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Ask the expert: January can seem bleak, foodwise - is there anything seasonal worth getting excited about?

MARTIN O'DONNELL, The Twelve Hotel

"WHEN our veg patches are looking bare we can look to other sources for delicious seasonal fare. Where better to go than our fantastic shorelines with all sorts of goodies in abundance, perfect for creating warm winter dishes?

January provides us with a great excuse to get out in the wild after the festive period. If you're lucky enough to live near the coast, seize the opportunity to put on the wellies, hats and scarfs and see what lies on our doorsteps.

Gather cockles, mussels and winkles for a scrumptious and light stew. Simply steamed in their shells with some white wine, they'll make a delicious and impressive dish.

Martin O'Donnell is head chef at The Twelve, a gourmet hotel with an award-winning restaurant and gastro-bar. The Twelve, Barna, Co Galway. www.thetwelvehotel.ie