Tuck into latest board game with Smorgasboard

One could manufacture an exceedingly fine frazzle seeking out suitable Irish-produced gifts for nearest and dearest, or one could join a smug Menu in the snug sipping a hot port, as he has the Christmas shopping thing down to a fine art. In those brief moments between Christmas eating and drinking, The Menu likes to take a spot of exercise, ahem, playing board games but at this stage of his life is rather Cluedo-ed out and the Monopoly is pretty much useless ever since The Menu spent all the toy money at the K-Club during the height of The Boom. But a new board game has arrived — a beautifully designed and cleverly constructed Irish board game based entirely around food, Smorgasboard. But while it will hold obvious appeal for the extreme epicure it will equally enchant the class of player who eats only every other month. (www.smorgasboard.ie)

Bumper year for Irish cookbooks

It’s been a bumper year for Irish cookbooks for all ages and tastes, including: Irish cookbook of the year, Catherine Fulvio’s Eat Like an Italian; Paul Flynn & Martin Shanahan’s excellent Surf n Turf; Neven Maguire’s the MacNean Restaurant Cookbook; Martijn Kajuiter’s rather astounding art tome/cookbook, Let’s Go Disco; Ard Bia Cookbook by Aoibheann Mac Namara & Aoife Carrigy; Michelle Darmody’s Cake Café Cookbook; Darina Allen’s re-issued Traditional Irish Cooking; Donal Skehan’s Kitchen Hero: Eat For Less; Gimme The Recipe by Sheila Kiely; Michelle Horgan’s Recipes From The English Market; The Irish Countrywoman’s Association Cookbook; Sophie Kooks by Sophie Morris; and Domini Kemp’s Domini at Home. And make sure to buy from an Irish bookshop — Bandon’s Urru culinary emporium is not a bookshop per se, but does have a wonderfully comprehensive section dedicated to cookbooks. (www.urru.ie)

Serve up Irish-made food ingredients

For The Menu, local, Irish-made or produced food using the highest quality ingredients and techniques makes for the finest gift of all. There are plenty of places around the country including the Farmers’ and Country Markets offering excellent selections of quality specialty foodstuffs but The Menu this week doffs the cap to the Ardkeen Quality Food Store in Waterford for a magnificent range of Irish fresh meat, poultry, fish, cheeses, fruit and veg along with an unsurpassable collection of the best of Irish specialty food products. (www.ardkeen.com)

The Menu will be slinging little sachets of Simplee’s sublimely spiced Mulled Wine Mix for Christmas parties into endless pots of warming wine, but is not above using it to mix up a delicious spiced apple juice for the designated drivers, with 10% of the retail price going to the Dog Action Welfare Group. (www.simplee.ie)

The Menu will be spicing up his turkey sandwich with Fire Roasted Red Pepper Relish from the fine Coolea company Folláin’s Range of Christmas Condiments, a sturdy tomato and pepper-based relish with a delightful chilli zing, putting pep in The Menu’s post-prandial step. (www.follain.ie)

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