Monday, November 10, 2014

Top 50 Foods AND Small Artisan Producer of the Year

In addition to the one star, two star and three star awards given out at the Great Taste Awards, the three star award winning products are also entered into further judging to determine the top 50 foods.

This year the list of th top 50 foods included
 Blaisdon Red Plum Jam from The Artisan Kitchen.
 Wild Rata Honey from Wedderspoon Organic.
 Easy Thai Green Curry Paste from coconut kitchen.

Also Sarah, who single handedly is The Artisan Kitchen, was voted Small Artisan Producer of the Year. Here she is beaming at the golden forks awards dinner! Fantastic achievements all round.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Coming Soon! Bacon.

I've been testing out a potential new product for the shop. Bacon. Sounds simple, but in fact, I've been on a Goldilocks style quest for some time. But I think I have found THE ONE. In fact it's an organic smoked Spanish pancetta, very thinly sliced.

Here it is in a salad with broccoli (a Jamie Oliver recipe)

I'm really impressed with it. Lovely flavour, crisps up beautifully, from organically reared happy pigs and not packed with any weird preservatives. Its flavour is so good, that a little bit goes a very long way. I only used two slices in the broccoli salad, which yielded two huge portions and the bacon flavour really came through.

You'll find it for sale in Tastes, soon, but sadly only in Eton. It needs to be kept refrigerated so we won't be selling it in our online shop.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Great Taste Awards 2014

The Guild of Fine Food hold an annual event described as the ‘Oscars’ of the food world and the ‘epicurean equivalent of the Booker prize’: The Great Taste Awards. Thousands of food producers enter their products, which are blind tasted by a team of more than 400 judges over 50 days. This year there were 10 000 products entered and just 34% of those were awarded one, two, or three stars.

Every year I scour the results, looking for names I recognise. Because I know most of our product producers personally, I love to see their names on the list as I know what a big deal this event is for them. To win a star means their product has been independently recognised as tasting great.  And to win the top accolade of three stars, well that is pretty much as good as it gets!

For the last seven years I have been writing a blog post to list all our winners (you can still read them all: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 (part one and part two) and 2013). As much as I love seeing more and more of the products we stock being given Great Taste Awards, my job of list making gets harder each year! This year I started early and pinned a few winners every day to our 2014 Great Taste Award Winners pinterest board. But it has still taken me until November to write the full list, and it is basically just a list, but even so took me an entire day to write. But here it its. More than seventy award winning products I believe! Well done everyone!

 *** 3 stars
Out of 10,000 products entered this year and just 123 were awarded the highest accolade of three stars.

One of these went to the Blaisdon Red Plum Jam from The Artisan Kitchen. Here are some of judges' the comments:
  • Lovely deep ruby colour and sheen, a good set, and fruity aroma. A delicious jam with deep dark flavours and a hint of tartness.
  • Nice to find a jam that tastes of fruit not sugar.
  • It was very well cooked, the aroma was fresh. A jam with a variety of uses.
  • This is an old fashioned fruit jam, the plum comes through uncluttered with additives or over powering sugar. 
  • Flies the flag for doing the simple things very, very well. 
  • There's a lovely set to this jam and the plum flavours carry great balancing acidity and tartness.
  • A well made jam with a distinct, pronounced plum flavour.
Sarah also received four one star and three two star awards for her other preserves, including the Blood Orange Marmalade we also stock.

Wedderspoon Organic also received three gold stars this year. For their incredible Wild Rata Honey. Judges' comments included:
  • An utterly gorgeous honey
  • This honey tastes amazing!
  • Winnie the Pooh would choose this honey for his pot. it is delicious, smooth, sweet, floral with a little pine-iness on the back taste giving it a clean bright flavour
Wedderspoon Organic also received a gold star for their raw manuka honey.

The coconut kitchen were awarded a fantastic three stars for their Easy Thai Green Curry Paste. Judges' comments included:
  • It has a good deep flavour profile.
  • Great umami hit of fish sauce that has been balanced against the other flavours very well.
Wessex Mill achieved a clutch of awards again this year, including three stars for their mixed grain bread flour, four two star awards and four one star awards which included: Wessex Cobber bread flour, half & half bread flour, wholemeal bead flour, six seed bread flour, plain flour, strong white bread flour, self raising flour and French bread flour.

Azada were awarded three stars for their virgin almond oil for the second consecutive year! 

