FOOD, DRINK AND GARDENING!
Photos courtesy of Rob Tysall, Tysall’s Photography and BBC Gardeners World Live.
Ann Evans highlights some products and people that caught her eye at the BBC’s Good Food and Gardeners World Live Shows.
It was a paradise for foodies and gardeners, the BBC Gardeners World Live and the BBC Good Food Show which took place at the Birmingham NEC from June 13-16. Whether your passion is for being out in the garden, experimenting in the kitchen or sitting down with a glass of your favourite tipple, this was the perfect place to be.
Hundreds of top food and drink producers along with the UK’s best nurseries, plant experts and outdoor craftspeople exhibited their latest products for the tens of thousands of visitors who teamed through the doors over the four days. Then of course, there was a star-studded line-up of celebrity chefs and gardening gurus sharing their knowledge and expertise with the public.
We were delighted to watch Raymond Blanc cook in the Live Theatre and then to meet him afterwards. He cooked a dish of grilled mackerel and watercress salad followed by chocolate mousse as he chatted about his arrival in England in the early 1980s, his first taste of British fish and chips, and how his mother taught him to cook. He also talked his new book Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons which has taken him 5-years to write. His famous restaurant in Oxfordshire is the only country house hotel to have retained two Michelin stars for an amazing 35 years. And at his cookery school he has trained 38 Michelin chefs – an incredible achievement. Raymond was assisted by Michael John who was trained as a chef by Raymond and has now worked with him for 12 years.
Michael Roux Jr also made a fish dish – stuffed sea bass with creole rice; Tom Kerridge made Asian styke griddled squid salad; Mary Berry made Chocolate cappuccino tart; Nadita Hussain made caramalised biscuit traybake – and a host of top chefs showed off their culinary skills and entertained their audiences.
Indoors and outside there was a wonderful gathering of all things garden-orientated from garden ornaments and sculptures to garden furniture and tools; the floral marquee was an ocean of colour and fragrance, while stalls brimmed with plants for your garden. In the prestigious Show Garden Awards two gardens scooped Platinum Awards, the highest available at the show.
Assessors awarded Designer Alexandra Froggatt Platinum, the top honour for her creation, ‘The Watchmakers Garden’. This recreation of a garden typical of a historic Birmingham Jewellery Quarter craftsman’s back yard from the 19th century. The build was also named as ‘Best Show Garden’.
Worcestershire-based landscapers Design It, with designer Lucy Bravington, also picked up a Platinum Award for their ‘High Line’ Show Garden in APL Avenue. Lucy’s design was based on an elevated New York City park, and mixed naturalistic trees with industrial steel elements. The garden also won ‘Best Construction’.
Bob Sweet, Horticultural Director at BBC Gardeners’ World Live, said: “The conditions which the designers and landscapers have had to work in this week have really tested their skills. The finished gardens are an inspiration, finished to a very high standard and full of incredible ideas that visitors will be able to recreate at home.”
It would be rude to attend the BBC Good Food Show and not sample some of the produce on offer, so we set off to do just that, starting with some Admiral’s Old J Tiki Fire rum and Empress 1908 gin which gets it’s beautiful colour from Butterfly Pea Flower. Chatting to PR Manager for Signature Brands, we were joined by award winning author and garden and cookery writer Steffanie Hafferty, who knew all about this amazing Butterfly Pea Flower, using it regularly in her own cooking as well as sourcing it from its native Thailand.
A drink that was relatively new to the scene but already creating quite a stir was the new Scottish Botanical Spirit made by Marian Bruce and Simon Montador. Their farm distillery near the market town of Alyth in Perthshire sees them combining sustainable and seasonal botanicals from the Highlands and grain spirit from the South to create a new generation of Scottish botanica spirits. They hand-pick plants and berries from within a mile of their distillery to create a new range of spirits that are wildly different and sure to appeal to gin and vodka drinkers.
Marian and Simon founded their Highland Boundary Distillery in 2016 and are already picking up awards. For her efforts in founding the distillery Marian was awarded Innovator of the Year at the Scottish Women in Business Awards 2019. And their Birch and Elderflower Wild Scottish Spirit has recently been awarded Gold at the prestigious 2019 San Francisco World Spirits Competition which saw nearly 3,000 entries received from all over the world.
Proud of their heritage, Jordan Hillman, Sales and Marketing Executive of Angus Dundee Distillers told us something of the company’s 60-year history of distilling, bottling and exporting the finest Scotch Whisky and other spirits around the world. Angus Dundee has two single malt distilleries – Tomlintoul in the Speyside Glenlivet region and Glencadam in the Eastern Highlands of Scotland. Sampling a few wee drams, my favourite was the 16-year-old Tomintoul Speyside Glenlivet single malt Scotch Whisky, nicknamed The Gentle Dram.
We stopped to sample some delicious cauliflower cheese tart at Life, Spork & Spoon’s stand. Based in Worcestershire the company produce a wide range of top-quality, restaurant ready-meals to enjoy at home. The founder and owner of the company is Kevin Morel, who has 30-years experience of the restaurant and food industry including working with the Roux brothers in the mid-1980s and assisted Albert Roux in the setting up of the UK’s first Sous-Vide business ‘Home Rouxl’.
Looking sunshine bright and ready to transport you to a tropical island was the Rum Beat stand. This is a rum cocktail made from Jamaican Rum, quality fruit juices and a mixture of home-made spices. Harold McKenzie started the company in 2016 with his wife Nickeysha and good friend Garcio Thompson. Harold said, “We started making this for festivals and carnivals and it’s grown from there. Watch out for us on Dragon’s Den in August!”
There really were so many wonderful products, far too many to cover in this roundup, and best of all was the passion everyone had for their own particular brand. I can’t wait to discover more next time.
Find out more: https://www.bbcgoodfoodshow.com