Pre-Christmas feast

One of our good friends came to visit us last night pre-Christmas, as she would be away for the Christmas holiday. She came bearing gifts and home-cooked food to share with us.

As she would not be coming to our Christmas meal, we decided to have some of the extras with the meal – scented Christmas candle, Christmas cracker and a lovely clementine.

Scented Christmas candle
Christmas cracker and clementine

The main dish was the beef casserole with carrots and parsnips – we learnt that the difference between a stew and casserole, is that casserole is cooked in an oven and so the meat tends to be more tender, whereas the stew is cooked on a hob with heat only from below.

Beef casserole with carrots and parsnips

She also cooked lovely sausages which my youngest daughter loved.


She cooked broccoli and peas rather than brussel sprouts which is great as my daughters would eat these (but not sprouts).

Peas and broccoli

For dessert, we opened a bottle of Sandeman 20 year old Tawny port which my wife’s colleague had given to her. This went very well with the cheese platter I had bought.

Sandeman 20 year old Tawny Port

Our favourite cheese is the Cranberry Wensleydale, but we also like the Red Leicester, mature white cheddar and Smoky Applewood cheddar. The apricot Wensleydale is not as tasty as the cranberry version, but I started to appreciate it more after having a bit more of it.

Cheese platter – mature white cheddar, Red Leicester, Smoky applewood cheddar, Cranberry Wensleydale and Apricot Wensleydale cheese
Cheese serving board

The 20 year old port is said to offer the best balance in terms of drinkability and affordability. The nose has plenty of dried fruits, and while sweet to the taste, it is not overly sweet. Very nicely balanced indeed – and it went well with the cheese.

Glass of 20 year old tawny port

All in all, it was a great pre-Christmas meal and we all enjoyed it. And we learnt about the difference between casserole and stew as well.