Monday, 2 December 2013

It’s 5pm shomewhere…

Yay to me – it’s only November and I have been to my first Christmas party of the year. And there was wine even though it was barely 11am (but shurely it’s 5pm shomewhere right?). And excuse me while I hashtag all over the place, but this was blogger central – the #BritMumsXmasDo – a jolly affair where bloggers could come out from behind their keyboards (touchscreens?) and enjoy the festivities courtesy of Morrisons.

Barbie gets right into introducing herself
Maybe it was the cosy lighting, maybe it was the wine and the good company – or maybe it was a Christmas combo of all these things – but it was a great way to kick off the festive season, not least because I overhead the following funnies…

‘Bloggers don't eat anything they haven’t photographed first’

These little biscuits wore their disco pants...

When I walked into the event – it was as if someone had screamed ‘don’t touch the food’ a few moments before I’d got there (they didn’t – in fact they were saying quite the opposite!!). The room was awash with appreciative ‘ooos’ and ‘aaahs’ as bloggers carefully circled the Christmassy treats enticingly laid out on central tables. But no one touched a thing until all the required images had been captured (and in some cases immediately uploaded to Twitter), because Bloggers like to look real hard – and take pictures. The star attractions included Ronnie The Reindeer Cake (£7.99), the already erected Make Your Own Gingerbread House kits (£4.99), the Super-Sized CandyCanes (£3) and the cute little Disco Pants biscuits (£2). Not that I stopped there, as there was also goodies like a Yule log, pretzels, ‘Pigs & Blankets’ and Panettone loaf that needed a good sampling (for research purposes I tell ya). I even snaffled some chocolate coins for my kids.

The Barbies do love an ice bucket

‘Butter and turkey should be married’

The man main attraction of the day was Neil Nugent, Morrisons’ Executive Chef and Head of Product Development. Nugent personally signed off 972 Xmas products this year, and was on hand to tell us how to cook a perfect Christmas meal. The biggest blunder is overcooking the turkey he said. To avoid this, get your bird out of the fridge a few hours before cooking so it doesn’t go into the oven cold, shake your turkey to open it up and to ensure even cooking, then get some soft (but not melted) butter under the skin (access should be from the neck end). Rather controversially he then went on to say don’t stuff it, and don’t truss it and NEVER use foil (because that steams it silly). Allow 20 minutes then 20 minutes per kg after that for cooking time and when its stretch is up use a basic probe to check for cold spots (like the armpits next to the bone).If all’s well, let your turkey rest, and the juices will make it easier to carve.

'Ronnie' didn't stand a chance against a hoard of hungry bloggers
Nugent was similarly provocative with his views on spuds, declaring ‘never boil a potato’ to the room (on the basis that the outside cooks quicker than the inside).You can’t go wrong with a Maris Piper apparently, and when you are ready to roast, dust a bit of semolina on your part-cooked potatoes for that professional edge. He was happy to recommend preparing accompaniments like veg, bread sauce and gravy base ahead of the day itself. And finally, I must add, that Nugent was ‘poached’ from Waitrose (seriously, who doesn’t love a foodie pun?).

‘That’s actually not for eating’

 After a few glasses of a rather smooth Saint-Veran, I felt even more relaxed about testing the tables teeming with festive food. That is when I spied the three different types of Christmas pud from the M Signature line on display. That’s interesting I thought to myself, I’ve never really compared different types of those, I wonder if I’d prefer the Candy Apple-encrusted one – or the Jewelled Fruit? So, locating a rather large fork, I dug in. I was just savouring said desserts when one of the food stylists (who were lovely incidentally) subtly informed me that the puds weren’t cooked and that I probably wouldn’t want to eat them. MY BAD! Of course I knew you have to cook Christmas pudding, of course I did… (it tasted good and I’m fine by the way, so in case of a zombie apocalypse and all you’ve got to eat is Morrisons uncooked Christmas pudding, dig in).
Barbie...putting the 'no' into Noel


Well, all’s well that ends well, and indeed I left armed with a goodie bag of tasty treats, feeling like this Christmas party thing is rather fun. I met some lovely bloggers I’d not come across before – like Mummy Endeavours, who has 4 children including twins, Steph’s Two Girls, who started her blog as a diary after a diagnosis of autism for her younger daughter, and Ali Clifford from Kids Chaos (every parent knows how that blog got that name!). I hope I’ll bump into them again on and off line!

The Barbies made time to try out some new Morrisons outfits
So, have you started to party yet? Did you hang your decorations this weekend – or do you prefer to wait until we are well into December before you get that Christmas jumper out (come on you know you want to)?


  1. Great write-up and thanks for the link, Vanessa. Those naughty Barbies! Do you think they'll get invited next time? I guess if the gingerbread man has anything to do with it, they will! x

    1. I thought Ginger looked rather uncomfortable!!! Perhaps his Missus was watching from one of the gingerbread houses??? I have seen far worse Barbies on Pinterest (I'd add the link but this is a parent blog...) - just search under 'Barbie gone bad'...

    2. Yes you're right - now I look more closely Ginger does look out of his depth.

  2. Great ideas Vanessa, I especially like the Reindeer cake and turkey tip - did not know about not using foil (which I do use if only so I don't have to clean my oven!). I'm holding off getting truly festive until this weekend when I am determined to don my Xmas jumper, get the tree up and sip Baileys all afternoon. Oh except I've been doing the sipping Baileys bit for a few days now....why do I only buy it at Xmas??

    1. I've been using foil for years too!! The worst thing about Bailey's is there's no warning you're about to run out as the bottle itself is heavy. It's a hard life...