** 2 stars

There were 697 two star awards given out this year. This included Mike's Smokehouse Manuka Smoked Salmon which we've been stocking since we opened and it's still a favourite.

Olive Branch's Sweet Olive, Fig and Almond relish was awarded two gold stars. The unique product is similar to a sweet chutney, and pairs particularly well with goats cheese. It can also be used as a luxury topping for ice cream or over Greek yogurt as a snack. Olive Branch were also awarded a gold star for their red wine vinegar with orange honey and their red wine vinegar with thyne honey

Our newest tea blender, Tea Huggers,  received an amazing two gold stars for no less than three products! Good Morning Tea, Good Night Tea and Skinny Fit Tea. A great start from a new start up.

Teapigs' were awarded two stars for their  rooibos creme caramel tea and one star each for chamomile flowers tea, tung ting oolong tea, liquorice and peppermint leaves tea and jasmine pearl tea.

Like Teapigs, Tracklements come away from the awards each year with a collection! This year they received two stars for their chilli jam (again), and one star each for fig relish, strong English mustard, strong horseradish & cream, beetroot & horseradish relish and apricot and ginger chutney.

* 1 star

Brand new business, fairly local to us in Eton, BakedIn entered their Chocolate Brownie Kit and Carrot Cake Kit. Both were awarded gold stars.

Other products which are new to us also won gold stars; sweet chilli popcorn from Popcorn KitchenTurron de Guirlache from el Lobo, English Truffle Oil from The Truffle Hunter and Pineapple Fruit Crisps from Nim's.

Along with lots of old favourites, most of which are available in our online deli.
Anila's Tamarind and Date Chutney.
Real Organic Food's Korma Curry Sauce.
Luscombe's Wild Elderflower Bubbly.
Granny's Secret Wild Apple Juice.
Pukka Herbs' Three Fennel Tea.
Grumpy Mule organic EthiopianYirgacheffe coffee.
Meridian 100% peanut butter and smooth cashew butter.
Stokes were awarded a gold star for the real mayo, real tomato ketchup and real brown sauce.
Piper's Chorizo Crisps.
Azada Olive oil and lemon and base olive oil which are included in our olive oil gift boxes, both were awarded one star.
Oro Bailen extra virgin olive oi.
Biona raw virgin Coconut Oil.
Dressing number 3 (sweet honey paired with tangy wholegrain mustard) and dressing number 14 (a delicious, spicy dressing for salad, pasta or fish) from the French Dressing Company.
Iliko's clotted cream caramel sauce.
Cartwright & Butler Butter Thins.
Peppersmith's Lemon Peppermints (which also won a gold star in 2012).

In our fridge, our Spanish chorizo from Brindisa was also awarded a star as was Colston Bassett Stilton, Barkham Blue, Rosethorn Blue and Cornish Blue, Shemin's medium curry paste, Tim's Dairy Greek Yoghurt and Tom's Pies; Chicken, Ham Hock and Leek. Along with Mike's Smoked Duck and  Smoked Salmon Pate which complete yet another hat-trick for the smokehouse.

Even our Christmas turkey producer, Copas, was awarded gold stars, one for their organic turkey and one for their free-range chicken. Loseley bakery, who make quiche for us throughout the year, were award a gold star for their Stollen, which we will have for Christmas, and Lewis and Cooper's Plum Puddings (which we also have each Christmas) won another gold star.

Thanks to all our producers for creating such delicious foods for us to sell and enjoy!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Thai Cooking with Coconut Kitchen

I've been testing out our new range from the wonderful Coconut Kitchen. A selection of sauces based on those used in the Coconut Kitchen restaurant in Abersoch, North Wales.

I started with the Wok fried Pad Thai Noodles recipe from the Pad Thai Sauce bottle. I didn't have any chicken or prawns so used a lot of vegetables (carrots, mushrooms, peppers, sugar snap peas, and sprouted chick peas instead of bean sprouts). I'm pretty sure the flavours would be better if I'd used something to absorb more of the sauce, rather than the al dente vegetables. I did toast the peanuts in the pan before frying the onions, so they were ready to garnish. That is my only tip here! This is the coconut kitchen recipe:

Ingredients, Serves 2:
Rice stick noodles (partly cooked in hot water), vegetable oil, 2 garlic cloves (crushed), 1 chicken breast or 16 king prawns, ½ onion (sliced), 50g  beansprouts, any other vegetables of choice (carrots,
mushrooms, sugar snap peas, broccoli or peppers are good), spring onion, coriander, lime wedges and crushed peanuts to garnish.

