8 places to buy gifts for foodies in Central London

Gift shopping for someone who lives for natto and kombucha? Need to buy some fancy biscuits for a distant relative? Or maybe you're weird like me and you just enjoy looking at shelves full of bizarre food products and repeatedly asking your companion, 'What the hell is that?!' while giving vacuum packs of unidentifiable matter a good squeeze. Well, here are some places that will tick all of the above and where, come Christmas, you will find me supermarket sweeping the aisles.

1. Partridges 

Well, I'm calling it: Partridges is the best food shop in London. Walking into the immaculate store near Sloane Square is like walking into the Queen's pantry (acknowledging the Queen's dual role as both regal monarch and super fun grandmother). As well as stocking the finest gourmet items such as confit duck, fresh tortelinni and wild boar ragu, there's an amazing deli counter, a veritable harvest festival of fresh produce and a great drink section. There's also a wacky selection of imported American products that stocks everything from giant marshmallows to Clamato (an acquired taste). There's also a cafe in the shop, so a perfect destination after a stomp round the trendy Saatchi Gallery opposite.

2. La Maison Maille Piccadilly

Even if you don't like mustard, it's hard not to fall in love with Maille's adorable boutique at the end of this elegant Piccadilly arcade. If you do like mustard, then clear your diary for the afternoon to make time to sample all the amazing varieties on offer. You can make up your own gift boxes for loved ones and also sample some seriously good balsamic vinegar at the same time.

3. Wholefoods Piccadilly

A stone's throw away from the fancy mustard emporium (which would conveniently take you in an arc over the roof of and thus avoiding the wildly unaffordable Fortnum & Mason*) is Wholefoods Piccadilly. Yeh yeh, I know that Wholefoods is the original home of carb-shunning-paleo-loving yoga rahs and it's now owned by internet behemoth Amazon blah blah blahzzzzzz but shut up because it's a great place to buy weird and wonderful ingredients that are just about affordable enough not to need to borrow a stack of Austens from backstreet loan sharks. They also have a great selection of cheeses and a very visually appealing selection of fresh fruit and veg.

*Don't get me wrong, I love spending hours browsing in F&M as much as the next person and it's a great place to buy your aunt some fancy tea and get spritzed up with some perfume samples before hitting the disco, but £30 for 8 chocolates is a bit above my budget.   

4. The Spice Shop

This dinky cubbyhole of a shop in Notting Hill is packed to the rafters with over 2,500 different products and if you're setting out to recreate that unobtainably obscure curry you ate once on a remote East Asian island during your gap year, chances are that you'll find the requisite piquancies here. The perfect place to pick up a gift for the most discerning of foodies.

5. H Mart Mini

There are many amazing Japanese, Chinese and Korean supermarkets dotted around Soho and Chinatown, but I particularly love H Mart Mini on Tottenham Court Road which stocks a great selection of fresh, dried and frozen Korean foods as well as the obligatory range of rainbow-packaged sweets adorned with adorable cartoon animals with heartbreakingly big eyes. Also on offer is a colourful kids' drink with a marble in the lid that took my boyfriend and I half an hour to work out how to open, and big pots of delicious fresh kimchi. 

6. Selfridges 

For my money, I'd say that Selfridges Food Hall is the most fun place to shop for food gifts in London. They have a great range of own brand products trussed up in their iconic bright yellow packaging and a whole floor area dedicated to luxury chocolates. Whether you're looking for gourmet popcorn or fancy condiments, Selfridges oozes max gift potential. And once you're done browsing the foodstuffs, you can pop down to the lower ground floor to pick up some cool kitchen gadgets.

7. Chockywoccydoodah

This artisan chocolate shop in Covent Garden is splendidly nuts (like all things hailing from Brighton). It's hard to describe the level of sumptuousness within, but if you read the book Count Munch as a child (about a sweet-toothed vampire who had to eat his way out of his own castle after a Vesuvius-type molten chocolate incident), it's pretty much this. Go ogle the ridiculous lavish cakes on display (beloved by celebs such as Elton John) and buy a slab of chocolate as big as your head.

8. Gerry's 

If you saw a curious bottle of green liquid whizz past you as you fell down a rabbit hole, chances are that if you describe it to the guys in Gerry's they'd be able to identify it for you then whip out a bottle of the stuff from under the counter. It's impossible to walk past the Soho shop window without pausing to peruse the dazzling array of bottles on sale, and stick your head inside and there's usually someone offering up a tot of some new spirit to try. Just say the word 'lychee' and you'll instantly have 15 different bottles of tipple lined up in front of you to choose from. The best place in London to buy bottle of something fancy and stock up on cocktail ingredients, hands down.