The internet is a saviour for small and artisan food producers, and us, their customers. It’s now far easier to find details of companies and their products, and order quickly online. But the great stumbling block, as we have mentioned before, is finding them in the first place. Google is all very well, but given the myriad of smokehouses, cheese makers and small batch jam makers around the country, where do we start? Who are the good producers? Do we really have to taste every smoked salmon in the country to find one we like?
This is where Epicora help. They have selected top quality producers, and send a range of meat, fruit and vegetables, baked goods, cheese and dairy produce, and items for the store cupboard. There are also boxes available; for example, a cheese box, a smokery box or a taste of artisan Italy. The Best of Artisan Britain Box (£50) contains a really enticing, well balanced and thoughtfully curated range, including preserves and chutneys, cheese, smoked and preserved meats and fish and baked products. Our enjoyment of the contents is reflected in the way that we’ve wolfed it down and after a week there was barely anything left (vinegar and beetroot horseradish relish). Highlights were the smoked duck, the London produced salami, and the lemon curd. Our only criticism was that the Beetroot & Horseradish relish was slightly too fiery for our taste, but this is a personal thing.
As much as we love cooking and messing around in the kitchen, it made a welcome change to receive products that shone and did not need anything doing to them, beyond serving and savouring. The most faffing we did was making verrines with both the raspberry jam and lemon curd with cream, quark and yoghurt.
We also really appreciated that the company uses sustainable packaging – woolpack wraps (I donate these to a local homeless project where they are always welcome) and biodegradable corn starch chips
The full contents (from Epicora)
- Amazing Hot Smoked Barbary Duck Breast & Cold Smoked Salmon from Chris Swales at the River Farm Smokery, accompanied by 2 intense relishes
- a bottle of fruity Blackcurrant and Rosemary vinegar from Rupert Parsons at Womersley Hall
- a jar each of the deliciously hot Beetroot & Horseradish relish & fantastically fresh lemon curd hand made by Julian Warrender at Ouse Valley Foods
- 1/2 a Piccolino salami from Adam Brudnowski at the London charcuterie sensation Picco
- a pair of Farmhouse cheeses selected by the experts at Neal’s Yard : Sparkenhoe Red Leicester & Cornish Yarg, together with Orkney oatcakes
- the delicious Raspberry Deluxe from Sky & Kai at England Preserves
- and finally 2 truly decadent brownies from Fergus Henderson at St John Bakery
Whilst this was a box of British foods, we do like the fact that they don’t restrict themselves only to British produce; as mentioned, there is the taste of Italy box and a similar one for Spain. A box would make for a great present for a food lover, an excellent flat warming gift delivered the day you move in, or you could even make up your own too, for a really personal gift.