In praise of presents.

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I know it’s politically correct at the moment to say when having a party or event “no presents please” or “it’s your presence not your presents we would like”. Me? I love presents. Both giving and receiving. The planning, the wrapping/unwrapping, the anticipation, the delight. No matter how small or big there is a lot of pleasure to be derived from the process, for all concerned.

I am an easy person to buy presents for. Maybe we all think that?! And maybe all of our respective families and friends think we are impossible. My family and friends know that I love anything well designed/ made, love food, cooking, books, I could go on, but you get the idea. No pressure!

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Anyway I realised recently as I tidied my kitchen cupboards that I have a large amount of chopping boards, all of which I love and all of which I use and all of which were presents. Take the chopping board above for example. This was a wedding gift from some friends, made for my husband and I by one of their brothers. It is beautifully made from a variety of timber types and is still (many years later!) used daily in our house. Although I now see very little of those friends (they live in Donegal) I constantly think of them and still appreciate the gift now as much as when we received it.

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Another gift of chopping boards I have received and love is the set of four boards with accompanying knives from the Joseph Joseph range that my husband gave me. For those not in the know Joseph Joseph is a company specialising in contemporary kitchenware, formed in 2003 by twin brothers, one a design graduate, the other a business graduate. Since then they have designed and produced some really stylish and technically innovative homeware products.

The set that I have, consists of four different coloured boards designed to reduce the likelihood of cross-contamination of different food types. It contains four colour-coded, non-slip chopping boards plus four high-quality co-ordinating knives.

Each chopping board has an index-style illustrated tab, indicating which food type it should be used for.

Each chopping board has an index-style illustrated tab, indicating which food type it should be used for.

Each knife is colour-coded to match its corresponding board and designed to suit its specific task, whether it be preparing fish, meat, vegetables or cooked food. The set retails at c. €84 in the kitchen department of all the big Department Stores.

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Another lovely gift I received, this time as a house warming present (I guess at the rate I move house I really will have to call a halt to that!) is this lovely concave herb board with accompanying mezzaluna knife. Unfortunately I no longer have the box that it came in and so can’t credit the designer/manufacturer.

Over the years I have also given several gifts of chopping boards and so this got me thinking of what I would give if I were looking for something similar today.

So here is my shortlist.

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First up is anything from the Bunbury range of beautifully crafted and sustainably sourced wooden chopping & cheese boards. These are a personal favourite. Made in County Carlow, William Bunbury began the Lisnavagh Timber Project in 2001 as a way to keep the heritage of the family estate alive for future generations.

Lisnavagh Estate

Lisnavagh Estate


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Each board is made with love and care in their workshop.

Each board is made with love and care in their workshop.

Things progressed and in 2008, they created a range of 35 design templates to choose from, ranging from carving blocks to “shovel” types to simple but beautiful bread boards in all shapes and sizes.

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A history is available indicating which trees each board came from, what type of wood was used, and what was done to replace the trees used for each. Engravings can be added if desired giving each chopping board a unique stamp.

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I love the idea that if you are living abroad you could still have a little piece of Ireland with you! Bunbury Boards are available in a variety of department stores, and also direct from their website, listed below and prices start at €15.

(photographs courtesy of William Bunbury)

The next item I spotted is called “The Obsessive Chef Chopping Board” (this would not be suitable for me at all!): a chopping board for perfectionists!

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It was designed in 2011 by Paul Williamson, is made from bamboo and includes precise measurements to ensure your items are chopped to just the right size. A fun gift for the culinary enthusiast in your life, but perhaps not as long lasting as a hardwood board. It costs €22 from the Designist shop and elsewhere.

Lastly if you are looking for something completely different then this engineered stone slab might be the answer.

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It is designed by Max Lamb and made of Marmoreal, a highly visual Terrazzo which has been carefully cut and honed for use at the kitchen table. Marmoreal is composed of 95% marble, verde alpi (the intense green colour), rosa verona (the rich red colour), giallo mori (the bright ochre-yellow) and bianco veron the base colour the off-white. They say it would make a super cheese board and I for one agree. As a gift it is definitely one for a special occasion, as at €180 from Makers Brothers it’s certainly not cheap or lightweight in any way!

One last thought. If you think of something that would make a great present for you, don’t be shy, let your families’ and friends know- they’ll thank you for it, maybe!

Where to get the stuff…

http://www.josephjoseph.com/category/chopping-boards Boards can be purchased direct from website or in Department/ kitchen specialist stores.

http://www.bunburyboards.com/  Boards can be bought direct from website or in Department/ kitchen specialist stores across Ireland, UK, Europe and North america (more details of retail locations on their website)

Designist, 68 South Great Georges St, Dublin

http://shop.designist.ie/products/the-obsessive-chef-chopping-board

Makers and Brothers, The Shed, Abbey Court, Abbey Road, Blackrock, Co. Dublin.

https://www.makersandbrothers.com/shop/marmoreal-board#.U6wywpRdWSo