Food&Wine editor Gillian Nelis picks her favourite products from this year’s Dunnes Stores Simply Better Christmas collection.
Yoghurts, from 99c each, and granola, €3.99
I don’t tend to eat a cooked breakfast on Christmas morning - I find they fill me up too much - so I gravitate towards something simple like a bowl of creamy yoghurt topped with a really good granola. This year it will be the new cinnamon, berry and nut granola made for Simply Better by the Foods of Athenry in Galway, on top of a tangy berry yoghurt.
All butter croissants and all butter pains aux chocolats, €3.69/€3.99 each
A well-stocked freezer is a Christmas essential, and these buttery treats made with free-range eggs are perfect for when you’re craving a rich pastry, but don’t want to leave the house to get one. The kids will love them too.
Irish crab cocktail, €6
Made with crab meat supplied by Shellfish Ireland in Castletownbere in west Cork, this cocktail is rich enough to feel like a Christmas treat, but not so rich that the delicate flavour of the crab itself is overwhelmed. It would make a great, no effort required, starter for the big day.
Irish free-range chicken liver pâté, €4
From Zanna Cookhouse in Co Wexford comes this award-winning chicken liver pâté. Creamy and delicious, it’s made with free range chicken livers, and has a balanced flavour that should appeal to all of your guests this Christmas. With some good crackers and chutney, this would be a meal in itself.
Heritage bronze turkey breast with cranberry, apricot and clementine stuffing, €39.99
There’s an annual discussion in our house about trying something different for Christmas dinner, but I’m a traditionalist when it comes to this meal, so turkey has to make an appearance. This bacon-wrapped breast from Hogan’s Farm in Co Meath is incredibly easy to cook, and is perfect for anyone who wants a turkey dinner with minimum fuss. A real crowd-pleaser.
Irish farmhouse Ardsallagh with cranberries, €4.89
I first tasted this cheese while I was judging this year’s Irish Farmhouse Cheesemaker’s awards, where it won a gold medal. It was well deserved, because this creamy goat’s cheese made in Carrigtwohill in Cork is a delight. I’m generally not a huge fan of flavoured cheeses - I’ve tasted some very odd ones over the years - but this is a different proposition, with the cranberries adding a gorgeous tart note. One to enjoy with crackers in front of the fire.
Italian-made gelato, €4
There are four flavours available in this range of Italian-made gelato, including dark chocolate, pistachio and hazelnut. But my favourite is the crema, which isn’t really a flavour at all - it’s a simple, unadorned gelato that is sometimes referred to as vanilla gelato without the vanilla. Serve a scoop with a hot dessert like a crumble, enjoy it on its own, or add a really good shot or two of espresso for a delicious affogato.
Wexford farmhouse ice cream, €4
I don’t have the world’s sweetest tooth by any stretch, but I’ll always say yes to the offer of a bowl of rum and raisin ice-cream. Made by the Cooper family in Co Wexford, it’s one of three flavours in the range, alongside vanilla, and salted caramel and honeycomb.
Chocolate profiterole selection, and chocolate and hazelnut praline profiteroles, €5 each
When I was a child, the arrival of profiteroles to the table signified that whatever occasion was being marked was a very special one. I’ve had a soft spot for them ever since, so I’ll definitely be treating myself to the ones made for Simply Better by Robert Bullock of Le Patissier in Dublin. Keep an eye out for the rest of his range in store - Bullock and his team really do make cracking desserts.
Hand-iced Christmas cake slices, €4.99
Christmas cake is the Marmite of seasonal food - some love it, others run a mile from it. If you’re in the former camp but are surrounded by members of the latter, these Christmas cake slices made by Carleton Cakes in Co Monaghan are for you. They’re moist and fruity, with just enough icing, and are a great standby to have for unexpected guests.
Click here to see the full range of Simply Better products.
Brought to you in association with Dunnes Stores Simply Better