I love food, from cooking to eating it, and talking about it. In fact, I have carved my career out of my passion for Irish food and journalism. I am surrounded by people in my life who are as passionate as I am and we love sharing food experiences, stories and memories. Of course, not everyone is as interested in food all the time, and I get that. Except at Christmas. It is the one time of year where food really does matter to everyone and becomes a central focus. Whether it is what to have for Christmas dinner, or whether you prefer Quality Street or Celebrations.

We all have food memories from our childhood Christmas holidays and nostalgic attachments to specific dishes and traditions. I bet if I ask you to close your eyes right now and remember your favourite Christmas time, even a smell will come to mind, is it cinnamon, orange, or gravy, perhaps? Almost like you have travelled back in time to that moment. That’s because Christmas time is magical and so is the food we use to celebrate with.

Ginger Bread Farm. \ Philip Doyle

Granny's House

No matter where you are from or your customs and traditions, festive food is special and helps to create memories that last a lifetime. For me, it is the smoked salmon and brown bread in my Granny’s house on Christmas morning, my Dad cooking turkey, and my sister’s stuffing. Plus, adding to tradition now with my own crispy Brussels sprouts and pancetta dish.

In this issue of Irish Country Living Food, we are celebrating all of the wonderful meals enjoyed during the festive period. Our front cover is dedicated to creating memories and having family fun. Janine Kennedy has outdone herself and created a wonderful Gingerbread Farm for you to recreate the ultimate Christmas baking project at home. Follow step-by-step instructions on how to make a traditional farmhouse and out-buildings, the husband-and-wife farmers, with their dog, cows, a silage pile, and even a slurry pit.

Celebrating food traditions from Ireland and abroad, executive chef of Farnham Estate, Philippe Farineau shares with us his delicious French recipes and Irish culinary stars tell us what their favourite festive dish is, from breakfast to that all important Christmas sandwich.

Irish Country Living editor Ciara Leahy has all of your wine needs covered with wonderful options and pairings, while the butter board trend your guests will go crazy for, and amazing yuletide store-bought essentials, plus a gift guide, cookbooks we loved in 2023, and so much more.

We hope you have a wonderful Christmas and we fill your kitchens and bellies with lots of inspiration and delicious memories.

Happy Holidays,

Dee J