12 Treats in Trish Deseine's Christmas Larder - The Gloss Magazine

12 Treats in Trish Deseine’s Christmas Larder

Irish delicacies fill food writer Trish Deseine’s Christmas cupboards…

Featured Image; Photograph via Trish Deseine.

As is usual in even years, when my children go to their father’s (though I’m not sure how long this arrangement will last as they start making their own homes), I will have little idea where I shall end up for Christmas until the very last minute. On top of that, I have just moved house and don’t know, as I write, if the new one will be at all functional for any kind of festivity. But not to worry: in my part of Normandy there is no shortage of welcoming, generous tables, with some of the best only a few minutes’ walk away. This means Christmas larder shopping is of even greater importance this year. My larder is also gloriously empty as I’ve just returned from Ireland to move in, bearing only suitcases and coolboxes packed with my favourite Irish produce. I’ll bring some as gifts to food-loving French friends’ homes; use others as luxurious staples for solitary, nostalgic, quick-fix grazing. Here are the most gorgeous items I’ll be making space for on my shelves this year. @trishdeseineencore. Twitter; @TrishDeseine.


In my cupboard: Co Cork’s Second Street’s chocolate-covered toffee brittles, in milk and dark chocolate, with vegan alternatives, flavoured with hazelnuts, sea salt and peanuts; Hazel Mountain Chocolates’ “mature” take on Rocky Road: bean-to-bar chocolate, Amarena cherries, Petit-Beurre biscuits and malted crunch, fashioned into beautiful chocolate wreaths and baubles; Limerick newcomers Braw’s hot chocolate bear, Rock n’ Roll Santas and Christmas trees stuffed with cool chocolate truffles and bars in flavours like Yuzu/Sesame and Baileys/Caramel.


I first came across Mairead Finnegan’s fantastic handmade, all-butter Rollit shortcrust at Waterford food mecca, Ardkeen Stores. From this month, Mairead’s all-butter puff pastry will be part of Dunnes Stores Simply Better range nationwide. Wonderful for last-minute cheese puffs or lattice quiches and tarts.


Alongside chocolate, cinnamon and raisin and crunchy honey-roasted peanut butters, Nutshed has produced an incredible smoky harissa version. Now that Queen Nigella has normalised putting it in pasta, that’s very good news indeed. Add greens, sea salt, crushed peanuts and a squeeze of lemon for a ten-minute supper or hangover remedy. Speaking of Nigella, who declared Abernethy butter’s black garlic butter, “the best thing I have eaten or may ever eat”, I wonder if has she tried Abernethy’s Christmas butter with dates, rum and spices?


At Wine Spark, created by the former Naked Wines “wine guy” Eamon FitzGerald, a €10 monthly subscription gives you access to some very special and keenly priced wines. I Filari Amarone Reserva 2016, made exclusively for Wine Spark, and Mélanie Pfister Silberberg Noble Riesling 2007, are perfect for desserts and spoiling your friends.


Blue cheese with mince pies and Durrus with Christmas cake is the law in my house. There’s something so decadently Dickensian about gradually spooning out chunks of ripe Young Buck over the holidays and Kinsale Mead Co’s Hazy Summer Mead with berries alongside make it even better. St Tola cheeses for Christmas include one with cranberries, plain and ash-coated crottins, and new St Tola Karst, named after the karst landscape of the Burren.


My possessions are all still in storage, but I know little touches like gold leaf napkin rings from Juniper Lane and Irish beeswax candles from Helen James at Dunnes Stores will Christmasify even the most last-minute table. Great gifts too.


Not an actual sheep (although I would love one or two for my new, overgrown garden) but everything sheep’s milk from makers of divine yoghurt Velvet Cloud. This year they have put together a range of hampers stuffed with handmade fudge, hand-painted sheep’s milk chocolates and a fragrance free, sustainable, luxury sheep’s milk soap, alongside their cheese.


I’m not saying that there isn’t a Hannan Meats’ 28-day, salt-aged Glenarm Shorthorn steak or two, or a tub of Fumbally’s famous chicken broth stashed in that Ireland-France coolbox, but mostly I’m avoiding meat this December. I make an exception for Broughgammon Farm’s exceptional charcuterie, where the animals have a happy life, and the land is carefully tended.


We are good at condiments, enjoying mixing sweet with savoury. A few years ago, White Mausu upped the Irish condiment game and now ships worldwide. And alongside cult Assassination Custard’s piccallili and Lilliput Stores’s hot sauce, behold Indie Fude’s collaboration with Burren Balsamics. After nearly a year of testing, Every Day Chutney, Onion Marmalade, Thyme Honey, House Sauce and Pomegranate Glaze are all ready to dollop and drizzle.


Nutshed Rawb energy balls make the best Christmas or anytime dinner party gift for the vegan curious.


Very important when you are almost camping, those little blasts of meatiness. Ballyhoura’s range of dried mushroom dashi, risotto and soup “kits” along with their mushroom umami dusts, salts and ketchups are great staples to have in your cupboard for simple noodle bowls, pasta and soups.


Frank Hederman and Sally Barnes need no introduction. Arcadia Deli in Belfast stock excellent oak and beech-smoked Ballyhornan salmon and the Burren Smokehouse include theirs in a wonderful Burren Basket Hamper, featuring other dynamic members of the Burren Food Trail.

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