Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Turkeys are here!

It's that time of year when I regret telling the guy at the gym that I wasn't interested in weight training. Here I am again with enormous turkeys to move! Everyone else at the turkey farm seems equipped with forklifts and muscles, I had neither. But I got them loaded and unloaded, and with the help of the lovely Jo and H, they are now all tucked away in a variety of chillers ready for collection. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

More new toys!

Just a few weeks after receiving a proper stand to display my seasoned pioneers spices, along came a stand for the Quaranta torrone (Italian nougat). Rather than displaying lots of different flavours on one cake stand, now I can spread them over three tiers. Now it looks even more tempting!

The nougat itself (torrone) is a soft sweet mix of sugar, honey, egg whites, hazelnuts and almond into which chocolate, or fruits are swirled. The softer fruits like the berries and the chocolate create a beautiful marble effect in the nougat. The cakes of nougat are cut into slices and individually wrapped in cellophane, so you can see the whole slices in all their glory.

The nougat is a really popular gift throughout the year, but especially so at Christmas. It is a grown-up confection, and perfect for sharing.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Christmas is coming

Don't forget that tonight Eton's Christmas Lights are officially switched on. Our festive window displays are ready, and my tiny white lights will be illuminated from this evening.

Friday, November 18, 2011

A New Toy!

Today I received a new toy! My first piece of "proper" display equipment. Never before have I had a genuine "retail display solution" to present the excellent produce available at Tastes. All the shelves in the shop are made from wood or MDF and started life as my sketches. I felt like a child playing shop as I hooked the arms onto the metal frame and hung the extensive range of hard to find spices from Seasoned Pioneers. It's great to have a display worthy of these fine spices.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Christmas Lights

This year the Christmas Light switch on is Thursday 24th November. Full details can be found on the new Eton web site:

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Is Tastes the Best Small Food Shop?

If you think Tastes Delicatessen is the best small food shop you can vote for us in the Telegraph Best Small Shop Awards . This year's awards aim to recognise the small local shops which make high streets like Eton special. If you place your vote for us before 5th December 2011 you'll be entered into a prize draw and could win a fabulous mini-break!

Vote for Tastes Delicatessen as best food shop and you could win a three-night stay for two at Hacienda de San Rafael, southern Spain, including flights.
A two-night stay for two at Hotel L’Avenida, Majorca
A two-night stay for two at Château Saint-Martin & Spa in the south of France
A two-night stay for two at Linthwaite Country House Hotel in the Lake District
A four-night stay for a family of four at Polurrian Bay Hotel, Mullion, Cornwall
A case of wine worth £180, courtesy of Bottle Apostle

(Oddly enough I've been to weddings at the Linthwaite and the Polurrian and can vouch for how gorgeous they both are.)

You can tell all your friends and ask them to vote for us as well!

Thanks for your support!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

I may have mastered Excel!

I do like spreadsheets. And I do like to organise. Which is probably why I like spreadsheets. This year I wanted to improve my Christmas turkey order sheet. And you know what, I think I've done it!

Last year I managed to get the list of people and birds to generate the order sheet which the turkey supplier needed (I.e. counts by size). Quite happy with that. It reduced the opportunity for human error and missed turkeys. But it wasn't all that useful when the customer placed their order. Too many details needed to be input. Free-range bronze, organic or white turkey. Breast roast, crown or whole bird. Small, medium, large or 4, 5, 6 kg etc etc. And once I had all that I had to look up the price per kg of the appropriate combination on a list blue tacked to the wall! Then multiply it by the size. etc etc. This year I wanted my spreadsheet to pull its weight and do a greater share of the work.

And so begun my exploration of the nested if. And they aren't all that scary. I may need to talk out loud when writing them. But I can do it. So now when you order your Christmas turkey from Tastes*, I merrily enter the type you would like, the starting size, be that in kg or small/medium/large. And that is it. My lovely spreadsheet tells me the average size of the bird, the price per kg, the estimated price for your bird, the minimum and maximum size and the approximate balance once the deposit is paid. I'm pretty pleased with myself. And if anyone else wants a nested if, below is my largest combined if statement. But be aware, being an impoverished independent retailer I don't use Miscrosoft Excel, this is OpenOffice Calc and I think the semi-colons might need to be commas in Excel:


Please don't write and tell me I could have done this much more easily!
Please do come and order turkeys and put my spreadsheet to the test!

* Tiny bit of subliminal marketing there.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

British Cheese Awards 2011

The British Cheese Award winners for 2011 have been annouced. One again the award for Best Blue Cheese went to our most local cheese; Barkham Blue, from Two Hoots near Wokingham.

Some of our other cheeses were also "bests", including:
Dorstone from Neal's Yard Creamery which won Best Fresh Cheese (Sponsored by MCE Engineering Ltd)
Devon Blue from Ticklemore Cheese which won Best English Cheese - Patrick Rance Trophy (Sponsored by H - E - B)

Other gold award winners included the Rosary goat's cheese log, Tunworth, Keen's Traditional Mature Cheddar, Lord of the Hundred,
Spenwood, Blacksticks Blue, Isle of Whight BLue, Cornish Yarg.

