12 Foodie Luxuries To Indulge In NOW (Because Christmas Calories Don't Count) 5 years ago

12 Foodie Luxuries To Indulge In NOW (Because Christmas Calories Don't Count)

Christmas is a time for giving. If you're like me that includes giving yourself a break, giving yourself heartburn and giving the finger to your Fat Fighters meeting for at least two weeks while you enjoy every last mince pie and goose-fat drenched roast potato the festive season has to offer. 

There is no other time of year when it just makes sense to find a cosy restaurant for a lovely long lunch or invite family over for a blow-out dinner.

There's so much more to Christmas food these days than turkey and ham... from flavoured gins to to hot chocolates, doughnuts to pigs in blankets, it'd be a shame to limit yourself.

Wine with character: The king of chat turned winemaker, Graham Norton has just launched his second wine, a superb Shiraz wine, available exclusively in SuperValu stores nationwide. The Cork native’s winemaker credentials are quickly gathering momentum, with a highly acclaimed GN Sauvignon Blanc blend launch in 2015 under his belt. €14.99 at SuperValu.

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Speaking of wine... the four-week wine appreciation courses take place in Ireland’s oldest wine venue, the beautifully restored wine vaults at ely bar & brasserie in the CHQ building in Dublin's IFSC next month. Each two-hour class is accompanied by supper and informative background and tasting notes are provided on the evening, as well as tasting sheets and a loose-leaf binder for you to continue to keep a journal of your wine experiences. The first four-week course begins on January 17 and costs €220 per person. Book here.

Party food doesn't get prettier than Mark & Spencers' Stuffing & Pigs In Blankets Garland (€14). The garland itself is pork, sage and onion stuffing topped with pigs in blankets and a cranberry glaze. It's cocktail sausages with notions. 
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If you need a new friend for your tonic, Thin Gin is a new Irish dry gin from Blackwater Spirits. The distinctive juniper perfume mingles with strong citrus notes of orange, lemon and lime on the nose. It uses all Irish grown botanicals such as apple, wild thyme, elder flowers, white clover and tansy.

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Christmas is a time for leftovers and there is no better way to make yours taste better than to slather them in mustard. The Lodge Barna mustards are our favourite. Try the Dingle Gin, Lime & Juniper and the Prosecco and Tarragon flavours, on sale all over Galway city and county, in Kerry (at the Dingle Distillery) and in Gleeson’s of Booterstown as well as online.

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On the topic of gin, you haven't lived until you've ordered a G&T at Wilde, the fabulous 1930's style terraced restaurant at Dublin's Westbury Hotel. Each gin is carefully paired with tasty fruits and fancy flavours to make the best of the brand's unique qualities. Try the Gunpowder with grapefruit and juniper berries, served theatrically at the table (they even pour the tonic down a special serving stick to preserve every last bubble!)

Sandeep Singhs glorious menu solidifies Wilde's position as the most exciting dinner reservation this Christmas (think lobster moilee, thick steaks with mac and cheese sides and freshly shucked oysters) and if you're planning on braking your low-carb diet just once over the festive period, we have two words for you: truffle chips. Open for dining and drinks seven days a week.

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If you’re a budding food stylist, baking blogger or café entrepreneur, the Three Month Certificate course at Dublin Cookery School is now open for booking for the first of its biannual courses of 2017. An intensive, hands-on, practical route to acquiring the skills needed to pursue a career in the food industry, Cookery School director Lynda Booth has gathered a team of inspirational and passionate tutors including John Wyer (Forest Avenue), Sunil Ghai (Pickle) and Danni Barry, the exceptionally talented Michelin-starred chef at EIPIC in Belfast, and the first female chef in Ireland since Myrtle Allen to gain a star. It ain’t cheap (€8,590) but all students get the opportunity to take a ‘stage’ placement in a top Dublin restaurant as part of the course and what you learn could place you on the fast track to a brand new career and open up all kinds of professional opportunities. See the website for details.

At Benoit’s Chocolate Factory's Hot Chocolate Bar in Dublin City Centre you can choose from toppings like marshmallows, caramel, mint, doughnuts or hazelnuts. Worth skipping breakfast for, in our book.

If boxes of biscuits aren't your thing... hit up the Arnotts Festive Flavours Market where Lisa Slevin's business Cupcake Insanity are dishing out Carrot Cake and Salted Caramel cupcakes and you can order an entire personlised gingerbread family!

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The limited edition Christmas Nespresso flavours are here, so naturally we're starting the day with a big mug of Apfelstrudel and cinnamon. More on the variations here.

Frequent flyers should be alerted to the fact that the Glendalough Porter Barrel 10 Year Old Irish Whiskey is available exclusively from The Loop at Dublin Airport. The 70cl is €46 (Duty Free) or €58 (Duty Paid). The Distillery was started by five friends with a passion for reviving the heritage of craft distilling in Ireland. Share with friends by the fire on a cold winter's night.

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Lastly, there's still time to make it a thoroughly Cork Christmas and tuck in to some traditional spiced beef on the big day. Tom Durcan starts mixing the spices for his famous Cork Traditional Spiced Beef in October, and a whopping six tonnes of the stuff goes across the counter each year. The best way to enjoy it is served cold and sliced, with caramelised Spanish onions, on crusty buttered white bread. Have one delivered to your door here.

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Got a foodie even you want us to know about? Email katie.mythen@herfamily.ie.