It’s T-5 days til Christmas and I am sat on my bed, surrounded by a batch of unwritten Christmas cards–an annual procrastination event in and of itself. Fortunately, for the first time in years, I am not stressed about it.
I used to get caught up in bouts of holiday hysteria, where I was frantically trying to meet completely unrealistic expectations set by Pinterest and Martha Stewart. In the age of authentic DIY, many of us feel like if we haven’t preserved our own chilli jam in mason jars as thoughtful gifts, carved and sanded the wooden ornaments on which our kids will heap tons of glue and glitter and sent home exotic gifts to family members who really don’t want another set of batik kitchen mitts all while preparing a Christmas dinner with all the trimmings requiring ingredients that may or may not be in stock in any number of markets around town, then we have failed.
The foodie movement has reached an all time high. I could have printed a ream of paper with the detailed FB descriptions & pictures of people’s extensive Thanksgiving spreads. I am pretty sure one of my Bangkok-based acquaintances took a massage course solely to figure out how best to work in the butter and flavoured oils into their Turkey. A recent cartoon summed it up best with a waiter asking a table if everything was ok as they had not photographed their meal.
I had only just recovered from Thanksgiving and the whack-a-mole game that was my attempt at securing pumpkin puree for my customary cheesecake when my anxiety started building in the run-up to Christmas. Would I find celeriac? Could I rely on Hock Choon — the holy grail of expat-favoured ingredients — for last minute hard to find items?
Ashley’s in Bangsar
This year my wake-up call and salvation came to me in a WhatsApp message from my neighbour. She found a restaurant in Bangsar, Ashley’s, which has launched take-away Christmas baskets in both cooked and uncooked options!
I was hesitant at first. I like the satisfaction of having pulled it all off by myself. But if I am really honest, I am more stressed and short-tempered as a result. Often I am so exhausted that by the time I sit at the table, I don’t enjoy the meal as much as I should. Do I want my kids’ yuletide memories to be marred by me frantically tapping on my smart phone as I hunt for a Fahrenheit to Celsius conversion for the 100th time? Or would I be better off outsourcing the roast and focusing on sides, my yuletide log and allowing myself to enjoy the mulled wine instead of gulping it to sooth my nerves?
I decided to break with tradition and order a boneless lamb roast for Christmas Eve. While chatting with Ashley’s about their prep and ingredients, I asked permission to send in my expert tasting team, my girls 7 and 5, to taste a few samples and see if this was a secret worth sharing. I was delighted that they accepted!
We sampled the Wagyu beef ribs and the turkey along with their cider and mulled wine. I’ll let the pictures do the talking!
Both girls loved the cider! Ashley’s is all about finding top quality fresh ingredients and making everything from scratch on site. They would never use tinned pumpkin puree the way I do! This meant the cider had that thick freshly juiced apple sediment at the top. The taste was delicious. I am not a thick juice person myself so I was very glad to satiate my own thirst with a cup of mulled wine. I was allowed one cup but I would have happily downed a litre!
The drinks were good but the food was divine. Both the ribs and the turkey were so flavourful and juicy. They left my mouth-watering and wanting more. My littlest generally doesn’t like to eat most meat. I present you with a picture of her gnawing, blissed out staring into space, as she gets every last shred of beef off the rib.
Ashley’s also has a gorgeous selection of vegetarian options that will tempt even the most stubborn carnivore.
For more information on their Christmas offerings, check out Ashley’s facebook page (Hint: the shortcut to photos will take you right to their Christmas menus.) They normally ask for orders to be placed four days in advance but do not hesitate to call them if you’ve missed that deadline. I found them incredibly helpful, kind and willing to work things out as best as they can.
I am looking forward to my Christmas Eve lamb roast. I will be making all my own sides and allowing myself to slow down and enjoy the process this year. Remember: most people won’t care whether the gingerbread cookies were cooked with homemade dough or some from the freezer section of Ikea. And if they do, let me know and I’ll make sure Santa puts them on the naughty list.
Happy Holidays & Selamat Menjamu Selera!
*We were offered a tasting by Ashley’s by Living Food. Opinions – as always – are our own.