*MEGA-POST* Xmas Gift Guide 2021

Need some helpful advice on what foodie gifts are out there this year? Check this out! More will be added regularly so visit often for an ogle!

I owe this post to Fiona Uyema.

This morning, she shared a post on Facebook of a letter written by a 27 year old Australian woman terminally ill with cancer. Not many things make me want to burst out into tears but this one did.

We have been putting together for you a Christmas eBook for the last 3 years' but this years is a little different!

"I'm not really a fan of baked cheesecakes, if I'm being honest."

Mr Flavour and I have been in each other's pockets for 17 years. He's repeated this refrain at least once a year, and yet I have never made anything other than baked cheesecakes.

Writing about food is not an easy thing to do.  If we can refer to it as a "scene" for a moment; it is peppered with people like the vague-verb-police - you know, the ones who insist that describing something as beautiful or nice is next to useless as a description.

The beautiful and welcoming seaside town of Clonakilty has a reputation for firsts.  The first Fair Trade town in Ireland; Ireland’s first EDEN destination of excellence; the first Cittaslow town in Ireland for celebrating the multiple benefits of slow living and slow food and recently voted the Greatest Town in Europe at the AOU Awards in London.

It was exactly a week ago today that I was starting to experience a noticeable increase of the amount of butterflies in my tummy as I busied myself pulling together the final few bits and pieces before heading to the Celtic Ross Hotel to meet with Ireland’s finest Smoke & Fire chef: John Relihan and Decky Walsh, his head chef of Holy Smoke restaurant.

I may be slightly biased but I like to think that I do holidays really well (yes, that may be the sound of distant horns blowing).  Recently Mr Flavour and I set sail to Barcelona for the first time and we had a really great time.  Famed for its shopping and eating opportunities, Barcelona is a busy bustling city packed with art, culture and a love of eating and socialising but sadly also a troubling propensity for petty crime. 

I fear I can barely contain my excitement about the fact that it is finally full-blown squash season once more!  Yes, yes I know…it's all a bit "drama, drama" but genuinely, if autumn is my favourite food season, then the Squash is sitting pretty, right at the top of my pile of food loves, wearing a crown and winking!

*MEGA-POST* Xmas Gift Guide 2021

Need some helpful advice on what foodie gifts are out there this year? Check this out! More will be added regularly so visit often for an ogle!

Every year, I’m asked to compile a few Christmas Gift Guides for the various publications I write for, but I am always pressed for space and although I try my best its impossible to get everyone into these guides. Add to that most of them have a very fine Cork focus means that any ideas emanating from outside the Rebel County don’t get a look in – and that is a big shame.

So for the first time ever, I’m putting together a Christmas Gift Guide that will cover everything I love or has caught my eye and want to give a shout out too. Most things will have a foodie slant in some way, (one or two that don’t), and I will add to this over the coming weeks as more and more products launch their own Christmas gifting ideas.

So browse away! Scroll through the headings if you’re looking for something in particular, or ogle everything as you plan your gifting for this year.

Two things to note: please support local and Irish made this year – lord knows they need your support. Secondly, none of these links are affiliates or sponsored – these are things that honest to god I either have bought myself, sampled along the way or big fans of personally making this list about as unbiased and independent as you can get!

Happy browsing… it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

HAMPERS

I’ve always been a fan of hampers, and earlier on this year I predicted that Hampers would be the standout gifting option for Christmas 2020. I have been proved right, with some really amazing hampers curated by some of the best in the business and available for ordering online for delivery, or pre-order for collection.

The Glass Curtain – Festive Tote Bags, €90, €120 & €140 https://www.theglasscurtain.ie/#new-page-section

The Glass Curtain Deck the Halls Tote Hamper

The Glass Curtain have just celebrated their first year in business – I bet chef proprietor Brian Murray didn’t see what was coming down the line when he opened last year! Let’s hope 2021 is a little more plain sailing for him and his team!

Open for dining in as restrictions allow and bossing it to the max with their At Home service when they can’t, they have now also just released a range of three Christmas tote hampers for pre-order and collection on the 23rd and 24th December. Stuffed full with gastronomic delights and a bottle of champagne to get the festivities going, this is guaranteed to put a smile on your face because the cooking has been done for you – and all with the Glass Curtain’s signature flair and heady flavours!

Choose from The Cool Yule for €90, The Jolly Holly Vegetarian for €120, or the all-out Deck the Halls for €140 (picture above).

Sample contents for Deck the Halls are:

  • Bottle of Piper-Heidsieck, Cuvée Brut, NV, Champagne
  • Venison & Black Truffle hand-raised Pie & Pickled Walnut Relish
  • Milk Buns & Chicken Schmaltz
  • Duck Liver Paté & Mulled Wine Jelly
  • House Cured Salmon Pastrami & Herbed Crème Fraîche
  • Ballylisk triple cream Brie
  • Aged Ballinsrostig Gouda
  • Rye Crispbreads*
  • Beetroot Relish
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies & Salted Caramel Sauce
  • Popcorn: Caramel Crunch / White Chocolate & Macadamia Nuts / Dark Chocolate & Chilli Mince Pies
  • Mulled Wine Spice Bag* to be immersed in 750ml of red wine (not the best in the house), warmed over the stove with 100g of sugar, 2 slices of orange and lemon, and a dash of brandy.

Sounds heavenly doesn’t it?! Pre-order online at the website.

Sligo Food Trail Christmas Hampers, €65 – €150 www.sligofoodtrail.ie

Sligo Food Trail Deluxe Christmas Hamper

Brand new from Sligo Food Trail are two fabulous Christmas hampers, The Deluxe Sligo Food Trail Hamper and The Taste of Sligo Food Trail Hamper, showcasing the very best from the north west. It’s like a tasting tour around the county, a combination of delicious tastes and flavours with sweets, savouries and more besides.

As the old adage says “there’s eating and drinking in it”. In fact, there’s reading in the Deluxe Sligo Food Hamper too – with a copy of seaweed queen Prannie Rhatigan’s “Irish Seaweed Christmas Kitchen”. Most of the goodies will be enjoyed immediately, but the elegant Lough Gill Brewery beer glass, the charming Sligo Oyster Experience candle, a Yeats print from WB’s Coffee House and the book will all find permanent use in your home. A reminder to buy again next year perhaps?

Sweet treats include handmade chocolates by award winning chef Alan Fitzmaurice of the Glasshouse Hotel alongside sweets from Mammy Johnston’s better known for their world beating ice creams and sorbets.

The ruby-coloured ‘Christmas Cordial’ comes from the lovely folks at Murson’s Farm as does local Apple Juice, chutney and preserve. Along with aromatic coffee from Carrow Coffee and handmade Granola from WB’s, that’s Christmas breakfast done and dusted. A Christmas Pudding from The Gourmet Parlour and some craft beer from Lough Gill Brewery complete the festive hamper.

Toonsbridge Dairy Cheese & Crackers Hamper, €27 https://www.therealoliveco.com/collections/food-boxes

Cheese and Crackers Hamper from Toonsbridge Dairy

For Toonsbridge Dairy, 2020 was the year they opened a branch far far away from their West Cork based – in Dublin! Both shops, as well as their perennial stall at the English Market, have been flying with provisions as well as online sales, so no surprise that they are also offering a variety of hampers for online purchase available for collection at either their original Toonsbridge shop near Macroom, or their Dublin site; as well as some items available for nationwide delivery.

I’m particularly taken with their cheese and cracker hamper, if only for the Hay-Smoked Scamorza – one of my favourite cheeses from this dairy!

Scroll down to the Sweet Treats section for another little surprise from the dairy that you should beat a path down the road for…

The Little Blas Box from Blas na hEireann, Dingle, Co Kerry www.irishfoodawards.com/blas-box

The Blas na hEireann Blas Box

The large Blas Box may have already sold out, but the Blas team have put together their Little Blas Box available to order from their website.

The Little Blas Box features a little treat of coffee and handmade chocolates from 2 of this year’s Gold Award winners. The little parcel of treats includes Velo Coffee from Cork and Clotilde’s Handmade Boozy Truffles from Co. Sligo. The little Blas Box is €20 which includes postage to anywhere in Ireland. The perfect stocking filler!