Well done everyone!

Friday, September 30, 2011


I've met some lovely couples this summer and have really enjoyed helping them choose the cheeses for their wedding, and constructing unique towers to satisfy their tastes. I've especially enjoyed receiving some beautiful photos of the cheese wedding cakes, and of the beaming brides and grooms. Some I am allowed to share, and have put into a facebook album. Blog readers should be able to view the album by visiting

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Tastes Delicatessen ABC

I rather like the advertising on the back of the Wilkinson's lorries at the moment. From Aftersun to Batteries C.... Zinc capsules.

It reminds me of a book my grandparents gave me when I was a child. In the book, Big Bird and I were on a scavenger hunt (my name was actually in the story - a bigger deal in the 1980s than today!). We had to find something for every letter of the alphabet. So in homage to my Sesame Street Scavenger Hunt, here is Tastes Delicatessen A-Z:

Apples, Biscuits, Cheese, Dulce de Leche, Eggs, Fluff, Gingerbread, Honey, Ice cream, Jam, Kaffir lime leaves, Lemons, Mustard, Nougat, Olives, Pate, Quiche, Root beer, Scotch eggs, Tea, Uncle Joe's mint balls, Vinegar, Wedding cakes, Xacuti curry powder, Yoghurt, Zahtar.

It was actually easier than I expected and I didn't have to resort to using adjectives like Wilkinson's "yellow duster", although maybe the mint balls was a bit of a cheat (it was that or unsalted butter).

I'm also amazed by the prevalence of the letter C. I could have managed 26 items starting with the letter C alone; chutney, cheese, chocolate, crackers, conserves, cured meats, crisps, condiments, cookies, cassoulet, curry sauce, capers, crispbread, chorizo, cous cous, chilli sauce, clementines, consomme, chickpeas, coffee, cake, cranberry juice, cheese wedding cakes, chopped tomatoes, coconut milk, cream, confit de Canard.

Friday, August 26, 2011

We're on the map

I'm trying very hard to keep abreast of the social media/internet marketing wave. There is so much that I "really should be doing". I could well do this full time and give up on the sourcing and selling of stock. It doesn't quite fit with the business plan though. So instead I spend my commute thinking about what I need to do next and trying to do it between customers. Its pretty slow going. One leap forward recently was that we got our own little marker blob on google maps. I made a google places page a long time ago, and fixed a marker exactly on top of the shop. But up until now didn't have a personalised google marker on the map. I'm not sure why it suddenly appeared. But it has, and I like it. So that's good enough for me (and something I can tick off my to do list with no additional effort).

Monday, August 15, 2011

Great Taste Awards 2011

It's that time of year again, when food producers hear the results of their "oscars"; The Great Taste Awards.

Once again, it has been a great year for the products available at Tastes Delicatessen! You can read about who won awards in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 in my previous blog posts. And here are this year's winners.

......drum roll....

Three Stars
7482 products were entered, 114 of which were awarded the much coveted "wow you've got to try this" three stars. This included Lewis & Cooper's delicious Handmade Plum Pudding (which will be making a repeat appearance at Tastes this Christmas), Salcombe Dairy Stem Ginger Ice Cream which has been popular here all summer long (although I suspect would be more popular had we actually experienced some summer sunshine) and Beet It Beetroot juice by James White Drinks Ltd. In the herbal infusions category both Three Fennel Organic Herbal Tea from Pukka Herbs and Teapigs Pure Lemongrass tea were awarded three stars.

Two Stars
608 products were awarded two stars and this included:
Luscombe's Organic Hot Ginger Beer.
Teapigs Tung Ting Oolong Tea, Darjeeling Earl Grey, Liquorice and Mint AND Peppermint Leaves teas.
Pukka Three Ginger Organic Herbal Tea.
Wessex Cobber Bread Flour from Wessex Mill.
Lewis & Cooper Handmade Luxury Fruit Cake.

One Star
Teapigs were awarded even more awards, with one star for English Breakfast, Mao Feng Green Tea, Green tea with Mint, Jasmine Pearl Green Tea, Chamomile Flowers and Rooibos Creme Caramel.
Other award winners include:
Pukka's Detox Organic Herbal Tea.
Campbell's Single Estate Loose Tea.
Luscombe Farm Organic Sicilian Lemonade.
Olives Et Al Kiln Roasted Harrisa Almonds and Captain Tiptoes Chilli Harissa Nuts.
Brindisa Tortas de Aceite Traditional.
Gluten Free Plain White Flour from Doves Farm.
Chocolate Peppermint Creams from Summerdown Farms.
Strawberry with Balsamic Jam from Henshelwood's Fine Foods.
Jules & Sharpie's hot mint jelly.
Rhubarb Chutney from local preserver Susie.
Raydale Preserves Goats Cheese Lovers Fig & Honey Chutney and Strong Cheese Lovers Tomato & Chilli Chutney.
Tracklements Strong Horseradish & Cream, and Chilli Jam.
Copas Traditional Gravy with Cracked Black Pepper.
Mike's Smokehouse Smoked Duck.
Fish4Ever Anchovies in Organic Olive Oil.
Ortiz Bonito del Norte.
Tim's Dairy Greek Style Natural Yoghurt.
Mouthful Foods Pea & Mint Soup.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Focus On Figs!

