The Ultimate Foodie Advent Calendars

Christmas is coming and the December count-down is just round the corner. Kick off your festive season with one of this year’s ultimate foodie calendars. I’ve picked five of my favourites including pastries, coffee, chocolate, fizz and more… Treat yourself or buy one for your food loving friends and family.

Advent Calendars

Pophams – I can’t think of anything I’d like more than a month of pastries from one of London’s finest artisan bakeries. This year the Pophams calendar has been beautifully illustrated by Lottie Hampson, inspired by the different Pophams branches. You will also find gifts from Minor Figures and Bare Bones chocolate, along with a range of baked treat vouchers. The whole calendar is worth over £100 and as Christmas is about giving it includes 2 doors which reveal donations to Hackney Food Bank.

Advent Calendars

Artisan Coffee – This culinary coffee brand has been developed by Michelin starred chefs and the flavour profile of the beans showcases the thought that has gone into the bean selection. The pod and bag advent calendars offer a selection of their bestselling coffees so you can pick your favourite to order in the new year when the calendar has sadly finished.

Advent Calendars

Divine and Freixenet – The best of both worlds… 24 drawers of treats from the fizz and chocolate brands. A selection of different flavours and wines are contained in this extra luxurious calendar. The bottles and bars are perfectly sized for one, so I suggest not sharing!

Advent Calendars

Lakrids by Bülow – Whether you are a liquorice lover or hater you can’t deny that this is a special selection to make your way through this December. The Danish confectionary brand has developed a super chic calendar filled with every flavour of the chocolate chocolate liquorice balls.

Advent Calendars

Lindt – It is iconic for a reason… you can’t go wrong with the Lindt Lindor calendar, packed full of the indulgent chocolate truffles – from the classic milk chocolate to salted caramel and white chocolate.

Six restaurants you need to know about in Edinburgh

Edinburgh’s food scene has never been better than it is right now. The Scottish capital is brimming with delicious foodie options, whether you fancy a deluxe sandwich or an elegant Michelin starred date night dinner. Inventive chefs are opening up exciting eateries in every corner of the historic destination – here are a few of the spots I’ve tried, tested and encourage you to taste for yourself.


Tipo – A beautiful minimalist dining room in the centre of town, Tipo serves relaxed Italian cuisine. The small plates and homemade pastas deliver on flavour and aesthetics. Don’t miss the irresistable snacks – lamb fritte with white anchovy and zeppole with pecorino cheese, and the seasonal soft serve for dessert.

Spry –  This neighbourhood wine bar and bottle shop specialises in naturally made wines. ‍ The accompanying food menu is an ever-changing selection of dishes made with local, seasonal produce. I particularly loved the fresh cheese with olive oil and the leek dumplings (perfect for a chilly winter’s evening). The group also has a great bakery and coffee shop downstairs called Ante.

The Little Chartroom

The Little Chartroom – Roberta Hall’s bijou bistro serves modern European dishes in a charming little dining room. The menu showcases bold Scottish ingredients, presented confidently and creatively. The menu changes frequently but the Spenwood cheese & caramelised onion tart, pickled onion, beer vinegar was very memorable. Book a table at the chef’s counter to watch the kitchen at work.

Eleanore – Located on Albert Place, Leith, Eleanore is the second restaurant from the Little Chartroom team serving a fine dining, seasonal menu. The eatery and wine bar has high stool seating and bright monochrome décor and the service is wonderfully welcoming. Every plate was tastier than the last, with the Pork ‘Bo Ssam’, cashew, sesame and Cheese course particularly standing out.

Noto – Noto is an independent restaurant focused on food for sharing, small domaine wine producers & bespoke cocktails. Inspired by chef-owner Stuart’s time working in NYC, the restaurant is named after his eclectic room-mate there, Bob Noto. I loved the fusion style dishes, unexpected and full of flavour – ox cheek bao buns, onion, star anise and purple sprouting broccoli tempura, togarashi were a couple of my stand-out plates.

The Palmeston

The Palmerston – This much loved restaurant and bakery is always full of hungry locals and visitors. Housed in an impressive 19th-century building – a former Royal Bank of Scotland, it feels a bit like a classic Parisian bistro. The menu is full of tempting options, with comforting recipes like rich, slow-roast Tamworth pork loin with borlotti beans and black cabbage. It is a friendly, warm place to meet with friends or family and feast together.

