94 FEAST DAYS
From Thanksgiving on the Thames to Christmas cocktails in a castle, savour the season’s culinary delights in the most welcoming of venues. By Frances Hedges
Quaff champagne cocktails at the real Downton Abbey, savour Christmas lunch at the Wolseley or see in the New Year at Claridge’s
CHAMPAGNE AND CANAPÉS AT HIGHCLERE
‘For me, Christmas begins on the first day of December, when we cut a huge tree from the grounds, leave it to dry in the barn and then bring it in to decorate,’ says Lady Carnarvon, chatelaine of the castle better known as the real Downton Abbey. Throughout the month, Highclere is open to visitors for carol-singing, mulled wine based on Luis the butler’s secret recipe (‘We never know what goes into it, but it’s certainly strong!’) and cocktails made with champagne produced exclusively for the estate. ‘As a family, we’ll dine on our own home-reared venison – my recipe uses juniper berries and Madeira wine – and then a special dessert such as a rhubarb and ginger fool.’ ‘At Home at Highclere: Entertaining at The Real Downton Abbey’ by the Countess of Carnarvon (£30, Preface) is out now.
HIGHCLERE’S CHAMPAGNE COCKTAIL
INGREDIENTS 2 dashes of Angostura bitters 1 white sugar cube 10ml brandy 90ml chilled Highclere Champagne Slice of orange, to garnish Maraschino cherry, to garnish
Drip the Angostura bitters onto the sugar cube and place in a champagne flute. Add the brandy, followed by the chilled champagne. Garnish with the orange and cherry, then serve.
right: rhubarb and ginger fool left, below and bottom left: highclere castle in hampshire above: beetrootcured-salmon canapés