Burren Smokehouse – Co Clare www.burrensmokehouse.com

The Burren Breakfast

The renowned Burren Smokehouse in Lisdoonvarna, Co Clare has the perfect selection of hampers to gift a taste of Ireland this Christmas with prices starting from €50.00. 

The “Burren Basket” and the “Burren Breakfast Basket” were launched earlier this year in response to the adverse effects of the pandemic on visits from tourists and feature a selection of products from the region as a result of collaboration between members of the Burren Food Trail.   

The Burren Basket comes in two sizes and includes smoked salmon from the Burren Smokehouse, St Tola Irish Goat Cheese, gouda from Aillwee Cave, black and white pudding from Market House and beetroot chutney from Burren Fine Wine & Food.   

The Burren Breakfast consists of a brown soda bread mix and granola from Stonecutters’ Kitchen in the Cliffs of Moher, Burren Whiskey Marmalade from Burren Fine Wine & Food, Burren Gold Gouda with Garlic and Nettle from Aillwee Cave,  Burren Cold Smoked Irish Organic Salmon and Burren Hot Smoked Irish Organic Salmon with Honey, Lemon and Pepper from the Burren Smokehouse. 

Christmas Shoppers can also create their own personalised hamper from a selection of products in the online shop and for the ultimate gift, the Luxury Hamper by the Burren Smokehouse showcases a multitude of products from the Burren and the Wild Atlantic Way along with a bottle of champagne, Galway Crystal champagne flutes, a bottle of JJ Corey “The Banner Blend” Whiskey from Co Clare and Galway Crystal whiskey tumblers. 

Gifts can be delivered to every corner of Ireland and beyond.  A number of items may be shipped to non EU counties including USA and Japan.

Wildwood Vinegars Limited Edition Gift Box, Co Mayo via www.husseysfarm.com

Wildwood Vinegars Limited Edition Gift Box

Fionntán Gogarty of Wildwood Vinegars has produced a truly exquisite seasonally-inspired gift box for the Christmas market. Just 365 individually numbered Wildwood Four Season Collection gift boxes have been made; one for each day of the year. Within it, nestling amongst seeds, spices and lichens are four special edition barrel-aged Balsamics, each the essence of its season:

  • Wild Elderflower and Wild Rose Petal for Spring
  • Wild Mountain Thyme and Wild Fuchsia Blossom for Summer
  • Wild Blackberry for Autumn (aged for 6 years)
  • Wild Elderberry with Star Anise for Winter (aged for 6 years)

The gift box itself is beautifully presented, and is in itself a voyage of discovery, featuring inside a sheet entitled ‘The Seasons at Wildwood’ with a thoughtful exploration of each seasonal offering accompanied by a relevant quote. This also explains the Wildwood ethos – recycling Italian glass bottles, sustainable Portuguese cork and offsetting carbon used in foraging and delivery through seven acres of fields reserved for birds and a forest of 30,000 trees. Also included is a pack of wild bee and butterfly seeds encouraging each recipient to continue the cycle in their locality.

The Wildwood Vinegars Four Season Collection gift box costs €80 and is available exclusively available through www.husseysfarm.com for delivery nationwide. Fionntán Gogarty can be contacted at info@wildwoodvinegars.com

Caitlin Ruth Food, Timoleague, Co Cork www.instagram.com/caitlinruthfood

Caitlin Ruth Food Hampers: The Hot Box & Christmas Eve Box

Could this be the hamper we’ve all been waiting for?

This time last year, those of us who frequented Deasy’s Restaurant just outside Clonakilty in West Cork to dine on Ciatlin’s exquisite food were heartbroken to hear she would be leaving the kitchen behind and embarking on a new adventure. But on more than one occasion this year, Caitlin saved many of us with her incredible food as she struck out on her own! Firstly with her Meal and Cocktail Kits through Neighbourfood, virtual cookery classes and then, as restrictions lifted, popping up with her new food truck serving up incredible food as well as a sell out four week residency at Levis’s in Ballydehob.

Now, to get us all through the Christmas, she has literally handcrafted two different hamper offerings. A Hot Box full of steamy hot chili delights using every one, it seems, of Jonathan Doig’s organically grown West Cork chillies and made for gifting to the hot sauce lover in your life. The other, a Christmas Eve Box, Caitlin promises to fill with as much lovely stuff as she possibly can so you don’t have to do any cooking on Christmas Eve! Simply unpack, heat a few things, and lay out a feast for you and whoever you can be with this Christmas Eve and relax with them instead of worrying about cooking! Comes with a choice of a bottle of red or white wine.

Be quick to order, there are only 100 each of the boxes available and I’ve already got my order in! Order direct from Caitlin via her Instagram page, or these items will also be for pre-order via Timoleague and Lisavaird Neighbourfood markets.

Diva Boutique Bakery’s F*ck Covid Hamper, Co Cork https://www.divaboutiquebakery.com/shop

Diva Boutique Bakery F*ck Covid Hamper

This Christmas hamper has a special bottle of wine that will put a smile on anyone’s face! 

With it’s F**K Covid label the Antolini Moropio Amarone, from Pier Paulo Antolini is elegant, rich and full bodied- with balancing acidity & soft tannins. Paired with gorgeous cheeses that includes, Stilton, Durrus & Irish cheddar, Ditty’s oat cakes, a selection of delicious Spanish charcuterie, Diva fig & cranberry chutney & spiced nuts.  This hamper can easily serve four as a pre-dinner treat or a generous cheese & charcuterie board for two.

Skellig Six18 Gin & Truffles Hamper, Co Kerry https://skelligsix18distillery.ie/shop/

Skellig Six18 Gin and Truffles Hamper

I visited the Skellig Six18 distillery back in September on our staycation, tasted the gin and was blown away by the quality of this new Irish gin, distilled on the Skellig Coast in County Kerry.

With a total of ten botanicals, the defining aromatics of Skellig Six18 Gin include locally foraged Yarrow, fresh Douglas Fir needles and Birch sap, delivering a herbaceous Gin with citrus and pink grapefruit notes. The perfect aperitif.

Their neighbours further along the coastline, Skellig Chocolates, have joined forces with Skellig Six18 for this Hamper collaboration, who have fused Skellig Six18 gin and pink grapefruit in a delicious Skellig Chocolate truffle.

  • 1x Skellig Six18 Pot Still Gin 70cl, 43.4% Alc. Vol
  • 1x Box of 10 Skelligs Dark Chocolate Gin Truffles
  • 2x Poacher’s Irish Classic Tonic Water 200ml

Ballyvolane House Hampers, Co Cork https://shop.ballyvolanehouse.ie/

Ballyvolane House – Great Outdoors Hamper

Ballyvolane House have compiled three gorgeous hampers with either their house-distilled Bertha’s Revenge Gin or seasonal Sloe Gin as the centrepoint. Choose from The Great Indoors, The Great Outdoors or House Favourites.

The Great Outdoors Hamper caught my eye, and is the perfect gift for the adventurous type who loves to explore nature and the wild along with a cheeky tipple!

  • Award winning Bertha’s Revenge sloe gin 50cl (distilled at Ballyvolane House)
  • Opinel 8.5cm pocket knife
  • Stanley green hipflask
  • “Wild Food” Foraging Book by Biddy White Lennon and Evan Doyle
  • Mini Herd immunity Bertha’s sanitiser (50ml)
  • Handwritten Personalised Message

Restaurant Chestnut Roots Larder Box & Pop Up Shop https://www.restaurantchestnutwestcork.ie/

Restaurant Chestnut Roots Larder Box

The Roots Larder Box is a curated larder collection of preserves, pickles and ferments inspired by Chef Proprietor, Rob Krawczyk’s, culinary heritage. These are core root ingredients that Rob uses in his every cooking, and puts a little bit of Michelin-starred Restaurant Chestnut into your everyday cooking at home too!

The Scullery Christmas Gift Set, Co Tipperary https://www.thescullery.ie/shop/wrapped-up-for-christmas/

The Scullery Christmas Gift Set

A beautiful range of products from Florrie Purcell dazzle and shine with the tastes and aromas of a traditional Irish Christmas! The Scullery’s Christmas Gift Set includes:

380g1 x Luxury Handmade Christmas Pudding – Small 380g
140g1x Luxury Brandy Butter
190g1 x Cranberry Sauce
190g1 x Florrie’s Ham Glaze
190g1 x Mulled Christmas Chutney
320g1 x Relish of your choice

Normally, Florrie would be busy out and about selling her delicious goodies at festive fayres, which means every order really counts for her this year!

