Hello I’m Grainne McGarvey and welcome to my column which spots local hidden gems from the world of beauty, health, fashion, tourism and hospitality. I will have my ear to the ground (quite literally) to keep you up to date about the new or interesting products and services from our neck of the woods. If you know one – get in touch on twitter @grainnemcgarvey or at www.pulseprni.com
G SPOTS! FESTIVE FARE @ SAINSBURY’S
It’s hard to believe that it’s less than a month until Christmas Day. The unseasonably warm weather has made it hard to get into the festive spirit. Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas, but not even the adorable Monty the Penguin and Chris Rea’s Driving Home for Christmas blasting out of every speaker is giving me the incentive I need to start getting my act together. So when I got an invite to the Sainsbury’s West Belfast Christmas event, I knew store manager Ciaran and the team had their work cut out.
The Sainsbury’s store for those who haven’t been is located in the Kennedy Centre – the site of the old Curley’s. It‘s pretty busy and has a good selection of food, entertainment and fashion. The Christmas preview event is always brilliant and packed with ideas for festive cooking, drinking, gifts and fashion and this year didn’t disappoint. Here are some of the best bits….
Gok for Tu is celebrating its 10th anniversary and has included some vintage inspired pieces in this season’s collection. Sourcing inspiration from old classic films and iconic Hollywood starlets such as Veronica Lake, Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe, the range is sexy, grown up and glamorous. The 32 piece collection includes a versatile mix of elegant eveningwear, beautiful basics and chic workwear, Gok for Tu is available at over 200 stores nationwide and includes 43 styles, including multiple prints and colour ways. Prices range from £10 – £110 and sizes from 8-22.
Sainsbury’s is going big on cheese this year, which will no doubt tickle the tastebuds of many of you. Its Stilton Taste the Difference is made in Melton Mowbray and matured longer to give a piquant yet mellow flavour. If you’re like me and would prefer Cheddar, the Slate Cavern Aged is matured for 14 months and tastes divine teamed with Taste the Difference Tomato & Chilli Chutney.
My favourite top tip from last year’s event is a delicious cranberry and marmalade marinade for cocktail sausages – just mix the sauces together, cover the sausages in a dish for 24 hours and then cook in the oven. They went down a treat and will be great for your Christmas dinner or even pre-Christmas party nibbles. However, if you would rather rely on the professionals for your party nibbles; Sainsbury’s also do a great party range including Chorizo sausages wrapped in Panceta, Butternut Squash Stars and Pork Belly Squares with Barbeque Apple Glaze.
If you enjoy Christmas pudding after your meal, then Sainsbury’s has gone one better this year. The Chocolate & Cassis pudding is just what it says on the tin – juicy blackcurrants, cherries, raisins, mixed with spices and dark chips of Belgian chocolate. The pudding is then laced with a blend of sherry and cider and served with a Belgian chocolate sauce on the side – decadence at its best.
In my book, Christmas isn’t Christmas without some festive fizz. The Taste the Difference Prosecco Conegliano is one of the biggest sellers and has won a host of awards. However, if you have guests that would like a non-alcoholic option, I would recommend Juice Press Seasonal juice – Apple, Pear, Cranberry with Cinnamon or Clove. It’s great on its own or is lovely heated up to keep you warm on a cold December morning.
The good news is I feel much more festive, the bad news all I want to do now is get my Christmas jumper on and watch Elf – thankfully Sainsbury’s deliver!