Christmas gift ideas for your foodie friends
If you’re stuck on inspiration for artisanally crafted and thoughtfully sourced gifts for the food lover in your life, this round-up might come in handy
If you’re stuck on inspiration for artisanally crafted and thoughtfully sourced gifts for the food lover in your life, this round-up might come in handy. Also, if any of my family and friends reading this article want to take a few not-so-subtle hints for what to buy me for Christmas, that would be totally cool.
My favourite Irish cookbook of the year came from Garrett Fitzgerald in the form of the Brother Hubbard Cookbook. The book shares the secrets and lessons learned of Fitzgerald’s Middle-eastern inspired Brother Hubbard cafe on Dublin’s Capel St. This accessible book boasts five (five!) place-holding ribbons, and there are so many eye-catching and inspiring recipes in this tome, that every ribbon will go to use.
Another favourite Irish cookbook was the refreshingly honest realism provided by Sophie White in her cookbook Recipes for a Nervous Breakdown. It’s a collection of recipes and rants, part cook-book and part memoir by a young Mum on the brink of a breakdown.
Les Diners de Gala by Salvador Dalí was on my Christmas pipe-dream wish-list last year. This extremely rare cookbook by the surrealist master was on sale online for upwards of €500 a copy. However, in one of the few good news stories in 2016, Taschen announced they were releasing a reprint, selling the book for €49.99.
Dearbhla Reynolds, a fermentation expert based in Holywood, Northern Ireland, just outside Belfast, released her first cookbook, The Cultured Club, this year. Buy the book to help promote a New Year, New Gut approach.
The absolutely exquisite Firehouse Bread School on Heir Island off the coast of West Cork is probably the ultimate in destination cookery schools in Ireland. The full day hands-on baking course includes the return ferry to Heir Island, lunch and a goodie bag (and as much freshly baked bread as you can carry back to the mainland with you) costs €125. If that’s too far, you could try an evening course at their amazing cafe and bakery in Delgany, Co Wicklow, and cost €70 per person.
Wouldn’t it be cool to know how to make your own cheese? Luckily, some of our country’s most respected cheesemakers are not precious about their knowledge. Silke Cropp from the incredible Corleggy Cheese in Cavan holds cheese-making classes in Cooks Academy in Dublin’s city centre at €150 per person per day. Book now to get a space for one of the 2017 courses.
The award-winning Knockdrinna holds a cheese-making course at its farm in Kilkenny, at €80 per person. Dates for 2017 are available on the website.
If you talk to folks who are into fermentation and probiotics in Ireland, it’ll be quite likely that Hans and Gaby Wieland are on their list of heroes. These former cheesemakers are now based out of The Organic Centre in Leitrim. Their two-day Cheese Making and Introduction course will take place on October 21st-22nd, 2017, and costs €150 per person. They also do a one-day course called Make Your Own Soft Cheese, Yogurt and Kefir, which will take place on May 27th 2017, and is €65 per person.
If you are looking for more of an appetite-led rather than skills-based experience, Sheena Dignam’s Galway Food Tours (€30 per person plus booking fee) might be just the ticket.
Stocking Fillers/Small Gifts
For stocking fillers, look no further than The Lismore Food Company. Its absolutely delicious biscuits are practically stocking shaped. The latest product, Dark Chocolate Apple Crisp Thins, are simply divine - you need them in your house this Christmas. Gift them to your Mum so you can eat them yourself.
Dublin-based homeware designers and makers Arran Street East launched its online store earlier this month. A new addition to its range of hand-thrown pots made in its studio just off Capel St include beautiful egg cups (€15).
Chef Katie Sanderson’s Peanut Rayu, a garlic-infused chilli and peanut sauce, was my favourite taste of 2016 and jars of this precious yumminess would make a delicious stocking filler.
Dublin Christmas Flea Market
Sanderson will be selling jars of her Peanut Rayu at this year’s Dublin’s Christmas Flea Market at The Point Village, from Friday December 9th to Sunday 11th. Sanderson will also be cooking on the day at her own rice bowl stall, alongside food stalls including Fumbally Falafels, Camerino Cakes, Natasha’s Living Foods, raw treats from Nutshed, mulled wine from All Bar None and tea and coffee from the Flea Market crew.
Cheesemonger Des Gallen will also be there selling mostly raw-milk artisan cheese from Ireland, including old favourites such as Corleggy Cheese alongside the exciting (and delicious) new blue cheese from Northern Ireland called Young Buck.
Other stalls to look out for with a food-loving loved one in mind include Elemental Design for its gorgeous chopping boards and baker Shane Palmer’s Scéal Bakery who’ll be selling Christmas puddings made using sourdough breadcrumbs and butter to a 100-year-old family recipe. Print designer Erin McClure will be plying her hand painted up-cycled 100 per cent cotton napkins, bags and aprons in her Constellation collection, inspired by far-off galaxies.