The ring of the doorbell these days almost always heralds the arrival of something good to eat. As the coronavirus crisis continues, and supermarket shopping becomes an ever more joyless activity, I’ve pivoted, as they say these days, to online food shopping.
Leaving the supermarket delivery slots to those who most need it, I’ve gone straight to source instead, buying from producers and wholesalers, some of whom weren’t previously accessible to the general public.
Fish, meat, charcuterie, bread and pastries, cheese, potatoes, and wonderful organic vegetables have all landed, or are about to land, on my doorstep, and I couldn’t be happier.
Here are 12 really great Irish food boxes that contain top quality produce, and will probably save you money too.
The Ferguson family's Gubbeen dairy and smokehouse in Schull, Co Cork was my gateway to online food shopping. The big draw here is the sheer variety of produce available in the online shop.
As well as Fingal Ferguson’s chorizo and salami, which are regulars in my supermarket trolley, I was able to buy items normally reserved for food service customers, such as restaurants and cafes. Gorgeously moist smoked ham fillets, pistachio salami, marinated ribs, and fresh pork from the Piggy Co-Op that supplies the smokehouse, made it into my virtual shopping basket. Gubbeen cheese, and crackers, can also be ordered.
Mixed boxes (you can say what you want, or don't want), start at €35, and you can also order individual items. Delivery countrywide is an additional €10. gubbeenfarmhouseproducts.com
James Whelan Butchers was among the pioneers of online food shopping in Ireland, and this week the company introduced a new service for shoppers - next day local delivery within a 15km radius of any of the 10 JWB shops. What that means is that orders are prepared in-store by the butchers and dispatched from the shops, rather than being routed through the company's HQ in Clonmel, which has been experiencing a huge increase in business. The JWB shops are in some branches of Dunnes Stores in Dublin, Kildare, Cork and Limerick; Avoca in Kilmacanogue and Rathcoole, and in Clonmel, Co Tipperary. jameswhelanbutchers.com.
Robert Bullock's Le Patissier is delivering boxes of seven classic pastries, made with Irish dairy, free range eggs and Belgian chocolate, to addresses in Co Dublin. They are exquisitely crafted and generously proportioned, which makes the €30 price tag (plus €5 delivery) look like very good value. Orders placed before noon on Wednesday are delivered on Thursday or Friday. lepatissier.ie.
With no restaurants to supply, Niall Sabongi's wholesale business, Sustainable Seafood Ireland, quickly shifted to selling direct to the public, from its base in Clonshaugh, Dublin 17, and now online too. Weekly special offers include bargains such as two lobsters for €24, or two Dover sole for €17.
Countrywide delivery by courier is also available from Gannet Fish in Galway, via its online shop, eatmorefish.ie, where as well as a vast range of fish and shellfish, you can also pick up pantry staples including sea salt, jars of tuna, seaweed mixes and Chip Mate chip shop vinegar. sustainableseafood.ie; eatmorefish.ie.
BREAD, PASTRIES, FLOUR
Having hunted high and low for flour, and yeast, I was delighted to discover that Bread41, the bakery on Pearse Street in Dublin 2, has extended its delivery zone to include Dublin 2, 3, 4, 6, and 9 and parts of south Co Dublin (check your address on the company's website for confirmation of availability).
In addition to organic sourdough loaves, pastries and savoury bakes, you can buy up to two 1kg bags of organic strong white flour to be delivered with your order. Top order is the baker's choice, a selection of six pastries from the day's specials, for €16. Orders for collection also available. bread41.ie.
FRUIT AND VEGETABLES
Sean Hussey is a dynamo. As well as running his family's wholesale fruit and veg business in north Co Dublin, he is active with a number of charities and coronavirus relief efforts. His company's online shopping site went live on Tuesday.
You can order seasonal mixed fruit (€20) or veg (€25) boxes, or individual items, and the prices are very competitive. Other goods, including Village Dairy milk, Velvet Cloud sheep’s yoghurt, Wooded Pig and Dexter charcuterie, Mooncoin Beetroot and Inch House black pudding can be added. The minimum order value is €25 and delivery is free.
Ballymakenny Farm’s heritage potatoes, including the striking Violetta purple potato, the delicate Pink Fir Apple and the versatile Mayan Gold, can now be ordered online for delivery. They each cost €2.50 a kilo and delivery is €5.
Sprout, the healthy fast food chain with its own farm, is also offering a range of organic farm veg boxes, including the exotic leaves that feature in its salad bowls, for delivery or collection. The boxes are priced from €25, and add-ons include Le Levain sourdough and Roasted Brown coffee. husseysfarm.com; ballymakennyfarm.com; sproutfoodco.com.
Siobhain Ni Gharbhith's St Tola goat's cheese can be purchased online at a discount during the coronavirus period, with a whopper one kilo log for €28. A Clare Cheese Selection box (€30, plus €10 delivery) includes St Tola ash log, Divine, original and feta, as well as Cratloe Hills sheep's cheese made by Sean and Deirdre Fitzgerald, and a box of Sheridans crackers.
DINNER IN A BOX
Lots of restaurants have reinvented as takeaways in recent weeks, and a few have gone down the meal-in-a-box route, with raw ingredients assembled, ready to cook. Early out of the blocks was BuJo gourmet burgers in Sandymount, Dublin 4.
The BuJo Home Meal Kit contains 12 beef burgers, eight buns, cheese, sauce and pickles. It costs €40 and delivery is available in Co Dublin and parts of counties Wicklow, Louth, Kildare and Meath.
Platform Pizza in Bray, Co Wicklow has also created a delivery box with all you'll need to make five large pizzas, including bases, a lovely fresh and light tomato sauce, good quality mozzarella, pancetta and pepperoni. It costs €35 and can be delivered in Dublin, Greystones and Bray. bujo.ie; stuffuneed.ie (for Platform Pizza).