Category Archives: Shopping

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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