Christmas gifting can be hard. Some people are really good at it, others are not. We can't help with those people who love cars, clothes or cold hard cash, but we can help with the ones who love to eat and drink, and if you're sick of your mother getting you hand cream and socks every year, maybe subtly drop this in the family whatsapp. Part 1 is for those of you who feel the need to give a physical gift that you can wrap. Part 2 featuring experiences (that can't be wrapped) is coming next week...
1) Chocolate from the Cocoa Atelier Pop-Up In Brown Thomas
When Cocoa Atelier's Drury Street shop closed in early 2018 wails were heard across the city, and although their pre-boxed chocolates are still available in Dollard and Co and Donnybrook Fair, there hasn't been a base to go in and design your own - until now. The handmade chocolate makers have popped up on the third floor of Brown Thomas until the 27th of December, so you can once again make your own box of 16, 24 or 36 chocolates (€20/€30/€40) or pick up a chocolate Christmas tree filled with velvet almonds, Provence hazelnuts or candied almonds. It's also very important that you pick up a bag each of milk and dark chocolate drops, along with their handmade marshmallows, then go home and make the Cocoa Atelier hot chocolate, which is jaw-droppingly good and will ruin all other hot chocolates until the end of time.
2) A Ballykeefe Gin Gift Set
Is there anyone who doesn't like gin? If there is we haven't found them, but this one's a bit special. Kilkenny-based Ballykeefe Distillery took home gold for their Lady Desart Gin in this year's USA Spirits Ratings - kind of a big deal, and the inclusion of three oriental peppers in the distillery makes this on a bit more interesting than the average. Wild forest and long red peppers are sourced from mountain forests in Vietnam, while the mondulkiri red pepper comes from Cambodia, and we really like this simply served with tonic, but you can also add sliced strawberry and peppercorns. Gift sets which include glasses and mini bottles of their regular gin and sloe gin are €49.99 and are available in selected SuperValu stores.
3) A Sheridan's Cheese Club Subscription
Anyone with even a passing interest in cheese will enjoy this, but cheese fiends will plan the whole month around delivery day. For €40 a month Sheridan's will send you four cheeses (or sometimes three and a jar of something like their famous truffle honey) with a theme (e.g. mountain cheeses, Irish cheeses, Italian cheeses) and notes about each one. You'll learn who made it and how, and why it's tasting particularly good right now, and it's basically an education in cheese. You can buy a gift subscription for a set period or just as a once off, and if buying for your own household make sure there are plenty of cheese lovers there as you get a lot of it. Sign up to the Sheridan's Cheese Club here.
4) A Coffee Subscription From Bean Delivered
Bean Delivered is a new coffee subscription service which launched in June this year, sending out a new Irish roasted coffee each month, from places like Carrow Coffee in Sligo, Tra Coffee Roasters in Waterford and Brother Hubbard's Farmhand Coffee in Dublin. Coffee subscriptions start at €20 a month, and they've just launched their Christmas gift boxes for €50 or €70, containing coffee, a French press, a reusable cup and chocolate. Sign up here.