Food File: Selection boxes, gluten-free treats and all about oil

Marie-Claire Digby rounds up this week's food news

SELECTION BOX WITH A DIFFERENCE

This artfully arranged selection of goods from Italian small producers can, with a little work, be transformed into dinner for six. Originario is an Italian gourmet food company that sources unusual, top-quality products from small producers, assembles them into tasting boxes and ships them anywhere within the EU.

With the addition of a few larder cupboard staples, you’ll be making focaccia with the heritage grain flour to serve with a salad of olives, eggs and celery. Main course is rye pasta with goats’ cheese fondue, and for dessert there’s a savoury fruit salad using celery and celeriac as well as the Ligurian orange slices in syrup in the photograph. The cheese course is where this box – called Not Only Milk – comes into it’s own, with three different varieties to serve with pears grown in the Dolomites.

There’s wine and olive oil too, and the beautifully packaged selection, each product gift-wrapped and boxed, costs €224 delivered. A smaller selection, for two, costs €122, and recipes and tasting notes are included, as well as a suggested menu.

For Christmas, there are a selection of boxes on offer filled with seasonal treats such as goose, panettone, roasted hazelnuts, and chestnuts in grappa. The website, originar.io, links the products to nicely written essays introducing each of the producers.

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INTERESTED IN OIL? ASK THE EXPERT

Karen Cryan is one of a rare breed called olive oil sommeliers, having trained in the art of tasting and evaluating extra virgin oils in Italy and London.

Now that the new season oil is about to arrive with us, it’s a perfect time to join a tasting group Cryan (right) is putting together, with the aim of meeting up regularly.

“This would consist of gathering together to taste a variety of extra virgin olive oils for quality and flavour. No experience is necessary as I can show people how to taste olive oil. All that is required in a love of food and an interest in olive oil,” Cryan says.

She can be contacted by email:

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GLUTEN-FREE TREATS

Denise O’Callaghan, founder of Denise’s Delicious Gluten-Free Bakery in Cork, is making 500,000 of these hand-finished mince pies for customers in Ireland and the UK and in new export markets in France, Italy and Germany. In France, her Christmas range will be on sale in the gourmet store at Galeries Lafayette.

O’Callaghan, a former investment banker, first began baking gluten-free treats for her dad Michael, who is coeliac, and in 2008 she opened a commercial gluten-free bakery which now employs 13 people at its base in Little Island, Cork. She is the author of Delicious – Recipes from my Gluten-Free Bakery (Mercier Press, ¤24.99).

The free-from gluten, wheat, dairy and yeasts range is on sale in supermarkets and independents and online at

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SMALL CHANGES FOR A HEALTHIER DIET

Sisters-in-law Andria Cross and Elaine Cahill (above) run Nutritiously Delicious, giving talks on diet and wellbeing, and doing house calls to assist families to make small changes to their shopping and eating patterns that they say will positively impact on their health.

They also produce two breakfast products, muesli baked in organic coconut oil and porridge blended with goji berries, cocoa and organic maca, a Peruvian root vegetable they say is known as Peruvian ginseng and is thought to ease menopause symptoms and boost libido.

They make the products themselves, in a commercial kitchen in Bray, and they’re available in independent food stores and health food shops in south Dublin, as well as on the Food Academy shelves in SuperValu, and online from nutritiouslydelicious.ie (500g/€6.95)

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