One of the best things about the festive season has to be the traditions that we build up amongst families, friends and our own wee communities. They can be as simple as always visiting the panto on opening night, or using a decades old fairy on the top of your tree. For me, it’s the foodie rituals that I look forward to most; soaking plums for the Christmas vodka, decorating gingerbread houses with my nieces and always making a showstopper of a pavlova for Christmas Day.
Corbie and Cheip, the award-wining German-Scottish deli on Auchterarder’s High Street, know a thing or two about traditions. Having recently celebrated their second birthday, this is the third year that Anne Schaeflein and her team have brought their own unique brand of comforting nostalgia and meticulous attention to detail to Christmas in Perthshire. At its heart the deli has an ethos rooted in community, traditions and responsibly produced food & drink from Scotland and other parts of the world.
At its heart the deli has an ethos rooted in community, traditions and responsibly produced food & drink from Scotland and other parts of the world. Anne is resolute about their philosophy which is to provide fresh, seasonal and sustainable food and drink from talented artisans.
“It is rather lovely to be growing into this niche – we did not expect to find such a demand nor positive resonance about our German heritage and slow food ethos when we first started out.
Going into our third Christmas, we really are pulling out all the stops and I’m encouraged by people asking when the ‘Guess the Weight of the Christmas Cake’ competition will be starting!”
Yuletide preparation begins early for Anne, who during the autumn will head to Bankton House to pick apples for her now famed hot spiced apple juice. This wonderfully warm non-alcoholic drink is a popular choice with the locals but with limited supplies of the ancient apple varieties she uses, it’s one of those traditions you have to arrive early to enjoy!
“The apple orchard at Bankton boasts varieties dating back to the 12th century and we like to use these to create our juice. It means there is a slight difference in the taste each year which our regular customers really enjoy – we start serving it around the beginning of December but have yet to get to Christmas Eve with any left!
We do a wonderful mulled wine as well – as you’d expect – and a marvellous masala chai tea using a method I was given twenty years ago by a Sri Lankan friend. It was his mother’s recipe and is considered a celebration tea in the village that he’s from. We stew it each morning in huge vats and then heat it to order throughout the day. I just love the blend of spices and the aroma it gives off – the perfect way to warm you up on a cold Perthshire winter’s night!”
Of course, a hot Christmassy drink is nothing without a sweet treat and at Corbie and Cheip the order of the day is stollen, made by a fellow Bavarian friend. Thick with chopped candied fruit, dried fruit, nuts and spices, stollen is as traditional in Germany as mince pies are in Scotland, and these are moist, fruity and delicately spiced - undoubtedly among the most delicious we’ve ever tasted!
There are also edible tree decorations for sale in the shape of reindeer and gingerbread men and these are also used to decorate the deli’s own rather unusual tree! Hanging upside down - an ancient custom dating back to the Middle Ages – it means Anne can enjoy festive décor while ensuring enough space remains to accommodate their regular four-legged friends!
“Making sure we look after our regular customers is really important to me. We invite a guest to light the Advent candles on our wreath every Sunday; we have Christmas music playing and festive storytelling each Saturday. And of course, there’s the Christmas cake competition which raises funds for the Auchterarder Music Department.”
As well as introducing her regulars to all of these wonderful German traditions, Anne also opens the door to festive parties, creating a tailor-made experience for people looking for an alternative to the traditional office party nights. And as you’d expect from an award-wining deli, her hampers are full of homemade treats and delicious artisan produce.
“You could say we do Christmas the old-fashioned way. The focus is on time honoured traditions, family and loved ones, slowing down, a time of reflection and ultimately hope for the New Year.”
Corbie and Cheip is housed in the former Gleneagles bakery on the corner of Bakers Wynd and High Street. You can shop, dine in or take home. By day the delicatessen is open for breakfast, lunch, light bites, hot food and cakes. Enjoy freshly brewed coffee, teas or wine with a pick n' mix styled menu.
After 5pm, the lights dim and the cake display gives way to the wine bar - pop in for a glass, a nibble (schnittchen) or full dinner. Don't forget to ask "what's cooking?" to find out Anne's nightly specials.
162 High Street, Auchterarder, PH3 1AD
01764 660 200
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