but our gift to you within this Christ­mas is­sue is the gift of time. Time to share the load with Fiona Smith’s or­phans’ Christ­mas menu, time to cook in ad­vance with Ginny Grant’s plan-ahead fes­tive feast and if all else fails, some cheeky kitchen cheats from Sarah Tuck to help you throw things to­gether if/when you run out of time.

Our mag­nif­i­cent cover shot has once again stretched the tal­ents and pa­tience of our cre­ative team, bravely driven by art direc­tor Fiona Las­celles. Af­ter drop­ping the lemon tarts at our French is­sue cover shoot, I have been given per­ma­nent in­struc­tions to not step within five me­tres of cover shoot area at any time. I have to ad­mit, as I stood help­lessly watch­ing the con­struc­tion of that frag­ile Cham­pagne saucer tower us­ing Fiona Smith’s fab­u­lous apri­cot dough­nut tri­fle with rose­mary pra­line (recipe on page 78), I thought we may have been a touch too am­bi­tious. But once again we have man­aged to beat the odds. I doubt you’ll want to try this at home in case Aun­tie Shirl picks up the wrong glass (we all know how that might end), but the tri­fle does look as spec­tac­u­lar in in­di­vid­ual serv­ings as it does served from the bowl.

If you’re won­der­ing about our editor’s pic­ture (above), yes, it is me, in terry tow­elling with my trusty iPhone (with­out heels and hum­ming Dave Dob­byn), wan­der­ing the banks of the mighty Waikato. This is­sue I have found a lit­tle slice of NZ heaven at the mag­nif­i­cent Huka Lodge. So en­grossed was I in the early morn­ing birds that seemed to be in tune with the mag­i­cal rhythm of that im­pres­sive river that I man­aged to wan­der into the front yard of another cot­tage, bathrobe and all. The fact that my early morn­ing stroll was pho­tographed is, of course, a bonus (not). I hope the other guests didn’t in­sist on a re­fund.

Im­merse your­self in this beau­ti­ful mag­a­zine and you will find not only won­der­ful things to cook and share but also a bloody good read. We asked some of our favourite peo­ple to give us their takes on Christ­mas and the re­sult is a col­lec­tion of ter­rific sto­ries that high­light hi our dif­fer­ences when it comes to the mean­ing of it all.

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