Category Archives: Producers

The life changing years…

Life has moved incredibly quickly over the past few years… and has changed entirely! To get you up to speed:

March 2013 – move out of London to North Norfolk for a life by the sea.

April 2013 – set up new business Fabulous Food Finds.

June 2014 – buy first house in Sheringham, North Norfolk (how bloody stressful is house buying?! We didn’t even have one to sell!).

June 2014 – think there’s something wrong with the water in the new house (I LOVE tea, how could it taste so awful?!).

June 2014 – find out there’s nothing wrong with water in new house – it’s a surprise baby in my belly messing with my taste buds!

February 2015 – Lottie was born!

June 2015 – WHAT?! Can’t be pregnant again can I?! Surely that’s not possible?

March 2016 – Alfie was born!

April 2016 – poor Alfie not at all well, 5 days of tests at Norfolk and Norwich Hospital then blue lights to Addenbrookes after finding a lump in his bowel. Open bowel surgery a big success… one week of recovery, wait for results of biopsy.

May 2016 – 5 weeks after operation discover it was a very rare form of cancer for poor Alfie. Scary times but they think it’s unlikely to recur and so far has not.

October 2016 – back to work on BBC Good Food Shows and developing Fabulous Food Finds.

 

Now (July 2017) – I have a very talkative, bossy, beautiful 2-year-old and a hilarious, handsome blonde boy who follows his big sister around everywhere. It’s a struggle to juggle everyday but we have lots of laughs and fun and all love living by the sea. I’m hoping for the ‘busy but happy’ years to follow…

I’ll be sharing more about my crazy busy seaside life in upcoming posts which I hope you’ll enjoy!

 

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BBC Good Food Show Bursary Award Winners 2015/16

After a lovely few months off with my new daughter Lottie I’m slowly getting back into the wonderful world of food… I have to admit, my culinary escapades have been few and far between since she was born! However, over the past few months I’ve been preparing for the BBC Good Food Shows that are currently taking place in Glasgow (last week), London (on now!) and in Birmingham on the 26th November – they are as incredible as always!

I’ve discovered some amazing small producers while managing the BBC Good Food Show Producers Bursary Awards this year – take a peek at pictures from the tasting day and see all the 2015/2016 winners below:

Tasting at Good Food Test Kitchens     Tasting at Good Food Test Kitchens

Tasting at Good Food Test KitchensTasting at Good Food Test Kitchens

BBC Good Food Show Scotland, Glasgow SECC 6 – 8 November 2015

  • Aye Love Real Food (Kilwinning, North Ayrshire) – Handmade scotch eggs and sausage rolls
  • Plant and Grow (Edinburgh) – Seed packs to easily grow vegetables, herbs and edible flowers
  • Poporopo Amaizing Popcorn (Stirling) – Gourmet popcorn using local ingredients
  • Tiphereth Trading (Edinburgh) – Social enterprise producing preserves and chutney

BBC Good Food Show London, Kensington Olympia, 13 – 15 November 2015

  • Canesmith & Co (Huntingdon,  Camridgeshire) – Ex city worker turned gourmet sweet maker, range includes soy and sesame caramel
  • Liberty Fields (Halstock, Dorset) – Apple aperitif and balsamic vinegar
  • Somerset Charcuterie (Wrington, Somerset) – Artisan charcuterie including goat, seasonal and local specials
  • The London Marshmallow Company (London) – Gourmet marshmallows inspired by London locations
  • The Urban Cordial Company (Edgeware, London) – Cordials hand-made from foraged and locally sourced fruits and herbs
  • Vicky’s Donuts (London) – Fresh handmade donuts in Hackney, specialises in raised donuts with a variety of toppings and fillings

BBC Good Food Show Winter, Birmingham NEC, 26 – 29 November 2015

  • Berry Da (Gwynedd, Wales) – Range of products made with unique Aronia berries
  • Eponine (Wirral, Merseyside) – Luxury artisan chocolate, confectionery and patisserie
  • Ogilvy Vodka (Angus, Scotland) – Potato farmers turned distillers, making award winning vodka from Maris Piper potatoes
  • Sedgewicks Charcuterie (Toseland, Cambridgeshire) – Mouth-watering selection of charcuterie made on their small-holding in Cambridgeshire
  • Spice Kitchen (Birmingham) – Spice masters creating blends from across the world, chai tea and mulling spices
  • Tipple Tails  (Sheffield, South Yorkshire) – Fruit cakes in a range of flavours and steeped in artisan speciality liqueurs

BBC Good Food Show Spring, Harrogate HIC, 8 – 10 April 2016

  • Amos & Toms Popcorn (Driffield, East Yorkshire) Gourmet popcorn makers
  • Patrick Macarons & Patisserie (Anlaby, East Riding of Yorkshire) Former builder turned ‘macaron man’ making macarons, patisserie and confectionery
  • Sweeteatie Artisan Caramels (Wigan, Lancashire) – Handmade caramel using unusual, natural flavours
  • Wooha Brewing (Nairn, Scotland) – range of bottle conditioned ales and lagers with no force carbonation, filtration or Isinglass

BBC Good Food Show Summer, Birmingham NEC, 16 – 19 June 2016

  • Popcorn Shed (London) – Gourtmet popcorn
  • Sauce Shop (Nottingham) – Range of sauces and condiments
  • Zantiago  (Chalfont St.Peter, Buckinghamshire) – Authentic Spanish tortilla kits
  • Gwynnes Ice Cream (Swansea, Wales) – Handmade ice cream

I hope you’ll be able to visit these fabulous producers at one of the BBC Good Food Shows!

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Show Time!

This past year or so has been a bit of a whirlwind… a move from London to North Norfolk, buying my first house and becoming pregnant with my first baby! So excuse the lack of blog posts – I hope my twittering has kept you up to date with my food finding activities!