I love figs, and today whilst chatting to a like-minded customers I realised how many figgy things we have in stock. Two fig jams (one French and runny, one English and stiff), handmade fig chutney with lots of fig flesh, organic fig relish with lots of fig seeds, puréed figs for cheese, marinated miniature figs in syrup (divine with ice cream), fig and almond wedges (perfect with cheese, or as a snack) and a spiced fig compote. Not long now and it will be fig season and we’ll have those beautiful fresh figs in stock as well (not to mention fig truffles, fig panettone, figgy pudding for Christmas and our "Fig Lover's Gift Box").

Friday, July 01, 2011

Times Local Produce

Once again Tastes Delicatessen is taking part in The Times Local Produce offer. If you collect tokens from the paper over the next few weeks you can use your voucher to save £5 at Tastes Delicatessen.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Meet The Smiths

I recently met with Chris Smith. A decade ago he was asked by acquaintances of his late parents' (St John and Dolly) if he had the recipes for the Indian pickles his mother made (from her mother-in-law, Gertrude's recipes). They had quite a following amongst the alumni of the schools his father had taught at in India. Chris duly located the recipes and although he'd never made them before, he followed the recipes which had been perfected over many years and started producing the pickles of a standard his mother and grandmother would have been proud of. He initially sold them to those who had known his parents, then gradually expanded and is now producing pickles full-time. Still everything is made by Chris in small batches; using the finest ingredients, prepared and cooked by hand. St. John & Dolly's pickles (as Chris named them) regularly receive awards, and have been joined by some hot sauces Chris invented himself. Chris is a fascinating chap and incredibly passionate about what he does. He is at least the third generation of his family to be following the same recipes. How many producers can claim that sort of heritage? His wonderful pickles are now on sale here at Tastes Delicatessen in Eton.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Street Party

Photographs from Eton's Street Party made the national press this week. In The Sun's Royal Wedding coverage, Eton is shown in the 6th photograph (titled "Party ... good times are had by all"). Tastes is the three storey white building on the right.

Eton was also the first photograph in the Windsor People coverage.

What a picturesque street it is!

(The photo to the right here is my view of the union bunting which adorned the street).

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Chan Cham Come to Town

St George's Day, fantastic sunshine, and a tasting with the family behind chan cham. What more could you want? Made locally, with Sri Lankan and Caribbean influences, the cooking sauces are designed to provide great tasting meals, without hours of preparation. The range includes sauces suitable for meats, fish and vegetables and they can be used as marinades for grilling, roasting, frying or as the base for a curry. Great for marinating meat and vegetables for a BBQ. They flew off the shelves, especially the Tamarind & 3 Spice Cooking Sauce.

Thanks Jane for permission to show Tony's legs online!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Award winning Sugo All'Arrabbiata

Seggiano's Sugo All'Arrabbiata was voted best arrabbiata sauce in the May issue of Italia! Magazine. "An outstanding example of a good arrabbiata – fiery, fresh and intense...and universally popular with the panel".

Friday, March 04, 2011

Hello Honey

I've taken on yet more honey. I tried to say no, I really did. But it was just too good! Daniel from Organic Andalus called to say he was coming over to deliver more of his delicious organic olive oil, and whilst he was here he would show me some organic Spanish honey from a nearby producer; Puremiel. "No" I said "I don't need any more honey." You see, the honey we have is great, it sells very well and the space we haves limited. Daniel said he'd bring it anyway.

I was prepared to be unimpressed. Unfortunately, I was blown away by it. Firstly the packaging is beautiful and unique. But more importantly the taste is amazing. The range of honeys all from different flowers taste (and look) so completely different from each other. There is a mild sweet orange blossom honey, an intense rosemary honey, a slightly smoky wild forest honey and a very distinctive eucalyptus honey. All delicious in their own way. I'm now stocking them all!

Monday, February 28, 2011

New from Raydale

Just like last year, I have spent much of February sourcing new products to add to those on offer at Tastes Deli. I've managed to find enough shelf space to sneak in an entire range of chutney. The range I have chosen is from Raydale Preserves.

Raydale Preserves is a family run business established in 1978 by husband and wife, Lesley and Derek Kettlewell. All of their products are produced in a converted farm building on the family farm in the valley of Raydale in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales. They make everything by hand, from topping strawberries to sticking on labels. Very soon Tastes will be offering a range of chutneys to accompany cheese, and a little indulgent Chocolate Orange Marmalade.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Happy Birthday Chilli Jam

To celebrate the tenth birthday of Tracklements Chilli Jam it is being produced in beautiful heart shaped glass jars. Each jar is 100g larger than the standard jar (40% larger), but costs less than 40% more. So in effect the lovely jar which can be re-used for all sorts of things, doesn't cost any more (and did I mention it was beautiful?). Happy Birthday Chilli Jam.