What do foodies want for Christmas? Katy McGuinness has the answers.
1 Restaurant vouchers
You can’t go wrong with a voucher for someone’s favourite restaurant. Personally, I’d be delighted with one for any of the following: Etto, Uno Mas, Forest Avenue, Michael’s of Mount Merrion, Campagne, Ox…
Many restaurants, including The Greenhouse, L’Ecrivain, Amuse, One Pico, Bon Appetit, Bang, Pickle, China Sichuan, The Wild Goose Grill, Chameleon, Klaw, Wineport Lodge, Rinuccini, Suesey Street, Fade Street Social, Shelbourne Social, Greenes, Brownes Tuam, La Boheme, Dela, The Strawberry Tree, Fishy Fishy, The Pig’s Ear, Yellow Pepper, Luna, The Fatted Calf, Zuni, Bastible, The Muddler’s Club, Saba, Café Velo, Sage Midleton, Ferrit & Lee, Klaw, Nightmarket, La Cote and Blair’s Cove offer online vouchers that you can print off at home right up until the Big Day.
2 Cookery classes
Lily Ramirez-Foran offers cookery classes followed by BYOB supper in her Picado Mexican shop in Dublin, with new classes being released each day until Christmas Eve, from €60, picadomexican.com
Catherine Fulvio’s (above) Ballyknocken Cookery School has classes covering everything from Fabulous Mains & Desserts to Mastering Fish & Sauces, €140, ballyknocken.ie.
Riot Rye in Cloughjordan offers dedicated sourdough bread-making classes, from €125, riotrye.ie.
At The Tannery in Dungarvan, there are classes focusing on everything from Meat-free Cooking to Flavours of the Middle East, from €75, tannery.ie.
3 Destination restaurant
A reservation at a destination restaurant, with flights. You won’t go far wrong with Brat (London), The Sportsman (Kent), Extebarri (near Bilbao), Estela (New York) or Amass (Copenhagen).
4 Good olive oil
The new season Capezzana (left) is fabulous – you’ll find it in independent retailers and wine shops such as 64 Wine in Glasthule.
5 The ultimate garlic crusher
The ‘Garject’ (right) by Aussie brand Dreamfarm was voted the world’s best garlic crusher by people who know their onions. Made from a weighty steel, you can stick two unpeeled garlic cloves in at a time. The press crushes the garlic through and then scrapes it for you with a sliding scraper design feature. When you’re done, there’s a spring to eject your peels. Hey Presto! €35. Pick it up at Triggerfish Cookshop in Blackrock, Co. Dublin.
6 Copper saucepans
Mauviel have been making copper pots in Normandy, France since 1830. Copper, with its rose-like shine, is the ultimate in cookware because it is the best conductor of heat and gives an even distribution of heat around the pan. The timeless quality of these pans makes them an heirloom, which goes some way towards justifying the price. Set of three saucepans with matching copper lids. Priced €950 at Triggerfish Cookshop, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, triggerfishcookshop.ie.
7 Cork pop-up
The next ‘Chef Sessions’ pop-up takes place on February 25 at the Market Lane group’s ORSO restaurant in Cork city centre. Four of the group’s younger chefs train intensively for two-to-three months to present an eight-course menu using ingredients that have truly inspired them. Tickets are €75 and include wine and beer pairings. See orso.ie.
8 Introduction to Butchery course
The one-day Introduction to Butchery course at Croan Cottages, to be held on March 23-24, would make a great gift for a meat lover. Led by two expert butchers, the morning session will involve the butchery of a hogget, and in the afternoon, students will butcher a deer into its primal cuts before learning how to stuff and link pork sausages. €175 to include lunch, or €225 with overnight accommodation. See croancottages.com.
We particularly like the hampers of Irish cheese and natural wine at Loose Canon, 29 Drury Street, Dublin 2 (€30-€150), and the seafood hampers at Klaw Seafood Café in Temple Bar. You’ll also find good hampers at shops such as Lotts & Co (above), Ardkeen Stores, McCambridges, Urru, Fallon & Byrne and Cavistons. Focus on Irish goods from small producers and you won’t go wrong. Dunnes Simply Better also has hampers starting at €50 – their products consistently perform well in comparative taste tests.
Diana Henry: How to Eat a Peach, Octopus Books, €35: The Northern Irish writer’s latest book is another beauty, with seasonal menus that will transport you to an afternoon by the seaside in Brittany before moving on to a sultry evening eating mezze in Istanbul. As always, Diana’s writing is exquisite.
Nik Sharma: Season, Chronicle Books, £26: Nik Sharma’s recipes are a revelation, his flavour combinations inspiring and vivid. One for the jaded cook who needs to get his or her kitchen mojo back.
Jamie Oliver: Jamie Cooks Italy, Penguin Michael Joseph, €30. With some of Jamie’s books there’s a sense that he’s going through the motions – this is not one of them. It’s terrific.
MFK Fisher: Consider the Oyster, Daunt Books Publishing, £9.99: The legendary food writer’s tribute to that most delicate and enigmatic of foods is a gem, her prose wise and witty.
Gaudry & Friends: Let’s Eat France, Artisan $50: This massive tome is a virtual encyclopaedia devoted to French food with recipes, profiles of French food icons including Brillat-Savarin and Bocuse, and region by region guides to cheese, charcuterie and signature dishes. One for Francophiles.
Niki Segnit, Lateral Cooking, Bloomsbury Publishing, £35: Anyone who uses Segnit’s first book, The Flavour Thesaurus, will relish this companion volume, a practical handbook designed to help creative cooks develop their own recipes.
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