Best Home Cooking Christmas Gifts
Yes, we are fast approaching that time of year when the notion of buying something for your nearest and dearest that they will actually like is getting more and more difficult. And yet we persevere because we know that all it takes to achieve this is a little bit of thought. When it comes to home cooking, however, it’s even more of a challenge because you need to strike that balance of sourcing a present that is not only personal but functional. Featured below – from the local to the international – are gifts that we think will hit the mark. All items listed are available online from the respective outlets, although prices may vary with regard to postage and/or shipping costs.
ACHILL ISLAND SEA SALT GIFT SET
Founded as a family business in 2013 (they started producing sea salt in their kitchen, which is surely the epitome of ‘family’), the featured product range includes crisps (beetroot vegetable) and chocolate (salt and seaweed). The boss of the business, however, is this gift set, a tangy, tasty trio of authentic Achill Island salt varieties: Pure Sea, Smoked Sea, and sea salt with Atlantic Wakame (seaweed).
Further details: https://achillislandseasalt.ie/products/achill-island-sea-gift-set
YAMAZAKI HOME TOSCA COOKBOOK STAND
There are many of us that still wish to crack open a cookery book when we want to study a recipe or three, and this Japanese-designed minimalist steel/wood stand is perfect for such a preference. The most practical thing about it is that it can easily hold pages in place, which frees up your hands for somewhat more important matters such as kneading dough and sipping cocktails.
ATHULA FUSION FOODS
Fusing Southern Asian produce of zesty lemons and coconuts with Irish spices and herbs? Authentic recipes from a village in Sri Lanka to the remoteness of County Cork? Chef Athula Kuruppu Achchige arrived in Ireland almost 20 years ago to work in Cork city’s acclaimed Hayfield Manor hotel, but his dream of operating his own restaurant came true in 2012 when Rooster Pil Pil opened in Ballincollig. Since then, he has never compromised on his dedication, as proven by the gorgeous fusion sauces that can be found all across the southern half of the country.
Further details: https://athulafusionfoods.com/
HIROTA GLASS SOY SAUCE CRUET
Back in the 1970s, Hirota Glass developed a soy sauce dispenser that solved issues of leakages. In doing so, it created a minor revolution in the kitchen and at the dinner table as being the first ‘ground-glass’ soy sauce bottle. The design was so clever that it received the 2020 Good Design/Long Life Design Award.
Further details: www.shokunin.com/en/hirota
ZOE’S GHANA KITCHEN SALT SAMPLER
We have already featured salt from the environs of Achill Island, but what about from further afield? What about seasoning your food with the likes of hibiscus, spicy chilli, or umami okra salts? Suitable for vegan and organic tastes, London-based Zoe Adjonyoh aims to help “people take back control of the ingredients used in their food and reimagine healthy eating through an African lens.”
Further details: https://www.zoesghanakitchen.co.uk/shop/salt-sampler
ADARE MANOR – AN EPICUREAN JOURNEY
When calm has descended upon the kitchen, and when the cookers are taking care of the food for the next hour or so, sit yourself down and have a read of Adare Manor – An Epicurean Journey, by Turtle Bunbury. Documenting the dining experiences through the decades at one of Ireland’s most acclaimed luxury hotels, Bunbury’s coffee-table tome presents a wealth of historical detail about the establishment’s warm spirit of hospitality. Also included are recipes, from straightforward bread to mouthwatering desserts.
Further details: www.adaremanor.com
THERMAPEN 4 THERMOMETER
The response time of any thermometer is determined by numerous details, the most important being the state of the substance being assessed. This super-swift, ergonomic thermometer features an easy-to-read automatic rotating digital display with an exact calculation of temperature over the range of -49.9 to 299.9-Centigrade. The item’s water-resistant ‘biomaster’ casing reduces bacterial growth, while an integrated motion sensor puts it to ‘sleep’ when it’s resting on a counter or table, thereby reducing battery usage.
Further details: https://www.souschef.co.uk/products/superfast-thermapen-thermometer
From making your own chocolates at home to training as a chocolatier is one big step, but that’s exactly what Co Wicklow-based Rhoda Kirwan did several years ago. A multiple Blas na hEireann and Great Taste award winner, she sources premium quality Fair Trade chocolate with which she then blends flavours as varied as spices, cherries, ginger, honeycomb, pistachio, pecan, sea salt, almonds and caramel. Perfect for a treat with a post-cooking cup of coffee or, dare we suggest it, something a little stronger.
Further details: https://www.rhodacocoa.com/
FRANTOIO MURAGLIA AROMATIC OLIVE OIL SELECTION
They may be the preference of Michelin-starred chefs, but that isn’t going to beat us into submission as we toil over hot stoves in our own no less worthy kitchens. Perfect for those cooks that like adventurous if not audacious flavours, the Frantoio Muraglia olive oil selection features Rocca Imperiale lemon, celery, ginger and Calabrian chilli. Sprinkle any of the over your pizzas, pasta, soups, salad dressings and – uh, oh, here comes trouble! – desserts, and you will have a range of certifiable thumbs-up.
CONNEMARA ORGANIC SEAWEED
Hand-harvested from the ebbing/flowing Atlantic waters off the Connemara coast, the ambition of this family business is to introduce “edible seaweeds as an alternative food source that is healthy, nutritional, tasty, and good for the environment.” Among the healthy food produce that can be integrated into your cooking are bladderwrack (supports and maintains a healthy immune system), dillisk (a superb source of protein, fibre, minerals and vitamins), sea lettuce (a terrific energy booster) and knottedwrack (a robust anti-oxidant).
Further details: https://www.connemaraseaweedcompany.ie/
The winner of the cleverest name for an indigenous food product, Tipperary-based Emerald Oils diversified some years ago from farming into growing rapeseed. Using no artificial additives, colourings or preservatives, the oils are passed through a multi-stage filtration system that advances inherent clarity. In place of butter, coconut oil and olive oil, rapeseed can be incorporated into making bread, fruit cake, chocolate biscuit cake as well as in the process of frying, roasting and marinating.
Further details: https://www.emeraldoils.ie/
WRITTEN BY TONY CLAYTON-LEA