Only the best local products in The Menu’s Festive Hamper

Nobody knows Irish food better than Joe McNamee. From chutney to cheese, craft beer to chocolate, he’s put together The Menu’s Annual Christmas Hamper – full of the local products that really stood out this year. Plus, he’s got the top gifts for foodies.

Only the best local products in The Menu’s Festive Hamper

CHOCOLATE CONFECTIONERY

Chocolatiers continue to flourish in Ireland and while Shana Wilkie was the first some years ago to cover the entire process from bean to bar, she has been joined by others including Alison Roberts, of Clonakilty Chocolate.

The Menu has been partial to nougat since early childhood and Miena’s is very fine indeed and he is also greatly taken with Dovinia’s concept of cheese and chocolate. Check out:

Wilkie’s Organic Chocolate Tumbes (www.wilkieschocolate.ie)

Clonakilty Chocolate So Milky Milk (www.clonakiltychocolate.com)

Cocoa Bean Chocolate Co. Irish Sea Salt (www.skelligschocolate.com)

Mella’s Rum & Raisin Fudge (www.mellasfudge.com)

Hadji Bey Turkish Delight (www.hadjibey.ie)

Skellig Irish Handmade Brandy Plums (www.skelligschocolates.com)

Miena’s Irish Handmade Nougat (www.mienas.ie)

Dovinia’s Cashel Blue & Toasted Walnuts (www.dovinia.com)

WINES

Mike Kane from Curious Wines has proposed a splendid trio of New World wines for The Menu’s Christmas dinner, two from the wonderful Kiwi winemaker, Jules Taylor and a delicious spice and toffee Muscat to go with the pud. Try:

Jules Taylor Pinot Noir 2014 (Marlborough, NZ)

Jules Taylor Chardonnay 2014

Woodstock Muscat (McLaren Vale, Australia) Christmas pud spice and toffee

(www.curiouswines.ie to order)

The Menu’s old pal, Pascal Rossignol, of Le Caveau Wines in Kilkenny, specialises in biodynamic, organic and natural wines. This French Christmas dinner trio includes a very fine Alsace Pinot Blanc that pairs as well with turkey and stuffed pork as it does with fish.

Alsace Pinot Blanc 2014, Meyer Fonné (biodynamic)

Cotes du Rhone 2013, Chaume-Arnaud (certified biodynamic)

Morgon ‘Cote de Py’ 2012, Jean Foillard (Natural)

(See www.lecaveau.ie for nationwide stockists)

SEASONAL CRAFT BEERS

Craft beers make very fine sipping companions when putting on the nosebag and The Menu intends to put them through their paces, possibly up against some cheeses, but these are equally fining for solo quaffing. Standouts include:

Wicklow Wolf Brewing Co (in collaboration with Java Republic) A Beer Called Rwanda Roast Coffee Brown Ale (www.wicklowwolf.com)

Elbow Lane Meeting House Vienna Lager (www.elbowlane.ie)

Torc Brewing Smoked German Ale (www.torcbrewing.ie)

RadikAle Rubenesque Belgian Dubbel (www.facebook.com/rakikalecork)

SPIRITS

The rise of the independent Irish distillers continues apace and the obvious and unbridled enthusiasm of considered Irish imbibers for these splendid new libations has the mainstream giants also upping their game.

The Cooley Distillery began releasing some lovely whiskies back in the late 90s before eventually selling to multinational Beam Inc. but founder John Teeling and his sons Jack have gone on to establish Teelings and are now showing some fine drops.