So… I’m now in the midst of the busy but brilliant ‘show time’, where the BBC Good Food Shows comes to life in Scotland, London and Birmingham. While at the shows I look after the Producers Bursary Award winners, the BBC Good Food Champions area and also get involved in other fun bits like interviewing celebrity chefs in the VIP lounge and the show’s official blogging community too.

I first visited a BBC Good Food Show back in 2006 and after visiting I wanted so much to work on the shows! So the following year there I was at my first BBC Good Food Show in London, so the show taking place this week at Olympia is very close to my heart.

If you’re visiting any of the shows I hope you have an amazing time, if not there’s still time to book tickets to the London and NEC Shows! Hope to see you there! Keep up to date with show news by following me on twitter – @katytruss

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Food Find of the Week – Isle of Skye Sea Salt

I have to admit to being a huge salt fan, always yearning for a saltier salted caramel… so I was delighted to discover a new producer of sea salt – Isle of Sky Sea Salt.

With the purest Scottish water taken from Loch Snizort on the Isle of Skye, the sun (when it shines!) dries the sea water into delicious irregular salt crystals. Available in fine (great for sprinkling) or premium crystals (perfect for grinders) the salt comes in a beautiful card tube with subtle tartan design, almost like a mini fine whisky tube.

Isle of Skye Sea Salt

The texture is somewhere between the lighter flakes of Maldon Sea Salt and the harder rocks of Cornish Sea Salt. We taste tested against Maldon and found it had a slightly more tangy saltiness to it. Our fish and chips were the perfect vessel to test!

Isle of Skye Salt Crystals

Isle of Skye Salt Crystals

Only available in limited quantities this truly is a rare, artisan food find. Recently confirmed as a BBC Good Food Champion for the Scotland BBC Good Food Show – let’s hope we’ll be able to buy their salt there!

Don’t forget to take a look at my new website www.fabulousfoodfinds.co.uk where you can find this and other producers in my Food Find Directory.

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Show Preview – BBC Good Food Show Scotland 18 – 20 Oct

I’ve been super busy preparing for this year’s BBC Good Food Show Scotland, which takes place this weekend (18 – 20 October) at Glasgow’s SECC. After a radio interview last week, where I talked through all the things I was looking forward to at the show, I’m so excited about seeing it all come together.

Show Team

Last year was brilliant, you can see from our happy faces in the picture above! Here is a quick run through of some of the fabulous things you’ll find at this year’s show!

Good Food Show Champions – this is my hand-picked selection of producers that I think deserve to be noticed! From Spencerfield Spirits with their top 50 best food product in the country (elderflower gin) to The Brownie Bar’s amazing range of brownies, hunks of parmesan from Emilia and Christmas turkeys and rolls/ cobs/ baps from Kelly Turkey Farms there’s a great range of delicious treats to be found!

Producers Bursary Award Winners – don’t miss this amazing selection of producers: The Little Herb Farm, St Andrews Brewing Company, The Wee Pie Company and The Wee Tea Company. They’ve all won an award based on excellent products to attend the show – give them support by trying and buying their fantastic produce!

Book Signing – I’ve helped manage the queues for big celebrities in the past (Nigella Lawson is the most beautiful person in real life and Gordon Ramsay made me blush!) but W H Smith have this set up brilliantly (Sadly no need for my help anymore!). If you want your book signed I’d suggest getting there early, or at least ask the staff to find out how it all works.

Supertheatre – every advance ticket holder gets a free seat in this amazing theatre, where the top chefs entertain by cooking live. I think the mistakes are the best bits, so keep a close eye – they don’t have editors to hide behind when it’s live!!

Love Food Hate Waste Theatre – a great line up on this theatre with demonstrations of recipes aimed at using up leftovers and reducing waste.

Good Food Kitchen – delicious dishes from the Good Food recipe collection, it’s where I’ll be having my lunch and breakfasts!

Scotland Regional Village – lots of producers from across the regions of Scotland. Don’t miss Crystal’s Shortbread (oh it melts in the mouth!) and Ramsay of Carluke’s range of meat (amazing bacon, haggis and black pudding!).

Great British Bake Off Village – a small selection of baking accessories, baked goods and anything else baking related! Say hello to Mo from Mo’s Cookie Dough who launched her business at the show last year.

Many, many more fabulous food and drink producers, gadgets, kitchen equipment, bigger brands with samples, etc, etc… Bring cash as there’s lots to buy to fill your cupboards and stock up for Christmas too.

Gosh – isn’t there a lot to look forward to! If you haven’t got your tickets yet you can save 15% right up until Sunday with my discount code (KT15) either online or by phone. I hope to see some of you there!

Oh, and if you’d rather attend the Birmingham Show at the NEC you can save 20% until the 29th October using code KT20!

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Macarons and More – Tim Kinnaird’s Beautiful Shop

You might remember the brilliant Tim Kinnaird from MasterChef a few years back? The one with Tim, Alex and Dhruv Baker in the final three and Dhruv ended up winning? Well, after the show, Tim went on to develop his own patisserie business, Macarons & More and recently realised his dream by opening his very own shop, by the same name, in the Royal Arcade, right in the centre of the fine city of Norwich.

Shop Front

Macarons

In addition to the fabulous selection of macarons you will find the ‘more’ which certainly exceeds expectations! You’ll find flavoured marshmallows, meringues, pastries, bread, amazing brownies, hot chocolate, nut brittle and lots more! You can also buy a fantastic coffee or tea to drink in or take away to compliment your sweet goods.

Marshmallows

I dare you to resist the gold and silver brownies…

Brownies

Artisan bread comes from a brilliant local baker.

Breads

The shop displays and windows are beautiful, inspirational and made to make your mouth water!

Macarons and More Window

Favours

Window Display

My selection of macarons were the perfect chewy texture, full of flavour and gorgeous to look at. After much deliberation I went for peanut butter and jam which is a classic combination but utterly perfect in a macaron, salted caramel which was buttery, creamy and slightly salty and cappuccino which had a great coffee kick to it.

