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Welcome to December’s Food and Drink Club newsletter

It’s (almost) Christmas and we’re baking, shopping, and looking forward to a wonderful celebration


In tomorrow’s Irish Times Magazine, we introduce a new name and face to the food and drink writing team. Beth O’Brien is a pastry chef, currently working at Ballymaloe House in Co Cork. She has done a deep dive into mince pies, trying out recipes from a variety of well known writers and chefs, and has come up with what she thinks is the ultimate recipe for this seasonal treat. Beth’s Best will be a monthly feature in the Magazine beginning in January.

From Dublin, O’Brien, went to school at Muckross Park College in Donnybrook and graduated from Trinity College with a degree in European Studies with French and Spanish. She did a Masters in Food Business and Innovation at UCC and completed the Ballymaloe Cookery School 12-week course.

Last month she launched a 2023 wall calendar, A Year of Baking, featuring 12 of the test bakes, photographs and recipes from her popular Instagram page @bethcooksthings. You can buy it from her Shopify store, and 10 per cent of the €22 price will be donated to the Irish Red Cross work in Ukraine.

Winner and more winners

This month we have two brilliant prizes to be won by subscribers. Oui Chef will be gifting a lucky winner with one of their beautiful personalised corkscrews, along with five bottles of Burgundy from Ballina chemist and wine maker Róisín Curley, and four Grassl wine glasses. In addition, Fallon & Byrne have given us one of their fabulous Christmas food and wine hampers to be won. The Exchequer hamper has a value of €500 and contains treats including Bollinger champagne and Calvisius Royal Caviar. Scroll down to enter.

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Congratulations to Eddie Callan, Brian Geoghegan and Anselm McGowan, winners of a case of wine from Whelehan’s Wines, and Nuamh Thanry, winner of the WineSpark case of wine and annual membership, in last month’s subscriber newsletter.

Read all about it

In this weekend’s Irish Times Magazine it’s the Christmas Food Special. We have a cured trout starter, stuffed turkey leg main course and Christmas spiced sticky toffee pudding with Calvados sauce from Grainne O’Keefe that won’t bust the budget. John Wilson recommends wines, cider and beer to accompany, all under €20, and Lilly Higgins is catering for the vegetarians with a recipe for a stunning cauliflower en-croute centrepiece. Corinna Hardgrave reveals her Food Oscars for 2022, and Russ Parsons shares his most popular recipe ever, for his mother’s cranberry sauce.

Check in with us regularly at irishtimes.com/food for all the latest food and drink news, features and great dishes to cook. If you would like to invite family and friends to join the Irish Times Food & Drink Club, they can do so here. You can also follow us on Facebook here, and on Twitter here.

Thanks for reading.

Marie-Claire Digby