But what if I told you that no matter what your budget, there are seriously good, locally made Christmas foods out there to match any budget?
You just need to know where to go, and what to buy!
One top tip are the partnerships the supermarkets have created with small producers over the past few years. Initiatives such as SuperValu’s Food Academy, Dunnes Simply Better, Aldi Specially Selected and Lidl’s Delux ranges all tap into the wonderful array of small Irish food producers.
So even though it might not say it on the box or packet, you might find those same local brands you know and love under a different brand and often cheaper too! So, whether this Christmas you’ll Splash the Cash or be a Wise Owl, I’ve got you sorted with my pick of the best, whatever your budget!
Skeaghanore Farm, near Ballydehob in West Cork, raises award-winning free-range geese on its farm overlooking Roaring Water Bay. Order your goose and pick up from their farm ready for the oven, along with all the tips you could possibly want from Helena and her family on the best way to cook it too! Purchased direct from farm, order online, local pick up or nationwide delivery: €15 p/kg, typically €60-75 per goose. www.skeaghanore.ie
Get the exact same free-range award-winning goose from the same West Cork farm in Aldi stores nationwide, under their Specially Selected brand. €54, weight ranges from 4.3kg-5.5kg
James Whelan Butchers is offering its 3-star 2020 Great Taste award-winning Green Ham on the Bone from their concession at Dunnes Stores in Bishopstown or via their online shop. €51 for 8.5kg — see www.jameswhelanbutchers.com.
Kathleen Noonan in the English Market is one of the market’s great traditional butchers, where firm Cork favourites such as skirts and kidneys, crubeens and offal can still be got.
Kathleen’s daughter, Pauline, now runs the stall, and at Christmas time offers hand-finished Green Ham on the Bone cured using an old-fashioned family recipe, just as they have since 1955. €45 for 8kg — chat to Pauline at Noonan’s in The English Market.
Wild Irish Salmon is a rare and wonderful treat, and this year the salmon are said to be particularly good! Cork is blessed with Masters of fish smokery; Woodcock Smokery and Belvelly Smokehouse are the only two that use wild Irish salmon caught in the Blackwater River. Woodcock Smokery – €90 for 500g (www.woodcocksmokery.com) | Frank Hederman, Belvelly Smokehouse - €72 for 500g (www.frankhederman.com).
Anthony Creswell of Ummera Smokehouse recently scooped up the UK’s Guild of Fine Foods Great Taste Golden Fork for Ireland Award 2020 for his Smoked Irish Organic Salmon.
Ummera use quality organically farmed salmon at their smokery. €38.50 for 500g — available in SuperValu, specialist food shops and online www.ummera.com
Hard to go wrong with the delicious pâtés made with care from Isabelle Sheridan’s On the Pig’s Back. Rich and packed with flavour, smooth and always with a generous seal of butter on top. Pick up at the English Market or in Douglas, or even now via their online shop. Chicken, Garlic and Brandy Pate, €3.90 for 150g — instore or online www.onthepigsback.ie
Friendly with your local butcher? Ask them to set aside a few chicken livers for you and make your own pâté at home in no time at all. A great excuse to make use of the Christmas brandy!
Five Farms Irish Cream is Ireland’s only farm to bottle liqueur, made from fresh milk produced on five West Cork farms. Butterscotch, caramel and vanilla on the nose; coffee and maple on the palate — it’s like a dessert in a bottle! €34 for 70cl — specialist off-licences and SuperValu.
The Hortus Gin Liqueur range from Lidl has proved to be a perennial favourite with shoppers looking for a seasonal flavour boost to their usual gin and tonic. This season’s offering is Spiced Plum and Cinnamon, the colour of clove rock. €14.99 for 50cl — in store at Lidl.
Add a touch of class to your Christmas morning by brewing up a cup of Ballymaloe Breakfast Tea. Leaves, never bags, this is a morning cuppa with a touch of elegance, and all presented in a beautifully designed tea caddy. €14.95 for 220g — online www.ballymaloeshop.ie
Corkonians are fiercely loyal and it is hard to not reach for the Barry’s when the urge for tea is calling. So, spruce the time spent brewing your much-loved cuppa with a gift pack of tea in a tin caddy emblazoned with the famous Barry’s red and gold livery. €5 for 250g — supermarkets and online www.barrystea.ie
Put a little rebel in, and on, all over your Christmas sambos and cold cuts this festive season. Rebel Chilli’s sweet, tart and piquant award-winning Jalapeno and Raspberry Jelly is perfect for the job. €4.50 for 200g — most supermarkets and online www.rebelchilli.com
Folláin, based in Ballyvourney, West Cork, was established as a family business in 1983, making jams, chutneys and condiments. They also produce Dunnes Stores Specially Selected Sweet Chilli Sauce, so good it just keeps winning awards. €2.50 for 300g — available in store at Dunnes.
Joe Burns and his wife Sandra grow the potatoes, carrots, parsnips and beetroots on their family farm in Ballycurraginny, Cork, that go into each and every pack of hand-cooked Joe’s Farm Crisps.
Delicious, moreish snacks with just a pinch of sea salt so every flavour can be savoured. €4.50 for 70g — available from independent food shops.
Keogh’s family farm outside Dublin is quite the success story, and their habit of pairing up with small producers to flavour their crisps made from potatoes grown on the farm, gives a unique Irish flavour to the range: think Gubbeen Chorizo and Wild Atlantic Sea Salt from West Cork. €2.70 for 125g — available everywhere and online at www.keoghs.ie
A Clare Nash (Nash19) Plum Pudding is a taste of family history — there is love, care and attention in every ounce of those three-pound puddings, all fruit and thoroughly soaked with brandy. Generous, just like the pudding’s creator.
If the thought of a traditional plum pudding sets your heart a- flutter, this is the pudding for you! €34.95 for 1.4kg/3lb — available in store and online www.nash19.com
With Arun Kapil’s discerning eye for only selecting the finest of spices and quality ingredients that go into everything in the flavour-forward Green Saffron range, imagine the waves of deliciousness digging an eager spoon into their Christmas Pudding. Juicy fruits soaked in Irish Cider and whiskey, enveloped in Arun’s signature spices, wrapped in gold and scarlet, it is a festive sight to behold! €9 for 390g — online at www.greensaffron.com
Fruity, boozy, nutty and wrapped in marzipan and icing — that’s the Diva Boutique Bakery Christmas Cake! Handmade marzipan, whole walnuts and hazelnuts, plump fruits and flavoured with orange, vanilla and brandy and all decorated with an understated festive sophistication. €60 for 2kg (8” diameter) — online at www.divaboutiquebakery.com
Wildberry Bakery in sleepy Enniskeane is where Susan Robbins Fehilly makes her award-winning, gluten free Jewelled Christmas Cakes. Instead of a robe of white icing, Susan’s cake comes with a crown of beautifully glistening candied fruit and speaks to the sumptuously fruity cake within. Pretty enough to gift too! €15 for 800g, €25 for 1600g — online at www.wildberrybakery.com or ABC in The English Market.