One of the very nicest things about the run up to Christmas is the sudden proliferation of lovely things in the shops. Suddenly it seems like an excellent idea to pick up a small sequinned shrug, which admittedly offers no protection against the Mancunian elements, and team it with a sparkly hairgrip or two and an oh-so-cute bag which is too small to actually carry anything but which will be just right for any party one might get invited to.
And the Christmas food is even better. Monday evening saw the Taste on Two event take place at Harvey Nichols Manchester, a mini festival to showcase some of the goodies to be found in this most tempting of food halls - and whilst not specifically a Christmas event, I sampled many things that I can confidently say will contribute to my annual festive weight gain. Being Harvey Nics, the evening started with a cocktail and, more unexpectedly, the tying on of a rather desirable Harvey Nics apron, causing me to fear an imminent involvement in some kind of butchery class that thankfully never came. Instead, I wandered round a selection of tasting tables trying out a number of premium food and drink items, including Joe & Seph's amazing gin flavoured popcorn, Yee Kwan Ice Cream, Booja-Booja truffles and Manfood boozy jams (which I heartily regret not buying a truckload full of).
We also enjoyed demos from Tickety Brew, Woodall's Charcuterie (with cheese matches from Burt's Cheese), Harvey Nichols Wine Shop and Grey Goose Vodka, who showed us how to make three different Martinis and then - even better - permitted us to neck them. I had to drink a very great deal of both the wet and dry Martinis in an attempt to find a preference (the difference is in the amount of vermouth added) and still can't be completely sure without further testing.
At the end of a splendid evening I left clutching a quality goody bag which - along with the apron and the generous food and drink samples - made this a great value event at £15 a ticket. A lovely night - and I'm hoping to find more than a few of these choice items under my Christmas tree come this December...