It recently made it into my list of places to take a beat in Belfast when you have kids in tow, so it was a particular pleasure to attend Avoca Ireland’s seasonal event in their beautiful city centre store.
A normal visit sees me en route to the elevator at top speed, trying to avoid potential carnage by crossing my fingers and tucking tiny, wrecking ball-like limbs into the stroller. So it’s been a while since I’ve really had the chance to just stop and have a good old browse of some beautiful stuff.
The ground floor is a treasure trove of gorgeous home accessories. Trestle tables stacked with printed porcelains, glassware and hand-painted serving dishes. Mohair blankets are folded on to pastel painted school chairs and there are enough woven baskets to give me minor heart palpitations.
Nestled between the displays is a small conservatory-like structure. Just past the Peter Rabbit plushies, through the hanging hydrangeas and next to the pear-printed pots is a carefully curated collection of kidswear. Super-soft rompers, printed bandanas and a range of gifts to knock your baby socks off. Trust me, it’s as magical as it sounds.
Of course, you can experience this for yourself any day of the week. What was particularly special about this evening was that while I was lusting after the aforementioned baskets, blankets and baby grows a banquet of tiny food was emerging from the kitchen.
The pictured platter of Five Mile Town goats’ cheese tarts topped with candied walnuts started us off. What followed was a steady stream of incredible appetizers and I’m not ashamed to say I said yes to every single one. What’s a taster evening after all without some serious tasting? There was a succulent, breadcrumbed hake with an accompanying avocado dip that almost had me chasing down the hostess for seconds. Then came the brioche sliders. And roasted pepper quiches. Followed by fish pies, puff pastry eclairs and maple tarts. That was just in one hand. And so it continued.
An important point of these miniatures though was to showcase local food suppliers and in turn highlight the responsible chain of sourcing on which Avoca prides itself. Quality is something that runs through its core, from the enticing menu and considered merchandising to the standard of every exceptional piece of stock for sale.
One of the best parts about an open evening like this is that you get an opportunity to talk to people you wouldn’t ordinarily. You can chat to vendors and get a sense for the personalities behind the products. You get to hear the stories that built the brand and see snippets of someone else’s vision. Or at the very least have a bit of banter over some dulse-infused butter and put a face to the Buckfast barbecue sauce. An appropriate time to offer apologies to anyone who came face to face with my cracker-laced grin that evening.
But, of course, the night wasn’t just about food and interiors. I’d caught a waft of an intense spa-like scent from about twenty yards away and was determined not to leave until I found the source of it. Huge commendations go to the girls promoting Urban Veda skincare who couldn’t have been more informative and made sure my friend and I left with a handful of samples each. I’ve since stocked up on the award-winning, moisture-rich Radiance range which boasts active ingredients like liquorice and turmeric with patchouli, coriander and sweet almond bio-oils. At only £14 a bottle this is a attainable treat that will leave your skin feeling incredible without breaking the bank.
While I’d always associated Avoca with homewares, amazing falafel wraps and being my first stop for gifts I had never really considered it as a fashion destination. I knew such a department existed but what I didn’t realise was quite how nice it was. After admiring an amazing bee-printed blouse on one of the Avoca staff, I wasn’t surprised to then learn that apparel is where it all began. They’ve come a long way though from the classic suits that started the journey. Alongside the more traditional tweeds and tailoring sits an design-heavy collection of contemporary womenswear, floral-printed socks and classic accessories.
If I came away with anything other than spa-scented, soft hands and a full belly it was this. Avoca may be a stalwart name within the Irish interiors and lifestyle market but they’re anything but stale. It’s clearly a brand that isn’t content to just rest on their laurels. They are pushing forward with an inspiring and evolving menu, they remain staunchly supportive of brands throughout the UK & Ireland and they do it all with a gloriously eclectic finesse.
So thank you for having me, Avoca folks, and maybe I’ll see some of you readers there soon. Come say hi – I’ll be the one stuffing my face with that dreamy avocado dip.
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