After Christmas as the most indulgent meal of the year, Easter spread is packed with traditions, from the chocolate eggs to the seasonal hot cross buns and lamb shank.
Whether you’re ready to indulge in a decadent lunch or working on a tight budget, we’ve put together the expert guide to the best food and drink for your Easter celebration.
Adrian Martin, chef and owner of Wildflower Restaurant on Dublin’s South Richmond Street, highlights SuperValu’s €3 for €5 offer on medium-sized Easter eggs.
“We all love Cadbury’s Easter eggs, but my favorite is the Marvelous Creations egg with popping candy – it’s amazing,” he says. The medium-sized eggs come with two treat bars (€3), while the large eggs come with two full-size bars (€6).
Westmeath-based food writer and recipe developer Nessa Robins mentions Aldi’s luxury chocolate eggs from €3.99 as “a lovely selection at an affordable price”.
Food designer Clare Anne O’Keefe prefers to reach for mini bunnies or other delicacies. “Instead of getting a small egg, you get something completely different,” she says, recommending Neary Nógs’ vegan salted caramel-filled dark chocolate bunnies (€9.45, NearyNogs.com).
Thomas Fialon, chef and co-owner of La Patisserie in Castletroy, Co Limerick, likes Galway chocolatier Truffle’s Easter range, like the little rabbit with praline eggs (€4.90, TruffleGalway.com).
Nessa names the milk chocolate bunny from Bean and Goose from Wexford as her favorite (€19.50, BeanandGoose.ie). “It comes beautifully wrapped and would make a very special, luxurious gift for any chocolate lover,” she says.
Adrian points out the range of Grá Chocolates which are made in Galway and include flavors such as white chocolate with strawberry (€45, GraChocolates.com). “I opt for handcrafted, tempered Irish chocolate, and Grá Chocolates makes incredible, lavish Easter eggs,” he says.
Clare Anne is a fan of Grá’s Mint Egg and also recommends Clonakilty’s Exploding Tree DIY egg kits (from €19.50, ExplodingTree.com). “This is a really delightful treat, and it could either be a romantic thing or something for the family or the kids,” she says of the kit, which comes in a variety of sizes and flavors from vegan oat milk chocolate to a 100pc pure cocoa.
HOT CROSS ROLLS
Clare Anne says of the Specially Selected Luxurious Hot Cross Buns (€1.49 for four, Aldi): “They’re not too sweet, have a nice fruit spread and are seasoned enough so you can taste the spice. They’re well fired—I’d toast and butter them. they are really cheap.”
Two of our experts called the Marks & Spencer range the best you can get out of a pack (€2.60 each or €3.50 for two).
“My favorite is the indulgently rich Golden Blond Chocolate and Salted Caramel,” says Nessa, while food editor and author Jillian Bolger prefers the classic twist. “I like how they season them. In terms of comfort and quality, these are the best around,” she says.
Clare Anne also recommends Wicklow’s Firehouse Bakery’s offering, which is made with a sweet brioche dough flavored with orange zest and mixed spices, before adding the fruit mix that has been marinated for the last six months (€2 each or €7 for four).
The traditional Easter Sunday centerpiece, a good Irish lamb shank, doesn’t come cheap. Aldi will be selling half and whole Irish lamb shanks from €8.39 per kilogram from April 11, but as an alternative lamb dish, Clare Anne suggests lamb burgers.
“People sometimes have a more relaxed Easter celebration, and lamb burgers are perfect for that,” she says. “FX Buckley makes a great ($3.99, FXBuckleyButchers.ie) and the SuperValu lamb burger is nice (PREIS TBC). It’s really flavorful and has a bit of herbs in it.”
Two of our experts singled out Calvey’s Achill Mountain Lamb as the best choice for Easter. The Mayo Butcher has a basket of lamb shank, fresh rosemary, garlic and mint sauce for €70 (CalveysAchillMountainLamb.ie), which must be ordered by Monday for nationwide delivery.
Clare Anne says the lamb is “as good as you can get in the world” and notes that it is “extremely well bred” with its own slaughterhouse and butcher shop. Jillian adds: “It tastes like the wilderness of the west of Ireland – it tastes like heather and clover. It’s got that saltiness, it’s herbaceous and fragrant, and it just tastes so pure and so Irish. The meat is of such excellent quality and has a lovely texture.”
For your Easter cheese platter, Nessa recommends the “impressive selection of Irish farmhouse cheeses” from Dunnes’ Simply Better range (from €3.99, Dunnes Stores). Clare Anne likes the Tesco Finest Vintage Irish White Cheddar (€2.49, Tesco). “This is what we buy in-house…it’s pretty enough to put on a cheeseboard, too,” she says.
Northern Irish producer Mike’s Fancy Cheese has been praised by two experts praising its Stilton-style Young Buck raw milk cheese (from €8.55, MFCheese.com).
Clare Anne calls it a “perfect cheese,” while Jillian says, “It’s super flavorful and creamy, very distinctive. It’s only a few years old, but it’s managed to make its way onto the cheese boards of many top restaurants simply because of how outstanding it is. I think it’s a world class cheese.”
Adrian recommends Graham Norton’s Own Prosecco Frizzante (€12, supermarket) for a wallet-friendly tabletop fizzer. “He has great Prosecco and his wine selection is of excellent quality, especially for a named person’s wine,” he says.
Nessa praises Aldi’s organic Prosecco (€13.99) as “a delicious, fruity, bubbly treat perfect to enjoy with light bites”, while Jillian likes a sparkling rosé at Easter. “Any dry rosé sparkling wine goes very well with the lamb shank, and Aldi has a really good version that’s very affordable,” she says of the organic Prosecco rosé (13.99 euros).
For a sparkling rosé in the higher price range, Clare Anne recommends the Porta del Vento Voria Bianco (€20.35, LeCaveau.ie) go with everything from Easter chocolate to lamb.
“It’s a sparkling, naturally fermented wine, so it has a little more depth and a little more interest than your regular pink bubbles,” she says.
For a truly delicious sparkling wine, Adrian recommends David Llewelyn’s Lusca, made in Lusk, Co. Dublin (€65.65, Ardkeen.com).
“Their sparkling wine is as good as any English sparkling wine out there so it’s worth a try if you want to go all out. It’s incredible,” he says.
Another Irish wine he is particularly fond of is Móinéir Irish Blackberry Wine with Wild Elderberries from Wicklow Way Wines (€26, CelticWhiskeyShop.ie), while Nessa prefers the Rare Apple Ice Wine from Cork’s Killahora Orchards (€25.95, KillahoraOrchards.ie).
“This is our favorite dessert wine, which not only pairs well with sweet desserts but also pairs perfectly with a cheese board,” she says.
https://www.independent.ie/life/from-achill-mountain-lamb-to-diy-egg-kits-our-foodies-top-picks-for-your-easter-feast-41527980.html Easter Food Picks: From Achill Mountain Lamb to DIY Egg Kits, our foodies’ top picks for your Easter celebration