Festive chocolate collection adds a touch of luxury to Christmas
Food File: Handmade chocolates and single-estate extra-virgin olive oils
Chocolatier Erik Van der Veken of Arcane Chocolate company.
Chocolatier Erik Van der Veken’s Arcane Chocolate company has released a festive collection, including a 18cm-high chocolate Christmas tree (€59), decorated with caramelised hazelnuts, honey-roasted pecans, Iranian pistachios, dried goji berries and cranberries. The handmade trees, which would make a stunning centrepiece, come in sustainably-sourced dark or milk chocolate, from the French company Cacao Barry.
The new range also features Christmas Jewels (€16.50), a nine-piece collection of handmade and hand-painted filled chocolates. the flavours include Black Forest with kirsch and Wildwood balsamic reduction; Irish cream, with white chocolate ganache and bourbon vanilla; mulled wine with chianti ganache and Irish honey; Marrakech, a mandarin caramel with Moroccan spiced ganache; and salted caramel, Arcane’s signature filling with Irish butter and Tahitian vanilla.
The Christmas trees can be ordered at branches of the Butler’s Pantry. The Christmas Jewels are available online at arcanechocolate.com, as well as from the Butler’s Pantry, Cliff at Lyons, Fallon & Byrne and Forest Avenue, as well as at Arnotts in Dublin, where Van der Veken will be doing live demonstrations in the lead-up to Christmas, Covid protocols allowing.
Travel regulations allowing, Van der Veken will represent Ireland at the regional UK and Ireland heat of the World Chocolate Masters next May, and hopes to become the first representative from Ireland to qualify for the finals in Paris.
Sarah & Olive
Single-estate extra-virgin olive oils from Andalucia are now available from Sarah & Olive, a Dublin-based company set up by chef and sustainable food entrepreneur Sarah Merrigan. Contacts made when she worked in Spain have allowed Merrigan to build a portfolio of top-quality oils that she imports directly and offers for sale from her website, sarahandolive.com.
Detailed tasting notes are available on the single variety as well as the blended oils or coupages in her collection. Merrigan recommends arbequina olive oils for fish, salads and yoghurt or labneh. Peppery picuals are more suitable for meat dishes, substantial salads, tomatoes and even chocolate, she says.
Merrigan also has stocks of the new-season hojiblanca olive oil made by Finca La Torre, near Malaga, one of only two Spanish olive oils to achieve a perfect score of 100/100 in the Flos Olei 2020 guide to the world’s best olive oils. A 500ml bottle of this costs €19.90, plus delivery.
Merrigan also sells her oils at the Honest2Goodness (Saturday, 9am-3pm) and Herbert Park (Sunday, 11am-4m) food markets in Dublin.