The great outdoors: summer food and drink options from Dunnes Stores Simply Better Collection
Irish Cáis Óir halloumi, €3.49 or mix and match three for two until August 16
A perennially popular veggie option for barbecues, halloumi is a sheeps’ cheese that originated in Cyprus. This delicious Irish version is made by The Proper Dairy Company in Co Tipperary using milk from three family farms: cows’ milk from Oliver O’Gorman in Clonmel, goats milk from Seamus and Norma Leahy in Ballyquirk in Co Limerick, and sheeps’ milk from Brendan and Michael Crosse in Cashel. Veggie or not veggie, you’ll love its salty, tangy taste and satisfyingly chewy texture.
Italian sea salt and olive oil organic bruschetta, €2.99 down to €2 until August 16
In hot weather, I find myself craving salty food. If you do too, you’ll love these organic bruschettas made by the Perino bakery in Rome. Serve with an antipasti platter, topped with hummus or pâté, or on their own as a snack.
Handmade West Cork Gubbeen chorizo and Irish potato quiche, €4.50
Fingal Ferguson has acquired legendary status in the Irish food scene, and it’s not surprising: the meats he produces in the Gubbeen smokehouse in west Cork are among the best you will taste anywhere in the world. Here, Zanna Cookhouse combine Ferguson’s chorizo with Irish cream, Irish free-range eggs and Irish butter pastry to make a rich, indulgent quiche which can be eaten hot or cold. Serve it with a simple green salad for a delightful summer meal.
Handmade Irish smoked trout pâté, €4.99 or mix and match three for two until August 16
Pressed for time to put your picnic or outdoor gathering together? Some freshly-baked, crusty bread topped with this smoked trout pâté would be a great place to start. Made by Owen and Lorna Mullins of Zanna Cookhouse in Co Wexford, it’s made with rainbow trout farmed by Goatsbridge which is then combined with Irish cream cheese, crème fraîche, lemon and dill.
Ibérica charcuterie selection, €6.99 down to €6 until August 16
From the Salamanca region of Spain comes this flavourful selection of charcuterie: chorizo Ibérico spiced with paprika vera and garlic powder; loin de cebo de campo Ibérico made from pork loin flavoured with herbs, and jamón de Cebo de Campo Ibérico. It’s the work of a family business dating back to 1920, when Antonio Redondo Nieto began producing Ibérico dry-cured sausages and hams, and is the best kind of alfresco food: one that just requires opening, then eating.
Handmade pink grapefruit and coriander cordial, €3.99
If you haven’t tasted the cordials made by Clodagh Davis of Naturally Cordial in Enniscorthy in Co Wexford, you’re missing out. This pink grapefruit and coriander variety is one of her best, and has a great balance of sweetness and herbal notes. Serve with sparkling water and lots of ice for a refreshing summer cooler.
Italian hazelnut gelato, €4.99 down to €4.50 until August 16
The Visani family in Bologna in northern Italy have been making gelato since the late 1950s, and this variety combines Piedmont hazelnuts and dark chocolate pieces with Italian milk and cream. A dessert for grown-ups.
Handmade Irish strawberry and white chocolate panna cotta, €4
Robert Bullock and his team at Le Patissier in Dublin produce desserts and treats that would demolish the willpower of the most abstemious, and offer superb value for the quality. These panna cotta pots, which combine strawberries grown by Pat Clarke in Co Meath with Irish cream and milk, are a real crowd pleaser.
Four wines to try
Torre Oria Cava Brut Reserva, NV, Spain (ABV 11.5 per cent) €14.99
Nothing says fun in the sun likes bubbles and this cava is a fabulous, good value alternative to champagne. Made using the same method as the classic French sparkling, this comes from the Requena DOP and as a Reserva has been aged for at least 15 months. Delicious yeasty aromas are immediately present before settling into a bouquet of crisp apple and white fruits. Dry in style, this has an invigorating palate that is intensely juicy and lively before delving into a pleasing bitter almond finish. With its high acidity that pairs well with salty foods, it would be an ideal companion with the Spanish charcuterie, could cut the richness of the chorizo quiche and would be just perfect with the salt and olive oil bruschetta.
Nai E Señora, Albariño, Rias Baixas, Spain, 2020 (ABV 12.5 per cent) €14.99
The region of Rias Baixas lies on the Atlantic coast and the albariño grape absorbs the saline minerality of its coastline terroir with this vibrant wine coming from a vineyard with a modern approach to winemaking. There’s a mild nose at first with restrained aromas of peaches and pears along with nuances of mild grapefruit and herbs. A burst of lemon citrus defines the refreshing palate along with notes of tropical fruit and the characteristic salivating saline finish. Deliciously quaffable with a zippy tangy edge, it would be an exquisite pairing with the firm and salty Irish-made halloumi.
Lorgeril Pennautier Chardonnay, Pays d’Oc IGP, France, 2021 (ABV 13.5 per cent) €14.99
Coming from six kilometres outside Carcassonne in the Languedoc, this is a delightful chardonnay with no oak ageing, allowing for a lovely fruity style. The cooler climate of this terroir from the mountains allows the grapes to retain a freshness that is evident in the glass. The nose is powerful and redolent of fresh fruit with a zip of lemon and grapefruit citrus. A well balanced wine with an unctuous yet fresh texture that leads into a pleasing flinty minerality from the cool clay limestone soils. This would be a perfect picnic match to the smoked trout pâté or a good foil for the salty richness of the Irish-made halloumi.
Santa Margherita Prosecco DOC, Extra Dry, Italy (ABV 11 per cent) €20.99
Made entirely from the glera grape from clusters grown in the Valdobbiadene hills, this has soft bubbles in the glass with a fine effervescence. It presents on the nose with lilts of white flower aromas and fleshy fruits of summer peaches, Williams pears and a hint of minerality. The palate offers a vibrant freshness, full of juicy fruit and a refined balance of acidity and body. A fun and convivial wine with a deliciously crisp, dry and mineral finish, this prosecco would be a decadent pairing with the strawberry and white chocolate panna cotta. Enjoy.
Brought to you in partnership with the Dunnes Stores Simply Better Collection