03 9389 7009) has your Italianate Christmas needs sorted (amazing panforte and panettone) and superb gifting, but don't neglect the drinkable side of their range in your shopping. Richmond Hill Café & Larder (03 9421 2808) throbs at Christmas with puddings, cakes and panforte, ham and poultry glaze, sour cherry relish, spiced peaches and, of course, cheese. Our very own In Season columnist Brigitte Hafner and the crew at The Gertrude Street Enoteca (03 9415 8262) are famed for what might just be the best hampers in town, and Kyneton's Annie Smithers' Bistrot (03 5422 2039) also has a reputation in that department. Phillippa's has the sweet and baked sides of town sewn up with many years of practice, and you may also like to check out Fox in the Box (03 9596 0133), which is selling the famed Wardlaws Fine Food puddings. On the flesh front, Carlton butcher to-the-stars Donati's (03 9347 4948) is always a hot pick, especially for hams. One newcomer we're keen to check out, too, is Brighton's Bossy Boots (03 9596 6825), a café that also sells house-made provisions. Seafood-wise, Canals (03 9380 4537) is a longtime favourite, and Collingwood's Ocean Made (03 9486 0399) is also a contender.
Barossa's renowned pâtissier William Wood, from Carême Pastry (08 8563 1490), sells gorgeous fresh fruit mince pies at the weekly Barossa Farmer's Market; bake your own with Carême's vanilla-bean shortcrust pastry, sold in frozen 450gm blocks (Wood's pie recipe can be found at caremepastry.com). Also at Barossa Farmer's Market, Abbotsford Country House (08 8524 4662) sells plump Christmas puddings from 250gm to 3kg, made with Barossa produce according to Jane Maul's generations-old recipe. Fresh cherries can be picked from Adelaide Hills orchards identified on the Cherry Map (downloadable from cherriessa.com.au), including Stella Creek Cherry Orchard (08 8389 8572), which also sells at the Adelaide Showground Farmer's Market on Sundays. At Willunga, Hamlets Meat and Smallgoods (08 8556 2153) prepares outstanding hams, especially the smoked Black Forest variety; at Unley, Christy's Meat (08 8272 2519) is another ham haven. For European traditions, Westfalia Meat (08 8356 5593) stuffs turkeys and chickens with a traditional German filling of minced pork, onion, fresh apple, dried apricots and raisins. Bottega Rotolo (08 8362 0455) stocks everything seasonal with an Italian accent: nougat, panettone and pandoro. Perryman's Bakery at North Adelaide (08 8267 2766) bakes traditional Christmas cakes decorated with glacé fruit and nuts, as well as gingerbreads.
Stuffings for the gluten-intolerant are just the beginning at Mondo Butchers (08 9371 6350). Seasonal crowd pleasers include roast turkey stuffed with various deboned birds of decreasing size and ending with a whole quail filled with glazed cherries. At Lawley's Bakery (08 9328 6866) the croquembouches are quoted per ball so you only pay for what you require. The Grocer (08 9389 8144) has a Christmas Celebration Box stuffed with all the festive necessities, from traditional plum pudding to orange brandy sauce. Poultry and game wholesaler Mahogany Creek (08 9249 2866) stocks a wide range of specialty meats including spatchcock, goose, pheasant, and Muscovy and Peking ducks. For superior after-dinner treats, visit the new Rochelle Adonis outlet (08 9227 0007) where you'll find Perth's finest nougat and truly beautiful cakes. At New Norcia Bakeries (08 9443 4114), they make their own panforte and another sweet treat they call pan chocolatti, heavily laced with nuts, honey and chocolate. If you're feeding the hordes, The Herdsman (08 9383 7733) does a great seasonal fruit platter, while Kailis Bros (08 443 6300) makes up fresh seafood platters to order.
Wursthaus Kitchen, in Hobart (03 6224 0644) and Launceston (03 6331 9171), is doing poached stuffed whole boneless ocean trout and galatines of duck, as well as Nichols turkeys, puddings and house-made hams. For a sweet ending, Hobart pastry legend Jackman & McRoss (03 6223 3186) is the firm pudding favourite.
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