The show this year was much bigger, over 200 extra exhibitors. I usually go along to find new food trends and to find new food producers or interesting products. I did a quick blitz through the show and met a few interesting people and learnt a few new things.
Here is some of what I saw today:
Empire of the dogs -There is a new British Hotdog on the market. Love the name and love the packaging. It comes either ready to eat with the bun or just a pack of sausages with less than 7% fat. All made with either outdoor bred pork or red tractor beef. It is about 275 calories per dog and should retail for about £3-£4. It somes in various flavours like chorizo and polish kielbasa sausages.
I tasted this delicious Canadian Hickory Maple Salmon and it comes on a cedar plank. More please.
Then I chatted to the man who brought over Canadian Maple Syrup. Things I didn’t know about Maple Syrup: It seems there are 3 grades of syrup and these are dependent on when in the season the sap is tapped. Early season is quite light in colour and flavour. Mid season, called Amber or Grade 2 is darker in colour, has the most mapley flavour of the 3 and is the most popular. The third one is a Grade 3 which just taste like sugar water and not much flavour, also the cheapest. Most the ones available in the UK is grade 3 syrup.
Also had a chat with Phil from Origin Coffee who sources these interesting coffees from small farms around the world. Last year they had a small batch of this powerful Bolivian coffee and this year, the equivalent is one from El Salvador, the San Carlos which is described as Citric and Balanced but if tasting this without milk, it’s quite acidic with a real kick. You can read about his travels to find new coffee producers on his new blog - http://wherethiscoffeecomesfrom.wordpress.com/
Then there was the Meridian stall that was showing nut butters without added palm oil. A lot of guys were getting a bit excited about the Almond butter, a favourite with body builders it seems.
The Garlic Farm has a new range called Vampire but this one caught my eye, a Roast Garlic Jam. Unusual and surprisingly palatable.
I met Maria Tyrrell from Lomito whose family makes this Chimichuri sauce which she used to make a prize winning pizza with last year. This sauce had more flavour than the sauces I have tasted in Argentinian restaurants in London. On the Argentinian stand, they also had some flavoured Mate teas and the yummy Dulce de Leche.
A smoked trout that doesn’t taste muddy. I tasted this on the RR Spink stand together with some smoked salmon. The trout has a bright orange colour and had a lightly smoked flavour. More on this product later.
I learnt a lot about Mexican Chillies after chatting with Dodie Miller of The Cool Chile Co. Who knew that fresh and dried Mexican chillies have different names. All a bit confusing. They make a delicious Chipotle Salsa and have these interesting packs called Cowboy beans, pinto beans and ready to cook sauces.
This year the show incorporated the Chocolate Fair and there were a number of chocolate producers there. I didn’t have much time to check out a lot of these but found a few interesting chocolatiers.
Madecasse Chocolates from Madagascar, fair trade and made in Africa.
Then I tasted these Vietnamese chocolates from Marou with the beautiful packaging. Jonathan Tailyour explained that they are all made from the same bean but the flavours were so varied. Some were fruity, some had hints of coffee. Quite a taste sensation. Even with over 70% chocolate, these did not have that bitter taste of a lot of the bigger retail brands. These are stocked in Harvey Nichols and delis. One of the better examples of bean to bar chocs.
My friend Andre and his new Man Food range of pickles including the award winning bread and butter (pickled cucumbers).
Then my friend Malaysian Chef Norman Musa with his new range of Asian flavoured ice creams and chocolates. He even had a very strongly flavoured durian flavoured ice cream.If you have never tried durian, this could be a good introduction. It is made with Thai Durians (as this is what we can get in the UK) which has been left to “age” for a further 2 weeks. We Malaysians like our Durians more pungent than the Thais. Watch this space for announcements of a Malaysian Supperclub collaboration with Norman in the near future.
The following products had interesting branding and packaging that I liked.
A great show, lots to see and taste and met some new foodie friends.
The Speciality & Fine Food Fair is held at Olympia and is on until 10 September 2013.