To cook:
Fry the garlic and onion in the oil and add the chicken or prawns and vegetables, cook for 2 minutes, add the partly cooked rice noodles. Then add 1 bottle of Coconut Kitchen Pad Thai Sauce, stir fry the noodles in the sauce until fully cooked. Add the beansprouts, serve and garnish with the spring onion, coriander, peanuts and lime.

I made some simple sweetcorn fritters as a starter, mainly because I wanted to try out the dipping sauce!

To make the fritters boil 2 sweetcorn cobs and slice off the kernels. Put half of the kernels along with 1 egg, 1 spring onion, 1 de-seeded red chilli (or more if you like the heat), 30g plain flour (white or wholemeal), and half a teaspoon of baking powder into a blender and puree until fairly smooth. Small lumps are fine. Stir in the rest of the sweetcorn. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pan and spoon in the batter. I use about 1 tablespoon per fritter. Fry until browned (about 1 minute), flip over and brown the other side. I served them with Coconut Kitchen Sweet Chilli & Garlic Sauce  and chopped avocado and was really pleased with them.

With the abundance of vegetables I used, we had a lot of Pad Thai left over, certainly enough for another two meals. I used the left overs as an accompaniment to baked salmon. The rice noodles didn't really survive the reheat, but the flavour from the Pad Thai was still delicious, possibly better than it had been the night before. Of course, I marinated the salmon in Coconut Kitchen Chilli & Garlic Sauce. And that was wonderful! The chilli sauce is divine. Just the same as you find in good Thai restaurants with the right level of sweetness, and other flavours complimenting the chilli - not just hot and sweet like some can be.

I've been sneaking it into a lot of things. Like the avocado salsa I made to go with some sweetcorn muffins (using up both the half avocado I had left from the weekend's starter and more of the glut of fresh sweetcorn).

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

Last week I received a batch of brand new recipe booklets from Olive Branch. The little books contains nine inventive ways to use Olive Branch products (plus a few more ideas on the back cover). Things like Poached Chicken with Lentils and Dill using their olive oil and red wine vinegar. Or Baked Cod with Sundried Tomatoes using sundried tomato mix. There is even a recipe for Sweet Olive and Ice Cream!

On Thursday, just before heading home, and in need of a quick supper for one, I flicked through the booklet and found something perfect:  Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms.
All I needed was:

I had all of that in stock, so collect them up and headed for home.
Within half an hour, I had a delicious light supper ready. I even tweeted about it!
In fact, I liked it so much, that on Monday, in between working on paperwork at home, I made the same dish again for lunch. Still delicious!

Next time you're in Tastes pick up a free booklet from the display on the wall but the steps. You won't be disappointed.

Saturday, September 27, 2014


Last week, while meeting with a supplier, someone popped into the shop to ask a question. I can't remember what the question was, but the supplier found it amusing and asked if that happened a lot. To me, it was perfectly normal. So maybe my normal is not so normal after all. As an experiment I thought I'd keep a list of all the non-deli related questions I was asked today. Just to see how interesting they really were. My list reads a little like a foreign language phrase book! What I realised is they are mainly from tourists and actually knowing what tourists need to know might be helpful to someone. There are definite themes. In case anyone fancies analysing them, here are the questions:

How can I walk to Dorney Lake?
Is there a cash machine near here?
Is there anywhere in Eton I can I buy plain black socks?
Can you give me ten pounds in change?
Where's the nearest taxi rank?
Can I have one of your carrier bags?
Do you have change for a twenty?
Eton College?
Is the parking free for blue badges?
Where's the high street?
Is there a Boots or something here?
Do you give change for the car park?
Where's the nearest cash machine?
Where are the shops?
Is the college open?
Which is the best restaurant?
Can I get into the castle? How much is it?
Can I get some change?
Where are the toilets?
How far is the college?
Do the pubs allow children?
Can only residents park here?
Where do you recommend for lunch?
Can I swap this 10p?
Is there anywhere doing afternoon tea before three?
Can you tell me which way the toilets are?
Give us some change for the parking, love.
Does the open top bus stop near here?
When is the parking free?
Top up?
What are the flags for?
Can you give me ten pound coins for this?
Trick or treat?