Lismore Food Company, Hamper Collections, Co Waterford https://thelismorefoodcompany.com/

Lismore Food Company Hamper Collection

The Lismore Food Company family history in fine food and drink stretches back some 200 years as grocers, bakers and wine and spirit merchants in both Cork city and Lismore, Co. Waterford. They are proud to continue this fine tradition of delivering excellence and sharing their passion for deliciousness and visual splendour with you. 

Hands down, probably some of the most beautifully packaged hampers I’ve seen this year. Prices start from €30 to €120 and include Vegan and GF options, all packed with their luxury sweet and savoury treats.

Rebel Chilli Hamper, Co Cork https://shop.rebelchilli.com/

Rebel Chilli Hamper

A selection of all your favourite Rebel Chilli sauces. The perfect gift for the heat lover in your life, and includes:

  • Red Sweet Chilli with Lemongrass & Ginger
  • Green Sweet Chilli with Lemongrass and Ginger
  • Jalapeno and Raspberry Jelly
  • Hot Habanero Relish
  • Chillionaire
  • Barrel Aged Hot Sauce
  • Korean BBQ

Nash19 Christmas Hampers, Co Cork www.nash19.com

Nash19 Christmas Hamper

Clare Nash curates one of Cork’s best loved selection of hampers, and are the end result of a whole years’ worth of research, tasting and testing to ensure only the best goes into their incredible hampers. Everything, including the packaging, can be either used or eaten and will always include a book selected by Claire and a number of exquisite fine wines and spirits. Prices start from €160 all the way up to the show stopper at just shy of €500.

Green Dot Design Shop, Gift Boxes and Care Packages, Co Cork www.greendotdeignshop.com

Customisable Gift Boxes from Green Dot Design Shop

Situated in the heart of Clonakilty’s Creative Quarter, Lisa Tongue’s design shop draws on the best of Cork’s makers in art and food to offer customisable gift boxes starting from as little and €2.90 – set your own budget and choose what to go into the gift box. Nationwide delivery available, or click and collect.

Sage 2G0 Bespoke Hampers, Co Cork https://sage.tablepath.com/sage-2go#/bespoke-food-hampers_4939

Sage 2gO Bespoke Hampers

Kevin Aherne is Cork’s Renaissance Man! Having taken the decision to put down the tweezers and turn his Midleton restaurant into a casual neighbourhood eatery, Covid hit and so he created Sage 2gO, a click and collect takeout service and provisions store of locally made and produced foods and drinks as well as a weekly changing selection of heat and eat at home dishes.

Keeping up with this new found fleet footedness comes Sage 2gO Bespoke Hampers for the Christmas season! Choose from a selection of curated hampers ranging in price from €60-200, as well as a range of wine hampers and even the nicest presented Bag O’Cans for the beer lover in your life! The one thing Kevin didn’t pivot away from in 2020 is his 12-Mile ethos, so you can be sure that everything is as local as it can possibly be!

The Roughty Foodie, at the English Market Cork City

Roughty Foodie Cork Hampers

A treasure trove of wonderful things to eat, The Roughty Foodie has been offering Self-Care Hampers since Lockdown 1, and are no strangers to putting together a generously filled hamper – even if you’re one of those running around at 4pm on Christmas Eve looking for a last minute gift! Made up to order, or pre-made up to slip away with, there’s plenty to choose from and always fantastic value for money!

Michael Twomey Butchers, Meat Hampers, Co Cork, www.mtwomeybutchers.ie

Michael Twomey Butchers Hampers

A meat hamper might not be the first kind of hamper that springs to mind, but this will be the perfect gift for a committed carnivore, someone who loves nothing more than to BBQ in the middle of winter or adores a cooked breakfast. On a practical note, this could also be a great gift to give to a friend or family member who might be struggling a bit with grocery shopping in this Covid year, either getting out to the shops or finding it hard to afford a really good quality piece of meat this Christmas.

A lovely range of hampers from the small Breakfast Cracker Hamper at €19.95 to the all-out King of the Castle Hamper at €185 (see above), with lots of options in between to suit any number of budgets!

Twomey’s have outlets in Macroom, Bantry and Bandon as well as an online order and delivery service direct from their website.

Fused by Fiona Uyema – Japanese Inspired Christmas Hampers https://fusedbyfionauyema.com/shop/

Fused by Fiona Uyema Christmas Hampers

Festive hampers from Fiona Uyema, Ireland’s Japanese cookery-at-home specialist! Centered around products from her successful Fused by Fiona Uyema range, she has curated a variety of fun hampers for sweet and savoury tastes. At the moment, buy direct from her online shop and get 10% off all orders for delivery to ROI and NI.

URRU Culinary Store, Bandon, Co Cork www.urru.ie

Ruth Healy, proprietor of Urru Culinary Store in Bandon, the gateway to West Cork, knows a thing or to about what it takes to put together a great hamper! Such is the trust I place in Ruth means I can just phone up, give a budget, pay and collect without ever having to worry about a thing!

Ruth is always happy to help with those nervous with still heading into shops, so orders can be placed via phone, email or online at www.urru.ie. Delicious things, always!

***

COURSES & TOURS

Food tourism took a battering this year, but what has been heartening is how cookery schools and food tour guides found ways to move what they do online. They’ll be back in person just as soon as they can, and they have offerings for that, but there are online and socially distant offerings too, and you’ll find information about that here too!

Éalú Experiences, Online Food Experiences with the Experts! www.ealuexperiences.com

Éalú Experiences provides online tutorials and gifts with leading Irish chefs and experts

Éalú Experiences is a curated collection of gift experiences including exclusive video masterclasses from the very best of Irish experts, handpicked Irish products and recipes for memorable moments. Whether it is for your friends or family, an Éalú Experience is the perfect gift and way to celebrate and connect this Christmas and all-year round.

Each gift box is a one-off collaboration, featuring recipes, ingredients, cocktail kits, and other delights from renowned stars and includes a video masterclass with the relevant expert, easily accessed by a QR code and link for you to watch and enjoy at a time of your choosing. 

A sample of the selection of experiences on offer include:

  • For the Perfect Night In: Classic Wine & Cheese with Brigid O’Hora: Enjoy a delicious selection of Irish cheeses Brigid’s introductory masterclass offers a little bit of wine intrigue in a fun yet informative way. Her enjoyable format is designed to offer some empowering tips and tricks, enabling you to make more informed choices on your own personal wine journey.
  • For the Family: Family Baking Masterclass with Kevin Dundon: Have some fun in the kitchen and enjoy this gift box with Kevin demonstrating how to make his family-favourite, Rainbow Cake. Then have some light-hearted fun with our Monopoly Deal Card Game, while enjoying our mix of classic treats for the whole family (you can even choose to add a bottle of wine for the adults!).
  • For the Chocaholic: Chocolate Lovers’ Experience with Paul Kelly of The Merrion Hotel: Bring your chocolate fantasies to life with this themed gift box with a video masterclass from Paul Kelly, Executive Pastry Chef of The Merrion, Dublin. One of Ireland’s best pastry chefs, Paul will demonstrate how you can create your own indulgent Chocolate Fondant and Toffee Popcorn dessert at home. Plus, in the second video masterclass in this gift box, mixologist Federico Riezzo will create the perfect Baileys Christmas Cocktails to enjoy while you watch!

Other experiences include The Irish Coffee and Macaroons Experience from Dublin’s Michelin-starred Chapter One, Chocolate Lovers’ Experience with Paul Kelly of The Merrion Hotel and Tacos & Gin Cocktails with Virtual Chef Erica Drum and Mixologist Federico Riezzo.

Éalú Experiences gift boxes can be delivered to yours or your loved one’s home address across Ireland and abroad. Prices from €42.35.

Galtee Honey Farm – Beekeeping and Honey Tasting Experience, €30 (adults), €20 (children) www.galteehoney.com

Bee Keeping and Honey Tasting Experience with Galtee Honey Farm

A day learning the basics of Bee Keeping is such fun! I went on one myself a few years ago in Cork and I still have fond memories of it and fervent dreams of one day being a bee keeper myself – if only there were more hours in the day!

