An Avoca Food Buyer on the Joy of Christmas

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Finding and celebrating daily rituals and little pleasures that keep us afloat …

Connectedness, joy, comfort, authenticity and Irishness – that’s what we feel when we think about Avoca, its stores, its beautiful, carefully selected things to buy, its extraordinary food and its wonderful people. We call it the #AvocaFeeling.

In a new series, we meet some of the brilliant women who create, live and breathe the magic of Avoca, and some of Avoca’s firm friends and fans, who are legion all over Ireland – and the world!

We’re also asking you, our reader, what makes you feel happy, connected and at peace with the world (particularly now, when the world feels tilted on its axis). What gives you that #AvocaFeeling? It might be baking your favourite Avoca scones, a cup of coffee with a pal, curling up on the sofa beside the fire, a hike up a mountain or a walk in a forest, your morning yoga practice, a delicious dinner (with wine), or rediscovering an activity you enjoyed as a child. In tough times, we need daily or weekly rituals … please share yours!

To share what gives you that #AvocaFeeling, email us on [email protected] or share a picture or video on Instagram, make sure to tag and follow us @theglossmag and @avocaireland so we can see your entries. We will share some of our favourite stories on thegloss.ie over the coming weeks…

THIS WEEK: THE JOY OF BEING A FOOD BUYER AT CHRISTMAS 

This week, Hannah Curham, Assistant Food Buyer at Avoca, on what it’s like to be able to indulge your passion in the workplace …

“When this role came up with the food buying team, I jumped at the opportunity. How could I not? A chance to be part of evolving Avoca’s innovative approach to food, in a really exciting workplace was my dream job! Having previously worked in Avoca retail for two years, I had firsthand knowledge of how customers really value Avoca’s great quality produce and products.

Food and cooking has always been a passion of mine. My favourite thing to do at weekends (coronavirus notwithstanding, of course) is go out for a nice meal. I absolutely love trying new restaurants or exploring food markets on a Sunday morning, so I really feel I’ve found the perfect role for me.

I think that feeling we all know so well, that #AvocaFeeling, is expressed in a most heartfelt way at this time of year because, for many people, Avoca at Christmas is a place of nostalgia, where customers find delicious, hand-prepared food, made with love and care, and that’s why they keep coming back to us each year for their Christmas favourites. We see many of the same faces each year, so it’s important that our seasonal ranges offer newness as well as traditional Avoca items. We’re committed to supporting local now more than ever, and we stock so many wonderful products from Irish suppliers and artisans on our shelves, and people really respond to this.

We aim to take the stress out of entertaining, so that customers can spend more time on the things that matter, such as spending quality time with family. The food buying team ensures there is something for everyone around the table, from all the traditional cakes and puddings, hams and turkeys, to gluten-free mince pies, vegan gravies and reduced sugar treats. During these uncertain times, everyone appreciates familiarity and reliability and we are proud to provide the highest quality of food and service during the festive period.

I get that #AvocaFeeling when I smell the first mince pies being baked in our kitchens, but there are so many little things about winter that I find joyful

Food plays a huge part in bringing joy to our lives during challenging times. This Christmas we want to shine a light on all the little routines and rituals we’ve rediscovered this year that make us feel joyful, from baking sourdough bread to recipe sharing and cooking from scratch. It’s always rewarding to create something, be it a painting or a bit of DIY, but it’s even better when you can eat it afterwards! Everyone has embraced cooking and baking and it’s such a joy to see, we had empty flour shelves at the end of each day during March and April!

I get that #AvocaFeeling when I smell the first mince pies being baked in our kitchens, but there are so many little things about winter that I find joyful; from home comforts like lovely candles and a crackling fire, to wrapping up in cosy knitwear.

It’s been a challenging year. Our team have been very busy ensuring our food markets remained fully stocked, and that we could deliver to customers who need to cocoon or limit their exposure to others. I’m definitely looking forward to spending some quiet time with my family over the Christmas period. I think recent times have taught us to really cherish the simple things in life that we once might have taken for granted.”

Roisin Lafferty founder and creator, Kingston Lafferty Design, shares her #AvocaFeeling

Avoca has always been a treat for the senses. I used to work beside the store in Kilmacanogue and it provided an escape from a long day – a delicious meal of heaped salad followed by a baked delight, and some retail therapy! I found lovely interior things and beautiful wardrobe additions. Avoca was the first store to tap into providing visitors with a truly all-encompassing experience. Good design to me should always enhance your senses – I have got a sense of luxury and quality there, that #AvocaFeeling. It has always been a treat for me.

I am drawn to beautiful spaces and the Avoca environment and atmosphere keeps me going back. I associate Avoca with times spent with my mum, lazy indulgent Sundays when we had time to while away an afternoon together, browsing the beautiful displays, stacks of interior books, stunning stationery and delightful details. We celebrated many a family event in the wonderful Fern Restaurant, such an incredible space – sky high panes of glass, wonderful furniture and tumbling planting. Luckily the Ballsbridge shop is close to where I live and work, so the same familiar scents, delicious tastes and beautiful blooms are close at hand and a weekly treat.

Events planner Tara Fay shares her #AvocaFeeling …

Avoca – where do I start? I have so many favourites from all the different Avoca stores. I tend to think of each of the locations as standalone boutiques: Rathcoole is my pit stop on the way to meetings in Limerick or Tipperary and it’s also the place I pop into for Christmas shopping, I love the layout, so many nooks and crannies, essentially a little treasure trove and the fact that there is gift wrapping, well, win, win… Kilmacanogue always seems like the day out place, great for lunch and of course some food shopping or book shopping as well as of course great takeaway coffee – those scones are dangerous. Site visits to Powerscourt [a venue where Tara would often organise weddings] always involves a meeting in the coffee shop afterwards and a quick check in on what has landed in the stores. There are always surprises and I often find little extras for events. In fact, at Avoca in Malahide I once found a whole box of painted parasols for an event. No visit to the Royal county is complete without a stop at the store in Dunboyne and its fab garden centre selection. Avoca Monkstown’s food market is the place to find that cheese you want and Ballsbridge always has the best flowers.

My Avoca cookery books from Suffolk street are well worn at this stage and the whole family know not to touch these.

My earliest memories of that #AvocaFeeling are when visiting The Mill in Avoca, I remember being fascinated with the feel and touch of the wool and the colours as they always seemed to reflect what was outside. So even on a warm summer day, you walked inside, where it was rather dark, but the colours jumped out at you.

On a winter’s day, there is nothing more delightful than curling up in front of the fire, with my Avoca blanket, sipping a take out coffee and eating a decadent berry scone.

GLOSS reader and Avoca fan Margaret Young shares her #AvocaFeeling of a hot coffee on the beach post-swim … Make a plan for self-care this week, whatever that means to you, movement, time outdoors, reading, sea swims. Whatever it is, don’t skimp on it, we need it now more than ever.

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