OK, I'll admit that last one was unusual for the 27th September and along with the encroaching darkness, signals time to close the shop for the night!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Hug from a Cup of Tea

After a long day in the shop, an evening building a cheese wedding cake for a really lovely couple, followed by a three hour drive to my weekend, I was certainly ready for bed. In my overnight bag I'd packed a selection of tea bags I fancied trying. And first up was certainly appropriate. Tea Huggers' Good Night Tea. Not only did the soft purple-blue packaging match the colours in my hosts' kitchen, but the tea's on box write-up sounded like just what I needed:

Pop the kettle on – and your slippers. This is a gorgeous, sweet blend of soothing lavender and fruity blueberry flavour on a base of caffeine-free rooibos. Blended with lemon balm and lots of fruity flavours from orange peel, apple and hibiscus petals, it’s the perfect brew to relax your mind and body at the end of a long day.

I'd definitely had a long day, and had driven round the M25, so soothing was certainly in order. I've no idea whether I slept better for having had the tea (it could have been exhaustion), but I certainly enjoyed drinking it. The first thing I noticed was the aroma, lots of delicate flavours and not overpoweringly of lavender which I had thought might be the case. The colour was vibrant. The taste was as good as the smell; intense, not disappointingly wishy washy. It was sweet, yet clean and fresh. If a cup of tea could give a bedtime hug this is how I imagine it would feel!

Next morning, I, appropriately, tried Good Morning. While goodnight is cosy and comforting, good morning is its opposite. Its stronger, earthy and smokey. A really unique blend with a lot going on. It is still well balanced and mellow with no single flavour dominating. It certainly awoke my taste buds.

Four of the tea huggers range of teas are now available at Tastes Delicatessen.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Still Great!

One of our customers is currently working on a project which involves reading more than four hundred letters written by a single solider during World War I. He brought one of these fascinating letters in to show me. And I'm sharing it with you! On the 4th May 1915, Major Robert Hermon's letter to his wife, Ethel, included the following request:

"I want you to arrange with Harrods or some one like that to send us a £1 box of stores every week......The jam is essential and must come without fail.....Cherry jam occasionally but the main jam supply to be Little Scarlets."

That will be the Tiptree Little Scarlet jam we sell here at Tastes, nearly 100 years after that letter was written. Some preserves really are that good!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The perpetual pound

The flat above Tastes Deli has been renovated this summer. Since early July the building has been covered in scaffolding. We've managed to keep the shop open most of the time. But it is summer (and a very nice one at that) and while many of our regulars are on holiday we rely on the tourists. Sadly, this year they don't know we are here, and certainly don't know we are worth walking under ladders for.

A few weeks ago our suppliers started to notice I was ordering less. Last week I heard that a supplier's supplier also noticed! Which I think sort of proves how money spent in small shops is spent again and again within the community. When money isn't spent the reverse applies. I guess that's economics. Surprisingly interesting really!

Fortunately, this is only a temporary blip and business should return to usual very soon. I promise to order lots of lovely things as soon as it does, so my suppliers can order more of what they need, and their suppliers can order more of what they need etc etc.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Birthday Party Activity / Goodies

How's this for a kid's birthday party idea? 

By a batch of plain mugs and let the children paint them during the party. While they tuck into jelly and ice cream, pop a BakedIn mug brownie pot and instructions into each mug, wrap them in cellophane, maybe add a few sweets, tie a pretty bow and voilĂ , take home gift taken care of!

Photo is for illustration only. I did not paint the mug and didn't really spend very long colour coordinating the ribbon etc!  

A gluten/wheat/dairy-free version of the mug brownie kit is also available.

Friday, May 16, 2014


Eton College has an Infusion Society, for final year students with an interest in infused beverages. This year I was lucky enough to be invited along to their monthly meetings. Each time, I took advantage of my fantastic suppliers to arrange a guest speaker to "infuse" and enthuse the boys with their specialist knowledge.  Each interactive session was as unique as the speakers and the questions kept coming long after the meetings should have ended.

Here are the audience write ups of the evenings, along with my photographs.

22nd January Mr Drew Barron

The Infusions Society welcomed Drew Barron of Drury Tea and Coffee Company Ltd. Mr Baron brought three different teas for the society to sample: a Dimbula and an Uva from Sri Lanka, and an Imenti from Central Kenya. The 12 boys who attended were able to try and describe these very different types of tea, as well as hearing about the different ways that tea is manufactured around the world. Finally, different ratios of tea were mixed in order to make an English breakfast tea blend. The evening was a huge success, with Mr Baron showing his understanding of tea through an incredibly interactive presentation.

