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It’s definitely starting to feel like.. C H R I S T M A S!
The festive feeling kicked off for me earlier last month when I was invited to the Tesco Christmas Press Launch in 25 Fitzwilliam Place, hosted by the beautiful former Pussycat Doll, Kimberly Wyatt.
Kimberly began the day with a cooking demo of her favourite holiday treats and the evening continued at the Fitzwilliam Place venue afterwards.
When I say Tesco went all out, I mean they went ALL out! The door was dressed with a beautiful wreath, garlands and glistening lanterns and as you arrived the host and hostess welcomed you in, took your jacket and invited you into the parlour for a drink..
You see, the house was dressed like a (quite luxurious) family home, the tree was standing over dozens of gifts and toys, a cozy sofa sat in front of a dressed fireplace, complete with a post dinner board game and even ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ played on the TV… there was so much to take in, there was something happening in every corner of the house, and enough food and drink to feed a small country! Tesco know how to host a Press Launch I tell you..! Jay Gatsby would have been proud! All of this, made possible with Tesco products.
My favourite thing of the evening was the Prosecco Bar, who in their right mind wouldn’t prop themselves up on it for the evening? The cocktail of the evening was Tesco’s Prosecco with a dash of their Sloe Gin! Now this is something I never would have thought of doing, the Sloe berries giving the Prosecco a beautiful festive blush colour and a flavour to blow your socks off, it’s fruity and delicious! The glasses were garnished with strawberries but at Christmas I’ll use redcurrant for a festive look.
Upstairs, we had ‘The Good Room’ a display Christmas dinner was laid out, live music and lashings of chocolates, mince pies and cheese, canapé’s circulated the room too, all of which were Tesco’s own!
There is nothing I love more than playing hostess, I must admit I was one of the 36% of Irish people that finds Christmas overwhelmingly stressful, my first time cooking Christmas dinner was a battle but it worked out perfectly. I have nailed it over the last few years, learning how to organise myself and plan ahead but Tesco have made things extremely helpful this year.. Take their Bord Bia approved Irish ham fillet that is ready to cook, with mulling spices like Ginger, Pimento, Nutmeg, Clove, Cinnamon in addition to apples and oranges… delicious!
My Top Tip:
Remove saltiness by boiling your ham joint in water for thirty minutes before draining it and replacing the water with fresh water and spices, I also add a can of hard cider to the water for extra flavour, in addition to a pint of apple juice.
Remove the large fat cap after boiling and cut diamond shapes into the remaining fat, placing cloves into your incisions. Make a delicious glaze by combining a jar of marmalade with a glass of whiskey and a cup of brown sugar, warming it in a saucepan until combined, paint it over the ham with a pastry brush. Place the ham in a 170° C oven and re-glaze every thirty minutes for 90 minutes, your ham will be a beautiful burnished golden brown and will taste amazing, I do this every year and it turns out wonderful!
To me, a hostess provides plenty of food that will keep people talking for weeks and the Champagne flowing of course! There are plenty of delicious canape’s to choose from including a 2 for €6 selection of skewers, Asian finger food, delicious Brie & Cranberry Filo parcels (which I get every year for my Christmas Eve ‘Nibblies and Champagne’ without fail) you cannot go wrong! Use silver trays for immaculate presentation or serve on antique forks… failing that, they also stock disposable silver party platters so there’s no excuse not to look spectacular! Adding garnishes like olives, capers, parmesan shards and creme fraiche with chives will amp it up even more – your guests will think you have caterer’s in!
Okay so if Filo Parcels and Champagne are not your thing, there are mini battered cocktail sausages, mini chicken Kievs, sausage rolls, loaded potato skins and chicken wings among a host of other delicious treats and refreshing craft beers for the boys at 4 for €10!
I simply adore a glass of fizz at Christmas, it’s either that or Mulled Wine, if you want a decent bottle of Prosecco that’s not going to taste cheap- after all it is Christmas, Finest* Prosecco at €18 a bottle offers flavours of crisp apple, grapefruit and a hint of honey, which will compliment festive food beautifully! Why not mix it up a little too with their beautiful Finest* French Grain Vodka (€27) make some delicious cocktails, just like Grey Goose but not the price tag!
Anyone For A Cocktail?
A little Festive Punch from Tesco
200ml cranberry juice
200ml clementine juice
6 tsp brown sugar (optional)
300ml soda water
150g fresh cranberries
small bunch fresh mint, leaves picked
You’ve got to love Fallon & Byrne, Ireland’s oasis for the seasoned epicurean, they have fruit and veg you will never have heard of before…like Mouli…had no idea what that was- now I know it’s a vegetable used a lot in Asian cooking.. it also seems to be the only place you can get a Dragonfruit in Dublin..
Moving swiftly on, F&B have been copied by other businesses around the country but never equalled, upstairs in the Exchequer St location, is a function room and an elegant continental style restaurant with crisp white linens. The People’s park restaurant opened in the old Victorian tea room building which used to be a dingy old greasy spoon with PVC tablecloths, painted white walls, strip lighting and bad coffee, the overhaul was a breath of fresh air when it arrived, circa 2014, a large space with wooden floors, the painted walls were banished and extended out with glass walls, wood and red brick with cozy wool chairs and the upmarket gastropub menu is to die for! On the menu is fluffy panko coated cod (actual cod not substitute) with delicious home made tartare sauce, and the burgers are to die for Ballyhenry beef with basil aioli and pickled cucumber with deliciously crisp french fries. If you just want a bowl of soup to warm your heart, the portions are huge and do try the seafood chowder, chock full of fish, big hearty chunks, you won’t need to eat for a week!!
I do love how the staff are all bubbly, have a passion for food and engage in banter with punters, it’s so refreshing, the atmosphere is as light and airy as the decor- a breath of fresh air! If you find yourselves overwhelmingly full with a feeling of “Bolg na Nollaig” (Christmas belly in Irish), take a walk on the pier and get some fresh air while you walk off that overindulgence..
Honestly, it’s not very expensive, we went for our 6th wedding anniversary lunch and expected to pay more, we had the full starter and main, drinks, pellegrino and a glass of Prosecco all for €65! Outstanding! Considering the quality of the food, completely top drawer! I hope you go & enjoy- ’cause you will!
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