I know it’s only early November and many people are already fed up of seeing Christmas products in the shops but our Christmas preparations have to start early at Celtic Manor.
We have such a busy festive season that we need to prepare as much as we can in advance so that the Christmas celebrations are presented seamlessly to our guests.
This very week we have made thousands of Christmas puddings in one enormous batch in the kitchens and taken delivery of almost 20,000 Christmas crackers in readiness for a month-long run of Christmas parties as well as Christmas Day itself.
On the big day, we’ll serve lunch to more than 1,500 guests across all eight of our restaurants and the Winter Wonderland in the Caernarfon Ballroom. Here’s some more facts and figures that give an indication of our bumper Christmas season:
• 11 different Christmas Party Night options for three-course dinner celebrations
• 15,000 Christmas Party Night guests during December
• 7,000 Christmas puddings made, with ingredients including 70 litres of Guinness, 30 bottles of rum and 200kg of mixed fruit
• 22,000 mince pies consumed
• 3,500 bottles of bubbly
• 19,602 Christmas Crackers
• 85 outdoor Christmas trees
• 30 indoor Christmas trees in the Caernarfon Suite alone on Christmas Day
• 30,000 visitors to Christmas Kingdom Santa’s Grotto and ice skating rink
Our Christmas decorations go up in the last week of November and take a full week to install, including one whole day for the much-loved centrepiece tree in the Resort Hotel lobby and another day for the train track around it.
In addition to the Party Nights, our restaurants will be busy with Christmas lunches and family celebrations throughout December and afternoon tea switches to the festive menu from 1st December. There will also be a real festive feel in the bar and bratwurst hut at Christmas Kingdom.
If you want to entertain at home, our award-winning, fine dining chef Richard Davies will share tips and ideas for fabulous festive food in live cookery demonstrations on the following Saturdays – 3rd, 10th and 17th December. These demonstrations are followed by a three course gourmet lunch with accompanying wine in Richard's Epicure restaurant, so you can really treat yourself while learning how to treat others.
In the meantime, here’s a couple of top tips of my own to help you make the perfect Christmas lunch:
1. Don't lose sleep for tasty turkey
Unless it's an enormous bird, there’s no need to get up early or cook overnight. 20 mins per pound, plus 20 minutes is usually fine. Put foil on turkey legs and cover breast with sliced belly pork or bacon to baste and moisten the bird. Take pork/bacon off but keep basting for last 20 mins for crispy skin. No need to stuff but you can add a festive orange.
2. How to make perfect turkey gravy
You can ask your butcher for turkey carcasses to make the base of your stock, then add turkey giblets and strain after an hour. Make your gravy roux from juices off the roasting turkey and flour. Boil up stock separately in the turkey roasting tin to gather all the flavour and add gradually to your roux. Finally reduce gravy to your preferred consistency.
Merry Christmas one and all!