12th March Mr Malcolm Ferris-Lay

The Infusions Society were introduced to Mr Malcolm Ferris-Lay, a charismatic tea consultant with a seemingly infinite wealth of knowledge from his career as a tea taster. Malcolm regaled his audience with fascinating anecdotes whilst introducing them to the art of tasting tea and the differing results obtained from different leaves. The evening ended with the unique opportunity to taste the last tea sold at the last tea auction in London. Thanks to Karen Phillips of Tastes Delicatessen and Karen Darville of Darvilles of Windsor for arranging the event.

30th April Mr Edward Grace

The Infusions Society heard from Mr Edward Grace of the Beanberry Coffee Company about his passion for coffee.  The audience was enthralled by Mr Grace’s enthusiasm and very quickly understood the need for absolute attention to detail when brewing coffee. The need for coffee roasted to the right degree, freshly ground and added at the right concentration (1.3%) to water at the right temperature (93 degrees) was emphasised. He explained the meaning of strength (nothing to do with the five-point scale marked on the side of packs of coffee) and also body. He also detailed the complex changes which take place as beans aged after roasting and grinding which impact on flavour. 

We were able to sample six coffees, one from CafĂ© Direct, one from Starbucks, and four which were sourced from Beanberry itself, coming from Brazil, Peru, Colombia  and Sarawak. Starbucks fell well short of pleasing our now highly discerning audience, but their opinions were equally split between the latter three coffees, which all attracted keen allegiances from the tasters. This was a stimulating talk at many different levels, and many of those who attended will have spent a sleepless night considering their love of coffee.

We are grateful to Mr Grace for making the time to share his passion for great coffee, and Karen Phillips, of Taste’s Deli, who stock Beanberry Coffee, for arranging the talk.

 (Note the cupping spoons in the waistcoat pockets!)

6th May Mr John McFarlane

The Infusions Society was privileged to have Mr John McFarlane of Norfolk Cordials talk to us about his wonderful fruit syrups, thanks to Karen Phillips from Tastes Delicatessen. Along with some delicious tastes, from the fantastically dry Blackberry cordial to the fascinating combination of Rhubarb, Orange and Ginger, he brought with him a real passion for his cordials that made all of us understand why he has spent six years working to create a product of such exceptional quality.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Baking with BakedIn

I baked something new last weekend: cinnamon swirls. As an experiment, I assure you, not because I quite fancied the idea of eating hot cinnamon swirls straight from the oven. And last night (as my twitter followers know) I baked a sticky toffee & date pudding/cake. To share with my customers of course.

It all started with a new range of home baking kits from BakedIn. We started stocking the kits at Tastes a few weeks ago. What appealed to me about the BakedIn products is their suitability to irregular bakers or those you don't bake the same thing repeatedly, but who want to bake from scratch.  These are not cake mixes, they are boxes of pre-measured ingredients. Which I've come to realise is a great idea. Here's why...

To make cinnamon swirls without the BakedIn kit you need strong white flour (approximately £2 for 1.5kg), icing sugar (£1.28 for 500g), dark muscovado sugar (£1.40 for 500g), caster sugar (99p for 500g), cinnamon (£1.99 for 33g), yeast (£1.15 for 125g) and salt along with the egg, butter and milk you need if you do have the kit.  I expect most people will have salt in their kitchen, and maybe one type of sugar. But unless you bake regularly you probably don't have the other ingredients, especially the strong flour and yeast which are mainly used to make bread.  So you'd spend about £7.80 on new ingredients assuming you had caster sugar and salt. Which is more than the kit costs. You would of course have enough ingredients to make multiple batches, so will save money when you make a second batch. But do you want to keep making the same thing, or would you prefer a sticky toffee pudding instead, or some chocolate brownies, or a lemon drizzle cake? In which case you'd need to buy a collection of other ingredients (self raising flour, dates, soft light brown sugar, bicarbonate of soda and vanilla beans for the sticky toffee alone). Then you'd be faced with where to store all the left over ingredients. Not to mention the baking tins.  I bake quite a lot, have a cupboard full of tins, but rarely the right one for the job! And it seems every new recipe requires an ingredient not already in the full-to bursting baking cupboard.

