THERE is always an excuse to eat out at this time of year and here in mid-Somerset there is somewhere and something for everyone, regardless of the occasion, personal taste or budget.
Our local area offers a fantastic variety of cuisine from traditional Christmas menus with all the trimmings, to authentic dishes from around the world.
With the abundance of bistro pubs, cafes and restaurants there's a setting to suit everyone, whether it's a romantic Christmas meal with your loved one, a Christmas party with work colleagues or a reunion with old friends.
Of course we can't treat ourselves to a meal out every night of the week, but fortunately there's also a fantastic range of food and drink products with which to rustle up something tasty at home or to wrap up as a present this Christmas.
For instance, Pennard Organic wines, mead and liqueurs make wonderful gifts, as well as perfect drinks for festive celebrations.
If you are having roast goose this Christmas their dry gooseberry wine is the perfect match and is equally good with turkey or any white meat or fish. The Tayberry wine is a little sweeter and combines beautifully with cheeses, such as stilton or mature cheddar.
Pennard have wines that work well as aperitifs, digestifs or with dessert, while their mead goes with all the sweet goodies; mince pies, cake and Christmas pudding.
Meanwhile, their range of mouth-watering liqueurs has gained a legendary reputation; the secret lies in the massive concentration of fruit which has been grown on site without any sprays or chemicals and has had an organic status since 1987.
Great local ingredients are also used by Rose Farm, which produces over 100 different traditional chutneys, pickles, sauces, jellies, mustards, marinades, jams, marmalades and curds. Rose Farm is a family business set up by Richard Wills, the managing director, in 1988 as a diversification of poultry farming and farm food wholesaling. The products include many local family recipes, including Harvest Chutney, the most popular chutney, which is Richard's mother-in-law's recipe, and now a registered trade mark of Rose Farm.
All the products are made by hand using the traditional open-pan method and wherever possible local ingredients are used, including Wilkins Cider from Mudgley.
Things are getting very festive down at the factory with new products such as a spicy 'Christmas Piccachilli' and a delicious 'Boxing Day Chutney', both perfect as gifts and accompaniments.