On the edge of an ancient woodland in the shade of the Galtee Mountains, a visit to this honey farm, famous for producing excellent quality honey flavoured with wild botanicals the bees feed upon, as well as their handmade bees wax candles, you can indulge in day learning all about the fascinating honey bee!

Dates available June 12th, June 26th, July 10th. Please make a note when ordering your preferred date and time and the farm will contact you to confirm the date. Group size is a maximum of 8 and the experience lasts for up to 2 hours.
Put on a beesuit, open a hive and see the bees up close! Taste 6 honeys (3 rare ones not for sale), sample a glass of Mead (optional) and learn about
History & Heritage of Beekeeping; Honey; Beeswax; Propolis; Pollen; The Life of Honey Bees and Biodiversity.

To book your experience, visit the website and navigate to the shop, browse all the amazing products! Here you will find half day and full day Experiences to purchase for yourself, and if buying as a gift, let them know and they will ship out to you a gift-wrapped voucher!

Picado Mexican – Virtual Kitchen, Dublin & Nationwide https://www.picadomexican.com/pages/classes

Learn to make Tamales and more like a pro with Picado Mexican Kitchen

The wonderful, effervescent and talented Lily Ramirez Foran has just launched her new Virtual Kitchen offering a series of Live Cooking Demonstrations, Online Masterclasses and, when it is safe to do so once more, In Person Classes too!

Getting a spot on one of Lily’s small in-person classes has been a challenge that I have not yet overcome, so to hear that Lily has spent this year designing and creating new online content to reach more people means that now I can book in from the comfort of my own kitchen and learn from Dublin’s mistress of Mexican cookery!

Lily says: “Let us bring the warmth and conviviality of Mexican food directly to your home anywhere in the world. Whether you want to master your tortilla making skills, or to add a few traditional Mexican home cooked recipes to your repertoire, our virtual kitchen is ready for you any time! So join us for one of our scheduled live cooking classes, or for one of our Masterclass experiences on demand.

I says: “YES!”

This is all still very new so Lily will be uploading content and scheduling classes over time. In the meantime though, consider purchasing a Masterclass voucher worth €85 which can be used towards any of the Masterclasses when they go live. I can’t wait for this – it’s going to be great!

Ballymaloe Cookery School – Online, Co Cork https://www.ballymaloecookeryschool.online/why-sign-up

Ballymaloe Cookery School Online

During this Covid Year, Ballymaloe Cookery School unveiled their virtual school! Running paid for courses as well as free to view livestreamed demonstrations, to debates and more, all the while working on a catalogue of video content from foraging walks in the gardens with Darina, to talks with the gardeners, fireside chats with renowned chefs, as well as wine tasting, cheese making, bread school and all of those cookery demonstrations usually held in person at the school.

It’s an impressive collection of materials and they all now make up The Ballymaloe Cookery School – Online. Membership is €100 per month of €500 for the year, and if you are a past student of the cookery school, you’ll get an extra €100 off the annual membership cost. It’s brilliant, and I sincerely hope this lands into my Christmas stocking this year!

Galway Food Tours Guide Book, Co Galway https://galwayfoodtours.com/shopgft/

Galway Food Tours Guide Book

Sheena and Gosia will be back giving their well-loved tours just as soon as restrictions are lifted (and you can buy a voucher in advance of that), but in the gap between, the duo worked to create their tours in book form – a great idea!

The Galway Food Tours Guide Book brings together over 40 of Sheena and Gosia’s personal suppliers as well as most loved parts of the city.

This keepsake pocketbook reveals what they particularly love about Galway, its people and the great places to eat, drink superb wines and creamy pints; attend small, independent cultural events and share the simple pleasures in life.

Of course, there is the inside track on where to visit, eat and drink but also vouchers and discounts in their collaborative partner’s locations too. It’s all Galway really!

Woodcock Smokery – The Keep, Co Cork www.woodcocksmokery.com

Wild Fish Masterclasses at The Keep with Sally Barnes (photo: Max Jones @uptherethelast)

In 2019, Sally Barnes, founder of Woodcock Smokery and a master of her craft, set to work developing a new workshop space on the site of her famous smokery, called The Keep. The scene was set for a great year of interactive learning experiences; booking were looking sweet – it looked like the gamble would pay off. But then – Covid. Instead, 2020 has seen Sally and her small team work tirelessly to preserve the bounty from ocean and river and find new routes to market for her incredible fish – embracing online sales and delivery.

Sally has come out of this even more resilient, and is even more ready to say Adios to 2020 and welcome people to The Keep in 2021 for her workshops. Book now, and receive a 5% discount on selected course fees when using the Discount Code ‘KEEPTHEFIREBURNING’ at Checkout. Courses are due to commence again from March 2021.

Kinsale Food Tours, Co Cork www.kinsalefoodtours.com

Taste the Town – with Kinsale Food Tours

Suzanne Burns took her Kinsale Food Tour and recreated it as an activity for small groups of friends or family, a seaside picnic and foraging tour and even a Dine At Home version where tastes of the tour would be delivered to you at home! These options are all ready to go for when restrictions linger longer, as well as returning to the traditional format as soon as possible!

Contact via the website to inquire about all of these options, and be ready for when Suzanne is ready to once more take groups around with her in the beautiful town of Kinsale!

Kinsale Mead – Online Mead Talk & Tasting, Co Cork www.kinsalemeadco.ie

Kinsale Mead – Online Mead Talk & Tasting

Spend a fun hour exploring mead and honey through Irish legends, tales and history, sample a selection of our Irish Meads and learn about some delicious food pairings and easy to make mead cocktails for autumn and winter as we guide you through tasting four delicious mead samples.

Take your seat in the comfort of your own home and join Kate & Denis Dempsey, Ireland’s leading Mead-makers, on Zoom, live from the meadery.

New courses are posted up in the Mead Shop online – note there is a Book By date fo each course to allow time for your mead tasting kit to get sent out to you. This is a brilliant way to get-together for friends and family too, to contact the Meadery to see about booking a private group event just for you too!

The Tasting Kit includes:

  • 4 x 50ml Mead miniature sample bottles: Atlantic Dry Mead, Wild Red Mead and Hazy Summer Mead as well as our limited edition Merlot Barrel Aged Wild Red Mead
  • 1 meadery exclusive Kinsale Mead Co. tasting glass
  • 1 tasting card
  • 5% discount on your next purchase from our online shop.
  • Guided tasting with Mead Makers, Kate & Denis, live on Zoom.

A new online adventure sampling and talking about all things mead online. Ask a friend or two to join in as well with their own tasting kit, and Kate & Denis will even send out suggested easy-to-prepare snacks to pair with each mead, savoury and sweet.

A great way to get together while staying apart.

Irish School of Cheese – Academy of Cheese, Level 1 Online Course https://academyofcheese.org/courses/irish-school-of-cheese/

Irish School of Cheese – Academy of Cheese

The Irish School of Cheese, Academy of Cheese, Level 1 online course is suitable for anyone who loves cheese!  Previous delegates include cheese lovers from around the World, chefs, sommeliers, hospitality industry and foodservice specialists, café and delicatessen owners.  All are welcome.

The course is a great way to brighten up an evening in the comfort of your own home or direct to your pc no matter where you are. Learn about the world of 25 of the World’s most iconic cheeses on a date that suits you, perhaps even join up with friends. The course is structured in a fun way to include group exercises, videos, slide presentation, group discussions and lots of cheese tasting.

The course fee includes:

  • Three 2.5 hours session over three weeks delivered over Zoom by Avril Molloy;
  • 11 cheeses delivered to your door (Republic of Ireland only) if you choose the ‘including cheese’ option in the course booking;
  • Delegates who choose the ‘without cheese’ course will be sent a list of the cheeses they will need;
  • The Academy of Cheese Delegate pack, including their book of 25 Level 1 cheeses and Academy branded tasting notes, tasting wheel and Standard Approach to Tasting sheets;
  • One year’s access to the Academy of Cheese website including the Cheese Library containing 100’s of cheeses;
  • Personal login to the Academy’s online study tool the ‘Learning Road’ which tracks your progress through the syllabus;
  • Access to the Level 1 online exam of 30 multiple choice questions in 30 minutes;
  • Upon successful passing of the exam, you will receive a frame-able certificate and pin badge;
  • A maximum of 10 people per course.