Macarons

If you can’t get yourself to Norwich, you can buy online or find Tim’s Macarons & More at the BBC Good Food Show Winter 2013, handily overlooking the MasterChef theatre!

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Award Winning Black Pudding from The Fruit Pig Company

I love black pudding, so when I heard about a local producer winning a rather special award from the French for his fresh blood black pudding, I couldn’t help but find out more. What is Matt Cockin’s The Fruit Pig Company doing so well to win a coveted award from the French? I asked if I could pay him a visit and learn some secrets behind his success, and he was delighted to accept!

Matt Cockin

Matt Cockin sources his pigs from local farms and small holdings that he knows and trusts. I was lucky enough to visit one of the small holdings which is located just outside Wisbech (on the borders of Norfolk and Cambridgeshire) and had a great time with the pigs and getting out in the fresh air!

Now, these pictures are pretty cute, so please do bear in mind that these lovely pigs live a great life and the reality is that they wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the demand of us meat-loving humans wanting to eat them. It’s also important to understand and appreciate that meat was once a live animal and we should all try to buy the best standard of meat we can afford, or perhaps cut down rather than buying lots of cheap, unethically reared meat.

The farm (or I should probably say small holding) owner loves his pigs, and you can tell that they live happy and fulfilling lives.

Matt really knows his pigs but has chosen to stick to what he does best with the butchery and charcuterie making – all the better for us I say!

Matt warned me that his unit probably wouldn’t live up to my expectations of a traditional wooden shack or cottage out in the country – instead I found a functional, spotlessly clean unit in a business park, which ticks all the boxes for what Matt needs to make his delicious black pudding, sausages and other meaty goods.

Most black pudding producers in the UK use dried blood to make their black puddings. It is rare to find a producer using fresh blood, which takes a lot more effort to do. Marc Frederic, a well respected British Charcutier, is an advocate of using fresh blood in black pudding. In fact, when Matt was experimenting with recipes he asked Marc for his opinion – Marc wouldn’t even taste a dried blood version!

So now it gets a little gruesome… but what did you expect from a post about blood pudding?! Matt has to be super quick to collect the blood from his slaughtered pigs – if he’s too late, the blood starts to coagulate and clot, like our own blood would. As soon as possible he must add the oats, so has a great system for doing this (no secrets given away here!) but he does have to get up ridiculously early to do it! It makes him realise why so many producers take the easy option and use dried blood!

By the time I reached the unit, the oats and blood had already been mixed, but the colour was still shockingly vibrant.

Fresh Blood Mix

So, aside from the obviously good fresh blood, what were Matt’s secrets to the success of his award-winning black pudding? Unfortunately somethings have to be kept exactly that – secrets! Matt mixed his added ingredients before I arrived so I couldn’t tell what was in there – clever man! I did take a good snoop at all the ingredients on his shelves though…

Secret Spices

Secret Ingredients

Oatmeal is a key ingredient in their black puddings – as with all blood puddings there needs to be a binding agent, which is usually some kind of grain like barley or rice but in England oats are usually used.

Oatmeal

Fat is also added to the black pudding, which Matt melts down to give an even consistency to the pudding.

Mincing Fat

The mixture is stuffed into black skins and then placed in a water oven to cook through. I didn’t know, but black pudding is actually cooked when you buy it, so all it needs is a warm through, and for me a little bit of crispness!

Black Puddings

The Fruit Pig Company’s black pudding has a flavour and texture that is definitely worth the extra effort that Matt puts in. It almost has a creaminess to it, which adds to the rich, meaty flavour and crumbly texture.

Black Pudding

Every year in the old French market town Morgagne-au-Perche, over 600 black puddings from across the globe are judged by the Brotherhood of the Knights of the Black Pudding. The festival runs over 3 days with the aim of uncovering the very best black puddings in the world. Matt did England proud by bringing back a silver medal – congratulations!

The Fruit Pig Company don’t only do black pudding… they also have a delicious range of flavoured sausages, bacon, meat joints and other charcuterie items too. I asked whether he was doing anything about the pulled pork trend – of course! Matt opened up an upright smoker and lo and behold shelves full of pork joints smoking ready to be sent out to chefs for pulled pork!

Pulled Pork Shoulders Smoking

I think it’s important to support producers that make this kind of effort with their produce – The Fruit Pig Company work hard to produce a quality product and deserve our attention and custom. Luckily if you aren’t local enough to visit the Creake Abbey or Kings Lynn farmers markets then you can buy online from their online butchery.

If you are keen to find out more about black pudding, and the festival organised by the Knights of the Black Pudding, listen to the brilliant Radio 4 Food Programme on the subject.

If you’d like to see more pictures from my farm visit – take a look at my Flickr page.

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BBC Good Food Show Summer 2013 Highlights

I’ve just about recovered from the BBC Good Food Show Summer – as ever it was an awesome show, with well over 100,000 food and gardening lovers coming through the doors! I’m still buzzing with inspiration after meeting so many fantastic producers, chefs, bloggers and food lovers during the show. Here are a few of my highlights, I’m afraid I was having too much fun to take many photos so you will have to use your imagination for some of it!

Backstage snacking

As part of the show team I get backstage access so on Emily Cloke‘s birthday we took some Ooo Meringues behind the Belling stage and ate them with the lovely Simon Diss… then along came Rachel Allen who is even more beautiful and lovely in real life as she looks on the TV!

Katy Truss and Emily Cloke

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Crabs, homemade mayo and a new life by the seaside!

Last month I took a big life step and moved back from London to my home town of Cromer, North Norfolk. It’s something I’ve always thought about doing, so when my boyfriend Jamie got offered a job at the largest (maybe only) employer in his industry in Norwich, we decided to go for it! Luckily I’m still able to do work for the BBC Good Food Shows, but it does now mean I have time to develop my own business and build on my knowledge and expertise… it’s all still under development but keep an eye on www.fabulousfoodfinds.co.uk!

