Shopping for a picky food lover this Christmas? Forget the hampers and fancy restaurant vouchers and get inspired with this pick of alternative food and drink gift ideas.
Food, but make it fashion
The phrase "you are what you eat" has never been more apt as food continues to have its fashion moment. From Prada's banana prints to Chanel's grocery store catwalk, the big designers love a food reference and most recently Moschino has been serving the looks. Their Womenswear Resort 22 collection is all about being head-to-toe tasty with outfits like this ice-cream sundae number. Or perhaps a hamburger or coffee jug bag might suffice? You'll have to wait until January, though, when the full menu will be available from moschino.com.
For a Christmas fix it's worth checking out Anya Hindmarch, another designer with a penchant for fried eggs and other culinary delights. Her Anya Brands sequinned evening tote bags take inspiration from food brands we love, such as this Kikkoman number and her kitsch After Eight charm.
Or how about the food fan T-shirt? It's no longer about wearing your favourite band emblazoned across your chest. These days you can show off your favourite bakery or brunch spot. Check out Dublin's own Scéal Bakery for a Pastry Bae tee designed by artist Conor Nolan or brunch favourite Kai in Galway for this bright design by Fuschia MacAree.
And of course, there is always the classic stocking filler – socks! The Irish Sock Society have a myriad of fun designs available, food fans might appreciate their jazzy vegetable or full Irish socks.
It’s always a challenge to buy a gadget for a kitchen connoisseur, they most likely have all the things they feel they need but these gas-related gadgets are the sort of add-ons you might feel frivolous buying for yourself but delighted to get as a gift.
Wine fans will have seen the Coravin in action in top-end restaurants. It's a wine preservation system that allows you to pour from a bottle of wine without pulling the cork – perfect for opening those precious fancy bottles and enjoying it over a few days without the pressure of finishing the bottle. Coravin is available from Brown Thomas with prices starting from €139.99.
Sparkling water is another luxury food lovers tend to enjoy so a home carbonator might be just the thing to add some fizz to someone's Christmas. The smart selection of sleek and compact carbonators from Aarke are sure to please even the pickiest of kitchen fuss pots. Available from Arnotts and Brown Thomas.
And this could be the perfect stocking filler – if you can get hold of it – Guinness’s nifty Nitrosurge, a handy new device that allows you to pour a pub-perfect pint at home every time.
Another glass? Wine not
As if figuring out wines wasn’t mind-blowing enough, did you know there’s a whole world of glassware out there made for different styles and vintages – it’s not just red, white and champagne. Uber light, delicate glasses of mouth-blown crystal, they are not for the heavy-handed but any true wine lover will appreciate the addition of some of these stems for Christmas.
Swiss-made Zalto are the glasses you'll find on many of the Michelin-starred tables in the country. Their Universal glass is a good starting point, or you can of course be more varietal specific. You can find Zalto Universal glasses (€35 each) at Searsons Wine Merchants, Monkstown, Co Dublin or online at searsons.com.
The new kid on the fanciest bars are Grassl, also mouth-blown and Swiss-designed. Their Grassl Liberté is the all-rounder “created to be an option for any wine during any phase of its life”.
For the stocking filler? Every wine fan will appreciate a no-nonsense waiter’s friends wine opener, with a classic design that works well every time and Le Creuset’s version is about as sturdy as they come.
If someone is fussy about their food they are likely to be fussy about their candles too. Particularly these days when olfactory seems to be the word du jour in kitchens. (For the rest of us, it just means sense of smell). But not all candles are created equal – the real food fans will no doubt check the candle ingredients just like they would with anything else, so here are some options that should gain you some approval.
Irish brand Clean Slate are natural soy wax candles, with chic apothecary-inspired packaging and offer plenty of food-friendly scents such as the delectable Tuscan grove or the warming espresso and coconut.
For all-out luxe look no further than Loewe’s latest range of home scents that includes a selection of candles that smell like they’ve just been plucked from the greenhouse. Presented in chic terracotta earthenware holders, you can choose from eleven plant essences scents including coriander, beetroot and a divine intense liquorice.
For the stocking filler, you can’t go wrong with Helen James Considered candles, these are both affordable and adorable. Choose from kitchen appropriate smells like root ginger, lemon balm and spiced quince.
A class act
Choosing a cooking class for someone you think could teach their own classes might be a bit daunting – unless it’s one of these highly coveted, niche classes run by absolute experts in their fields.
Keen bakers who you know want to take things up a notch might appreciate award-winning pastry chef, Aoife Noonan’s 4 week-long online French Patisserie masterclasses. Choose from beginner, intermediate and advanced, kicking off in February.
Forget giving someone a side of smoked salmon this year, why not teach them how to smoke their own fish instead? One of the countries leading authorities on all things smoked (and sustainable), Sally Barnes, offers incomparable masterclasses at her picturesque west Cork smokery.
Bread fans might appreciate an insider insight into baking their own sourdough at and Bread 41 are offering some of the best classes out there. Buy a voucher now for their introduction to bread classes that they run fairly frequently throughout the year.
For a stocking filler, you could also just give the gift of a regular Bread 41 voucher for any amount, I mean who wouldn’t be delighted with the prospect of a buttery croissant come January?