And, while neither a queen nor from Memphis, The Menu is becoming increasingly gin-soaked, adoring the offerings from Blackwater Distillery, Ballyvolane House and Shortcross and, finally, finds Kalak quite remarkable with depths of flavour hitherto unfound in vodka. We love:

Blackwater Juniper Cask Gin/Blackwater No 5 Irish Gin/Blackwater Copper Pot Still Vodka. Blackwater Distillery, Cappoquin, Co Waterford (www.blackwaterdistillery.ie)

Kalak Vodka www.kalakvodka.com

RubyBlue Vodka & Cranberry Liqueur, Hughes Craft Distillery, Co Antrim www.rubyblueliqueur.com

Bertha’s Revenge Irish Milk Gin, Ballyvolane House, Castlelyons, Co Cork (www.ballyvolanehouse.ie)

Shortcross Gin, Rademon Estate Distillery, Downpatrick, Co Down (www.shortcrossgin.com)

Teeling Single Malt Irish Whiskey/Teeling Whiskey Small Batch. Teeling Whiskey, Dublin 8, (www.teelingwhiskey.com)

Jameson Black Barrel Select Reserve. Irish Distillers Ltd, Dublin (www.jamesonwhiskey.com)

JAMS, CHUTNEYS, RELISHES, CONDIMENTS

There’s all manner of wonderful creations to elevate other foodstuffs to new heights or to simply enjoy on their own here. The menu’s highlights are:

Corleggy Port Jelly (www.corleggycheese.com)

Filligans Christmas Marmalade, with Seville Oranges & Cranberries (Co Donegal)

Big Red Kitchen Spiced Plum & Port Jam (www.bigredkitchen.ie)

Keen Macadamia & White Chocolate Nut Butter (www.keennutbutter.com)

Crossogue Preserves Brandy Mincemeat, Brandy Butter, Cranberry Sauce (www.crossoguepreserves.com)

Galtee Irish Honey (www.galteehoney.com)

Fleming’s Fresh Cranberries in Port Wine & Grand Marnier (www.flemingsrestaurant.ie)

Harty’s Apple & Sage Jelly with Chilli (www.hartyfoods.com)

Wild About Cinnamon Syrup, Rhubarb Syrup (www.wildabout.ie)

Bucky Barbecue Sauce (www.hollahpreserving.com)

Rebel Chilli Green Chilli, Lemongrass & Ginger Sauce (www.rebelchilli.com)

Ballyhoura Mountain Mushrooms Cep Oil, Mushroom Vinegar (www.ballyhouramushrooms.ie)

CURED MEATS & SEAFOOD

Duck Liver Pate w/ Cranberries & Port, Chicken Liver Pate w/ Garlic & Brandy, Pork & Plum Terrine, Spiced Pork Terrine w/ Apricots & Figs, Christmas Ham (www.onthepigsback.com)

Smoked Wild Salmon, Smoked Mackerel (www.woodcocksmokery.com); Hedermann’s Smoked Salmon (www.frankhedermann.com)

Old Millbank Smokehouse Smoked Salmon, Buttevant, Co Cork.

Silver Darlings Pickled Herring (www.silverdarlings.ie)

CHEESE

Derg Farmhouse Cheese (www.tipperaryfoodproducers.com)

Corleggy Goat’s Cheese & Creeny Sheep’s Cheese (www.corleggycheese.com)

Orchard Cottage Dairy Cáis Cruinn (www.facebook.com/orchardcottagedairy)

Cashel Blue/Crozier Blue (www.cashelblue.com)

Dunmanus Raw Milk/Durrus/Durrus Óg (www.durruscheese.com)

Young Buck (www.mfcheese.com)

Hegarty’s Cheddar (www.discoverfarmhousecheese.ie)

Toonsbridge Buffalo Riccotta (www.therealoliveco.com)

Also not pictured:

Coolattin Cheddar (www.coolattincheddar.com)

Macroom Buffalo Cheese Mozzarella (www.macroombuffalocheese.com)

Gubeen (www.gubbeen.com)

Milleens (www.milleenscheese.com)

Mossfield Farm Organic Mature Gouda (www.mossfield.ie)

DAIRY

Cuinneog Irish Country Butter (www.cuinneog.com)

Improper Butter Cinnamon & Honey/Brandy Butter (www.improperbutter.com)

Glenilen Yoghurt & Glenilen Country Butter (www.glenilenfarm.ie)

