The Speciality & Fine Food Fair 2008

28 August 2008
The Speciality & Fine Food Fair 2008

The Speciality & Fine Food Fair takes place at London's Olympia on 7-9 September. This year visitors will be able to sample the wares of 700 producers, of which 100 are first-time exhibitors, showcasing produce such as speciality meats, fine wines, tempting cheeses, innovative condiments and luxury baked goods.

The 2008 show also sees the launch of the Speciality Chocolate Fair, a new section dedicated to manufacturers, transformers and chocolatiers, to meet the increasing demand for artisan chocolate.

Glynn Purnell
Glynn Purnell
On these pages, a keen supporter of small producers and one of the stars of this year's Great British Menu programme on BBC2, Glynn Purnell (pictured), of Purnell's in Birmingham, tastes a selection of exhibitors' goods and gives Buy It! his pick.

View new exhibitor Passion Shed's special offer of snacks inspired by Spain, Italy, Morocco and Switzerland for 20 Buy It! readers >>

Go with the grain
Cornish Sea Salt (Stand 479a)

Cornish sea salt
Cornish sea salt

Cornish Sea Salt is made at a plant just 8m from the sea, and is hand-harvested from the Grade A-classified waters off Cornwall's Lizard Peninsula - the highest accreditation denoting water purity.

The water is evaporated, leaving a totally natural product which retains all its original mineral qualities and more than 60 naturally occurring trace elements which give it a distinctive aroma of the ocean.

Chef's comments: "I'm really impressed with this product, including its simple, fresh packaging. It's great to see that Britain can produce its own sea salt. I normally use a fleur de sel, and the Cornish Sea Salt is just as good in terms of quality, usage and taste profile."

Black is beautiful
Aspall Suffolk Cyder (Stand 207e)

Perronelle's Blush
Perronelle's Blush

Aspall Suffolk Cyder is made from a blend of dessert and cider apple juices from varieties including Kingston Black, Yarlington Mill, Discovery and Crispin.

Aspall is England's oldest family-owned cider manufacturer. The business was founded at Aspall Hall in Suffolk in 1728 and sources all its fruit from its own 90-acre orchards or from the local East Anglian area.

The new Perronelle's Blush is a twist on the classic Kir Royale with the Champagne and crème de cassis replaced by cider and crème de mûre (blackberry liqueur). The colour is deep blush, suggestive of dark summer fruit, and there is a subtle blackberry aroma with a hint of traditional cider apple.

Chef's comments: "I'm a big fan of Aspall's ciders so it was nice to sample their blush variety, made using a dash of blackberry liqueur. The quality is exceptional - slightly sweeter than their other ciders but really crisp and refreshing."

A touch of Magic
New York Delhi Co (Stand 272)

Magic Masala
Magic Masala

Encouraged by friends and family, Nina Uppal, co-founder of the New York Delhi Company, decided to take her mother's masala recipe (the key ingredient in creating authentic Indian food) to market.

Magic Masala is the company's flagship product, whose recipe uses 15 ingredients - as opposed to the average six in many prepared masalas. It is ground to a coarse consistency that retains strength and flavour, and Uppal says it actually gets better with time rather than lasting for only three months.

Chef's comments: "Being a Brummie, I love spicy food, so I was keen to try New York Delhi's Magic Masala - and it certainly didn't disappoint. It's very authentic, compared to many products on the market - it has a proper masala aroma, with no powdery aftertaste. I made it into a paste to season a nice piece of fish - delicious."

A berry original idea
Mondo Berry (Stand 1134)

Mondo Berry
Mondo Berry

Formerly importing Sea Buckthorn berry jams and Aronia berry jams from Swedish farmers, Mondo Berry has now created its own original recipes and produces its jams in Devon.

Sea buckthorn berries have been widely used for food and for medicinal purposes in Scandinavia, Russia and China for centuries, but it is a forgotten berry in the UK, although it grows here. Aronia berries are native to the eastern USA but are now planted in Scandinavia, Russia and eastern Europe.

The jams are reduced-sugar jams and are made in small batches, free from artificial colourings, flavourings and preservatives.

Chef's comments: "These jams are top-notch. It's refreshing to see that they incorporate the unique ingredients, sea buckthorn and aronia berries, that can offer the consumer something new. When you open the jars, you can really smell the fruit in all its naturalness."

Feeling blue is good
BlueConcept (Stand 147)

Wild Blueberries
Wild Blueberries
Wild Blueberries 100% is a new product from BlueConcept, which was established a few months ago by Swedes Veronika Kral and Peter Simai.

Produced in Sweden by a small family business that has been trading in berries for the past 35 years, Wild Blueberries 100% is made from 100% wild Swedish blueberries, pressed into a juice with an ambient shelf life of three years.

The drink can be served as a non-alcoholic alternative to wine, as its flavour and character are much akin to those of a young red wine. Alternatively, it can be used as an exotic ingredient in cocktails.

Chef's comments: "This is a delightful product - you can tell it's 100% natural berry juice, which isn't artificially sweetened in any way and which gives you that nice dryness on the back of the throat. It's perfect for cooking, too - it'd be ideal for glazing the pan for duck, lamb or game or making a savoury jelly accompaniment."