If you didn’t know, Cromer is well-known for its crabs. They are brown crabs, smaller and sweeter than those found on the south coast and are renowned for their delicate flavour. You may have heard about the ‘Keep it Cromer’ campaign last year, when Youngs Seafood were threatening to close down the Cromer Crab Company’s factory and move the processing plant to Humberside. Despite support from local hero Stephen Fry, the Keep it Cromer campaign failed… making over 230 people jobless, and losing the town’s biggest private employer. The Cromer crab industry has quickly returned to the cottage industry it once was, stripping the likes of Waitrose’s shelves of the delicious Cromer crabs, as they are unable to supply large multiples on a national scale. So in short, your best chance of eating a Cromer crab is now by visiting Cromer and the surrounding area. It’s rather beautiful round here!

Cromer

Anyway, back to the crab sandwiches and mayo! Now that I live so close to my family, I invited my sister and Grandparents over for lunch during my self prescribed hour lunch break. With the weather being so cold, the crabs have been hiding under the mud at the bottom of the sea… apparently they don’t come out until the water temperature hits 7 degrees, so thankfully this warmer weather means the local fisherman have been catching. Davies’ Fish Shop on Garden Street had a good range of sizes, so I bought a ready dressed one for each of us at £3.50 each (they range between £2.50 and £5 for dressed crabs).

IMG_7504

I decided to make my own mayonnaise to go with the ready dressed crabs and took the advice of Felicity Cloake who suggests how to make the perfect mayonnaise on the Guardian Word of Mouth blog. The only thing I did differently to her recipe was use only rapeseed oil (from Norfolk of course!) which was from Yare Valley Rapeseed Oil and gave it an almost nutty flavour, and gorgeous yellow colour.

My mayonnaise sadly split, so on the advice of my dad (Geoff the Chef) I cracked a fresh egg yolk into a new bowl, whisked it up and gradually added the split mixture. It blended perfectly. I also added a crushed clove of garlic which was more than enough for a strong garlic flavour.

Since I’d spent far too long hand whisking the mayonnaise, I decided we would have DIY crab sandwiches and set the table up with salad, crusty rolls, butter, dressed crabs and my homemade mayonnaise.

 

I must say, it was a splendid lunch and my Grandparents and sister loved it. The mayonnaise went so well with the crab, and I am rather partial to a slightly over cooked crusty white roll too… with lots of butter. Here’s to the first crab of many more to come!

Oh, and if you’re a crab fan, try to come up for the Cromer and Sheringham Crab and Lobster Festival which is on 17th – 19th May. I’m volunteering this year so give me a wave if you see me!

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Food Find of the Week – Nova Scotia Steak Pie

What better way to celebrate St George’s Day with a classic English pie made by a dedicated Yorkshire farm? Nova Scotia Farm are the ultimate producers – not only do they rear their own meat for their pies and ready meals, but they also produce 90% of the feed for their animals too! Traditional short-crust individual pies, suet crust pies and a range of ready meals are made with the highest quality, well hung Yorkshire beef and are truly delicious.

Nova Scotia Farm can be found in the heart of Yorkshire, where happy families of cattle graze on grass sweetened by naturally filtered water which drains down from the Vale of York. Their natural surroundings and traditional husbandry means the herd is close to organic, just without all the paperwork! Back in 2001 the company were one of the first to start selling their beef nationally online, and from there they started making the pies. As demand increased, Mark and Sally the farmers, focussed more and more on pies and meals as customers looked for more convenient products, that still had the quality they were known for. As the company has grown, they now also use beef from other ‘similarly minded cattle producers’ to keep up with demand. How refreshing it is to find a convenient ‘ready meal’ that is made by a truly passionate artisan, that you can really trust!

If you buy online you can choose either baked or unbaked pies – I went for frozen unbaked pies as I wasn’t sure when I was going to be able to eat them. They arrive in an ice packed box, complete with ‘dishes to dine for’ cooler bag, which I think you get free with your pies if you buy them at a show or festival.

Concise cooking instructions are provided, along with advice to accommodate different types of oven and baking tips if the pie didn’t come out quite right first time.

45 minutes of baking from frozen… what do they say about a watched kettle?! The smells coming from the oven were making my mouth water!

The result was a deliciously golden, steak filled pie with a really tasty, meaty gravy. You can see the hefty chunks of meat in the picture below, which are cooked to a melt in the mouth tenderness, along with the perfect amount of gravy. The pastry is the ideal thickness and crispness, expertly balanced to let the highest quality beef take the limelight. Mark and Sally have collected some rather impressive (and entertaining) testimonials on their website, so you don’t have to take my word for how wonderful they are.

These pies would be perfect for dinner with mash and fresh vegetables or taken on a picnic for a real treat… or just eaten on their own like I did! You can buy them and other beef based dishes from Nova Scotia Farm Produce online and at lots of food shows and festivals across the country. Their ready meals are sold under the brand of ‘Dishes to Dine For’ so keep a look out for both – they certainly are ‘to dine for’!

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Food Find of the Week – Well Seasoned Spring Pesto

This food find was delivered to my desk and there is no doubt that this is the tastiest thing I’ve eaten in ages! Well Seasoned won a bursary to attend the BBC Good Food Show London last year and I’m so glad to have found them, and that they sent me their latest delicious Spring flavours!

From a brilliant blog based on seasonal food and cooking Well Seasoned was born – versatile pestos/dips that change with the seasons. The new Spring flavours are stunning – wild garlic, basil and mint which was gorgeous in colour and packed full of flavour and roasted spring onion and parsley which was rich and again had an incredible flavour. Both pestos tasted so fresh and not only could you identify the different ingredients by looking at it, but you could taste all the ingredients too – cobnuts, rapeseed oil, cheese and the seasonal additions.

