Five Ways To Take The Sting Out Of Xmas

Jackie McMillan
3rd Dec 2023

Not everyone finds spending time with family over Xmas easy or feels comfortable cutting loose at their workplace Chrissy do. To try and take some of the sting out of preparing for Xmas, the Sydney Scoop team offer up five ways they get through the season. While they won’t head off a dinner table discussion of your questionable life choices, or make your drunk boss any less creepy, they will provide some pockets of perfection...

Let someone else do the work for you

The best way to take the sting out of Xmas is to let someone else do the work for you. Taiwanese chef, Omar Hsu, has twenty years of experience working in fine dining restaurants under Matt Moran. He’s brought his unique perspective to a full Xmas range that is cooked fresh every day from 22—26 December. Last year I loved his Xmas pudding with smooth vanilla custard ($68/1.2kg) and cheated with a pre-made dish for my family’s bring-a-plate function. Tasting across this year’s range, my hit picks are the eye-catching and creamy whole lobster seafood pie ($96) and porchetta ($96/1kg) gently infused with Taiwanese flavours. Did I mention it comes with truffle gravy? For a side dish that will stand out on the buffet, potato salad ($38) is cleverly updated with fried tofu puffs and Taiwanese golden kimchi: the product that made Ommi famous. If you can’t stand fruit cake or plum pudding, the frosty green matcha tiramisu ($48–68) will make a festive centrepiece. Pick-up is in an easy-to-park part of Summer Hill or there’s a delivery option.

Get a good Aussie ham

Melinda Dimitriades-Catt knows good pig. Raised by an accomplished cook of Greek heritage, Melinda went on to be a chef before she found a far greater love in charcuterie. So believe me when I tell you, Omnivorium Specialty Providores is the place to order this year’s ham. I trust Melinda’s ability to source heritage breeds from Aussie farmers with ethical farming practices. Her range of small-batch, artisan products is hard to beat. So we’ll be eating ham from chemical and preservative-free pig raised in South West Victoria and smoked in Albury at the Murray River Smokehouse this year.

Buy seasonal products you can’t get all year

Yeah, I know you can buy most things out of season now, but it’s a known fact that mince pies and boozy Xmas cake taste better if you hold off. Tiffany Jones, former pastry star of Becasse and Lotus Dining Group, has whipped up two types of mince pies ($18/6), including one for those who dare to be different using only red fruit. She’s also got an attractive boozy fruit cake ($29–49) that bathes the finest Aussie dried fruit in enough spiced rum, brandy, Armagnac and Oloroso sherry to put grandpa out like a light.

Navigate the fraught work colleague gift

In these days of gluten free, nut-free, dairy-free, vegan-friendly dietary requirements, buying a Kris Kringle can be a little trying. I’m opting for an Australian-grown green teas crafted using Japanese methods from Perfect South. A trio of loose leaf teas–shincha, houjicha and matcha genmaicha–presented in glass jars and packaged up into a tidy gift box will set you back about $45. As a coffee drinker accustomed to stronger tastes, I found shincha my favourite of the three, however there’s also something nutty and appealing about houjicha. The addition of imported roasted rice and matcha powder to the Aussie-grown green tea adds an interesting roasted, nutty edge to the matcha genmaicha. None of these green teas were bitter.

Save some coin on fresh fruit and veg

Sciberras Fresh Fruit and Vegetables at Freemans Reach do a roaring trade at Xmas for very good reason. While it’s a decent drive from the CBD, what you spend in petrol is still not big enough to be eaten up in savings when you buy a big box of fruit and vegetables. With 80 per cent of their range coming direct from their own farms, you’re not going to get imported rubbish that wilts as soon as it leaves the supermarket either. Buy enough to get you through the shutdown: their last day for 2023 is 23 December.