With many mid-term trips on hold, why not spice up the break with a food box that will let your family enjoy a restaurant experience at home.
Bang, on Dublin's Merrion Row, has meal kits requiring assembly and a little finishing off, with all of the little components clearly marked for each course. It changes each week, but we had seeded bread from Bakery 41, followed by a warm salad of celeriac, apple and hazelnut, and then slow-cooked duck & nduja pappardelle. The sweet element was set vanilla custard, pear jelly, caramelised white chocolate and wholemeal spelt crumb, followed by Fourme d'Ambert blue cheese, quince, pickled apple puree & malt with rye crackers. At €29 per person, it was good value. Collection/delivery.
Outdoors, or indoors in an oven, Andy Noonan's BBQ boxes work for all the family. Beef & Bird or Whole Hog BBQ Boxes come with sides and sauces at €45 for two people, but, to feed the whole flock, go for the Beast of a Feast at €80 for 4 to 6 people and listen to the squeals of delight from the kids. Click & collect from Clanbrassil Street.
3 CHINA SICHUAN
Founded 50 years ago by Kevin Hui's parents, the fabulous China Sichuan restaurant in the Sandyford Industrial Estate isn't your average takeaway - in fact, they never did food to go until now. Each week, they have specials from their menu which sell out quickly to their regulars, such as the Sichuan tea-smoked duck (from €24) served with plum sauce; the spicy 'Man & Wife' beef slices (€10); the golden fried soft-shell crab (€11.50); and a half lobster with prawns and scallops in XO sauce (from €26.50). Kids' dishes (€9). Desserts by Karen Smith are top-notch, including opera gateaux, millionaire's Twix, or a brilliant dessert box at €17. Click & collect.
4 DUNNE & CRESCENZI
Italians are all about food and family, and, on South Frederick Street, Dunne & Crescenzi is doing family boxes which generously feed 4 to 6 at €80. There are bruschetta and Altamura breads; Parma ham rolls with Italian cheeses and membrillo; chopped tomatoes with basil to pile on bruschetta; and little tubs of Parmesan, pesto, olives and nuts. Two more big containers held a delicious beef ragu which we enjoyed with tagliatelle, before we divided up rich, sweet tranches of tiramisu and panna cotta with a strawberry compote. They also do a 'Bella Ciao' Date Night Box for 2 to 3 people at €50. Delivery/collection.
5 OSTERIA LUCIO
The sibling of Ross Lewis's Michelin-starred Chapter One has delicious Italian food to go. Mix it up family-style for a fun evening with an antipasto salumi plate (€12/€23.50); spiced chicken wings, (€10); mortadella meatballs (€10); pastas/pizzas (€15-€19.50). Click & collect from Grand Canal Quay or use Deliveroo. osterialucio.com
6 LE PATISSIER
Robert Bullock, who supplies many restaurants, and indeed a major supermarket with Simply Better patisserie, has just launched his Autumn Collection Box at €35. Seven exquisite treats await you, including a yuzu and coconut eclair; apricot and almond tart; crunchy chocolate praline pillow, and more. Have them for afternoon tea, dessert, or just to gorge on alone in your bedroom - we won't tell. Delivery in Co Dublin.
7 LISMORE FOOD COMPANY
You may be familiar with their classy tubular biscuit containers but Lismore has just launched its stunning bright-orange hatbox hampers packed with artisan goodies, including Earl Grey tea; blonde chocolate with cacao nibs; dark chocolate apple thins; smoked almonds; Irish raspberry preserve; fig & apple chutney; orange & cranberry cordial; Ethiopian single-origin coffee, et al. Starting with Lady Louisa's Afternoon Tea hamper at €30, there's also The Thackeray hamper, which comes in gluten-free, vegan and regular versions, all €60; the Blackwater Epicure hamper at €90, and the ultimate Lismore Gourmand hamper at €120. Delivery nationwide.
Roly's Bistro in Ballsbridge is an institution, a place where many family occasions have been celebrated since it opened in 1992, and its light has never dimmed. Chef de cuisine and director, Paul Cartwright, immediately rose to the challenge with great food for collection or delivery from either the main restaurant or the cafe. It's a life-saver for many of the D4 doyennes! All the favourites are there, from their legendary Kerry lamb pie to black sole on the bone and their Dublin Bay prawns - I had the sole and the prawns recently. Sunday lunch is available, plus business and home-office sandwich and dessert platters. Tarts, drinks, the lot. Collection/delivery.
9 THE DOUGH BROS
Offering delicious slices of authentic Italian flavour, The Dough Bros caught the imagination of Galway's pizza lovers when they first opened in a food truck before becoming 'grounded' in Middle Street. They have a new style Home Pizza Kit, pictured left, with three pizza bases (€35) and a choice of three toppings from a selection of four - Wooded Pig fennel salami; basil pesto; nduja, or Real Olive Co pitted olives. Collection/nationwide delivery; see website for details.
10 WILDBERRY BAKERY
Everyone loves a good brownie. Susan Robbins' and Tom Fehily's Wildberry Bakery in west Cork does great boxes holding 12 delicious, moist brownies, including salted caramel; rose and pistachio; triple chocolate; peanut butter; and dulce de leche peanut butter, all at €19.95. Have the selection box (€21.95) for variety or, if you like surprises, why not try the mystery box (€23.95)? Delivered nationwide.