Northern Discoveries: Fine Food Show North 2020
The editorial team at Fine Food Digest sampled products from last month’s Fine Food Show North in Harrogate. Here they talk through their top picks.
Kandy Kitchen Creations
COCONUT CURRIED LENTIL SOUP
This soup is convenience food – but healthy, wholesome and it tastes great. Empty the packet into a pan, throw in some water and a tin of coconut milk and, in next to no time, you’ve got a delicious dahl-style dish for up to four people.
The colourful, aesthetically pleasing and compostable Nature Flex packs will look great on shelves, and the RRP of £5 (trade £3.12-£3.33 depending on order quantity) is reasonable, given the volume of food they generate. kandykitchencreations.co.uk
ALFAJORES – DULCE DE LECHE
The show rarely fails to unearth a lesser-known aspect of cuisine from
somewhere in the world and this year’s discovery was a biscuit that traces its origins to South America. Alfajores [al-fa-ho-res] are soft sandwich biscuits with the added twist of being naturally gluten-free because they are made with cornflour.
Of the selection we tried from Just Because, which is run by a Venezuelan based in the UK, we preferred the traditional variety filled with Dulce de Leche (South American caramel) and rolled in coconut. A real luxury treat for coeliac sufferers, these will also appeal to those without intolerances.
ORGANIC SMOOTH HAZELNUT & CACAO SPREAD
Anything sold under the Seggiano name is bound to be good but, even by this brand’s own high standards, this is a serious box ticker. It’s vegan, organic and is free from all the emulsifiers and gallons of palm oil that feature in a certain mass-market hazelnut spread.
Unlike that big-name brand, this spread contains more than a token amount of hazelnuts – 31% of each jar to be exact. It has a natural unctuousness and it actually tastes of nuts. It’s all rounded off by the perfect level of sweetness from the cocoa and cane sugar.
This take on a very traditional confectionery item is proof that simplicity can still triumph.
The packaging might be plain but it is 100% recyclable and it adds to the humble charm of a product that impressed editor Michael Lane – a self-confessed Bounty-phobe.
Made in Anglesey using just three organic ingredients – coconut, cane sugar and ewes’ milk from Cariad’s own small herd – it offers
a good balance of sweetness, natural coconut flavour and even the character of the milk comes through.
Given the size of the bars (RRP £4), it might be an idea to pitch them as a sharing item, though.
CHOCOLATE EASTER BUNNIES
Not every consumer that buys chocolate in an independent wants an ultra-premium, bean- to-bar, 90%-cacao slab of complexity. These bunnies are ideal for all those people that are just after some well-made chocolate, with a decent snap and some sweetness but don’t want to go for the usual corporate brands.
Admittedly, they are a simple proposition, and that’s ok. The format is just the right size and price (retailing for £3.25) for gifting or sharing at home when Easter comes but you could easily munch through these on your own because York-based Guppy’s makes a very appealing milk chocolate. guppyschocolates.co.uk
DELUXE VEGAN CHILLI SAUCE
Leave any negative preconceptions about vegan food at the threshold before you open this jar of intense and complex flavour.
There is a dizzying list of ingredients in this Asian-style chilli sauce yet it is still very much a clean deck – no artificial preservatives or MSG.
With a retail price of £9, it does live up to its ‘deluxe’ billing. However, you’re getting some serious umami from four different types of mushroom – Porcini, Shiitake, Boletus, Chestnut – and an expertly controlled chilli kick, too. And, whether you use it to dress vegetables, salads or noodle dishes, it will go quite a long way.
NOMAD SEASONAL BLEND
We drink a fair amount of espresso on the editorial desk and all of us paused slightly at the adjective “refreshing” before trying this coffee out. Once we’d all had a shot, it was agreed that espresso could be described this way – at least, Voyager Nomad blend could anyway. There are the promised floral and fruity notes in abundance in this seasonal blend of coffees from Africa, Central and South America, which is given a light roast on the edge of Dartmoor in Devon.
What’s more, the outer box packaging looks a little different and is, needless to say, 100% compostable.
There are so many angles to this product that the editorial team could not ignore it (despite the presence of another pasta on this list).
For a start, it’s actually British and is made with a stoneground native variety of grain (white spelt), as is the whole Carleschi range. It’s organic, healthy, well-priced (Retails at £3.50 for 400g) and even comes in fully compostable, bio film, plastic-free packaging.
The rigatoni itself has extra bite as a result of the base ingredient and sauce clings to it happily.
The only problem is it’s impossible to communicate this all on the label, even if the label is classy and cleverly includes cooking instructions – on the front.
POSH POP LIGHTER – STRAWBERRY & RHUBARB
Editor Michael Lane’s opinions on soft drink NPD are well- documented. It really is a tough category to succeed in, especially at the more speciality end of the scale. Breckland Orchard is one of the few that does succeed by being independent and supply independents.
This latest addition to its Posh Pop Lighter range threatens to be too sweet but in fact delivers both of the flavours it mentions
on the label. Assistant editor Tom Dale thought it was like a liquid rhubarb & custard sweet.
Given Breckland Orchard’s experience and success thus far, you know this would be able to slot in to most retail and café set-ups at a reasonable price, too.
The Yorkshire Pasta Company
Yorkshire is one of those regions that can be associated with a foodstuff and still have national appeal – tea, rhubarb, puddings – and pasta could soon join that list on the strength of this effort.
This is a start-up brand that has a lot going for it. The striking branding and packaging (yes, it’s recyclable too) alone look like they’ve been given some serious thought. And the same care has gone into developing the product inside the bag.
Made in God’s Own Country using locally milled wheat flour and shaped with traditional bronze dies, this pasta has the texture, mouthfeel and sauce retention to compete with quality pastas from Italy.
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