In keeping with the ethos of seasonal and British, Well Seasoned use Kentish cobnuts, extra virgin rapeseed oil and Old Winchester cheese in all of their pestos. The ingredients change with the seasons so back in the Winter (yes I know it seems like we are still there with the bitter cold at the moment!) their flavours were roasted parsnip and thyme and caramelised shallot and rosemary. Take a look at their website to see the other flavours, and be sure to check out their summer flavours when they launch. You can buy from Partridges in London or a box of 6 online for £19.50 + £3.50 postage (don’t worry they freeze really well).

I ate mine at my desk for lunch two days running… on Ryvita thins, with bread, stirred into plain pasta and on its own too! So worthy of being my food find of the week!

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Salone del Gusto 2012

The Salone del Gusto is an incredible gathering of food and people; organised by ‘Slow Food‘, it runs on the principles of a good, clean and fair approach to food. Back in October, my MD and I took a flying visit to Turin to experience Salone del Gusto and see if there is anything we could learn from the event and of course do a spot of shopping and eating too!

We were led from massive meat displays to towers of cheese, from interactive workshops to lecture theatres, street food to circus food – we totally immersed ourselves in the world of Slow Food and the food of the world.

The Street Food area was extremely popular and after a review of everything on offer we decided to share a fritto misto, which was incredible!

There are huge halls dedicated to the different regions of Italy, and from large companies to small artisans you could taste your way around the Country, trying and buying some of the most amazing, exciting and delicious produce available. Below is a quick walk around the highlights of the regions:

Chillis galore…

Lots of nduja (soft, spicy salami) in the Calabria regional area…

You could even buy nduja warmers!

One man and his boar…

Wall of ham…

Pasta growing on trees…

In the centre of these nests of hay lay delicious cheeses…

I was intrigued by a crowd around one stand and was pleased to find them selling arancini balls – this one was filled with beef ragu and mozzarella and was packed full of flavour.

Beautiful jars of peppers…

Pasta making lessons…

A caper tree and lots of caper products…

Rather special giant onions…

We then went on to visit the world food area, where representatives, and their produce were showcasing their wares.

Pit fermented cabbages from Germany…

Beautifully branded spanish canned fish…

Biscuit heaven (we stopped here for a coffee and a biscuit)…

Happy lady from Thailand proudly showing off her rice…

Snails and snail caviar from Vienna…

We had to try the snail caviar, which were like little bursting pearls of saltiness.

Black honey bread from Vienna…

We were there to experience everything we could, so when we heard about a Michelin starred dinner, in a big top with circus entertainment we made a beeline to get ourselves tickets. We were delighted that after waiting in the rain there were tickets left to the event, and at only 22 euros thought we were on to a winner! Sadly for me, two of the courses had a strong goats cheese as their main ingredient – I’m not one to be too fussy, but with two pungent anchovies laying on top of a goaty risotto I was gutted not to be able to eat it. I really don’t like goats cheese.

Dessert was very exciting, and based around vegetables sweetened with what we concluded must have been sugar beet. It was pretty and deliciously absorbing and as we ate tension mounted as one of the circus acts climbed higher and higher on her trapeze… the result was rather shocking and to keep it brief we didn’t get a chance to finish our dessert and decided not to mix circus and food at our shows!!

I hope you have enjoyed this whirlwind tour of the Salone del Gusto – take a look at my Flikr page if you would like to see more images. Did you go to the show? If so, what were your highlights?

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BBC Good Food Show London – back and better than ever!

The BBC Good Food Show London was back in the Capital last weekend, and although hard work, was a truly awesome Show! Thanks to all that visited, exhibited and worked to make the show brilliant and better than ever before! In this post I’m giving a few sneaky pre show pictures, a few of my shopping highlights and a run through of the areas that I look after at the shows – where you will find all the lovely, speciality artisan producers!

So to begin… the show in choux! Brand new company Choux London impressed us with this gorgeously edible homage to the BBC Good Food Show, along with their fabulous filled choux buns. My favourites were salted caramel and peanut butter flavours.

I often wonder if visitors know how much work goes into putting our shows together… not just the year building up to the show (we’re already working on the 2013 show!) but in the days before the show opens. Below are a few sneaky pre show insights which might surprise you!

Thursday 1130 – MasterChef Demonstration Pod half way to being built.

Thursday 1300 – Getting our (well, show manager Paul Patterson!) hands dirty cleaning a stand roof! As you can see lots of stands still just empty shells at this stage.

Thursday 1730 – meeting with Custom Creams for a liquid nitrogen powered ice cream making demonstration!

I love show opening – we usually have one of our celebrities open the show by cutting ribbon with giant scissors. Below is James Martin on the Saturday, don’t his white trousers make our pink carpet look bright?!

It’s great to see thousands of food lovers all under one roof, and I must admit, Olympia is definitely my favourite venue in terms of how beautiful the structure is. When the sun goes down there are some amazing colours coming in through that huge domed window!

Here is a bit more about the areas of the show that I look after and am very proud of!

The Producers’ Village

This is our collection of nearly 100 small artisan producers, which we have scoured the country to find – from charcuterie to choux, truffles to turkey, fish to fudge there should have been something to please most foodies!  The smell of aromatic coffee wafts from the Jaccs Gourmet Coffee stand, where you could find all sorts of beans and flavours of coffee. Mortons Turkeys came all the way from North Norfolk (very near my home town!) and were sampling their delicately smoked duck and taking orders for Christmas turkeys at the show – I’m planning to visit the farm when I’m back home for Christmas!

I always make sure I buy some Calabrian (Italian region) delicacies from De Calabria before the end of the show. Giuseppe is a real character, “an arteest” as he would put it, and is a wonderful addition to the show – he brings the most deliciously vibrant green olive oils, wild honey and herbs, n’duja, chilli products, sun-dried tomatoes, cheeses, salamis, even chick peas (I bet you didn’t know they grew like this?!)!