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COFFEE SUBSCRIPTIONS

Cork has become well known for its independent coffee houses, and the past five years have seen the independent coffee roasters follow on producing simply brilliant coffee. Each roastery has its own approach, style, ethos and methodology meaning that no two coffee subscriptions will never be alike! We’ve been subscribers to an artisan coffee roaster for over two years now and we haven’t looked back! There’s just no better was to appreciate you morning Cuppa Joe! Here are my pick of the best roasters from Cork. Check them out, but also check out whose roasting coffee in your area and see what they are doing too!

West Cork Coffee, Innishannon www.westcorkcoffee.ie

Huge fan of Tony’s coffee, his selection process and roasting methods. Drinking West Cork Coffee is an education in a cup. Hugely enjoyable.

Subscriptions from €38. Choose duration and grind.

Stone Valley Roasters, Clonakilty www.stonevalleyroasters.com

John and Tom are the musicians and coffee roasters extraordinaire. Fantastic lads roasted great coffee. They’ve just expanded their operation too, so now’s a great time to hook into what these guys are doing.

6 and 12 month subscriptions priced at €75 and €150 respectively.

SOMA Coffee Co, Cork City www.somacoffeecompany.ie

Where I gravitate to whenever I’m in Cork City, and I can’t deny that I have serious Grá for this coffee house. The coffee is designed to be strong enough to keep the fire going inside – perfect for when the workload is heavy!

3, 6 and 12 month subscriptions available priced at €40, 80 and 160. Order online, roasted and posted to your door.

Velo Coffee Roasters, Cork City www.velocoffee.ie

The success story of Velo coming from a cafe in the city centre in 2017 to supplying a major multiple retailer on a nationwide basis gives you some small sense of the achievement of founder Rob Horgan!

A variety of subscription packages available from €10.50 – €28.50. Order online, delivered to your door ensuring you never run out of coffee again!

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SWEET THINGS

Chocolate, sweets and cakes – whether an adult or a child, they bring out the happy in a big way.

Toonsbridge Dairy, Cannoli Boxes (Collection Cork and Dublin only) www.therealoliveco.com

Toonsbridge Cannoli Boxes

The things I would do for Cannoli… whipped and sweetened mascarpone cheese flavoured with chocolate, pistachios and candied citrus – a divine little mouthful, sinful and utterly worth every bite!

Toonsbridge Dairy is selling boxes of their handmade Cannoli from their stall at The English Market, Cork and their Dublin branch too. Too delicate for delivery, collection only applies. Rumours abound of a permanent Cannoli stand at the English Market for the month of December. Yum…

5 filled cannoli presented in a gift box, €17.50.

Wildberry Bakery, Brownie Box, Co Cork www.wildberrybakery.com

Wildberry Bakery Rose and Pistachio Brownie Box

Luxury baked treats and indulgent cake slices, handmade to order and 100% Gluten Free! Wildberry Bakery is a multiple award winning GF bakery with indulgent treats that are just gorgeous – whether you’re GF or not! Earlier this year the bakery began taking orders on a delicious range of brownies. 15 tasty treats in each box with flavours such as Pistachio and Rose (above), Salted Caramel, Peanut Butter, Chocolate Orange and more!

Order before Friday for next week nationwide delivery.

Diva Boutique Bakery – Christmas Cookie Gift Box www.divaboutiquebakery.com

Diva’s Christmas Cookie Gift Box

Making a second appearance in this Mega Post is Diva Boutique Bakery with their Christmas Cookie Gift Box – perfect gift for someone…or make that someone you and enjoy a beautiful buttery selection of handmade cookies and cakes!

Order online for delivery or collection from under the Hatch in Ballinspittle! €30.

Arcane Chocolate Christmas Tress and Jewels www.arcanechocolate.com

Marrying exquisite flavours with artistry and craftsmanship, Arcane Chocolate’s whimsical Christmas collection should be on every chocolate lover’s list this year. Created by Dublin-based Belgian chocolatier, Erik Van der Veken, each piece is handmade and decorated using the finest techniques and ingredients.

Arcane Chocolate Trees

Chocolate Christmas Trees
Handmade in 70% dark couverture or 38% milk couverture, these magnificent limited edition chocolate Christmas trees are the ultimate centrepiece for your festive table this year. Individually decorated with caramelised hazelnuts, honey-roasted pecans, Iranian pistachios, goji berries and dried cranberries, each bejewelled chocolate tree is designed to be devoured. Stands 18cm tall on an 18 cm wide base. €59.

Arcane Christmas Jewels

Christmas Jewels
The perfect stocking filler for chocolate connoisseurs, each box comprises 9 handmade and hand painted Christmas chocolates, each filled with an exquisite festive centre. Flavours include rich Black Forest with Kirsch and Wildwood balsamic reduction; Irish Cream, with silky white chocolate ganache and bourbon vanilla; Mulled Wine with Chianti ganache and Irish honey; Marrakech, a zesty mandarin caramel with Moroccan spiced ganache; and Salted Caramel, Arcane’s signature filling with Irish butter and Tahitian vanilla. €16.50.

Arcane Chocolate Christmas Trees (550g) cost €59 each available online at www.arcanechocolate.com for local pick-up (Dublin only).
Arcane Chocolate’s Christmas Jewels gift boxes cost €16.50 and are available from The Butler’s Pantry, Cliff at Lyons, Fallon & Byrne and Forest Avenue Green Grocers and Arnotts, Dublin 1.

Exploding Tree – Fairtrade Chocolate, Handmade from the bean. www.explodingtree.com

Exploding Tree Selection Box

There’s always plenty to choose from Exploding Tree’s online shop: the truffles, fruit and nut mendiants, gift bundles of chocolate bars and The Experimenters Kit which is a great way to explore all the other ways you can cook with and eat chocolate. There is also a Chocolate Subscription – there isn’t much moe exciting that the prospect of chocolate dropping through the letterbox every month.

But I also love the Chocolate Selection box, and that’s what I want to showcase here! The Exploding Tree Selection Box contains 8 x 25g bars and a tasting card. The perfect gift for a craft chocolate lover, perhaps paired with a bottle of craft whiskey or a nice bottle of red? Choose from:

  • Mix with Milk – contains : Salt & Seaweed, 100% Pure, Dark Orange, Creamy Oat, Garden Mint, Eighty Eight%, Goats’ Milk, Irish Milk
  • Darker & Dairy-Free – contains: Salt & Seaweed, 100% Pure, Dark Orange, Creamy Oat, Garden Mint, Eighty Eight%, Chai & Chilli, Coffee + Cocoa

All items are available at the Exploding Tree online shop.

Shandon Sweets / Linehans www.shandonsweets.com

Shandon Sweets Goodie Bags and Old Fashioned Sweets

Shandon Sweets is a traditional Irish, multi-award winning Sweet Factory and shop located in the famous Shandon Quarter of Cork City. Sweets have been made at this site by the Linehan family since 1929. Their sweets are handmade, using traditional methods & original machinery, dating back to the early 1900’s. The process hasn’t changed much over the years and to this day everything is still made by hand.

​The famous sweet shop is open Monday – Friday and some Saturdays too (check social media for seasonal opening times) for anyone that needs to fulfill a lifelong dream of being a kid in a candy shop! Goodie bags and sweetie hampers are available from the Shandon shop, and a new webshop is currently in process for local collection initially, but deliveries to follow!

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DRINKS

I firmly believe Cocktails were the saviour of 2020! Cocktail parties on zoom and new craft cocktail mixers keeping us in expertly blended cocktails without any of the faff – just shake and serve. I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely keeping this going over Christmas…and beyond! But of course, it’s not just about the cocktails – there’s also craft beer and spirits to consider too!

