In the most obvious statement I’m ever most likely to make, here it is, brace yourselves folks; Christmas can be overwhelming. Now that you have had time for that ground-breaking news to settle within you let me continue. I had written quite the diatribe with lovely lyrical anecdotes about how the stresses of the season can overshadow the nature of the celebration, the togetherness, the food and wine, and the season of goodwill. And then I stopped. Why? Because I realise that quite frankly nobody wants to read that and no matter how eloquently I try to put it I won’t be able to capture all the nuanced feelings, emotions and difficulties right now; so here it is. Despite everything I think Christmas can be exceptionally special and even more so this year. I feel that one of the reasons many people get stressed is around the giving of gifts. In a response to the world around us I want to make a particular effort this year to support local and Irish companies. I am doing this by putting together a rolling post of a different Irish product added every week that I have enjoyed this past year and longer. My plan is to buy a number of the same product a week leading up to Christmas and in doing so create a hamper of these products to give. It spreads the cost, you have an end goal and plan and there’s no last minute online rush or otherwise. I will also give tips on sourcing baskets, cellophane wrap and other hampers products to make the process easier for you. I will start with non-perishable products that will keep for some time and others to even make yourself at home. I just hope my family and friends don’t read this because, well, this is your gift. Cue awkward silence in the McBride household at Christmas.
*As always this is not a paid for or sponsored post and all products recommended here express my own opinion*
I feel like I have been living on another planet in that this wondrous condiment of joy has just recently entered my life. Emanating from Heather Flaherty’s Café Builin Blasta in Spiddal Galway, this is a traditional mayonnaise made with rapeseed oil and then spiked with a deep yet delicately flavoured smoked onion. The combination is rich yet subtle and if you can resist just sticking a spoon in, enhance sandwiches, serve with chips or give a new look to your burger. For mayonnaise lovers this will change your life.
Available from stores such as McCambridges, Galway or online with Builin Blasta at www.builinblasta.com RRP €4
2. Richmount Cordial Company Elderflower Cordial
This is a delicious Elderflower cordial, floral and fragrant and reminiscent of the aromas of early summer. Based in Longford Richmount also produce a sparkling Elderflower and an Elderberry cordial. Delicious diluted down as a drink on its own or add a bar-spoon to a gin before topping up with tonic water. A nice addition to a dry Processo on Christmas morning. Alternatively due to the sugar content experiment and use in cocktails as you would a sugar syrup
Available from a huge range of stores nationwide (check their website for stockists. Alternatively buy directly from their website http://www.richmountcordials.ie €5.96 (incl. VAT)
3. Bean and Goose Smoky Salt Milk Chocolate
Chocolate in Ireland has come on leaps and bounds in recent years with many artisan chocolatiers creating exciting flavours from excellent quality cocoa beans. Mention here also to Grá Chocolates (https://grachocolates.com/) from pastry chef turned entrepreneur Gráinne Mullins who produces boxes of hand-painted delights of interesting flavours. Priced at €20 they’re worth a gift of themselves but seeing as I’m focusing on hamper inclusions I thought it best to offer the best of the bars. Bean and Goose based in Wexford is an endeavour by sisters Karen and Natalie Keane and they produce wonderfully luxurious chocolate of varying delights. Personally I have an inclination toward salt with chocolate, a touch of which really makes the flavours of the chocolate sing. It was a tough call between this and the the Salty Almonds but the smokiness of this one gives an interesting flavour profile with the Ecuadorian milk chocolate. Whichever bar or slab you choose you won’t be disappointed.
Available online at https://beanandgoose.ie/ €5.50 per 70g bar and also at speciality food stores across the country
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