The BakedIn kits contain exactly the right amount of each ingredient. The things you add to the kits are the things most kitchens will have in them anyway for non-baking uses; eggs, butter, milk etc. So not only does it mean you don't need to weigh everything (in fact you don't need scales at all as the kits come with a handy butter measure so even the ingredients you add don't need to be weighed), it also means no spare ingredients to store or waste. They also come with the correct sized baking tins. I've made many sticky toffee puddings in the past, but was surprised by how much quicker it was to make with the BakedIn kit. That time saving came from not having to hunt through over stuffed cupboards to find the ingredients and tin! All I had to do was open one of the small packets right in front of me.

No left over ingredients. No collection of baking tins. No scales. All the ingredients to hand. Pretty much perfect for the erratic baker in a small kitchen.

The added beauty of the kits are they are not a packet mix cake. They don't contain dehydrated dairy products or any weird-sounding ingredients. They require more than adding liquid and mixing. So you are still baking. You can see exactly what ingredients are going into your bake. You carry out all the vital steps such as creaming butter and sugar. You can adapt the recipe to suit your taste, substitute ingredients if you want to (for example using dairy free "butter" and milk to make a dairy free version). They are also perfect for beginners and children.

And the results taste great! These are tried and tested recipes. No risk that you are buying a bunch of ingredients to make a recipe which fails to impress. Most people who have bought these kits in the three weeks since we started stocking them have returned to buy more. The proof really is in the pudding - here's mine:

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Haddock & Pak Choi with Tomato & Cashew Sauce

I knew I needed something quick and easy for Friday night's dinner and spotted a recipe on Bim's Kitchen's website which seemed perfect. So I ordered some Haddock (it is better value than cod at the moment) from my fish supplier and some pak choi from my vegetable supplier, and took home a jar of Bim's Kitchen Tomato & Cashew Curry Sauce. Along with a sprinkling of salt and a splash of rapeseed oil, I rustled up a delicious curry in a matter of minutes.  It was so easy, I even had time to take photos as I cooked and tweet a picture of it simmering.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Black Truffle Potato Crisps / Patatas Fritas Torres (Trufa Negra)

Last week Daniel* came to deliver a new batch of fabulous Puremiel organic honey from Spain. He also had a box of new things to show me, which included Torres Selecta Premium Potato Chips from Barcelona. I tried to say that we didn't need any more crisps. I tried to say we were very happy with Piper's Crisps. I tried to say that I'd find it difficult to justify the price of premium premium crisps.

Daniel simply opened a packet and made me try them. Long story, short, I bought a case! These are no ordinary crisp. Yes, they are thin slices of potato fried in oil. In fact these are exceptionally thin, translucent slices of potato, fried to a bright golden colour. But they are also flavoured with black truffle. In a wonderful way. The flavour is strong, but not unpleasantly so, fills your mouth and dissipates, leaving you wanting another. On their web site they are described as unique and I have to say, I have never tasted a crisp like these. Definitely one for adults. A perfect nibble with drinks, and surely a talking point.

Torres have been making potato crisps since 1969. They have worked with the same potato growers for more than 35 years and seem to have found exactly the right ingredients and technique to make an amazing product.  They even have a recipe on their web site for Fried eggs with Torres Selecta Black Truffle potato chips!

•1 bag of Torres Selecta Black Truffle potato chips
•2 eggs
•2 slices of chopped Spanish ham
•olive oil, and salt

Put a base of Torres Selecta Black Truffle potato chips on a plate. Put aside 2 eggs. Heat the olive oil in a pan. Once the olive oil is hot, fry the eggs to your liking. When cooked, place the eggs over the potato chips and add the chopped ham on top. Now we can enjoy a quick, simple, and exquisite dish.

*If you have been diligently following my blog for more than 3 years you might remember Daniel did a very similar thing almost exactly 3 years ago!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Web Site Re-do

So, aside from buying and selling fabulous food, what have I been up to recently?

Mainly beavering* away on the shop web site:

It still looks, pretty much, the same. But there are now more than 500 items available in the online shop. I've replaced a lot of the product images. The postage rates have decreased, as Royal Mail have now increased the size limit for small parcels. A new Parcel Force postage option has been added, which is more cost effective for larger parcels. I re-enabled the review product feature having eventually managed to adjust it to show only the last initials rather than surnames of reviewers. The entire "back end stuff" which makes the shopping cart work has been updated (mainly to improve security) and because that took hours and made no difference to how the site looked, I have also changed the buttons and added a lightbox to display the larger product images. Just to prove I had done something! Then because I was feeling confident (perhaps overly so) I added a new feature: a little button that enables you to save things from your cart for later. So you can checkout with just what you want today, and the other items you were interested in will remain in your cart for next time. Seems to be working!