MONK Batched Cocktail Gift Boxes – www.franwellshop.com

MONK Batched Cocktail Gift Sets

The cocktail bar over the Franciscan Well was flying high before 2020 kicked it in the balls, however with the ever innovative and creative Kate Clancy keeping the engines fired and moving forward, was it ever a surprise that they are now selling Cocktail gift boxes online! A choice of four different batched cocktail flavours (Espresso Martini, Pornstar Martini, Sex on the Beach and Old Fashioned) in a variety of different gift boxes are just the thing for the cocktail lover in your life. Jut shake and serve! But if beer is not your thing, don’t dispair! Craft beer gift boxes are also available, as well as growlers too.

Citywide delivery via Deliveroo and Nationwide by courier too.

Foxglove Cocktails, “Host with the Most” Craft Cocktail Mixers Kits www.instagram.com/foxglovecocktails

Foxglove Cocktails Host with the Most Craft Cocktail Mixers Kit

Host with the Most this Christmas with the ‘Love Foxglove’ Christmas range!
‘Boxed Love x Foxglove’ cocktail mixer gift box contains 3 mixers, 3 garnishes and a recipe card so everyone can become a bartender this Christmas!

🍇Blackberry + Ginger (candied ginger garnish included)
🍊Grapefruit + Rosemary Sour (dried lemon wheels included)
🍎Spiced Apple + Cinnamon (dried apple chips included)

All 3 mixers can be paired with vodka, gin, whiskey or sparkling water. We have changed our packaging slightly for this box, so they will last 8-10 weeks, before opening.

‘Boxed Love x Foxglove’ €20

Also available is their ‘Mulled wHyne’ Mulled Wine Mix, perfect for entertaining with each jar suitable for 2 bottles of wine! Just combine the dry mix with 2 bottles of wine over the stove, and wait for that incredible Christmas aroma to engulf your home!

‘Mulled wHyne’ Mulled Wine Mix €6

All packs are available from Foxglove at Mahon Point Market, or DM them via their Instagram Page and collect your order for Collection Friday afternoons on Lancaster Quay in Cork City.

Eight Degrees Brewing – Beer & Coffee Gift Pack www.eightdegrees.ie

Eight Degrees Brewing Beer and Coffee Gift Pack

The Mitchelstown brewery are partnering with Mitchelstown Roastery Badger & Dodo for this years Beer and Coffee Gift Pack, featuring beers from the breweries recent Munro series.

Contains 2 x 440ml cans of IRISH MUNRO Series releases: The Black Road Campfire Porter + Fort of the Fianna Belgian IPA + 1 x 250g bag of Badger & Dodo Blackwater Blend coffee (ground) in a branded box.

Priced €14.95 and available from the online shop.

The Shelbourne Cork, Whiskey Boxes https://www.theshelbournecork.ie/the-perfect-gift

The Shelbourne Whiskey Gift Boxes (The Curator’s Choice, pictured)

The Shelbourne Bar, Cork, Whiskey Gift boxes are the perfect way to enjoy premium Irish Whiskey in the comfort of your own home. Each bottle is accompanied by individual tasting notes, enhancing the delicate tastes and complexity of each whiskey. Each box also includes a QR code, allowing the recipient to download a video in which they are guided through the tasting experience of each of the whiskeys by one of our whiskey experts.

They are also a fantastic way to sample a Premium Irish Whiskey without purchasing a full bottle. Not everyone wants to buy a full bottle of Redbreast 21 or Bushmills 16 but would relish the chance to try it, and The Shelbourne are proud to afford that opportunity to their customers.

Prices start from €45 for the Rebel Intentions Gift Box, €50 for the Dream of Whiskey Gift Box, €60 for the Shelbourne Collection Gift Box and €70 for the Curator’s Choice Gift Box.

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BOOKS

There certainly isn’t the usual bevvy of cookery books that we would usually have this time of year, but there are some really interesting titles out all the same, some about cooking, some not, but all perfect for delving into during the long winter nights!

More than ever, your local bookshop needs your support. While stores are closed for browsing, many have developed online stores or are offering Click & Collect or over-the-phone ordering services. Making that extra bit of effort this year means more to them than ever.

Milk, John and Sally McKenna (Estragon Press, €17.99) www.guides.ie/books

MILK – John and Sally McKenna

The McKenna’s are Ireland’s most respected and lauded food writers. Their latest book, simply titled, MILK, is an in depth look at Ireland’s most culturally important food stuff, including commentary from dairy scientist Dr Alan Kelly, and food historian Regina Sexton both from UCC, a number of industry bodies and nutritionists. It explores the Irish dairy industry paradox as the leading supplier of milk and dairy products globally while maintaining and protecting the supply chain of Ireland’s Grand Crú with its network of small, independent, family farms. The book comes complete with a comprehensive, and delicious sounding, selection of delicious recipes from the great and good of Ireland’s restaurant scene.

The Joy of Food: A Celebration of Good Things to Eat, Rory O’Connell (Gill, €24.99)

The Joy of Food – Rory O’Connell

O’Connell’s third book is a celebration of great ingredients and the joy that comes from cooking food and sharing food with others: a mixture of recipes, stories and shared memories. However, what I adore about this book are the beautiful illustrations drawn by Rory. That’s when you realise all the illustrations that grace the menus, event posters and brochures at Ballymaloe all come from his skill as an artist.

Trisha’s Transformation, Trisha Lewis (Gill, €19.99)

Trisha’s Transformation – Trish Lewis

This book follows the incredible weight loss journey of one of Cork’s most colourful chefs, Trisha Lewis of Jacob on the Mall. Her journey to achieving an eight-stone weight loss was spurred by her lifelong struggle with weight and the emotional rollercoaster that came with it. The book is a collection of delicious recipes as well as tips for maintaining a healthy lifestyle and diet.

Midweek Meals, Neven Maguire (Gill, €22.99)

Neven Maguire’s Midweek Meals

There’s a lot to be said about the timeliness of Neven’s latest book. Stuck in the kitchen mid-lockdown, sometimes just looking at the cooker can make you want to scream! But Neven’s book of Midweek Meals puts the spark back into your meal planning, or lack of, by giving you a nudge in the right direction whether you have the luxury of time (Low and Slow), think you have absolutely nothing in for dinner (Cupboard’s Bare), are in a rush to get something on the table (One-Pan Suppers), or just grabbing something quick on the way home (Supermarket Sweep). And with Neven’s approachable style and family-friendly focus on flavour, simplicity and time it will become your right-hand man in the kitchen as quick as the kids can say: What’s for dinner?

Vegan Cooking for Everyone, David and Stephen Flynn (Penguin Ireland, €20)

Vegan Cooking for Everyone – David and Stephen Flynn

David and Stephen’s latest vegan cookery book positions itself as the go-to vegan bible for every kind of kitchen! Whether thinking of going vegan, already vegan but looking for new inspiration, or just someone who wants to cook more plant-based foods, this new book is a timely release as we head into the festive period so you can be on the front foot for cooking for vegan friends and family.

Cook, Eat, Repeat, Nigella Lawson (Chatto & Windus, £26)

Eat Cook Repeat – Nigella Lawson

Nigella’s latest offering rides effortlessly on the wave of the growing popularity for food memoir with recipes. Personal essays on everything from anchovy’s (“the bacon of the sea”), to a rapturous shout out for brown food – the kind of food that brings instant comfort to the eater. Her voluptuous prose is joined at the hip to recipes you simply just want to cook. And with the inevitable pairing of a new TV show to go with the book, we are invited to live all these expressions of food love vicariously from the comfort of our sofa, too.

Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds and Shape Our Futures, Merlin Sheldrake, (Bodley Head, €20)

Entangled Life – Merlin Sheldrake

If you have read Peter Wohlleben’s phenomenal book, The Hidden Life of Trees, then you may be somewhat prepared for the jaw-dropping revelations of a life form that we are only really starting to understand: fungi. Entangled Life is the kind of book that will leave you looking at the world around you in a completely different way as it explores an entire biology that exists out of view. Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of fungi, but their underground mycorrhizal networks can stretch for miles in multiple and interconnecting directions in what is blithely referred to as the Wood Wide Web. This book is essential in understanding the intricate biology that makes up our wild and wooded places.

