The bread-making classes at Riot Rye bakehouse in Cloughjordan, Co Tipperary, are well-known for not only teaching amateur bakers everything they need to know about making sourdough bread at home, but also for being great fun. Joe and Julie Fitzmaurice run the show here, and the full-day course includes lunch, teas and coffees throughout the day, your own sourdough starter to take home and the breads you have baked in Joe’s wood-fired oven. Classes stay small with only eight places and for €125 this is an excellent value gift for any aspiring bread maker. For the Christmas period, Joe and Julie are offering a free banneton (bread proving basket) with each booking. This offer is good right up to Christmas Eve at midday.
On a full-day fish smoking course at Woodcock Smokery, you will sit down for breakfast with the renowned food producer Sally Barnes before starting your day. In a mixture of demos and practical classes you will learn everything from how to fillet a fish to which types of wood chips to use for best smoking results. Sally only works with wild fish and has a wealth of knowledge around sustainable seafood. The course costs €240, and there are half-day courses available for €165. Includes an artisan lunch and you have the option of having your smoked fish shipped to you once it is finished.
There are so many coffee makers on the market, but sometimes – especially when it comes to giving someone the gift of coffee – keeping things iconic and simple is the best way forward. The Bialetti Moka coffee pot is versatile (you can take it anywhere, including camping), easy to use and comes in a variety of colours. Unlike machines which use pods, the only waste from a Moka is entirely compostable. The Bialetti Moka is available in stockists around the country (including Arnott’s and Homestore & More) and starts at €39.99 for a two-cup coffee maker. We would combine this with a coffee bean subscription from Brew Box, which features a selection of Irish-roasted coffee brands (€48 for a pre-paid three-month gift subscription).
Scoop: Irish Food Stories is a new bi-annual magazine from Nine Bean Rows books. Focusing on long-form food writing (from chef manifestos to short fiction), this publication features the top tier of Irish food writers, producers, chefs and food lovers. Its first edition is out now, featuring works from editor Dee Laffan, fiction from Ali Dunworth and explorations of the Irish food scene from the likes of Kate Ryan and Arun Kapil. You can buy an annual subscription for €40.
The Folláin 12 Days of Christmas box is a lovely gift for a friend who likes jam. Open the window of the box to discover which preserve you get to enjoy over the 12 days of Christmas. Flavours include spiced rhubarb, orange marmalade, spiced lemon and whiskey, red fruit with mulled wine, raspberry and gin and passion fruit cream (€13.99).
If you have a friend or family member who loves craft beer, Whitefield Brewery have teamed up with Grá Chocolates for a limited edition pairing of their seasonal Yule Ól (a smooth, mildly spiced pale ale made especially for Christmas) with a box of two chocolate truffles (flavoured with honey and poitin). This would make a great Secret Santa gift or stocking stuffer; priced at €16 for a 750ml bottle. Only 200 are being made, so grab one while they last.
In selected shops. Visit whitefield.ie for a list of nationwide stockists.
We all know the go-to “congratulations”, “thank you” or “I’m sorry” gifts are food hampers, and luckily in Ireland we have no shortage of high-quality offerings – especially around Christmas. The Lismore Food Company, Burren Smokehouse and Ardkeen in Waterford all offer beautifully stocked local and artisanal food hampers. This year, we especially love the look of the Flavours of Achill hampers available from Calvey’s of Achill Island. Available in two sizes (€120 for medi and €175 for maxi), in the large hamper you get PGI status Achill lamb products, homemade preserves and sauces, smoked salmon and mackerel from Keem Bay and luxury iced Christmas cake.