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Reviews, recipes and news from the grapevine
   Reviews, recipes and news from the grapevine

Good Food Show
Holiday ideas and new products
One of the delights of the BBC Good Food Show is trying out new products and chasing down old favourites.

04.01.2014 - Sadly after tasting more than 40 cheeses during the World Cheese Awards, you don’t really have much appetite to try many more, but I did bring back some favourites from specialist cheese shops:  Cornish Blue (WCA winner 2011 and runner up last year), Stichelton (a Stilton-type cheese made with unpasteurised milk) and Stinking Bishop (a pear perry-washed cheese, powerful on the nose but soft and long on the palate).  It was a particular joy and honour this year to share a judging table with the maker of the latter cheese, Charles Martell.

However there is always much more than cheese to experience at these events.  I bought some lovely little individual tinned fruit cakes infused with liqueurs and malt whisky which are marvellous gifts for foodies from Ashers Bakery Limited, plus liquorice, sauces chocolate ‘shot’ cups, chutneys, olives, honey, pickles and teas.  If I’d been living in the UK, I don’t doubt I would also have bought smoked meats, smoked salmon, kippers, numerous gadgets, my turkey from Kelly Bronze Turkeys (bred to be wild) and a fabulous Berries Luxury Christmas Pudding!

Breakfast during the show could be a choice of some amazing flavourful sausages in a bun, fruit cocktail drinks, oysters at £2 a pop or mouth watering pastries.  Lunch a paella, carvery-meat filled rolls from spit roasted sides of beef and whole pigs or turkeys, champagne and seafood, tapas, a choice of fast food outlets, or you could simply graze all day!

For many years hiding their light under a bushel, British meat curers and smokers are finally coming to the fore.  Woodhalls of Manchester were present with a delicious display of cured hams, salami and pancetta, and Simply Lakeland tempted me with a Wild Venison Chorizo.

I bought the chocolate shot cups from Raisthorpe Manor – more of them later - other excellent gifts were offered by the Little Hamper Company with bijou boxes of goodies, Choco Passion offered all shapes and sizes of chocolates and even a small tool box full of hammers, wrenches etc. and chocmotif have chocolate greetings cards which can be personalised.

Mr Vikkis provided an amazing lime pickle which found its way into my luggage and Pinks Foods tempted me with a lemon and chive pesto.

A well earned rest was provided by the most exquisite massage in a Japanese Inada massage chair.  The technology uses optic sensors to see your problem areas and check your size and then provides an individualised massage – excellent and one for the bucket list if I ever win the pools!  For other gadgets keep an eye out for upcoming editions.

The choice of drinks was spectacular, a new energy drink made from grape and lime juices with spices and herbs called Pussy Natural Energy drink “the drink’s pure, it’s your mind that’s the problem” ciders and ales, Canarian rums were a surprise stall, lots of wine importers and bodegas and an amazing selection of spirits and liqueurs – most of which were new to me.

At the Ruby Blue company’s stall from County Down I tried a blackcurrant liqueur - a mellow blend of Irish spirit and summer fruit, fresh and clean in the mouth; it’s great on its own or would be good in cocktails, kir royals etc.  Raisthorpe Manor makes its own spirits and I tried probably one of the best sloe gins I’ve had since I last had a homemade one almost three decades ago.  The Celtic Spirit Company from Anglesey enticed me with an apple and blackcurrant brandy, which was powerful and fruity, but not overwhelming or too sweet.  If you like calvados – you’ll love this.  Also from Northern Ireland, this time Londonderry, I tried a Polskie Fuze Vodka Liqueur which was an alcoholic, liquid version of the cinder toffee of my youth made with Polish vodka – delicious.

However the favourite of the show as far as liqueurs went for me was Solerno.  Made in Sicily from the fruit and juice of blood oranges this liqueur has a long-lasting orange flavour which is neither too sweet nor too citric.  A balanced liqueur which is excellent on its own or would make a great addition to a special fruit salad, a hot mango fruit compote with whipped cream, cocktails, zabaglione and would also be amazing in one of those little chocolate shot cups!  Totally lush!

Of the spirits on offer Miller’s gin and Black Cow vodka stood out.  They claim the gin was born of love, obsession and some degree of madness.  This gin is distilled in the UK in a 100 year old copper whisky still called Angela and blended with the pure waters of Iceland’s Arctic: a clean strong flavoured gin which has a fast-growing following in Spain and is available from El Corte Inglés.

The surprise of the show’s spirits came from the cheese producers Wokey Hole cheddar who are filtering their whey to make the world’s only pure milk vodka - Black Cow – which fans claim is less likely to give you a hangover.  A pure, clear vodka with an incredibly smooth and creamy taste.  On sale at Fortnum and Masons, Selfridges and specialist shops.

There were some good ideas from UK charities which may be worth bearing in mind.  A shop and drop zone which looked after bags for a small fee whilst people went around the stalls unencumbered and a ‘fish for prizes’ area where net bags were used to house tins of gourmet pet food, toys and trees which could be hooked by fishing poles, for which one paid a small fee – the profits going to the animal charities.


What’s in a name?

Any marketing specialist will tell you that the name of a product or company can be crucial to its success.  Some of our favourites this year were Dough it Yourself; Life Fork & Spoon; Allsorts of Liquorice; Cooking Marvellous; Well Hung Meat; and Fire Foods, which had a whole range of great names for their products, I succumbed to The Buttcracker, “we never grew up” one of the owners told me, long may it continue!


By Sheila Collis

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