Select: Foodie gifts and feasts for Father’s Day
Barbecues, bread and butchery – they may be clichéd “dad foods”, but we don’t know a man who would turn his nose up at a food-based gift this Father’s Day. Here are some tasty ideas
Real bread has become an increasingly popular movement in Ireland: taking out all the additives, preservatives and sugar, and bashing the dough around yourself is not only healthier but incredibly satisfying. A bread-making course is a great present. One of the champions of real bread is Patrick Ryan, who, with his partner Laura Moore, owns The Firehouse Bakery in Delgany, Co Wicklow. The couple also has a bread school on Heir Island, off the coast of West Cork, where they run day-long courses in breadmaking. These classes are booked out until next year, but your dad can try a shorter evening class in the Delgany bakery, where he can learn all about yeasted breads and soda breads, rolling and shaping and baking at least three different breads on the night. Classes are from 6.30pm to 10pm and cost €65 per person. See thefirehouse.ie.
Julie Lockett and Joe Fitzmaurice (whose family runs Blazing Salads Food Company in Dublin) own Riot Rye Bakehouse and Bread School (riotrye.ie) in the Eco Village in Cloughjordan, Co Tipperary. From their wood-fired bakery they hold bread-making courses. A one-day Sourdough Bread class (the next takes place on July 11th) costs €95 and includes information on making and maintaining a sourdough starter, hands-on experience making yeasted and sourdough breads, kneading techniques and lots of nerdy information on flours, fermentation, and the Real Bread movement. There are eight in each class, which runs from 11am-5.30pm, lunch included, and your father will bring home bags of bread he has cooked in the wood-fired ovens.
Speaking of wood-fired ovens, if you’re feeling really flaithiúlach, you could treat your dad to his own wood-fired oven (and benefit from the delicious fruits of said oven for years to come). You can spend anything up to €10,000 on one, but we’ve used a very solid Valimbrosa Pizza Oven from Dineen Refractories in Wolfhill Co Laois (dineensales.com). These come as a build it yourself kit, starting at €799 (the Valimbrosa is €999), delivered to your home and including all the materials necessary to build an attractive clay oven that your dad can use to cook pizzas and breads, and also to roast joints of meat.
For some quality (eating) time together, a day on a food trail is a nice way to hang out with your dad. There are lots around the country, including French Foodie in Dublin’s “Delicious Dublin” tours. Frenchwoman Ketty Elisabeth brings you on a tour of some of Dublin’s food and drink shops and businesses, teaching you about Irish food history and the city’s food scene along the way. You’ll visit up to eight premises, including bakeries, ice cream shops and restaurants, and there are lots of samples. Tours last three hours and cost €50 per person. The next tour is on June 27th. See frenchfoodieindublin.com
Fab Food Trails is run by Eveleen Coyle, who has a vast knowledge of Dublin’s food landscape, trends and hidden gems. She has extended her business to Cork and Kilkenny and you can take walking tasting tours of these three cities, learning about their respective markets, food halls, artisans and producers, and some history along the way. The trails take two-and-a-half hours and cost €55 in Cork and Dublin and €50 in Kilkenny. See fabfoodtrails.ie
In Galway, Sheena Dignam from Kai café and restaurant runs Galway Food Tours, every Saturday and Sunday, leading you around the city to meet artisans and producers, such as Sheridan’s Cheese and Petit Delice café, with tastings and a guided walk through the farmer’s market. The tour takes up to two hours and costs €26 per person. See Food Tours Galway on Facebook.
For a more hands-on (and bloody) gift, one of Pat Whelan’s butchery evenings can satisfy the most committed carnivore. These classes take place in James Whelan Butchers in Avoca Rathcoole, Co Dublin and Kilmacanogue, Co Wicklow. The evening begins at 6.30pm with a glass of wine and some of Whelan’s sausage rolls. Your dad will then learn about knives – keeping them sharp (and safe) and what knives suit what job. There are demos on different pork cuts, plus everyone will roll and stuff a pork joint and bring it home later. Lesser-known cuts of beef such as the blade, feather and bowler steaks are cut, cooked and sampled, and there’s a lesson on how to de-bone a chicken, followed by more samples of food and a gift bag to take home, including The Irish Beef Book. The next course is in Rathcoole on Tuesday, July 7th. Tickets are €99 from jameswhelanbutchers.com
If your father prefers to burn meat instead of butcher it, you could send him to some suitably masculine cooking classes. Copplestone Food Company in Cork city is kitted out with a Big Green Egg BBQ, a Hendrik Lepel-made wood-fired oven and a Texas- style BBQ and smoker. They run barbecue classes covering homemade burgers, fish and a variety of steaks plus salads and sauces. Hands-on pizza-making classes cover how to make dough and sauces and the group cooks four different styles of pizza. Each class is from 7pm to 8.30pm, followed by a large meal at a communal table. Classes cost €50 per person, booking from copplestonefoodcompany.ie
Dublin Cookery School (dublincookeryschool.ie) has a barbecue class on Saturday, June 27th from 10am to 3pm, where your dad will learn about interesting marinades for meat and fish, preparing and cooking on the barbeque, and recipes for salads, side dishes and salsas. He’ll cook butterflied leg of lamb, spiced hoisin ribs, naan breads, roasted vegetables and more. The day-long course is €150 per person, including lunch with wine.
There’s also a rather jarringly named “Cooking for Blokes” class on July 1st from 7pm to 9pm, which covers knife skills, various cooking techniques and how to make your dinner look good enough to eat. This class is €70 per person.
Finally, if your dad prefers all the work – and cooking – to be done for him, there are two Father’s Day breaks at Inchydoney Island Lodge and Spa (inchydoneyisland.com) this year. A two-night stay in a deluxe room overlooking Inchydoney beach with breakfast both mornings and one dinner in the Gulfstream restaurant – which serves some very good local seafood – plus access to the seawater pool and thermal suites costs €240 per person sharing – to include a sea kayaking trip with Atlantic Sea Kayaking – or €280 per person sharing, to include an Elemis Muscle Melt Massage in the spa.