A Taste of the Mizen, The Townhouse (self-publish, €10 + P&P)

Taste of Mizen – O’Donovan’s Townhouse

This caught my eye in my newsfeed, and really wanted to let you know about it too. Owner Aislinn O’Driscoll of The Townhouse Gastropub in Schull, West Cork, came across an old copy of a cookbook she compiled 20 years ago with schoolfriends Eoin Kelleher, Lorraine McCarthy, Emer Griffin, Derek Cotter, Daniel Hurley and Brian Goggin for their Transition Year project titled “A Taste of the Mizen.” Aislinn is producing a limited-edition reprint of the booklet with all the proceeds going to West Cork Underwater Search and Rescue. A total of 45 recipes are included: all 30 original recipes and 15 new from the Gastropubs repertoire.  The book can be purchased direct from The Townhouse, call (028) 28692 to order a copy.

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CRAFT & KITCHENALIA

I don’t know about you, but I am a sucker for beautiful things for my kitchen and dining rooms! I’m a value driven kinda gal, so if something can look beautiful but be useful and endlessly practical too, then I am all in! Ireland is a treasure trove of craftspeople and artists, and even though this post really IS mega, I still can’t fit everyone in, so I am drawing on the work of those who grace my own home and whose work I absolutely adore!

Sarah McKenna Ceramics, Dundalk, Co Louth – Impressed ceramic ware www.sarahmckenna.ie

Sarah McKenna – Ceramic Plates, Impressed Collection

Sarah’s work is beautiful, thoughtful and heavily influenced by nostalgia. I adore her Impressed Collection of ceramic plates, bowls, cups, platters and cheeseboards. Sarah has collected wallpapers and created moulds from them then impressed into a flat piece of clay. The triangular plates are ergonomically designed to sit in your hand easily. Available in a variety of sizes, colours and patterns across the whole range, and importantly, made to be used!

HEWN, Enistymon, Co Clare www.hewn.ie

HEWN, hand carved spoons and more

Eamonn O’Sullivan forages the wood, seasons the wood then hand carves beautifully finished spoons, scoops, butter knives and butter paddles using nothing more than an axe and a knife. The results of his craft are incredible, and meant to be used – in fact their maleability improve with use. Eamonn released a collection of items for sale via his online shop every month, but be quick – he work is in high demand and items sell out quickly – especially this time of year.

Alternatively if you’re thinking of learning how to carve your own spoons, check out his workshops (we’ve done one and they are great fun!), either in person once restrictions permit again, but he has also been operating courses and workshops online too.

Knives & Knifemakers – Ireland-wide

Hand Forged Knives

A well made knife can make a huge difference in the kitchen. They are, after all, the most valuable tool you can have. Ireland has a cohort of genius knife makers and they are well worth the investment.

The image above are hand made knives that I am lucky to call my own. From left to right: HEWN Butterknife, Colla Forge cheese knife and chefs knife, Fingal Ferguson chefs knife and Rory Connor bread knife.

Other knife makers of note are: Dunn Bladeworks and Sam Gleeson (This is What I Do). Quality craftmanship, each with their own signature style, flair and engineering. Take your time choosing the right one for you, and it’ll be your kitchen companion for life!

Anne Harrington Rees – Textile Artist, West Cork www.anneharringtonreesdesigns.ie

AHR Designs – Fucshia Tea Towels

Anne Harrington Rees’ bold botanical designs have been gaining much attention this year in the big glossy interiors’ magazines. And while most of us could only hope to have the kind of cathedral-like interior space for one of her spectacular wall hangings, her creative design can be enjoyed around the table with her range of table runners and tea towels.

Table Runners €75, Tea Towels €14

Wild Rose Basketry, West Cork & West Limerick www.wildrosebasketry.ie

Wild Rose Basketry, products and workshops

Wicker work has never been more popular and chic; and as foraging is here to stay, a hand-made wicker basket is the ultimate accessory. As well as being beautiful, sturdy and made to last, it is an eco-friendly way of carrying produce gleaned from foraging or the weekly farmers market visit. Wild Rose Basketry takes commissions for handmade baskets (note a lead time of 4-6 weeks is required), and, as restrictions permit, founder, Rosemary Kavanagh, hosts basket making workshops in West Cork and West Limerick in groups or on a one to one basis.

Baskets: price depends on type and size of basket. Courses: from €50 – €95 pp, one-on-one tuition €140.

Dunbeacon Pottery, Durrus, Co Cork www.dunbeaconpottery.com

Dunbeacon Pottery Butter Dish (in green and blue)

Now that butter is no longer a crime against humanity, butter dishes became the surprise must-have kitchen accessory of the year! The simple and elegant design of the butter dish from Dunbeacon Pottery in Durrus is on my wish list this year, but why stop there? Plates, cups, jugs and more in the soft washed tones of Dunbeacon-ware are all beautiful too.

Butter Dish €30.

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OTHER THINGS I LOVE!

For Gardeners & Wanna-Be GIY-ers: Brown Envelope Seeds www.brownenvelopeseeds.com

Brown Envelope Seeds Gift Boxes

One of only two organic seed savers and farmers in Ireland, Brown Envelope Seeds are 100% organic, with loads of interesting heritage varieties all of which have great rates of germination and produce delicious produce from your garden!

These are gifts that grow. Gift boxes contain selections of seeds in robust cardboard boxes attractively labeled and tied up with string, and their Fair Trade Organic T-Shirts are hard wearing and allegedly make you weed faster!

The Designer of Things – Lighthouses of Ireland Calendar 2021 via Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/ie/shop/TheDesignerOfThings

The Designer of Things, Lighthouses of Ireland 2021 Calendar

Bert, AKA The Designer of Things, is a graphic designer of immense talent (he also did a brilliant job on my rebranding last year and this website too!). His has a bit of a mini obsession with Lighthouses and has produced a range of reinterpretations of lighthouse designs from around Ireland. For 2021, he has collected his favourites into 28-page illustrated wall calendar: Lighthouses of Ireland 2021 calendar, available from his Etsy shop.

Each month displays a different lighthouse with a daily space to write you events in and a blank space for notes at the bottom of each page.

Features the following lighthouses:

January: Fastnet, Co Cork
February:St. John’s Point, Co Down
March: Poolbeg, Co Dublin
April: Hook Head, Co Wexford
May: Galley Head, Co Cork
Old Head of Kinsale, Co Cork
Loop Head, Co Clare
North Bull, Co Dublin
Ballycotton, Co Cork
Tuskar Rock, Co Wexford
Valentia Island, Co Kerry
Mutton Island, Co Galway

Badly Made Books, Cork City www.badlymadebooks.com

Badly Made Books

As you can imagine, as a writer, I get through a LOT of notebooks, so I know a good one when I see – and feel one. I love Badly Made Books, producers of handmade recycled paper notebooks, journals & planners. All books are made with a minimum of 70% post-consumer waste materials.

Badly Made Books … are rubbish! They use recycled materials, risograph printing and hand-operated, “used machines in combination with our unique binding method to create lay flat recycled books for various uses.” Quality notebooks, be in no doubt about it!​

Two Green Shoots, Glengarriff, Co Cork – Virtual Gardening Session www.twogreenshoots.com/product/virtual-garden-advice-session

Virtual Gardening Advice Session with Two Green Shoots

I love everything that Two Green Shoots do, from their open days to tours of their wonderfully creative and edible Garden of Reimagination, to their Feast Escapes. But, what about gifting someone a Virtual Gardening Advice Session with head gardener Adam Carveth. With years of horticultural knowledge and experience behind him with the RHS in the UK, and as head gardener at Bantry House & Gardens too, there’s nothing Adam can figure out for you and your garden during this session!

Not sure when best to prune a particular shrub, what that plant is in the corner of the garden or how to care for it, what soil you have and what things to grow in it?? Then this session is for you!

Solve specific garden problems, get your questions answered as well as tips, tricks and practical advice. Suitable for beginners or more experienced gardeners. €65.

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CHARITIES

The pennies may be stretched this time of year, but if you can spare a few euro, please consider donating to any or all of our favourite charities that we support every year and as often as we can!

Cork Penny Dinners, Cork City www.corkpennydinners.ie/untitled-2/untitled-copy

Cork Penny Dinners

Cork Penny Dinners is a warm dry place in the heart of Cork City with a welcoming atmosphere. The premises is open to all 7 days a week all year round, No questions are asked, no judgements are made.

