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The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - SEVEN DAYS - Aoife McEl­wain

FOOD FOR CHRIST­MAS Whether you’re aim­ing to your full your own pantry full of sea­sonal treats or on the hunt for ed­i­ble Christ­mas gifts, you needn’t look any fur­ther than our own shores.

Sheri­dan’s Christ­mas Fair takes place this week­end (Sat-Sun, 10am to 6pm) in the cheese­mon­gers’ head­quar­ters in White­gate Cross, Co Meath. Along­side stalls from lo­cal craft and food pro­duc­ers, there will be plenty of Sheri­dan’s pro­duce (sheri­dan­scheese­mon­gers.com) rang­ing from cheese to crack­ers, chut­neys and pre­serves. Look out for their brown-bread crack­ers and truf­fle honey, as both make durable part­ners for your Christ­mas cheese­board needs.

Seafood, for me, is an­other in­te­gral part of a Christ­mas smor­gas­bord. Bur­ren Smoke­house (bur­rensmoke­house.com) are ac­cept­ing or­ders through their on­line shop un­til next Mon­day (Dec 23), giv­ing you one last chance to stock up on their award-win­ning smoked salmon, trout or mack­erel in time for Christ­mas. If you’re in Cork City, pop in to Frank He­d­er­man’s stall in the English Mar­ket to pick up his out­stand­ing gravad lax of their cured smoked salmon, or his de­li­cious smoked mus­sels. Keep an eye out for his smoked but­ter, which makes but­ter­ing bread a thor­oughly in­dul­gent act. Find out more, and watch a short film about He­d­er­man and his au­then­tic smoke­house on frankhe­d­er­man.com.

For oys­ters, I’ll be get­ting my shell­fish di­rectly from The Red Bank Food Com­pany in the Bur­ren (red­bank­foodco.com), which usu­ally ex­ports its Flaggy Shore Oys­ters abroad, but are offering a Christ­mas-time de­liv­ery ser­vice na­tion­wide.

For ex­cep­tional Christ­mas

Oys­ters from the Red Bank Food Com­pany in the Bur­ren

meats, McCarthy’s of Kan­turk in Cork (jackm­c­carthy.ie) is hard to beat. You can head to this fifth-gen­er­a­tion butch­ers’ on­line shop to or­der their Guin­ness and Cider spiced beef or its fes­tive smoked ham. It’ll also throw in a free por­tion of its famed black and white pud­dings for all or­ders re­ceived be­fore De­cem­ber 15th.

Where char­cu­terie is con­cerned, (Gubbeen gubbeen.com) in Cork has you cov­ered. Giana Fer­gu­son and her hus­band Tom pro­duce cheese prod­ucts while their son Fin­gal runs the smoke­house, now as renowned for its chorizo and salami as for its cheese. It sells a host of ham­pers di­rectly from their web­site, rang­ing from ¤18 to ¤100 in price, and the last or­ders be­fore Christ­mas will be ac­cepted to­day.

Food for stock­ings

When it comes to pre­serves, chut­neys and syrups, Wild About (wild­about.ie) is a stel­lar ex­am­ple of the breadth of what’s avail­able in Ire­land. Based in Gorey, Co Wex­ford, Mal­colm and Fiona Fal­coner are a hus­band-and-wife team whose cre­ate the stag­ger­ing range of na­tive pre­serves, jams, raw honey and syrups. Among my favourites are their net­tle pesto and their gin­ger beets chut­ney. They have a fan­tas­tic range of flavoured syrups, such as their cin­na­mon syrup, which makes a great ad­di­tion to any hot toddy. Gift ham­pers range from ¤15 to ¤30.

An­other jar that would fit nicely into a Christ­mas stock­ing comes from the Dublin Honey Project (face­book.com/ dublin­honeypro­ject). Founders ar­chi­tect Gearóid Carvill and pho­tog­ra­pher Kieran Har­nett are pas­sion­ate about sup­port­ing bio­di­ver­sity in lo­cal food pro­duc­tion. Their hives are in a num­ber of lo­ca­tions around Dublin, in­clud­ing the rooftops of Belvedere Col­lege and UCD, and work as ed­u­ca­tional tools as well as honey-pro­duc­tion sites. Pick up their honey in Indigo & Cloth in Tem­ple Bar and The Ir­ish De­sign Shop on Drury Street, both in Dublin’s city cen­tre.

To im­press the chocolate fa­nat­ics in your life, you should seek out bean-to-bar chocolate makers, of which there are a small num­ber cur­rently in pro­duc­tion in Ire­land. Hazel Moun­tain Chocolate (hazel­moun­tain­choco­late.com), made in the Bur­ren, has a Fes­tive Bean to Bar Col­lec­tion for ¤22. Clon­akilty Chocolate (clon­akilty­choco­late.com), a bean-to­bar and fair­trade chocolate com­pany in Cork, has a Choco-Lovers Sur­vival Box for ¤35. This ham­per in­cludes five mini bars, a heart shaped chocolate grat­ing block, a bag of chocolate-coated co­coa beans and an eco-cot­ton Clon­akilty Cho­coalte tea towel. For clean­ing up af­ter­wards.

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