Category Archives: Shopping

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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£3 Meal Challenge for the Trussell Trust – Get Involved!

I had grand plans to get involved in this awesome challenge to create an exciting meal for two for £3… I even got a whole turkey breast reduced from £8.50 to 99p so would have been perfect! The challenge ends this Sunday 15th, so if you have time to get involved, or perhaps just vote for the best looking dish, read on and show your support for a great cause this Christmas…

The Trussell Trust is a UK-based food bank charity currently doing some fantastic work in the community to help families who are on the bread line.  You can find more information about what they do here: http://www.trusselltrust.org/

The Three Pound Challenge:

Find the full details here: www.buyagift.co.uk/threepoundchallenge

To show how difficult it is to feed families on limited budgets, the challenge is to prepare a delicious meal for two without exceeding the tricky budget of just £3.

Entrants are asked to go away, purchase their ingredients and prepare their dish without going over the budget. They’ll then need to take a photograph of their modestly priced meal and email it to: threepoundchallenge@Buyagift.com

They will upload every picture to their Three Pound Cooking Challenge Facebook album and will pick five finalists after the closing the date, the finalists being those with the photographs with the most Facebook likes.

The finalists will be sent over to the team at The Trussell Trust, and they’ll be given the tough task of choosing the ultimate winner.

The winners will receive:

1.       £600 from Buyagift.com to donate to the Trussell Trust so that they can continue their good work within the wider community

2.       A relaxing spa day for two

3.       A delicious meal for two on London’s famous King’s Road

4.       A professional cookery lesson

In case you’re wondering what happened to that turkey breast, I made it into a turkey wellington which was stuffed with brie & cranberry sauce, wrapped in sage and onion stuffing, smoked streaky bacon and pastry! Way over budget but really delicious… I’ll have to donate to the food banks to make up for not entering!
Turkey Wellington

Turkey Wellington

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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).

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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 – 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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Food Find of the Week – Fortnum and Mason’s Knickerbocker Glory

A visit to Fortnum and Mason is an essential pre-Christmas activity for me. I love the gorgeous Christmas windows, the impressively ornate architecture, the luxury and the unrivalled quality of products and service. I met up with my best friend on Tuesday to do a spot of shopping and to treat ourselves to a special dinner before we went our separate ways for Christmas.

Before I tell you more about my food find of the week, their fabulous Knickerbocker Glory, let me show you some of the Christmassy displays in the shop – I forgot to take pictures of the windows!

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Exclusive Emma Bridgewater Designs

 

I booked a table in the Fountain restaurant, which is on the ground floor of the store. It is beautifully decorated and the service makes you feel very special!

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I really like the ‘Savouries’ section of the menu, which is basically a brunch menu with things like smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, omelette Arnold Bennett and even lobster Benedict, which you can have at any time of day. Isn’t it the height of luxury when you can have brunch for dinner?!

I went for the pan-fried halibut, with tempura cod cheek served with caponata and a creamy sauce. It was delicious, and was even better with their ‘like chip shop chips but more posh’ chips and bread basket.

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And so to the Knickerbocker Glory, which apparently they have been serving since 1955! I’m not surprised it’s still on the menu – it was impressive and soooooo good. With fresh strawberries in sauce at the bottom, layered with the best strawberry ice-cream I’ve ever tasted, fresh vanilla flavoured whipped cream, more strawberry sauce and finally topped with Italian meringue which has been gently toasted on top.

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It wasn’t cheap at £12 but it’s definitely a sharing sized portion! I know it’s not particularly Christmassy but it is the perfect refresher to a posh shopping trip round Fortnum and Mason! Let me know if you have tried before, or if I’ve inspire you to give it a go!

 

 

 

 

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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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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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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 Finds of Weeks Gone By…

So, I started the Food Find of the Week thing to force me to post on a weekly basis – but due to various distractions I’ve let it slip, and owe about 6 food finds to catch up! Ooops! So, following the BBC Good Food Show Summer just a couple of weeks ago, and a full on food filled diary to follow, I have collected a number of food finds for your pleasure…

Tan Rosie

I was really excited to meet Lee Sylvester of Tan Rosie Foods fame at the BBC Good Food Show Summer, who produce a range of Caribbean specialities and run a really popular, Birmingham based supper club. The sauces were great, but I particularly liked her fiery chilli fudge, which not only had a nice heat to it, but you could really taste the chilli flavour too. The ginger, vanilla and chocolate  and chilli fudges were also really good and worth a try.