Other restaurants I’ve loved on previous trips or have been highly recommended recently – Timberyard, Lyla, Heron, Pomelo, Mirin, Alby’s, The Gardener’s Cottage, Fhior, Kitchen Table at Twelve Triangles.

Art After Dark – 12 & 13th October

Autumn is here and the new season brings with it a fresh programme of cultural activities and events across the capital. Most excitingly one of my favourites is back, Art After Dark returns on the 12th and 13th October, transforming the West End with a giant public art takeover alongside 30+ galleries, art institutions, and a selection of bars and eateries across Piccadilly and Leicester Square open late for art lovers and culture seekers alike.

From award-winning cultural initiative Art of London, Art After Dark will exclusively present a screening inspired by iconic performance artist Marina Abramović on the Piccadilly Lights at 7pm on Friday 13th October to coincide with her major autumn exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts.

There will also be incredible free outdoor public installations including a new giant, inflatable sculpture titled ‘The Cornucopia’ by Claire Luxton, and an illuminated neon installation titled ‘The People You Love’ by Robert Montgomery in Leicester Square Gardens.

Taking place during Frieze, London’s busiest art week, hop between independent galleries such as the Stern Pissarro, Cristea Roberts, and Saatchi Yates, to soak up art and culture as the sun goes down on Thursday 12th October. The following evening, London’s most famous galleries will stay open until 9pm for a late-night cultural experience on Friday 13th October.

Last week I visited some of the highlights to add to your evening itinerary for Friday 13th October.

Art After Dark – 12 & 13th October

The National Portrait Gallery has recently reopened after a transformative renovation, with the impressive new entrance bringing in more visitors than ever before. It is really brilliant to see women at the heart of this revamp, with the National Portrait Gallery commenting that their three-year project ‘Reframing Narratives: Women in Portraiture’ aims to “enhance the representation of women in the National Portrait Gallery’s collection and highlight the often-overlooked stories of individual women who have shaped British history and culture. I was excited to wander round the permanent collection and see so many female artists exhibited and celebrated. One of the current exhibitions is ‘Yevonde: Life and Colour’ which tells the story of a woman who gained freedom through photography – as she experimented with her medium and blazed a new trail for portrait photographers. The exhibition features portraits and still-life works produced by Yevonde over a colourful sixty-year career, and draws on the archive of her work acquired by the Gallery in 2021, as well as extensive new research by the gallery’s team. Art After Dark is the final opportunity to visit ‘Yevonde: Life and Colour’ as the exhibition finishes on 15th October.

Art After Dark – 12 & 13th October

I also encourage you to check out the ‘Art of London Presents Take a Moment’ display downstairs, a striking collection of Ray Burmiston’s photographs depicting famous faces and members of the public, all with their eyes closed. The collection of pictures aims to raise awareness for mental health by allowing people to take a moment to be calm and collect their thoughts. The series has continued this year and my portrait (taken by Ray) will be on display on the Piccadilly Circus big screen on 10th October 2023 (World Mental Health Day).

Art After Dark – 12 & 13th October

All this culture is sure to work up an appetite, and The National Portrait Gallery now boasts the fabulous Larry’s Bar, a sophisticated spot for cocktails and food throughout the day and evening. Grab a table at one of the velvet-clad booths and order a ‘Larry’s’ cocktail accompanied by some tasty snacks, I loved the cheese and charcuterie boards.

Art After Dark – 12 & 13th October

With the National Gallery next door, I continued the theme of female artists by visiting the Paula Rego’s ‘Crivelli’s Garden’ exhibition which explores the relationship between Paula Rego’s monumental painting and the 15th-century altarpiece and National Gallery staff that inspired it. Thirty years ago, Dame Paula Rego, the National Gallery’s first Associate Artist, was commissioned to create a mural for the then new Sainsbury Wing Dining Room. The result, Rego’s ‘Crivelli’s Garden’ took its inspiration from an altarpiece by the 15th-century Italian artist Carlo Crivelli, ‘La Madonna della Rondine (The Madonna of the Swallow)’ painted after 1490 to tell the story of women from biblical history and folklore. It is a powerful and detailed painting that I really enjoyed seeing for the first time.

This exhibition is free to the public, and while you are here I also recommend wandering round the permanent collection.

Don’t miss this opportunity to admire London’s best art collections in the special Art After Dark series. And be sure to make an evening of it with food and drink at one of the area’s many brilliant eateries.

Paid Partnership with Art of London. More information here.