We all deserve to find something tasty under the Christmas tree this year, writes Lucinda O'Sullivan, who shares her picks for the best hampers and foodie goodies from businesses across the country
Brambles is a thriving family business headed up by Ciaran and Maeve Reid, who have 18 cafes and in-store pantries, not to mention a brilliant catering service as well. Not only do they have a wide selection of well-priced hampers, they will also supply your Christmas Dinner At Home. Their cooked butter-basted free-range turkeys (€110/€120) come in two sizes, 14lb/16lb, with a choice stuffings, including a gluten-free option. Baked hams are €80, while veg and trimmings are €35 - or you can have the full Christmas Package, which includes home-made Christmas pudding, and serves 14-18 people, at €300. This can be customised to suit different family sizes. Collection and delivery options.
2 DUNNE & CRESCENZI
The Italians do Christmas very well, and none better than Dunne & Crescenzi, which offers two excellent hampers, reasonably priced at €50 and €100. Both contain the Italian Panettone Christmas cake; Garofalo pasta; a bottle each of Rosso di Toscana and Bianco di Toscana; plus other tasty things like tapenade, biscotti, etc. You can create your own hamper too. They are also running a massive 60pc-off Italian wine sale throughout Christmas. Collection or delivery within Dublin is €10. Countrywide delivery is available with An Post rates.
3 HEART OF SPAIN
A family-run business based in Cork, Heart of Spain will evoke memories of the Iberian Peninsula, which perhaps you've been missing this year. Their gift hampers (€100) offer choices of duck liver foie gras with Cognac: cured cheese with rosemary; Iberian ham from Castilla y Leon, and wines from Ribera del Duero and Rueda. You can create your own bespoke hamper from €60, and there is a special New Year's Eve hamper from €80 with a bottle of bubbles. Collection or delivery nationwide.
4 FARMGATE MIDLETON
It's great to have some wholesome, tasty meals ready to go, or in your freezer, before and after Christmas Day, when you're sick of the sight of turkey. If you're lucky enough to live within striking distance of Marog and Sally O'Brien's legendary Farmgate in Midleton, east Cork, their new Store to Door service is for you. It's click and collect or delivery within 30km. They've created four new food boxes (€60/€100) filled with their favourite dishes, such as steak & mushroom casserole, chicken korma, beef lasagne, and seafood pie. You can also customise your own box, or order breads, soups, sauces, and their divine lemon cakes, etc.
5 HICKEY'S BAKERY
The Queen of Cakes, Mary Berry, came all the way across the water to taste Nuala Hickey's divine barmbracks and featured them on her latest TV series, Simple Comforts. Everything Nuala does in her great Clonmel Bakery is top-notch, including the traditional Christmas Cakes (€12.95-€50) which are fed with 'a small drop of whiskey' - and I know Nuala has a generous hand! The Christmas cakes are available in-store, but you can order the famous fruit-laden barmbracks (€9.95, plus delivery; packed in rigid boxes) online. Courier delivery, ROI, €7.95; UK,€18.95.
6 HUSSEY'S FARM
Food hero Sean Hussey was first out of the traps delivering his amazing exotic fruit and vegetable boxes all over Dublin throughout this pandemic. His range extends also to small artisan producers, for whom he has been a lifesaver, supplying everything from cheese and chutneys to chocolate and coffee. He has three great Christmas hampers (€45/€75/€125) filled with seasonal treats, and each one contains a fabulous Christmas pudding by chef Gavin McDonagh. He also stocks Fionntán Gogarty's beautiful Wildwood Vinegar Four Seasons Limited Edition vinegars (€85), and the amazing Killenure Farm Dexter leather range. Collection or delivery within Dublin; nationwide delivery for everything except fruit and vegetables.
Shane and Paolo at Riba Restaurant in Stillorgan are 'making it an Italian Christmas' with their brilliant Italian Market packed with charcuterie, cheeses, oils and sauces, food gifts, wines and hampers, which you can tailor to your own desires. Look out for the candlelit Scaldanduja (€14.50) - nduja and a nightlight-type warmer.
Saba's gourmet hampers (€75-€275) focus on celebrating a night in before your next Saba night out. They include a Saba voucher for dinner, along with excellent wines, cocktails, and artisan treats such as Mella's Irish butter fudge, Amaretti Italian cookies, and Hadji Bey's Turkish Delight. Collection or delivery in Dublin only.
9 SOLAS DINGLE
Fungie may be gone but we're all still dreaming of Dingle. So treat yourself to Nicky Foley's brilliant Solas Christmas Hamper collaboration with local food-and-drink people, including Dingle Vodka; Bean in Dingle; Dingle Goat's Cheese; Billy Judge's wooden cheeseboard; Dingle Butcher spices; Solas cookery card and ingredients; Trevis Gleason cookery book; Terra foods. Hamper, €165 plus €7.50 postage. Delivery available nationwide.
10 THE DUNRAVEN ARMS
Christmas at the Murphy family's Dunraven Hotel in the pretty Co Limerick village of Adare is a legendary occasion. It's a bastion of top-notch hospitality, which starts at its doorstep through to the buzzy Hunter's Bar, glorious conservatory and gardens, not to mention its Maigue Restaurant, where you're waited on like royalty - indeed, royalty have stayed there. Roast beef (€27.50) is carved from the trolley 'to your liking' each night and their Sunday lunch is the perfect warming Christmas treat. Even better still are their three- to four-day luxury Christmas packages, which start at €795 per person sharing, and go up to €1,105 per person sharing. There will be a Champagne reception and dinner on Christmas Eve, freshly carved baked Limerick ham for breakfast, a treasure hunt, light lunch, more Champagne and a gala five-course dinner on Christmas night. The festive fun continues on Stephen's Day, but you'll have got the picture by now!
11 THE SHELBOURNE'S WHISKEY BULLET GLASS
Dublin's iconic Shelbourne Hotel has played a starring role in some of the most dramatic events in our nation's story. During the Easter Rising in 1916, fighting broke out on St Stephen's Green, while the hotel's renowned Afternoon Tea (now €52/€68) was taking place. All seemed well until a stray bullet flew through a window, ruffling the millinery roses on one lucky lady's bonnet. In tribute to the independent spirit of the city, the hotel and its guests, The Shelbourne's bespoke whiskey glass celebrates courage, steel nerves and the significance of your favourite drink, even in 'interesting' times. The Bullet Whiskey glass, €45, (postage and packing extra; search under 'gift vouchers' on the website, or tel: (01) 663-4500).
12 WILD BERRY BAKERY
Susan Robbins and Tom Fehily are best known for their luscious gluten-free brownies. However, they also make the most delightful six-inch Jewelled Christmas Cake, presented in a keepsake glass-topped tin. A wonderful gift that's perfect for your earring collection afterwards! In stores or order online before December 17. l