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!