 

Pelagonia Range

A delicious and unusual range of Macedonian meze items including roasted peppers, pumpkin jam and Aivar, a gorgeous aubergine and pepper dip. They come in really attractive jars and are very well priced around the £3.50 mark. They have limited stockists around the country but will also be on show to sample and buy from at the London BBC Good Food Show in November.

Peter’s Yard

Many people will have heard of this brand by now, but I have to feature them here as I was totally inspired by a talk by one of the co-founders, Wendy, at the recent Foodie Bugle Lectures. The artisan crisp breads are made to a traditional Swedish recipe here in the UK and are not only really good for you, but delicious too! The original bakery is up in Edinburgh, and is on top of my must visit list!

Lahloo Tea

Another speaker at the Foodie Bugle Lectures, Kate Gover, who I have met before but never realised her faultless passion and drive for tea and her own growing business Lahloo Tea. I particularly liked the tasting notes on the tea tins, of the few I saw two mentioned baked apples with brown sugar and butter, and one talked of madeira cakes – great to be able to pull out flavour notes from the tea that you can relate to. She has recently opened a tea pantry in Bristol, which is also on my must visit list, and is planning on opening more outlets across the country in the future, definitely one to watch!

Demijohn

Angus Ferguson is a BBC Good Food Show regular, but he never stops impressing me with his passion, enthusiasm and simply outstanding liqueurs. This year his new flavour was Morello Cherry Brandy, which was really delicious but I always fall back to his Rhubarb Vodka, which was particularly tart this year. At the end of the show Angus was busy finding picnic fayre to satisfy the participants of his upcoming annual elderflower picking pilgrimage – lucky pickers!

Hardiesmill

I took home a couple of souvenirs from the Royal Highland Show, Edinburgh, last week – some Hardiesmill Aberdeen Angus popeseye steaks and a beef haggis. The steaks were really, really tender and you could really taste the difference of grass-fed animals in the fat too. The highlight was the haggis, which didn’t seem as fatty as the lamb based version, and had a lovely delicate flavour and firm texture. You can buy fresh beef products and charcuterie from their website.

So I think that brings me up to date with my fabulous food finds, but I must find the time to write up more highlights from the BBC Good Food Show Summer, my judging of the Great Taste Awards, my visit to the Royal Highland Show and the wonderful Foodie Bugle Lectures too! Its been a busy few weeks!

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Brockley Market – My Highlights

I recently took a trip down to the much talked about Brockley Market and was really impressed! Created by a local photographer (Toby Allen) with a passion for food, dedication to succeed and the ability to spot an opportunity to create a new market to benefit his local community. I had a lovely time there, great producers, great street food and space to either sit or stand around and eat. Here is a quick run down of my highlights.

Amazing looking stand and food from Mike and Ollie, must try on my next visit.

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Food Find of the Week – Quince Juice

My latest food find is perfect for Summer cocktails – quince juice from Norfolk producer Drove Orchards. I was very happy to find it in my sister’s fridge and just had to try it. I drank it with Vestal Vodka‘s Amber elderberry flower liqueur, with a little soda and lots of ice, a delicious cocktail to drink in the sun.

I’m not sure where my sister got it from, but I believe it’s widely available across Norfolk delis and in their farm  shop near Hunstanton (definitely visiting next time I’m back in Norfolk!). Their website says they are hoping to start selling their range of juices online soon, but give a number to call and order if you can’t wait that long!

It’s so good that the Great Taste Awards judges awarded it two gold stars last year, here’s what they said about it:

 Good smell of Quince.  Slight Cloudiness.  Pleasant honey flavour.  Blended very well.  Quince comes through very nicely – good balance.  Sugar is well in control, good tartness.  ‘Grown-up’ product – this would be lovely even with a mixer.  A summery drink.

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Food Find of the Week – Egg Boss Scotch Eggs

This week’s first food find of the week is the fabulous Egg Boss who makes his own scotch eggs along with a brilliant brown sauce. I’ve been following the egg boss AKA Sean Lawson on twitter for a while and finally met him at Brockley Market last week. I went for a Holy F**k egg, checking for children in the locality before ordering, which is pork combined with The Ribman’s delicious Holy F**k hot sauce.

