Slipping a hamper of premium local produce under the 2016 Christmas tree could be the most thoughtful gift you’ve ever given – and how appropriate in the final month of the Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink.
At this time of year there is a huge range of delicious locally produced artisan goodies to suit everyone’s palate. Make this Christmas extra special by matching just the right mix of rich, sweet and indulgent treats to the tastes of a loved one.
One option is to pamper that someone special via one of the local delis, hamper companies, farms shops and butcher-delis who will make up a hamper up for you.
From Coleraine’s luxury Belfri Deli hampers, to Downpatrick’s Oakley Fayre Christmas larder hamper to online Indie Fude gift hamper, or a Bite to Savour artisan gift box – there is plenty to choose from.
McCartney’s of Moira will create one to your specification and Pheasant Hill Farm will even deliver a Christmas hamper with a turkey and all the trimmings.
In Belfast, Arcadia Deli hampers are full of tasty Northern Ireland artisan foods, all wrapped up in beautiful hamper boxes and deliverable throughout the UK and Ireland. Sawers Luxury Hampers make amazing gifts too, and there’s festive, traditional and connoisseur baskets to choose from.
Create Your Own
The other option is to take some time to pick out the foods and drinks that someone really likes yourself.
To make your own Christmas hamper, all you have to do is think a bit, pick up the ingredients and get creative with your presentation. Pop into somewhere like Blackthorn and Willow in Glenarm, and everything you need could be there – jams, chutneys, oils, biscuits, teas and coffee.
It’s Christmas, so there’s got to be sweet treats. Neary Nogs white drinking chocolate, a La Coquine luxury chocolate box or some Cobden and Brown dark chocolate will be perfect. Or how about adding some Eleanor Craig’s Armagh apple fudge or a French Village Bakery lemon drizzle cake?
On the savoury side, cheese-lovers will want to include some of our tasty local cheeses: Kearney Blue from Portaferry, Young Buck raw milk blue cheese from Newtownards, Fivemiletown Oakwood smoked cheddar or the Dutch Gouda -style cheeses produced by City Cheese in Millisle. Complement with Ditty’s Irish Oatcakes or some wheaten toasts by Our Daily Bread.
For luxury condiments and accompaniments head to Brambleberry Jams in Lisburn for an array of chutneys, relishes, curds and marmalades. And speciality preserves, with combinations like peach marmalade with cognac from Enniskillen’s Erin Grove Preserves, definitely belong in your hamper.
Perfect for dipping, dripping and drizzling, also try the likes of the rhubarb and ginger balsamic oil from the fantastic Burren Balsamics range, or some vinaigrettes and flavour-infused oils by Harnett’s Oils.
A bottle of something is almost compulsory. Delicious made-in-Northern-Ireland drinks can range from tasty cordials by Papas Mineral Company, to fine Armagh cider and apple juice, to spirits such as Bushmills whiskey and Shortcross Gin.
A few bottles of local craft beer will keep real ale lovers happy, and for a fine cup of premium loose-leaf tea choose the herbal infusions and fruit blends from Belfast Suki Tea.
This could be your best Christmas hamper ever.