Fingers crossed it will encourage more people to buy fine foods online from us. If you've enjoyed any of our products please do register online and post your reviews. Other shoppers would love to hear your opinions.

*Assuming beavers spend many hours frowning at computer screens while occasionally inhaling deeply, crossing their figures and pressing buttons!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Return of the water

What a week! Since I posted photographs of the receding water levels after the flooding in January, they rose dramatically, and fell again, and then the winds came. Unfortunately, my journey time to Eton also increased dramatically so I've not had much time to explore and photograph. But here is what I have seen. Meadow Lane, South Meadow and the Brocas taken on 11th January, 1st, 12th, 13th and 15th February. The most dramatic change over night last night was the collapse of a large tree on the edge of South Meadow, which somewhat obscures the view of the football pitch I have been photographing.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Revisting the Isle of Eton

Since my photos of the floods on the 11th January, the water has subsided, risen and subsided again. Three weeks after taking the first set of photos I went back to the same locations. I wasn't planning to do this and had neither the correct footwear, or time to do it properly. But I did take a few snaps, in roughly the right places, here they are for comparison. I'd like to think that in a few more weeks I will be able to return on a bright and sunny morning and take more pictures. But I'm not promising anything!

The Brocas 11 Jan

The Brocas 1 Feb

Barnes Pool 11 Jan

Barnes Pool 1 Feb

Meadow Lane 11 Jan

Meadow Lane 1 Feb

South Meadow 11 Jan
South Meadow 1 Feb
River Thames 11 Jan
River Thames 1 Feb

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Valentine's Paper Chain

Today I have been harnessing my inner Blue Peter presenter and have created paper chains for the shop window!

I've also shown a few customers how I made them. So I thought I'd share it here.

Not that it's tricky. 

Not only are they encouraging people to stop and look at the goodies on sale, they brighten up the view from inside on this grey day!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A new vegetable

When was the last time you were introduced to a new vegetable? I can't remember, myself. I know there are vegetables that have been new to me. Turnips for example. Strangely, I'd never cooked one of those until recently. But I'd seen them. I knew they existed (apparently since 2000BC according to selfsufficientish).

Earlier this year, I met a vegetable that I didn't even know existed. Which is because, until recently, it didn't! It is a brand new vegetable. Which I find pretty amazing. The culmination of fifteen years of work by Tozer Seeds, in Surrey, using traditional plant breeding techniques.

And so, appropriately in the season of good intentions, and eating more vegetables, may I introduce to you The Flower Sprout......

It looks like tiny cabbage, on a sprout stalk, with green frilly leaves and streaks of purple. It tastes like a subtle sprout with the nuttiness of kale. And its extremely versatile - steam, stir fry, boil, blanch or mircowave. It even has its own web site with plenty of recipes. It is also packed with vitamin B6, C and E.

Available now at Tastes Delicatessen!


Update: I've now added some recipes to our pinterest board.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Isle of Eton

Eton is now an island.  Upstream of the high street, water is overflowing the bank of the Thames, flowing across the brocas, and over south meadow. The stream through Barnes Pool contains water for the first time in many years and Baldwin's Bridge is once again a bridge over water. The water is meeting up with tributaries of the Thames and flowing back into the river down stream of Eton high street. It is quite incredible. Huge volumes of water. Meadows and playing fields becoming lakes, roads turning into rivers and Romney weir is barely visible. To witness the change in the landscape is quite incredible.

Yet the water level is well below what is was at the time of previous floods (some four feet lower than the 1894 level under Baldwins Bridge). Some flats have been flooded, some basements are filling with water and some residents are moving possessions upstairs. Horrible as that is, it could be far worse. So far, Eton appears to have been let off lightly. The high street is open for business as usual. Even Cote Brassiere, situated right on the river in what was the House on the Bridge, is open, despite their lower dinning room being below the current level of the Thames. 
Barnes Pool
There is a bench in there somewhere
Meadow Lane
currently resembles a river

Looking downstream from the
Windsor Eton Bridge