Joe and Sephs launched their gourmet popcorn company at our show 2 years ago and they never cease to amaze me. True to their nick name of the Willy Wonka of the popcorn world, their black pepper, chilli and caramel is magical as you get the caramel first, then a black pepper hit, and then seconds later the chilli starts to build… and then you just want more (and more!). Other flavours include madras curry, brandy butter, goats cheese (not for me but others love it), mince pie and vanilla cheese cake. If you haven’t tried before then you must, you won’t regret it!

I shouldn’t have favourites, but Karantania Deli had to be one of the most attractive stands at the show – a tree decorated with chocolate salami twinkled away between piles of irresistible pastries, breads and cakes and bottles of bubbly, chocolate liqueur and other Slovenian delights. I love it when producers make an effort with their stands like this!

I sometimes come across oyster virgins trying their first at the Shows… love ’em or hate ’em literally thousands get shucked and knocked back at the shows!

David here, from Real Organic Foods, created his company through a passion for food and by noticing a gap in the market for organic foods that actually tasted good. Definitely worth a try!

I was sure to take advantage of the bargain olive oil from Candiasoil – beautiful bottles and delicious single estate oils from Crete, the perfect stocking filler for a foodie!

New to the show this year was The Pelagonia Range – Macedonian mezze products like pumpkin jam, roasted peppers and other delicious dips.

Bursary Winners

Our bursary award winners did us proud and every one of them loved using the show as a springboard to put their products in front of thousands of influential food lovers. We had amazing African sauces from Bim’s Kitchen, savoury seaweed seasonings from Mara Seaweed, delicious drinks from Norfolk Cordials, seasonal pestos from Well Seasoned, hand made and indulgent marshmallows from Patchett’s Confectionery and authentic Indian fresh chutney from the Maha Partnership. Take a look at how they got to the show here.

Good Food Champions!

A brand new addition to the show this year, my way of highlighting some of the most outstanding producers at the shows. This year at London, visitors will have been able to try 2 of the top 50 best foods which were from The Exquisite Range and Momo Cha Fine Teas. I was delighted that Gelupo were there, the gelato sister of famous Italian restaurant Bocca di Lupo – I tried their fresh mint choc chip and dark chocolate sorbets, which were incredible! Pistachio Rosebrought their beautiful range of Indian inspired baked goods. Olive Branch sold their olive oils and intriguing olive oil jam, while next door the Artisan Smokehouse presented their range of smoked fish, meat, cheeses, oils, herbs and spices! Joanna from Edible Ornamentals, another one of our Good Food Champions, giving an interview for the BBC You Tube team:

Now, there are so many other things I could write about here… but I could go on forever! Look out for my highlights of the BBC Good Food Show Winter, which opens at the NEC next week on the 28th November, or perhaps I will see you there?!

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The Dessert Deli Cookbook – Food Find of the Week

My latest food find, which I know really isn’t a food, is Laura Amos’s eagerly anticipated debut recipe book – The Dessert Deli Cook Book. Finally it is on sale and fans of her desserts will now be able to recreate her delicious delights at home. I’m rather excited about being mentioned in the credits – Laura is a great friend and I loved brainstorming ideas, recipes and formats for the book over roast dinners and afternoon ciders!

From her signature chocolate mousse with honeycomb to her fabulous flapjacks there is a great selection of desserts, cakes, treats and a special Christmas section too! Laura gives great tips on ingredients, equipment and tweaking recipes to make them your own. I love the photography which helps to guide on how your finished recipe should look and watch out, it will certainly make your mouth water!

You can either buy directly from Laura at one of her markets (follow her on twitter to find our where she is), get a signed copy from the publishers , find in good book shops, or get a bargain price online from Amazon! I will be certainly be buying a few of these for Christmas presents this year.

Have you got your hands on The Dessert Deli Cook Book yet? If so, have you tried any of the recipes? I can’t wait to get baking!

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BBC Good Food Show Scotland 2012 – My Highlights

Last weekend I was up in Glasgow for the BBC Good Food Show Scotland. I think most will agree it was one of the best shows yet with a great celebrity chef line up, including the lovely Hairy Bikers, and an even better selection of speciality, artisan and passionate producers from across Scotland, the British Isles and the world!

It’s our London show next week (9th -11th at Olympia) so I’m super busy getting ready for that… but here is a quick run down of my highlights in pictures. Just click on the post title if you can’t see the images!

The show started with a bang as Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry opened the show – after the ribbon was cut thousands of food lovers burst into the show to start their fabulous food experience! It’s a great sight to see, and always gives me goosebumps as the show officially comes to life.

Borders Biscuits were asking visitors to decide whether their new Christmas spiced biscuit should be put into mainstream production. We put our deciding token into the ‘Oh Goodness they’re yummy’ box!

The lovely Kate from Gower Cottage dishing out her amazing brownies…

Whole Foods Market Glasgow were sampling and selling sourdough loaves, giant meringues and Prosecco!

Have you tried Boozeberries liqueurs? Fresh berries inside gorgeous Irish artisan fruit liqueurs… I’m going to be buying some at the London Show for adding something special to sparkling wine at Christmas.

A quick break for delicious fresh cream filled meringues and scones from the Dancing Goat!

Mo and her Cookie Dough! Morag was one of our bursary winners and did a brilliant job of making the most of the opportunity to appear at the show!

Mr Puddledub Buffalo giving out advice on how to cook his fresh buffalo meat.

A quick stop backstage led me to bump into the Hairy Bikers – Si and Dave look great after their dieting and I must say Si looked like a rock star with his skinny jeans!

What is your Christmas meat of choice? A Taste of Galloway were sampling their succulent goose, which is a lovely luxurious way to celebrate at Christmas.

The Champagne Bar was a welcome addition to the show…

We paid a visit to have a well deserved glass of champagne at the end of the day on Saturday – cheers!

