SATURDAY is St Patrick's Day and, without making any inane references to common Irish utterances (to be sure), I'll get straight to the point and let you know what it is you're all dying to know where do you go to buy Irish food and drink for your Irish-themed party?

Let's face it, the great thing about St Patrick's Day is that it's a good excuse for a party, and the Irish know all about that. The Irish Food Board Bord Bia, to those in the know recommends using St Patrick's Day as an excuse to indulge yourself with the finest, award-winning, speciality foods from Ireland.

So what do the Irish eat on St Patrick's Day? Well, given that you're going to be doing a lot of drinking later, let's start with a traditional Irish 'fry', consisting of classic Irish black pudding (for the more adventurous there's also white pudding), bacon, eggs, sausages, tomatoes, mushrooms and traditional potato cakes.

For a truly authentic flavour, choose Irish producers who use traditional recipes, for example Galtee, whose sausages, bacon and black and white puddings are stocked by Tesco and other supermarkets in this country.

If you can't be doing with making your own potato cakes, Marks & Spencer sell ready-made Irish potato farls and Irish pancakes.

And so to the afternoon, when a snack is required to top you up before the revelries of the evening. How about some traditional Irish fruit loaf, which is delicious hot or cold, on its own, or with preserves?

Marks & Spencer do an Irish whiskey Fruit Loaf, which should put you in the party mood. Wash it down with a nice cup of Irish tea and then go for a nap.

And so to the party.

Plenty of traditional Irish soda bread, either home-baked or shop-bought, is recommended to fill empty tummies, served with an array of creamy Irish cheeses.

There are 32 varieties of Irish farmhouse cheese, including Coolea, the supreme champion of the 2001 British Cheese Awards (it must be all that lush grass).

Waitrose, in Kidderminster, has a good selection of Irish cheeses. Ardrahan's a well-rounded, earthy, cheese with a smoky flavour which grows more robust and tangy as the cheese ages; Carrigaline, which is a semi-firm, delicately-textured cheese with a light rind; St Killian, a soft white, French-style cheese with a velvety texture and buttery flavour and Cashel Blue, a moist, creamy blue cheese with a rich flavour.

Soda bread is also delicious served with cream cheese and smoked salmon Nolan's Irish smoked salmon is available from Tesco.

If you want to push the boat out, serve Irish oysters and mussels. Try Carrokeel mussels with garlic, from Tesco, or Tesco's own fresh oysters. Safeway in Malvern also do chilled, Irish cooked mussels.

Everyone will be growing thirsty now, so it's time to crack the Guinness or the Murphy's.

Both Tesco and Safeway have Guinness on special especially for St Patrick's Day, with Tesco selling it at their lowest ever price, and Safeway giving 18 cans for the price of 12. Tesco also has Murphy's on special. See Fact File for price details.

Irish whiskey, also, is a must. Try Jamieson Irish whiskey or Bushmills, which is on special at Safeway and Tesco.

And, for the ladies, what about some Bailey's Irish Cream, or try Tesco's own brand, for just £6.99 and some Irish chocolate to go with it?

The industry's becoming increasingly successful and boxes of chocolates from small, innovative Irish producers can be found in a lot of supermarkets and speciality shops. Look out for Lir, Skellig's, Butler's, Celtic, Wildes, Chocca Mocca, Lily O'Brien's and Torc Truffles.

Last but not least, round the night off with an Irish coffee, made with authentic Irish whiskey. Pour very hot, strong, ground coffee into a glass with a metal spoon in it (to prevent cracking), add two teaspoons of sugar and a measure (or two) of Irish whiskey. Stir well and top with chilled cream, poured over a spoon.

And, of course, if you really can't be bothered with entertaining on St Patrick's Day, visit O'Neill's in Worcester, where they'll be serving authentic Irish fare.

Try colcannon (creamy mashed potato with spring onions and cabbage) with black pudding and tomato chutney, or boxty (savoury potato pancake) served with a creamy chicken and ham filling.

Happy St Patrick's Day!