Usually by this time of the year, we’re either on holiday abroad stuffing ourselves with local food and wine, or we’re fervently researching local websites to help decide where’s first on our list when we get off the plane. This year however it's a time to follow advice, avoid non-essential travel, and use the time to explore our own lovely, albeit rainy, country instead. While we know Ireland has no end of great local spots, not everywhere has fully reopened, and not everyone is keen to spend as much time in cafes and shops as usual, so there may be some additional planning needed to make sure you’re eating all the best things, even if it means bringing some of them with you (note: this is particularly relevant for that isolated Air BnB in the middle of nowhere. Peace and quiet is great but being stuck for decent food is not). Here are 10 things you can stock up on before you leave Dublin to make sure you eat well when you get there.
1) The Chef's Menu From Host
Host at Home has been one of the highlights of our year. At the start of lockdown they had to close the restaurant and re-open as a grocery store, selling their own signature plates to have at home. We’ve eaten our way through most of their menu at this stage (for research purposes obvs), and the duck ragu has gotten us through some of our darkest lockdown days. For the ultimate in holiday extravagance at your home away from home go for the chef’s menu featuring a 600g salt-aged rib eye on the bone, a pasta dish, starters, sides, and dessert for two for €60. It’s the ideal meal for the first night in your new surrounds as all that needs to be cooked is the steak and fresh pasta - everything else just needs to be heated or plated.
2) Cookies From Bread 41
If you were lucky enough to be able to get to Bread 41 easily during lockdown (guilty), it’s probably safe to say you have a dependency now and there’s a real risk that going a day without their fresh breads and pastries could cause serious withdrawals. We can’t have that so would highly recommend that you stock-up big time before getting in the car. Their salted chocolate cookies are legendary and they’re the ultimate in portable. Pro tip: take more than you think you’ll eat; while they’re best eaten on the day of purchase five mins in a hot oven will bring a day-old cookie back to life beautifully. You can also freeze them.
3) Agnolotti from Forest Avenue
When you think of Dublin, what images come to mind? The Poolbeg Towers? Yes. The Spire? Possibly. A plateful of cheesy agnolotti under a blanket of parmesan eaten in the minimalist calm of Forest Avenue? Definitely. They may have been the first Dublin restaurant to pivot to a grocery shop and they’ve had a queue of people lining-up for their signature pasta to cook at home ever since. It’s the ideal holiday food, cooks in five minutes, and the addition of butter and sage elevates it to a level of culinary excellence that your AirBnB has probably never seen before.
4) A Pizza Kit From Toonsbridge Dairy
If you’re going to be driving all day and hate the thought of having to prep and cook a meal as soon as you arrive at your holiday rental, especially if you have hungry kids to feed, we would highly recommend you grab a pizza kit from Toons Bridge Dairy on George's Street. There’s a choice of margherita or chorizo, and each kit makes two pizza, complete with Toons Bridge’s own special pizza mozzarella. We’d recommend you leave space in your boot for lots of olives, cheese and charcuterie too. Plus, you’ll need some cannoli for the road; theirs are some of the nicest we’ve tried recently.
5) The Bacon Cheeseburger Box From Featherblade
While it’s not BBQ weather, we’re nothing if not optimists. If you don’t have the foresight to make sure the house you’ve booked has a BBQ, even a frying pan will help you make the most of a burger kit from Featherblade. You’ll thank us when you’re tucking into some of the tastiest burgers we’ve found, and we did a LOT of research. Order for Dublin/Maynooth/Celbridge/Leixlip/Wicklow via www.stuffuneed.ie, or nationwide to anywhere via Featherblade themselves if you don’t want to have to find room in the car. If you do have room in the car you can also collect. Boxes are €40 plus €5 for delivery and feed six hungry people.
6) A Lunch Hamper From Mamó
This one will ideally be eaten on the day it’s delivered, but what better excuse to stop halfway to your destination for a picnic. Plan ahead, order your Mamó lunch hamper to be delivered on Saturday before you set-off, and you could be digging in to Tartine sourdough, olives, soused herring, prosciutto, and lamb en-route. Beats service station sushi any day. Pre-order on their website.
7) Sugar Pit Cured Beef Rib from Baste
Baste, Andy Noonan’s outdoor dining and take-away BBQ spot on Clanbrassil Street, has been flexing from just pick-up to outdoor mini-festival venue. If you’re not going to be sticking around you can pre-order an extra-large Shorthorn beef rib that’s been cured, cooked over smoke and vacuum-packed for you to reheat at your holiday destination. It’s exceptional value at €20, and there’s also 500g of cooked pulled pork for €18. Of course, there’s nothing to stop you buying a full hot BBQ box with sides and scoffing them in your car before you even leave the city. We don’t judge. Order and availability info is on www.bastebbq.com
8) Dulce de Leche Pancake Kit from ALMA
There’s nothing like waking up on the first morning of your holiday when your brain snaps into gear, reminding you that you have a break from work and a whole week or two of freedom, so it’s important that you start as you mean to go on with a delicious breakfast. The dulce de leche pancake kit from ALMA ticks all the boxes - fast to prepare, luxurious, and supremely tasty thanks to the additional toppings of fruit, brandy orange mascarpone, and THAT dulce de leche to smother the fluffy pancakes in. See www.alma.ie for pre-order info.
9) A BoSsam Feast From Mister S
We loved Mister S’ weekly offerings during lockdown, and while they’re now open again for eat-in, they’ve kept the BosSam Feast on the menu, for collection or delivery in Dublin and parts of Wicklow and Kildare. Featuring a giant Andarl pork shoulder with flatbreads, pickles, brown butter roasties (which reheat surprisingly well), salads, sides and sauces, it’s a monster of a meal that would easily stretch to feeding 6-8 adults, for €80. We’ve had it, we loved it, and think it would be a great option to bring on holidays to let everyone graze at over a few days.
10) Allta Box
Stocking the car to bring lots of lovely food with you is fine, but what if you’re not organised enough? Or, worse again, what if you get to your destination to find that lots of local shops and restaurants haven’t reopened yet or have erratic hours? Allta to the rescue. They ship their classic AlltaBox (plus a new shellfish box), all over Ireland so you can get bread, cured meats, pickles, pasta and wine delivered right to your holiday home door. Boxes go on sale every Saturday for delivery the following week. Details are on www.alltabox.ie.