We even had a shark!

Only a lucky few of us get to go up and work at our Scotland Show – so the team back in Teddington were delighted that we brought back a range of flavours from the wonderful Ochil Fudge Pantry!

 

I think my highest highlight was walking Mary Berry around the Producers’ Village before the show opened, she was so enthusiastic and interested in the producers and produce!

And now its on to the next one – London is next week, and then our flagship show at the NEC is on the 28th Nov – 2nd Dec. See you there?!

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Pre-Show Madness

I can’t believe our Scotland Show opens in just three days! Three weeks later it will be our London Show at Olympia and then the biggie at the NEC at the end of November. I always try to get organised before the shows but they just seem to sneak up on me.

I wanted to take a breather to tell you whats going on at the shows that I’m excited about…

Great British Bake Off – sessions on the Super Theatres at Scotland and London and its very own theatre at the Winter NEC Show! Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood at all shows, winner at London and NEC and finalists and others at the NEC!!! Will definitely be hanging out backstage to snaffle some tasters!

Good Food Champions – brand new area of the shows that I introduced based on my desire to highlight some of the best producers at the show. From oils to ethical veal, liqueurs to scotch eggs, smoked fish to fresh venison you are sure to find something to get your mouth-watering!

Producers Bursary Award Winners – all of them small, outstanding producers and brand new to the BBC Good Food Shows so go and show them your support. Look out for fresh cookie dough in Scotland, crystalized edible fresh flowers and foraged ingredients in Birmingham and natural seaweed seasonings in London. Take a look at our tasting day here.

World Cheese Awards – nearly 3000 cheeses all out on display is an incredible sight. I always make sure I’m hanging around this area of the show when they announce the winners (Wednesday afternoon). Two years ago Philip from the Cornish Cheese Company won supreme champion and it brought tears to my eyes seeing him win. It was also pretty fun watching him get through bottles of champagne in the bar that evening!

BBC Food and Farming Awards – held at the show on the Wednesday afternoon, I’m making time to watch the awards ceremony this year as the shortlist of nominations is so exciting! You can add a theatre seat to your booking if you have tickets for the Wednesday.

Right, back to work… hope to see you at the shows and please just ask if you want to know more about any of the exciting stuff going on at the shows!

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Producers Bursary Awards – The Winners!

I’m so excited to announce the winners of the Producers Bursary Awards! They have been through a rigorous application process and will soon be appearing at at BBC Good Food Show near you!

And the winners are…

BBC Good Food Show Scotland, SECC, Glasgow, 19 – 21 Oct

Gusto – handmade dressings, marinades, sauces, spice blends, oils and infused vinegars made in Edinburgh less than 1 year old.

Twitter- @gusto_info

Website- www.gusto-catering.com

Mo’s Cookie Dough – all natural fresh cookie dough ready to slice and cook – made in Glasgow, less than 1 year old.

Website- www.moscookiedough.co.uk

The Chilli Chutney Company/ Muckrach Lodge Hotel – all natural restaurant quality sauces and condiments. Based in Grantown on Spey and only just launching as retail brand.

Website- www.muckrach.com

The Ochil Fudge Company – hand made fudge, Scottish tablet, macaroon and honeycomb made in Alva, Clackmannanshire just over 1 year old.

Twitter- @ochilfudge

Website- www.ochilfudgepantry.co.uk

BBC Good Food Show London. Olympia, 09 – 11 Nov

Bim’s Kitchen Ltd – African sauces and condiments using ingredients such as Baobab fruit, alligator pepper and melon seeds, along with fresh local produce. Made in Palmers Green, 1 ½ years old.

Twitter – @bimskitchen

Website- www.bimskitchen.com

Maha Partnership Ltd – fresh chutneys made to authentic Pakistan and Indian recipes, based in Slough and 8 months old.

Twitter- @mahachutney

Website- www.mahapartnership.com

Norfolk Cordial – all natural, locally sourced fruit based cordials and juices, based in Matlaske, North Norfolk and 1 ½ years old.

Twitter- @norfolkcordial

Website- www.norfolkcordial.com

Patchett’s Confectionery Ltd – all natural, handmade marshmallows, salted caramels and honeycomb – made in Islington and 1 ½ years old.

Twitter- @patchettssweets

Website- www.patchettsconfectionery.co.uk

The Celtic Sea-spice Co – seasonings made from hand-harvested natural seaweeds, produced in Edinburgh under 1 year old.

Twitter- @seaspicegirls

Website- www.seaspice.co.uk

Well Seasoned Ltd – British seasonal pestos made from UK grown produce that change with the seasons, made in Park Royal, London and less than one year old.

Twitter – @seasonalfood

Website – www.wellseasoned.co.uk

BBC Good Food Show Winter – NEC, Birmingham, 28 Nov – 2 Dec.

Bendylegs – granola made with local, all natural Welsh ingredients in Swansea, Wales – 2 years old.

Twitter- @bendylegsjo

Website- www.lovebendylegs.co.uk

CNWD – smoked meat and fish along with pates and terrines produced using traditional production methods and from local, natural ingredients. Produced in Llanelli, Wales and 1 year old.

Twitter- @cnwdfood

Website- www.cnwd.co.uk

Forage Fine Foods – uses seasonal, foraged ingredients to make products such as herb and spice mixes, preserves, jellies, syrups and cakes. 20 months old, based in Walterstone, Herefordshire.

Twitter- @foragefinefoods

Website www.foragefinefoods.co.uk

Meadowsweet Flowers –  crystallised fresh edible flowers, along with chocolates topped with crystallised flowers – based in South Molton, Devon and 2 years old.

Twitter- @meadowsweet01

Website- www.meadowsweetflowers.co.uk

Pig & Co – Sausages, bacon and hams made from free range, rare breed pigs – based in Goostrey, Cheshire and 6 months old.

