Did you know that for every €1 spent in the local economy, €1.50 is generated? Or that if every household spent just €4 more per week on Irish goods, over 6,000 jobs would be created? There’s a growing appetite to buy Irish and shop locally, which is even more important at Christmastime, and one of the easiest ways to buy Irish is when you’re buying food. So why not fill up your favourite foodie’s stocking with these delicious artisan Irish goodies this year? You’ll be giving the economy a little boost, supporting some fantastic Irish artisan producers and making someone very happy on Christmas morning.
5. Irish Atlantic Sea Salt
A top-quality salt is a little luxury in the kitchen but will make a world of difference to your cooking. Based on the Beara Peninsula in West Cork, Irish Atlantic Sea Salt is hand-harvested and contains over 50 naturally occurring trace elements. A little goes a long way, as it has more of a salty taste than traditional highly processed table salt, so one box will last a long time and is well worth the little splurge.
4. Keogh’s Hand Cooked Crisps
Keogh’s have been growing potatoes in north County Dublin for over 200 years, but they just launched their new range of crisps earlier this month. They’re actually the only potato growers in the world offering fresh potatoes and crisps side by side from the same farm – they hand cook their crisps in small batches on their farm, going from ‘crop to crisp’ on the same day. They even have a Spud Nav system where you can trace your bag of crisps to the field the potatoes came from. Keogh’s have teamed up with several other artisan producers to offer three exciting flavours: Dubliner Irish Cheese and Onion, Atlantic Sea Salt and Lewellyn’s Irish Cider Vinegar (there’s that salt again!) and Roast Beef and Dungarvan Irish Stout.
Keogh’s Hand Cooked Crisps are currently available in Superquinn, Donnybrook Fair in Dublin and a range of independent retailers around the country. Visit www.keoghs.ie for more info.
3. Chocolate Here’s Rose & Raspberry Chocolate Bar
Gillian’s Rose & Raspberry Milk Chocolate Bar was awarded Gold at the Blas na hEireann National Irish Food Awards 2011 and is my pick for a stocking stuffer, but she also makes hazelnut and toffee milk chocolate bars as well as a range of dark chocolate and white chocolate bars. Gillian uses only the finest Fair Trade and single origin chocolate in her products. Be sure to check out her chocolate snowman and Santa lollipops or even a Wonka bar for kids’ stockings.
2. 8 Degrees Brewing A Winter’s Ale
8 Degrees Brewing Company launched this year and has quickly become one of Ireland’s favourite microbreweries with their Howling Gale Ale, Sunburnt Irish Red and Knockmealdown Porter. A Winter’s Ale is a limited edition seasonal beer made with a unique spice blend from fellow Cork producer, Green Saffron, and at 7.5% ABV it packs a punch, perfect for these cold winter evenings.
But hurry – there isn’t a single bottle left in their Co. Cork brewery, so snap some up while you can. 8 Degrees beer is stocked at off-licences around the country and A Winter’s Ale is available from these stockists, or you can order online at Drinkstore. You might want to get a bigger stocking to hold a six-pack instead of just one bottle!
1. Ed Hick’s Bacon Jam
The number one foodie stocking stuffer has got to be Ed Hick’s Bacon Jam, the new hit product of 2011 that’s developed something of a cult following. The bacon jam has it all — salt (from the bacon), sweet (onion, maple and sugar), sour (vinegar), bitter (coffee) and umami (slow-cooked meat), not to mention the hit on fat receptors from the bacon fat. Food writer Corinna Hardgrave called it “Ireland’s answer to foie gras”. Whether you spread it on toast and serve with eggs, use it in a quick and lazy BLT or mini pork pies, dollop it on top of scallops or eat it straight up with a spoon, you’ll be hooked too.