Just as an army marches on its stomach, Team Debrett’s is mostly fuelled by cake. Between birthdays, baby showers, work anniversaries and impromptu baking contests, a cakeless day at 48 Warwick Street is a rare thing. At the risk of sounding ungrateful, it takes a lot for us all to sit up and take notice when a new edible arrives in the office.
And yet that’s exactly what happened last week when we were the lucky recipients of a beautiful wicker hamper from Harrods, courtesy of its corporate service team. Cue a crowd worthy of a royal wedding, as various team members left their desks to investigate this thing of beauty more closely.
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Is there anything more festive (or more British, come to that) than a hamper? And The Grosvenor promised to deliver on its alluring, leather-trimmed exterior, featuring a generous supply of Christmas treats including mince pies, Christmas pudding, tea, coffee, biscuits, sweets and condiments.
The first reward came upon opening it, which was like digging into a particularly grown-up stocking. Beneath the lid was a pristine top layer – a classic complement of mince pies and a Christmas pudding, as well as chocolate and hazelnut biscuits and a tin each of tea and coffee –nestled on a bed of shredded paper. Underneath these we found even more buried treasure: jars of jam and mustard, a tin of cranberry and clementine fudge, and Bertie, the very soft and extremely cute Harrods teddy bear, complete with Christmas hoodie.
(Bertie may or may not have since taken up long-term residence on one particular team member’s desk, but we’ll refrain from naming names...)
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The Grosvenor has all the components you could possibly need to host a traditional tea, so one afternoon last week we gladly took a break from our computer screens to boil the kettle and unleash the special china for a Debrett’s team get-together.
First had to be the mince pies, always an important milestone in the Christmas food calendar. Senior business development executive and self-appointed mince pie expert Olly declared them “pleasingly crumbly, subtly boozy, and both sweet and tart”, with a generous ratio of filling to pastry.
The spiced black tea was described as “Christmas in a cup” by academy director Rupert – no surprise when we discovered that the blend includes cinnamon, orange blossom, blackberry leaves, vanilla, clove, ginger and cardamom. We chose to drink it with milk (added second, naturally), but it could also be enjoyed black with a slice of lemon.
Our Spanish senior designer Irene, a coffee connoisseur in a mainly tea-obsessed office, relished the opportunity to put her moka pot to use with the tin of spiced ground, although this rich, nutty and slightly chocolatey Brazilian blend could be used in a cafetière too.
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Managing director Renée, originally from California, was interested in sampling the Decadent Christmas Pudding, which proved to be aptly named: at a weighty 2lb, it could easily feed ten or more guests (and yes, she did share it with the rest of us).
Another festive staple, Christmas pudding can divide opinion, but this one proved universally popular with the team. Moist, rich and fruity, but light, all it took was seven minutes in the microwave to be tantalisingly ready to eat. After an incident with the office fire alarm earlier in the year, we resisted the temptation to go full flaming brandy on it, but it was delicious with Renée’s ice cream accompaniment.
The mulled berry jam was the perfect spread for scones baked by our finance manager Tracey, while the marmalade, fitting tribute to the man of the hour Paddington Bear, was deliciously zesty, with a surprising hit of ginger.
In the spirit of professional diligence, we are still in the process of sourcing a suitable accompaniment to the honey mustard, the sole savoury in the hamper, but this will undoubtedly liven up turkey sandwiches or a roast ham on Boxing Day and beyond.
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One of the best thing about The Grosvenor is how generous it is – our team tea barely made a dent in the contents, and I suspect we’ll still be enjoying the biscuits, spiced chocolate almonds and fudge for several weeks to come. It will certainly see any lucky recipient through Christmas and into the new year.
With plenty of other hampers to choose from, plus the option to create something entirely bespoke, you can also choose the contents according to your recipient’s tastes – whether they’re an oenophile or a globetrotting gourmand, and whether you’re buying for one person, or want to thank an important client or reward your team for their work.