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.