A Travel & Lifestyle Blog

Christmas Baubles: Su Chases, Old Amersham

Old Amersham is an unlikely Christmas shopping destination - I thought so too!
Ever since we moved into the area though, Su Chases shop in Old Amersham has become a favourite destination when Christmas comes around. It is an interior design shop with lots of home accessories, small furnishings and fabrics.


But around the end of November this pinky townhouse in the middle of the old town transforms into a warm, fairytale Christmas hub. It is my absolute favourite destination for baubles! Prices start from £3.5 and range up to £20 for the biggest bauble you'll ever see...the size of a small watermelon! 
 
 The Crown Inn courtyard (left), One of our new vintage decorations from Su Chases (right) 

This place makes me happy. 
You don't have to decide on a colour scheme before you get there. 
Every room is filled with different colours and all kinds of baubles; decorations are found on trees, in baskets, on garlands, hanging from the banisters & off chandeliers: glass, brass and copper even! 

And then there are the vintage baubles in smoky grey and silver, love them! There are fury ones and cotton-fabric wrapped ones and my absolute favourite this year: a clear glass bubble filled with fake snow and a white dove sitting on top! 

I've been twice this year already: once to buy some gifts for friends and then once more to buy some new decorations for our tree since...we cannot find our old ones. 
It's a bittersweet feeling. It's such a treat to buy new decorations but our old ones have been collected over the years and come with great memories; 

A couple of them came from Su Chases bought the first year we moved here, others came from an impromptu trip to Bruges over Guy Fawkes weekend, seven years ago, from De Witte Pelican, an all-year Christmas shop! 
I'll tell you about this another time, but if you find yourself in Bruges at any point during the year, look for it!  



Old Amersham is worth your time on a lazy weekend afternoon. 
The Crown Inn, an old wobbly-turned-shabby-chic coaching inn, offers the perfect fireside spot for afternoon tea. It was also the location where Hugh Grant's character stayed, in Four Weddings and a Funeral! You didn't know that, did you? 

The old Market Walk houses merchants selling anything from baked goods, to vintage books and toys and fresh Christmas wreaths, this time of the year. 




On sunny winter afternoons I like walking all along the main street in the old town. It's like an open air museum filled with history... you'll spot the cutest cottages, alongside grander townhouses, named after their previous tenants. 
 
I can't help but peek inside the cottages, every time I walk by; the wooden beams and old fireplaces fill little rooms and I'd love to pop in to have a cup of tea and hear old stories! 
 
Then don't forget to look over the rooftops, far in the background you'll spot the rolling Chiltern Hills...I remember them covered in snow a few years ago, such a treat! x

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Kourabiedes

It all starts with cognac and buttery fragrance when you whip the butter and sugar together...



Then comes the rosewater sizzling over hot, crumbly, fresh-baked cookies, filling the whole house with sweet aroma...

This is a traditional, old-fashioned, rich recipe.
Firstly, you will probably panick at the amount of butter needed; well, this recipe makes 100 pieces and it's put together for big, loud, Greek families;
Back in the day you'd take Kourabiedes to friend's homes as a seasonal gift. Not to forget that people used to pop in to see you and wish you Merry Christmas unannounced, so you needed something luxurious and yummy handy.
 
Then there is the old fashioned measuring system: saucers! They usually mean the saucer that came with their coffee cup. If you feel you can't swing 100 cookies then just half the amounts and the recipe works perfectly!
 
 
 
Ingredients (make 100 pieces):
 
- 1kg butter (I use half salted & half unsalted)
- 250gr roasted and chopped almonds
- 1.2kg all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 saucer of caster sugar
- 1 saucer of fine semolina
- Splash of Cognac or Brandy
- 1kg icing sugar
- Rosewater 
 
Leave the butter out for a couple of hours beforehand, to soften. If you are using unsalted butter only, then add a pinch of salt. It helps bring out the flavour of the butter and the rosewater. 
 
Whisk together the butter, baking powder, sugar, semolina and Cognac. 
In a separate bowl mix the flour and chopped almonds and combine with the butter mixture until you have a glossy, soft cookie dough texture. If the mixture is getting too warm making the individual cookies will prove tricky, so pop the mixture in the fridge between batches for 10 minutes. 
 
Line a baking tray with baking paper, no need to butter it. 
Using your hands, make small round balls and press them down slightly to make round cookies about 2inches in diameter and 1.5 inch high.
They will expand quite a bit, but make sure you give them enough thickness. You need to be able to take a good bite into the crumbly-buttery texture. 
 
Bake in a 200C oven for 20-25 minutes. Watch them closely, they cannot go darker than golden. 
 
Have another baking tray ready, dusted with icing sugar.
As soon as Kourabiedes are out of the oven sprinkle with rosewater - they sizzle and release the most intoxicating fragrance!
Carefully using a spatula move them on to the icing sugar. Put some more icing sugar in a small hand-held sieve and dust generously over the Kourabiedes. 
Let them cool down for a while and try restraining yourself from finishing them all off, before Christmas! My mother always reminds me that I have to guard them overnight when I first make them, so that my husband won't finish them off! x    

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