How does a foodie celebrate this Irish institution?
Every Irish person (and everyone living in Ireland) no doubt falls into one of two categories… either living in eternal anticipation of, or perennially unable to avoid the inevitability of the once-a-year festive review of all the latest toys and games (and quite a few old favourites), to aid undecided children with their Santa letters and provide an evening of cross-generational entertainment around a log fire or in the glow of the first deployment of Christmas lights.
1. FIND SOMETHING GREAT TO EAT
It is a lengthy television spectacle, so naturally the thoughts of the discerning foodie will turn to sustenance as the show progresses from mechanical diggers to rocking horses. Grazing boxes are a great solution for families gathering and equally wonderful for couples indulging in a bit of toy show nostalgia.
There are a wide range to choose from, with charcuterie and cheeses being popular, or try a box crammed with delicious fresh vegetables and vegetarian dips for a lighter bite. There are so many Irish entrepreneurs now delivering grazing boxes to your door, so be sure to look out for one serving your local area.
For after’s, mince pies are the obvious sweet treat. Bake from scratch using that old recipe you’ve been dying to try out, or save some time, but get the fresh-baked look by deploying some pre-made shortcrust pastry and a jar of good quality mince meat.
For an unusual treat, try some festive cannoli. Hailing from Italy, these pastry shells are filled with creamy sweet ricotta, dipped in melted chocolate, and finished with chopped pistachios, dried fruit or, for a festive twist, colored holiday sprinkles. If that feels like too much of a chore, your local artisan baker should have a selection available for purchase.
2. DON'T SKIMP ON THE DRINKS!
A great evening’s entertainment becomes all the better when a decent tipple is to hand. A good IPA or craft lager to accompany cured meats and cheese or a refreshing white wine to compliment crunchy vegetables. We are especially enjoying the clove’y aroma from our favourite artisan Weissbeer on these dark evenings, but get buying fast before they sell out!
Try hot chocolate for a warming comfort drink, laced with some chocolate flavored crème liqueur for the adults and with a marshmallow or two perched on top for the kids. Or alternatively, some mulled apple juice with the addition of a cinnamon stick, cloves and sliced lemons is a family favourite here.
3. REMEMBER THE KIDS
And speaking of the little ones, don’t forget some age appropriate nibbles. Home made popcorn is easy, nutritious and can be flavoured to suit everyone individually. Lightly salted, drizzled with real butter or – a favourite of the little ones living at foodeezz hq – salt and pepper! For something sweet, rice krispie buns made earlier in the day by the offspring are a guaranteed crowd pleaser and their preparation provides a handy entertainment slot too.
If pressed for time, buy in some cookies, festooned with festively appropriate décor to impress all members of the family – whatever the age.