The photos below have been provided by Egg Boss – I was so taken by the eggs that my camera skills went to pot!

The scotch eggs can either be taken away or served sliced in half with a sprinkling of salt, pepper, celery salt and black salt (I think that’s what it was anyway!) along with a dollop of the Egg Boss’ own brown sauce, which had the perfect tang to lift the richness of the egg.

The egg flavours change on a weekly basis, and you can find him at Brockley Market every Saturday – check his twitter account @egg_boss for updates on where else you can find him. He is definitely worth hunting down!!

I took an extra ‘Holy F**k’ egg and a black pudding egg home for my boyfriend – he ate them in the bath (after a long day playing American football) and loved them!!




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Food Find of the Week – Natural Seaweed Seasonings

This week’s food find is from The Sea-Spice Co who have created a range of super healthy seasonings made purely from naturally harvested, Celtic seaweed. Fiona Houston and Xa Milne, also known as the sea spice girls, have established themselves as experts in seaweed foraging through their own book ‘Seaweed and Eat It: A Family Foraging and Cooking Adventure’, magazine columns and radio and TV appearances. Earlier this year they launched their range of sea~sons, and seem to be going from strength to strength!

I must admit to only having tasting the seasonings with bread and oil, and haven’t had a chance to try in a recipe yet. I’m really keen to try the pepper dulse, which is known as the truffle of the sea, sprinkled on top of seared scallops. The range also includes sea lettuce, which is bright green and looks a bit like parsley to be used as a garnish or towards the end of cooking. The dulse is a deep purple colour, and the tasting notes suggest a hint of smoked bacon and that it is strong and robust enough to pair with meat and game, almost like an anchovy equivalent. Shony flakes are a blend of seaweeds to be used as a table condiment and to add colour and flavour in cooking. Finally, Celtic Kombu provides an umami boost to dishes and can be used as a stock. I can’t wait to get experimenting!

Find out more by following @seaspicegirls on twitter, or if you fancy trying some, you can buy from the range at their online shop. Their website also gives some great recipes and suggestions for use, along with the story behind the company and some of their recent success stories.

I will update once I’ve had time to use some in a recipe, but for now I will keep dipping my finger into the pouches when I need a savoury kick!

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Food Find of the Week – Chillis Galore!

I had trouble trying to decide on a food find for this week, as there were so many things I have found! The others will have to wait, but the Food Find of the Week is the Chipotle Paste from Chillis Galore. I found it at the Aylsham Farmers Market (North Norfolk) this morning and just had to buy some. I keep seeing it in recipes and would much rather use an artisan version than one from the supermarket shelves.

I’m not sure how I’m going to use it yet, but the smell as you open the jar is incredible – smokey, spicy and mouth watering…

I couldn’t resist their Chipotle Smoked Chilli Jelly and the Chilli and Onion Sticky Relish too – both will be great for BBQs over the summer (if it lasts that long!!). Great thing is that even if you aren’t a Norfolk local you can buy from their website. Let me know if you have tried before or if you decide to give it a go!

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Food Find of the Week – Findlater’s Fine Foods

I was in my local Waitrose on Saturday, looking for lunch, and spotted Findlater’s Fine Foods‘ Chicken Liver pate on their shelves. Having featured at the BBC Good Food Show Scotland and at the NEC in the past I was already familiar with their delicious range, but I’d just only ever had little tasters! So I bought a pot, along with a crusty baguette and hurried home to devour it.

It was so good that I had to make it my Food Find of the Week!

The chicken liver pate, with brandy and port, is delicious, so creamy, rich, smooth and full of flavour, without being too ‘livery’. With salty butter and crusty bread, it is the perfect picnic piece!

Find out more about the history Findlater’s Fine Food on their website, and be prepared for your mouth to water over the rest of their range – venison pate with pancetta and whisky, roast salmon pate with cracked black pepper, lemon and lime or even a meat free avocado and cashew nut pate with mango and chilli.

Well deserving of my Food Find of the Week, and great to find some quality Scottish produce south of the border! Let me know if you have tried it, and what you think of it.

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