Chestnuts roasting, hams smoking, and mulled wine glowing. It’s that time of year for festive feasting, and foraging around Beijing looking for traditional foods and seasonal treats. Here’s a roundup of where to find the best turkeys and mince pies.
Turkey and Ham
The practice of serving large, stuffed fowl for Christmas has been going on for centuries, with turkey proving to be the mainstay. A Christmas ham is a traditional dish of cured and sometimes smoked ham, either baked or boiled.
Where to buy?
Beijing’s international supermarkets and butchers will have turkeys and hams for sale during December, most turkeys will be imported and sold frozen. Be sure to order any meats super early. Prices for frozen turkeys range from RMB 49-78/kg. Hams are sold boned or boneless, and prices vary according to the type of ham. Here’s a round-up of the main stores; April Gourmet, BHG Market Place, Boucherie Michel, City Shop, Jenny’s, Schindler’s, and TooToo Organic Farm.
Cakes, Breads, and Puddings
Buche de Noel is one of many traditional cakes and breads enjoyed at Christmas. As the name suggests, it is of French origin and literally translates as “Christmas log,” referring to the traditional Yule log.
Panettone is the Italian egg-enriched bread with sugar, honey, raisins, spices, and candied peel, traditionally presented at Christmas.
Stollen is sweet bread from Germany, made with wheat flour, white sugar, butter, eggs, dried fruit, and marzipan (almond paste).
Gingerbread and ginger cookies feature prominently on Northern European Christmas tables.
Mince pies, not to be confused with minced meat pies, are pastry pies filled with a mixture of dried fruit, nut, sugar, spice, and suet.
Christmas pudding (aka plum pudding) is a rich and dense fruit pudding, which traditionally contained charms, such as silver coins, symbolizing good luck for the New Year.
Where to buy?
Most of the international supermarkets, plus cafés including Kempi Deli, Paris Baguette, Jamaica Blue, and Tous le Jours. Ikea sells frozen blocks of gingerbread dough, so you can make your own cookies and a gingerbread house for you to assemble and decorate.
Mulled wine, glühwein, gløgg, or glögg, whatever name you prefer, the main ingredients are essentially the same. Red wine served warm with spices, which can include cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, citrus, and star anise.
Where to buy?
Ikea sell bottles of glögg and most international supermarkets sell all the spices you need for mulling wine yourself.
Catering and Dining In
For those who want to enjoy all the trappings of Christmas dinner in the comfort of home, there are catering options that will happily do all the hard work for you.
Order a whole or half a turkey RMB 120-150/kg. They also provide the entire meal, including turkey, stuffing, potatoes, cranberry sauce, vegetables, and gravy from RMB 750-1,299.
Catering for all occasions and featuring Western, South Asian and Middle Eastern specialties. Christmas menu includes turkey, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed, roasted, or gratin potatoes and a selection of vegetables. For desserts, there’s mince pies and Christmas pudding.
Contact (5686 4641, 139 1169 0944, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Beijing’s most famous European-style delicatessen, will have a variety of home-made Christmas cookies and cakes plus freshly prepared Christmas goose, traditional turkey, and honey glazed ham.
Contact (6465 3388 ext. 4227, email@example.com)
Lily’s American Diner
Whole roasted turkeys for RMB 109/kg, sides RMB 25/person which include homemade stuffing, mashed potato, sweet potato, vegetables, cranberry sauce, and gravy. Contact (131 4642 7090, 136 8152 4886) www.LilysAmericanDiner.com
Pre-order all your Christmas delicacies then pick them up ready for your oven or
piping hot ready to serve. Whole turkeys, hams, smoked salmon, Christmas cake, and stollen. Contact (6410 5210, firstname.lastname@example.org)
This article originally appeared on page 30-31 of the beijingkids December 2015 issue. Click here to read the issue for free on Issuu.com. To find out how you can get your own copy, email email@example.com.
Photos: courtesy of Kempinski and Ritz Carlton