Jaru Kimchi

I lived in South Korea for nearly three years when I was in my 20s, and it’s safe to say that over those few years I developed a deep, true and lasting love for Korean food. There are a few elements to Korean cuisine which sets it apart from its east Asian counterparts, but the most well-known would have to be kimchi. This fermented, spiced cabbage is eaten with every meal – either as a main ingredient or as a side dish – and while it took my mild Canadian palate a few months to get used to (an average kimchi is spicy and sour in equal measure), it’s something I now crave all the time. Luckily, you can now get great kimchi even in the most rural parts of Ireland, thanks to Dublin-based producers Jaru. They sell their Irish-made kimchi in SuperValus nationwide and they also deliver through their website. There are other Irish kimchis on the market, but to me, this one tastes the most of my first “home away from home”.


Spoond Hot Chocolate

It’s not like there’s such a thing as bad hot chocolate – warm, melted cocoa topped with cream, maybe even marshmallows – it’s not hard to get right.

But when it comes to finding the best hot chocolate, I think I’ve found the one. Spoond is created by Dubliner Emi Takakura, and it is a creamy, rich delight.

Spoond Hot Chocolate is a creamy, rich delight and produced in Dublin by Emi Takakura

That’s because it’s made from a cocoa mix with luxurious Belgian milk chocolate flakes.

Spoond is available in two different flavours: dark milk chocolate and malted milk chocolate.

It is available online and from a selection of independent stores, including Camerino Bakery & Café on Capel St and Merrion Sq Dublin, Indie Fude Belfast and Madden’s Café Tralee. (€7.95).


Ballyhoura Shiitake Bites

Think there’s no such thing as the perfect snack? Have you tried these shiitake bites from Ballyhoura Mushrooms?

They are perfectly crunchy, perfectly seasoned and perfectly savoury. I would add them to a salad instead of croutons, or simply eat them on the couch, straight from the bag, while watching a Christmas film. Ballyhoura Mushrooms achieved a 2022 Great Taste Award for their Shiitake Bites with Pepper, while their Shiitake Bites with Salt (both products are €6) won the Best New Artisan Food Product category at the National Artisan Foods Award held by the Clonmel Show (not to mention winning Best Overall in Show). They may be new on the scene, but they are mighty!


Valentia Island Vermouth

What’s your drink of choice? A negroni? Now you can make one with Irish-made vermouth. And – can I just say – this is the best vermouth I have ever tasted.

Orla and Anna Snook-O’Carroll moved to Valentia Island after spending years working in the food and art space in Bristol and have now created a home and a very special product on the remote Co Kerry island. The caramel tones of their gold vermouth (which is made with 20 different locally foraged herbs and plants) make for an easy drink on its own or mixed into a cocktail.

\ Philip Doyle

Try it in a classic Manhattan (vermouth, sweet bitters and whiskey), but use all Irish ingredients, like Waterford Whisky and Beara Bitters. Buy online for €35 at celticwhiskeyshop.com or in selected shops around Ireland.


Gran Grans Foods Chimichurri Sauce

I love a zingy green sauce with a perfectly seared steak, but I often don’t have time or ingredients on hand to make one when the craving strikes. Enter Gran Grans Foods and their gorgeously flavourful chimichurri sauce.

Chimichurri is a sauce which originates in the South American countries of Argentina and Uruguay – where they take their beef very seriously.

/ Phillip Doyle

Vinegar, parsley and garlic are the key components to a great chimichurri, and Gran Grans’ version (€4.50) is every bit as tasty as you might expect. Factor in the convenience of not having to make your own and you’re on to a winning product. An honourable mention also goes to their Marie Rose sauce (€4.25), which is ideal to have on hand heading into the holiday season.

Buy online (including the trio of sauces, pictured) at


Builin Blasta Caesar Dressing

I have known and loved Co Galway-based Builin Blasta’s Smoked Onion Mayo for some time, but only recently had the chance to try their Caesar dressing (€4).

It’s hard to get a Caesar dressing right – it’s all about the balance of creamy, zingy and salty which makes it the iconic dressing it is.

/ Phillip Doyle

This dressing is now my go-to for when I am too busy (or, let’s face it, lazy) to make my own from scratch. Aside from this dressing (and the Smoked Onion Mayo, which I also urge anyone to try), Builin Blasta have a variety of shelf-stable sauces, vinaigrettes and even granola on offer and deliver nationwide.


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