Little yummy snippets …
Orgran have a vast range of free from foods – ticking most of the dietary choice, and allergy boxes (vegan, GMO fre, soy free, gluten free). We especially enjoyed their buckwheat pasta – with a slight nutty flavour and a good texture. Buckwheat is a seed rather than a grain and is considered to be the best source of plant based protein. The pasta is stone milled in the traditional way. Delicious and well worth a look, regardless of gluten and wheat issues. £2.09 a packet from Ocado, Amazon and your local health food store. Find out more from twitter @orgranglutenfre.
Regardless of the recipe that you use your Christmas pudding or cake will need vast quantities of dried fruit. The folks at Whitworths sent me some fruit for this year’s Stir Up Sunday. Don’t forget to make a wish as you stir your cake or pudding. Twitter: @whitworthssugar
I’ve long been a fan of Itsu for a quick lunch when out, the range healthy and filling without being too calorific. They now sell grocery items; I tried the miso soup – both vegetarian and with bonito. I especially liked the miso soup with the bonito – really full flavoured. We were also sent delicious seaweed thins, which are well worth trying, rather addictive as well as almost calorie free, and some white chocolate covered rice cakes and yoghurt covered fruits which were were not so keen on. Twitter: @itsuofficial
Kristen of the Gringa diary makes Mexican style cheeses by hand under a railway arch in South London using organic Kentish milk. We were delighted to receive a piece of her Quesco Fresco, a delicate creamy mild cheese, perfect for topping a spicy tortilla. As well as the queso fresco she makes 2 other Mexican style cheeses as well as a Queso Luchito – mixed the delicious spicy, smoky Gran Luchito paste. From £20 a kilo retail and well worth a look if you are planning a Mexican feast. Twitter: @gringadairy
Cheese & Whisky Tasting
One of the more interesting events I attended last year was a cheese and chocolate tasting, where I was surprised at how well (or not) some cheeses and chocolates went together. This year we tried cheese and whisky – and enjoyed some drams of Glen Garioch with a number of different cheeses. The sweet Founder’s Reserve with notes of vanilla and butterscotch paired with a Comte. Montgomery’s 18month Cheddar was paired with the full bodied 1999 vintage aged on Oloroso sherry casks, with its notes of treacle toffee, chocolate, maple syrup, for a whisky appreciator, but non expert, this was a revelation. For me the star pairing, and whisky, was the raw Berwich Edge – a Gouda style washed cheese with the Glen Garioch 1995. My notes for the whisky simply say “Astonishing!” and “Creme Brulee”. Aged in bourbon barrels it was rich, warm, with loads of winter pudding flavours – spiced mocha, baked banana etc.
If you have not experimented with pairing cheese and whisky I recommend you give it a go.
As part of the ongoing celebrations for 50 years of the Consorzio del Prosciutto di Parma I was asked to a tasting at the Spaghetti House (which I was surprised to learn is still very much a hands on family business) which currently is serving a special Parma Ham based menu. Parma ham has been awarded a PDO, and so can only be produced in the traditional area around Parma in the Emilia Romangna region of Italy, and is marked with the Ducal Crown.
Many thanks to all the brands for samples and invitations. All images my own apart from Orgran packet shot.