Cork Penny Dinners is currently serving up to 2000 freshly made meals per week at our premises compared to approximately 150 or less per week prior to the recession. All their services are free of charge to those that need them. Their friendly volunteers ensure that their service users are well looked after on a daily basis. Their door is always open, they never judge, they serve serve.

West Cork Animal Welfare, Owenahincha, Co Cork www.westcorkanimals.com

West Cork Animal Welfare Group

Words cannot even describe the incredible work the volunteers at West Cork Animal Welfare do. Its heartbreaking work and often times, thanks to their commitment to the rehabilitation and rehoming of forgotten, neglected and desperately ill animals, find loving homes for dogs and cats so they can look forward to a second chance at a good life.

Both of our dogs, Maisie who passed away two years ago, and Buddy who is still with us thank goodness, both came from WCAWG, so this is cause very close to mine and Mr Flavour’s heart.

There are many ways to donate: a lump sum; a text donation of €2 to 50300, or purchase one of the gorgeous calendars or packs of Christmas cards featuring the happy smiling faces of many of the successful animals rehomed and living it up big time with their new families!

Simon Communities – Nationwide www.simon.ie

Support the Simon Communities

The Simon Communities support over 16,700 men, women and children each year. We are a network of independent Communities based in Cork, Dublin, Dundalk, Galway, the Midlands, the Mid West, the North West and the South East, responding to local needs and supported by a National Office in the areas of policy, research, communications and best practice. To support or find out more about your local Simon Community please donate online to your local area.

West Cork Women Against Violence Project, Co Cork www.westcorkwomensproject.ie

West Cork Women Against Violence Project

This Covid year has seen the incidences of domestic violence rocket, and in a cruel twist of fate, restrictions often mean that outreach services cannot be provided face to face to those who need them. I’ve been fortunate to not have experienced domestic violence, but I have known and know plenty of women and men who have not been so lucky. Services such as West Cork Women Against Violence Project are needed now more than ever. This project recognises that domestic violence can affect men as well as women and children. Their work supports anyone who needs it and is a free service.

Irish Cancer Society – Nationwide www.cancer.ie

Irish Cancer Society

Over the past 5 years, I have lost too many dear family members to cancer. Irish Cancer Society is a community of patients, survivors, volunteers, supporters, health and social care professionals and researchers. Together they are transforming the experiences and outcomes of people affected by cancer through our advocacy, support services and research.

2017…that was the year that was

I owe this post to Fiona Uyema.

This morning, she shared a post on Facebook of a letter written by a 27 year old Australian woman terminally ill with cancer. Not many things make me want to burst out into tears but this one did.

Sentiments obviously resonate with people differently at different times. But the main point of Holly Butchers letter (don’t sweat the little things; nourish your body and spend money on experiences and not things), is a beautiful nutshell of everything I have been contemplating since 27th September 2017.

Continue reading “2017…that was the year that was”

Tidings of Joy! It’s the 2017 Flavour.ie FREE Christmas eBOOK!

We have been putting together for you a Christmas eBook for the last 3 years’ but this years is a little different!

Click here to access 2016 and 2015 editions…

Instead of me bombarding you with recipes for new ways with Brussel Sprouts, I have decided to focus on things we can Slurp & Sip all winter long!

So feel free and welcome to download the 2017 Edition of the Flavour.ie Christmas eBook and access 12 original Flavour.ie recipes for Seasonal Soups and Warming Cocktails! Get everything you need to stay warm and rosey cheeked this winter, and download the eBook NOW!

What are you waiting for? It’s FREE, DELICIOUS and will take no time at all to download!

Try them out and let us know what you think!

CHEERS – Wishing you all a Very Merry Christmas!

No-Bake Cheesecake with Bilberry Compote

“I’m not really a fan of baked cheesecakes, if I’m being honest.”

Mr Flavour and I have been in each other’s pockets for 17 years. He’s repeated this refrain at least once a year, and yet I have never made anything other than baked cheesecakes.

He eats them because he loves me, but really all he wants is a light, fluffy cheesecake with a crispy base.

A couple of months ago I decided maybe I should have a go at making him this much-lusted for cheesecake. I secretly hoped he would hate it so I could go back to the baked variety once more, but unfortunately it’s flipping delicious.

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Something Wot I Wrote

Writing about food is not an easy thing to do.  If we can refer to it as a “scene” for a moment; it is peppered with people like the vague-verb-police – you know, the ones who insist that describing something as beautiful or nice is next to useless as a description.

The over-reachers who think they have discovered a new way to depict a leaf of kale or, worse, avocados; those who write with impeccability, clearly in love with language; reviving words and phrases once lost to a by-gone age.  And then, there is me.

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Clonakilty – Ireland’s Premier Foodie Town

The beautiful and welcoming seaside town of Clonakilty has a reputation for firsts.  The first Fair Trade town in Ireland; Ireland’s first EDEN destination of excellence; the first Cittaslow town in Ireland for celebrating the multiple benefits of slow living and slow food and recently voted the Greatest Town in Europe at the AOU Awards in London.

Now, the multi-award winning town on the south west coast of Irelands’ Wild Atlantic Way is holding claim to being the hidden gem in Ireland’s foodie crown; and a collaborative project of the towns’ best food and creative people have produced an inspiring short film about its top class foodie credentials to prove it.

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Low’n’Slow, Night’n’Day, Rain’n’Wind

It was exactly a week ago today that I was starting to experience a noticeable increase of the amount of butterflies in my tummy as I busied myself pulling together the final few bits and pieces before heading to the Celtic Ross Hotel to meet with Ireland’s finest Smoke & Fire chef: John Relihan and Decky Walsh, his head chef of Holy Smoke restaurant.

Pitmaster Poster

And as I sit here writing this, the sky awash with blue and a punch of late summer heat, I recall that a good proportion of those butterflies were down to the horrific weather that was unfolding before my very eyes last Sunday. Despite some promising signs that the wind and rain would abate come 3pm on Sunday, in the end the weather decided to throw the whole lot at me and give me a mini-hurricane instead.  Thanks for that.

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How to Have a Brilliant Time in Barcelona!

I may be slightly biased but I like to think that I do holidays really well (yes, that may be the sound of distant horns blowing).  Recently Mr Flavour and I set sail to Barcelona for the first time and we had a really great time.  Famed for its shopping and eating opportunities, Barcelona is a busy bustling city packed with art, culture and a love of eating and socialising but sadly also a troubling propensity for petty crime. 

Thankfully, we used our noggin in that regard and came away with all our personal belongings intact.  You wont even get robbed blind by the restaurants as thankfully, eating out and drinking are both cheap and fantastic in this city by the sea that never seems to rest.  Step aside New York, Barcelona is the place to be….

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Squash and Chestnut Soup

I fear I can barely contain my excitement about the fact that it is finally full-blown squash season once more!  Yes, yes I know…it’s all a bit “drama, drama” but genuinely, if autumn is my favourite food season, then the Squash is sitting pretty, right at the top of my pile of food loves, wearing a crown and winking!

Cucurbits is the family name given to all squash and pumpkins that also include courgettes and the things that get turned in loofah’s (are they called “loofah’s” before they become so?  Is “loofah’s” the correct plural for “loofah”? Who knows?  Answers on a postcard please!)  I think that it must also include cucumbers and maybe possibly aubergines too.  Sometimes life is too short for such research, and mainly in this instance because I want you to proceed immediately to your kitchen and make this soup.  You can thank me later in the comments below!

Can I just say at the outset that, although I am all about the flavour, this soup can have the capacity to look unattractive so a little time spent on presentation at the end will work wonders as the photo of the finished product will attest to.  I also want to note to you, dear reader, that in this instance I used a magnificent Crown Prince squash which has attributed greatly to the slightly bogie-green hue to the soup.  However, any squash or pumpkin will suffice for this soup so the final colour could range from bogie-green to sunshine yellow depending on the squash chosen, grown or available.

A final note on soup.  I love soup.  I am considering writing a whole piece on the art of making good soup.  There are fewer things in this world that can satisfy you like a delicious bowl of soup can.  It’s a gift of a thing.  You’ll notice that in amongst the blog are quite a few soup recipes.  Please don’t dismiss them…soup is a wonderful thing and endlessly versatile, fulfilling and nutritious – not to mention thrifty!

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