|A busy East Lothian stand.|
In my last post on the blog I indicated just how much I was looking forward to my first experience of the BBC Good Food Show Scotland (GFSS). Well, I am pleased to report that my anticipation was duly rewarded by, what turned out to be, a really informative and highly enjoyable Friday at the SECC.
The scene was set upon arrival, when immediately after picking up my blogger accreditation I was invited to attend a demonstration on the merits of a new, craft-distilled gin. I should point out that it was after midday (just) and given the fact that I am a big fan of small scale food and drink producers it would have been rude to have refused – ahem… The gin in question is produced with an obvious passion by the Warner Edwards Distillery, based in the English Midlands. Sniffing, then sipping, a neat shot of the award-winning spirit left no doubt that this was a stunningly-good nip of “mothers’ ruin” – ripe with juniper berries of course, but having a distinctive nose of black pepper and citrus peel and a great hint of cardamom in the mouth. I can safely say that the Harrington Dry Gin truly holds its own amongst the other – often Scottish distilled – small batch gins I have sampled, and I plan on getting my hands on a bottle forthwith.
Moving into the main exhibition space I was suddenly taken with exactly how big an event this was. The SECC plays host to some major gigs, and the GFFS more than filled this cavernous container. The Supertheatre was exactly as billed – a huge space where The Great British Bake Off judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood provided expertly witty demonstrations of, well, baking. It was rightly packed. The Interview Stage served punters with the opportunity to learn what makes their favourite chefs’ and foodies’ culinary hearts go aflutter. Yet the real “grab” for me was the main exhibition space, where stand upon stand was populated by producers showcasing a fantastic array of food, drink and culinary paraphernalia. I wish I could summarise all of these, but that would be infeasible. Instead, please find below some of my highlights. Frankly, I can’t wait until next October when I have another opportunity to visit the GFSS. If you live in Scotland and like food it’s an event not to be missed.
Hebridean Sea Salt – who hand produce salt from the Atlantic waters off the Isle of Lewis. If the “base” product wasn’t great enough, they also have seaweed infused and smoked varieties. Trust me; you have to try these to fully appreciate how they go beyond merely being defined as a “condiment”.
The Big Cheese Making Kit – happened upon these lovely people on the stand promoting produce from East Lothian. I have always harboured a secret desire to make my own cheese and these kits look like an ideal answer. The kits include ones for producing Mozzarella, Ricotta and (the one I intend to try) goats cheese.
The Little Herb Farm – was at GFFS thanks to being awarded a bursary by the show. Their lovely herb-infused, fruit and botanical vinegars – as well as smashing herb jellies – clearly demonstrated why they had earned such an accolade. I can’t do justice to their rhubarb vinegar in print; you will just have to try it yourself…
Supernature – sharing its name with a fine album by Goldfrapp, this company produces delicious, cold-pressed rapeseed oil a stone’s through from Scrumptious Scran Towers. Not only is their healthy and subtly rich “base” product a world away from what might be found on supermarket shelves, a range of oils flavoured with the likes of lemon and coriander is also available. I could have left with armfuls of bottles.
The Little Round Cake Company – interestingly the descriptors “little” and “wee” seemed to feature in a fair few producers’ names. But look at the picture of the “merangz” – nowt little about those, I am sure you will agree?
Equi’s Ice Cream – Scotland is blessed by a rich vein of foodie entrepreneurs who have Italian roots, and this family-run business provides some amazing gelati – the dolce latte and raisin flavours, in particular, were chin-drippingly good.
Kelly Bronze – I love a traditional turkey at Christmas, but nothing graces the table of Scrumptious Scran Towers unless it is a truly free-range fowl, from a breed that imparts great flavour. For the last few years our Christmas feast of choice has come from the Home Counties, but having seen how good these turkeys look, this year I hope to report back on a tasty Scottish bird…
Sincere thanks go to the BBC Good Food Scotland Show press and blogging team for facilitating my visit.