I almost forgot – it’s Stir Up Sunday today, the traditional day to start your Christmas baking.

St Nicholas Pudding, mentioned in the previous post, sounds like a lighter alternative to the rich dark puddings disliked by quite a few people these days. But if you’re a fan of the traditional pud, here’s a recipe for Christmas pudding soaked in English Ale. And, note, it doesn’t really have to be Theakstons ale. Try a dark winter ale from one of our local breweries – you may find the perfect one at The Pantry!



I wonder how many people have spotted that the day of the Pantry Christmas Market, 6 December, is also St Nicholas’ Day, or the Feast of St Nicholas. The historical 4th-century bishop of Myra (now part of Turkey), St Nicholas, had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him, and thus became the model for Santa Claus, whose modern name comes from the Dutch Sinterklaas, itself a corruption of ‘Saint Nikolaos’. His Feast Day on 6 December is still the main day for gift giving and merrymaking in much of Europe, and there are many traditions associated with it. For example, in the Netherlands children leave carrots and hay in their shoes for the saint’s horse, hoping St. Nicholas will exchange them for small gifts, and in France a little donkey carries baskets filled with children’s gifts, biscuits and sweets.

St Nicholas is also the patron saint of bakers. I was particularly delighted to discover this because our lovely church in Piddington is dedicated to St Nicholas and, as you’ll know if you are a Pantry regular, one of our most popular stalls is The Piddington Bakers, the cake stall run to raise funds for the church fabric fund. The standard of baking is very high in Piddington, and has been for many years, so it is particularly appropriate for our village that bakers should rate a special mention on this date.

st nicholas cookies

Many traditional food items are associated with St Nicholas across Europe, including Dutch and German spiced cookies and cakes. You can find recipes for some of them here. But here’s an ancient English recipe for a light fruity fresh plum pudding, which probably originated as part of the ‘Boy Bishop Celebrations’ that were held on St Nicholas Day during the Middle Ages: St Nicholas Pudding.

I’ll post very soon to let you know which stallholders are coming to the market – there are a lot of them this time, and we’re having to be very creative with how we use our available space!

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without The Pantry Christmas Market.

This year it’ll be our third Christmas Market – I just can’t believe how the time has flown! Anyway, this year it’s on Saturday 6 December, 10am to 2pm in Piddington Village Hall.

We’ve had confirmation from lots of stallholders already, so can tell you that there’ll be a great variety of Christmas gifts and local produce, including jewellery, handbags, accessories, toys, Christmas lights, local cheese and meat, jams and chutneys, local beer, homemade cakes. And of course the ever popular Coffee Shop.

Now we have to get going with all the publicity – posters, flyers, notices in local magazines and newspapers and events listings on websites. If you’d like to help by distributing flyers, we’d be very grateful. Just let one of us know and we’ll give you a batch of flyers. Of course, you can also let people know about the market by sharing this blog with other people or sharing The Pantry’s posts on the Piddington Facebook page or retweeting our blog posts on Twitter. Every little helps. Now where have I heard that before …?

Pantry xmas 14

Sadly, we’ve made the decision to cancel ‘A Market on a Plate’, our evening of local food and drink tastings that was planned for 13 September.

Although we’re still convinced it would have been a really good event, we just didn’t sell enough tickets to make it viable. We all felt that, if there weren’t enough people to give it a really buzzy atmosphere, it would be better not to go ahead but to have a rethink.

The Pantry would still like to hold an evening social event based on locally sourced food and drink, perhaps in the spring, but we need to tailor it to what people want. Because we feature only local produce (including wine), the cost of putting on such an event is always going to be higher than if we were to source our menu items from further afield. In fact, to keep the ticket price for ‘A Market on a Plate’ at £15, we decided to subsidise the event using £200 of Pantry funds. Although we would have made a monetary loss, we thought it would be an exciting thing to offer to Pantry-goers, and a little bit different from other social events held in the village.

The regular Pantry markets are very well supported, and always have a great buzz about them, so we’re really interested to learn why this event didn’t appeal to people. We know a lot of people were away at that particular time, but were there other reasons for the low ticket sales? Was it the cost of the tickets? Was the publicity material unclear? Or was it simply the wrong type of event for the village?

If you saw the event advertised but decided not to come, what were your reasons? Would you be interested in a similar event in the future? If not, would your decision be different if the tickets were cheaper? Should we perhaps explore holding a joint event with the Village Hall, where The Pantry supplies the food and the Village Hall supplies the drink? Contact The Pantry and let us know your views.

Posters and leaflets are everywhere now, so there’s no excuse for missing out on what should be a really great foodie night. There’ll be lots of different foods to taste, all supplied by our favourite Pantry suppliers, and lots of local drinks to sample alongside them, together with expert advice on good – and not so good – food and drink pairings. You’ll have fun, learn something new and perhaps make a few surprising discoveries about exactly what food and drink is being produced very close to home. And of course you’ll be able to buy products from the General Store after the tasting.

So do come along and help to make it a really buzzing night.

Incidentally, as this is an expensive event for a small group like ours to put on, The Pantry has decided to subsidise it, to keep the price of the tickets at £15, as we really want to bring something a little bit different to Piddington.

So please support The Pantry by joining us on 13 September, and please encourage anyone you think might be interested about our Market on a Plate to buy a ticket. The more people that come, the better the atmosphere.

See you there!

Posters and leaflets have been distributed, but the best publicity is word of mouth. So please spread the word about this exciting event – get a group of like-minded friends together and have fun sharing the various tasting platters and comparing notes on the different food and drink pairings.

The Pantry food and wine night A4 v3 web-page-0

The change in the weather over the last few days has sent me hunting through my drawers in search of warm woollies, and, while not quite ready to swap the chilled rose and salads for a warm red and a casserole, I am starting to look forward to the good things autumn can bring. One of these is our extra-special autumn event, which we’re calling ‘A Market on a Plate’.

Regular Pantry-goers will know that we always try to make each market a little bit different, but this autumn, instead of our regular market, we’re putting a local food and drink tasting evening, open only to ticket-holders. Tickets will be available soon, and the ticket price will include a welcome drink, tasting platters – Savoury (meat, fish, vegetable), Sweet and Cheese – and drinks tasters. We’ll have some guest speakers and there’ll be an opportunity to do a bit of shopping, as a range of products will be available to buy on the night. This promises to be a really interesting and enjoyable social evening, and we should all learn something about the local food and drink we have available to us.

So, put the date in your diary now: Saturday 13 September, 7 pm, for a 7.30 pm start.



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