Twitter- @pigandco

Website- www.pigandco.com

Shropshire Chocolates by Toot Sweets – handmade chocolates made using local Shropshire ingredients. Made in Shrewsbury making her own chocolates for the past 3 years.

Twitter- @tootsweetsshrew & @shropshirechocs

Website- www.tootsweetsconfectionery.wordpress.com

BBC Good Food Show Summer – NEC, Birmingham, 12th – 16th June 2013.

Ooomeringues – handmade meringues in allsorts of shapes, colours, flavours and sizes. Made in Newtown, Powys, Wales and 6 months old.

Twitter- @ooomeringues

Website- www.ooomeringues.co.uk

Pepper and Stew Ltd – traditional handmade, all natural African cooking sauces made in Northolt, London 1 ½ years old.

Twitter- @pepperandstew

Website- www.pepperandstew.co.uk

Saison! – seasoning salts, peppers and sugars made in Dorchester, Dorset 6 months old.

Twitter- @saisonforcooks

Website- www.saison.co.uk

Slamseys Drinks Ltd – fruit liqueurs and gins made from fruit picked from her farm and hedgerows – made in Braintree, Essex and 6 months old.

Twitter- @slamseysdrinks

Website- www.slamseysdrinks.co.uk

I do hope you love them as much as we did and show your support by visiting them at the BBC Good Food Shows!

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Food Find of the Week – Homewood Ewes Milk Cheeses

Another cheesy food find! I went to the brilliant Abergavenny Food Festival last week and amongst all the wonderful producers, I found Homewood Cheeses. I was initially attracted to the feta style pickled ewes cheese, as I’ve been longing for a Greek salad since my holiday to Santorini back in August. So bought that, along with some halloumi, and had a taste of all of their other delicious cheeses.

Homewood Cheeses specialise in unpasteurised, artisan ewes milk cheeses, which they make in Somerset. Along with the feta style cheese they also make a fresh curd/ cream cheese, ricotta, halloumi and their signature semi-hard cheese, Old Demdike. I’m not a goats cheese fan (read why here), so found the Old Demdike a little too ‘farmy’ for me, but I loved the ‘feta style’ and halloumi cheeses. They were also selling cheesecake slices, made from their own curd cheese – they looked delicious.

I made my Greek salad with the slab of pickled ewes cheese placed on top of chopped Isle of Wight tomatoes, cucumber and red onion then drizzled on extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled on wild Calabrian oregano.

Take a look at their website or follow them on twitter @HomewoodCheeses to find out more and where you can buy from them.

 

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Producers Bursary Awards 2012

One of the highlights of my year is the Producers Bursary Award scheme that we run at the BBC Good Food Shows. It’s basically our way of rewarding small, fledgling, outstanding producers with a free opportunity to showcase their products at one of the BBC Good Food Shows. I manage the scheme from taking applications, coordinating the judging at the Good Food Magazine Kitchen, with their team of experts and ultimately deciding which companies will win the coveted award.

We held the tasting day yesterday (Wednesday) and I’m hoping to have all the decisions made by the beginning of next week! See below for a sneaky peek at the Good Food Kitchens, the samples all laid out and being tasted and a few snaps of the judges deliberating, cogitating and digesting…

Making a mess of the gorgeous Good Food Kitchen.

Preparing the samples.

Some like it hot! We had some super hot chilli sauces to try, I wimped out quite early on!

Spices and seasonings were an interesting category.

Drinks included cider, ginger soft drinks, fruity tea and hot chocolate.

The confectionery category was definitely my favourite!

Carefully checking the entries…

The lovely Sarah Cook, deputy food editor, and Cassie Best, assistant food editor for Good Food Magazine gave their expert opinion on the taste and quality of the products.

Holly Brooke-Smith, editorial assistant, and Myles Williamson, cookery assistant for Good Food Magazine also gave their feedback on product taste and quality and anything that needed cooking was put in Myles’ expert hands!

Rebecca Reeves, one of our Good Food Show directors, is a regular judge for the Bursary Awards – she knows what our visitors wants and knows good food!

We also had Good Food editor Gillian Carter, and food editor Barney Desmazery put in an appearance, and Laura Biggs, MD of BBC Haymarket Exhibitions too. Along with some great support from show manager Paul Patterson we had a brilliantly fun day tasting, debating and getting rather full!

Stay tuned here on my blog for details of the winners, and of course, come and see them at the BBC Good Food Shows!

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Food Find of the Week – Jumi’s Belper Knolle

Jumi make some of the most intriguing, innovative and delicious cheeses I’ve ever come across… so, my food find of the week is their incredible Belper Knolle. At first sight you may mistake it for a large truffle, but no, this is a very special little artisan  cheese coated in pepper and dried as it ages.

 

 

 

 

It is packed full of flavour and can be grated/shaved to add a powerful hit of cheesy, garlicky, salty, peppery goodness to pasta, risotto, salads or even steak (or as you so desire!).

It’s not a cheap find at around £8.50 per ball, but it’s so unusual and delicious it’s definitely worth seeking out. It also lasts well in the fridge for some time (if you can resist that long!).

Jumi don’t just make the Belper Knolle, in fact they have a great range of artisan, swiss cheeses from cow and goat milk, fruit bread to go with cheese and delicious truffle (Swiss) honey. Their cheeses are like works of art, and the flavour and quality are incredible – the sign of truly artisan products.

It is a family business based in the valley of the emmental. They use milk from local farmers and are so traditional that they still have to wake up at 3.30 every morning to start up their production!

This sunny cheese, called Apres Soleil, is aged in a cave where the sun shines through into the cave at certain times of the day… so pretty and has a slightly sweet, pineapple flavour to it.

The addition of hemp gives this naughty looking cheese a nutty crunch…

Need I say more? Get yourself down to Borough Market or Partridges Market and go buy some!

PS. They will hopefully also be appearing at the BBC Good Food Shows in London and Birmingham 2012!

 

 

 

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