BISCUITS, PUDDINGS AND CAKES

Seymour’s Cranberry & Almond Shortbread Biscuits (www.seymours.ie)

Carrigaline Farmhouse Cheese– Natural Farmhouse Cheese Biscuits (www.carrigalinefarmhousecheese.com)

The Foods of Athenry Gourmet Sodabread Toasts Honeyed Almond & Rosemary (www.foodsofathenry.ie)

The Lismore Food Company Caraway with Irish Seaweed & Irish Digestive with Wild Atlantic Sea Salt (www.thelismorefoodcompany.com)

Ditty’s Date & Walnut Shortbread (www.dittysbakery.com)

Nash 19 Christmas Pudding: also gluten free. (www.nash19.com)

Fleming’s Boozy Christmas Pudding (www.flemingsrestaurant.ie)

Nibbles Luxury Christmas Cake (www.nibbles.ie)

Yum Gelato Hazelnut Ice Cream (www.facebook.com/yumgelato)

NON-ALCOHOLIC DRINKS

The Apple Farm Sparkling Irish Apple & Blackcurrant Juice (www.theapplefarm.com)

Shanahoe House Mulled Winter Fruit Punch Shanahoe House, Shanahoe, Co Laois

TEAS AND COFFEES

The Golden Bean Coffee Roasters (www.thegoldenbean.ie)

Badger & Dodo Coffee (www.badgeranddodo.ie)

Suki Tea Breakfast Tea (www.suki-tea.com)

Lily’s Tea Shop Merry Berry Hibiscus & Berries Infusion (www.lilysteashop.ie)

Nik’s Tea Rooibos Tea Get Up’n’Goji Berry (www.nikstea.ie)

GOURMET GIFTS

If any of The Menu’s nearest and dearest are struggling to think of a stocking filler or five to brighten up his little heart this Christmas, then the list below is a perfect place to start.

Chef’s Knife

Miyabi 6000MCT Gyutoh 160MM

(www.arnotts.ie)

Mason & Cash Clay Cooker

Terracota ceramic roasting pot

(www.cookware.ie)

W M Bartleet & Sons Gravy Fat Separator

(www.ballymaloeshop.ie)

Zassenhaus: Digital Kitchen Timer

Retro Collection Speed Range

(www.kitchenessence.ie)

Eddingtons Deluxe Compost Pail

Eco Friendly, Stainless Steel tabletop compost pail with filters

(www.ballymaloeshop.ie)

MISCELLANEOUS

SeaBeeTree Fruit & Nuts Muesli with Irish Seaweed (www.seabeetree.com)

Joe’s Farm Vegetable Crisps (www.facebook.com/joesfarmcrisps)

Oriel Sea Salt Teeling’s Whiskey Smoked Salt (www.orielseasalt.com)

GreenSaffron Mulled Wine spice mix (www.greensaffron.com)

RETAILERS

All the wonderful products listed above are available from these retailers and all of them offer Christmas hampers.

The Chocolate Shop: Niall and Rose Daly’s English Market stall is Ireland’s No. 1 chocolate emporium, featuring the best of Irish and world chocolate (www.chocolate.ie)

Bradley’s Off-Licence: A former winner of The Menu’s Food Emporium of the Year, a great range of Irish produce, fine range of wines and possibly the very best range of Irish craft beer in the country. (www.bradleysofflicence.ie)

On the Pig’s Back: Carrying a superlative range of Irish and imported produce, mainly cheeses and charcuterie, OtPB also produce their own award winning food range and are also a previous winner of The Menu’s Food Emporium of the Year. (www.onthepigsback.ie)

Curious Wines: Top wine retailer (including online) with especially strong New World portfolio and also offering excellent hampers of top Irish and imported food produce as well. (www.curiouswines.ie)

Le Caveau: One of Ireland’s top multi-award-winning wine retailers, especially strong on Burgundies and natural, organic and biodynamic wines. www.lecaveau.ie

Roughty Food: English Market stall retailing an excellent and ever-growing selection of fine Irish produce.

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