A natural progression
Amazing Food Co (Stand 855)

Dulcet Cuisine
Dulcet Cuisine

Following the successful launch of Soy Vay marinades, sauces and dressings and Garlic Valley Farms Cold Pressed and Roasted Garlic Juices, the Amazing Food Company is bringing Dulcet Cuisine's range of natural marinades, sauces, mustards, rubs and spices to the UK market.

The products are all natural, vegetarian and both wheat- and gluten-free.

Dulcet Cuisine was created in the summer of 2004 by Pam Kraemer, who combines exotic flavours to create products including: Madras Curry Mustard; Lemon, Mustard & Dill Sauce; Madras Curry Sauce & Marinade; Tangy & Peppery Moroccan Sauce & Marinade; Creole Mustard; Madras Curry Mustard; Moroccan Mustard and Sweet Orange Chili Mustard; Creole Cooking Spice & Rub; Madras Curry Cooking Spice & Rub; and Moroccan Cooking Spice & Rub.

Chef's comments: "I like the idea behind this Madras Curry Mustard - it's a little bit unusual. The mustard is very smooth, and has a beautiful colour and a nice curry aroma. Men in particular will love this - on a good, rare steak or with some thickly sliced gammon in a sandwich."

Quickes goes slowly
Quickes Traditional (Stand 749b)

Quickes cheddar
Quickes cheddar

By slowly maturing a muslin-wrapped truckle for a year, Quickes Traditional Mature Cheddar is allowed to breathe, producing a rinded cheese with a unique and complex flavour.

The Quicke family has been farming in Newton St Cyres in Devon for more than 450 years, and the dairy at Home Farm is set in 1,500 acres, where the family's 500 dairy cows provide the rich creamy milk to make the cheese.

Chef's comments: "This mature Cheddar would hold its own on any cheese board. It's got a smooth, rounded flavour - a real earthiness that doesn't burn the throat, like some mature Cheddars do. You can tell it's been wrapped in muslin, exposed to the air and allowed to mature using traditional methods."

Fill your sweet niche
Barfibox (Stand 1139)

Gajar Ka Halwa
Gajar Ka Halwa

A family-owned business based in London, Barfibox was created to fill a niche in the marketplace for innovative and high-quality Indian-style sweets and desserts by blending ideas from both eastern and western cultures.

All Barfibox products are hand-made in the UK in small batches, using traditional methods and carefully selected ingredients.
Products include Gajar Ka Halwa, a popular north Indian dessert made by blending carrots, sugar and cream, flavoured with aromatic Indian spices, and Pistachio Rose Ice-Cream, a dairy ice-cream made using 36.4% Jersey milk, flavoured with real pistachio nuts and natural rose water.

Chef's comments: "These Indian desserts are fantastic. I'd never tried a Gajar Ka Halwa before and it was truly delicious, as well as being that little bit different. The more traditional Pistachio Rose Ice-Cream was light and melted in the mouth. And the fact they are sold in individual dishes makes them ideal for pubs, wine bars and restaurants."

Jams are hot stuff
Jules and Sharpie (Stand 1054)

Jules & Sharpie jams
Jules & Sharpie jams

Launched earlier this year, Jules and Sharpie's Hot Fruit Salad Jam and Hot Rhubarb & Ginger Jam are both made using the very hot scotch bonnet chilli. They developed from an existing Rhubarb & Ginger Jam created as a seasonal recipe, and a fruit salad made with spices and chillies.

The business began in 2002 with a Jamaican hot pepper jelly, but now makes another 11 varieties - all of which feature the scotch bonnet chilli. All 11 products are still hand-made in small batches in open pans.

No currant affairs
Rude Health (Stand 833)

No Flamin' Raisins
No Flamin' Raisins

No Flamin' Raisins is a new addition to Rude Health's muesli range, and is claimed to be the first widely available, organic muesli to be completely free from raisins, currants and sultanas.

Rude Health developed the product after research revealed that 30% of people either don't like raisins or would prefer not to have them in breakfast cereals. Instead, the product's sweetness comes from apricots, mango, apple and dates.

The company's organic muesli and porridge ranges have now been overhauled with new packaging, a revamped brand image and new products.

Chef's comments: "As someone who doesn't usually eat muesli, I have to say this makes for a very enjoyable breakfast bowl, offering a great combination of healthy ingredients with visible oat flakes that taste fresh and wholesome."

Empire of the bean
Chocolate Empire (Stand 972)

Chocolate Empire
Chocolate Empire

Established in 2006, the Chocolate Empire was set up by Paris-trained chocolatier Anthony Heurtier, out of his love of chocolate and concern over environmental issues affecting the cocoa industry.

Made from the finest Trinatario cocoa beans sourced from small cooperatives in Peru, the company's new range features six chocolate combinations that marry rich chocolate with fruit, nuts or subtle infusions of spices and herbs: Chilli Cluster, Rosemary Caramel, Mocha-choca-chino, Apricot, Caramelised Hazelnut and Ginger.

All the chocolates are gluten- and soya-free, and contain no hydrogenated fats, GMO, artificial flavours or colourings.

Chef's comments: "The quality of Anthony Heurtier's handmade chocolate is up there with some of the best chocolatiers and brand names in the industry - the organic milk chocolate is very smooth, the dark chocolate possesses just the right level of bitterness. My favourites were the new Chilli Clusters and Rosemary Caramels."

Sea here!
Flavours of Spain (Stand 1152)

Sea Lettuce
Sea Lettuce

A range of seaweeds is new this year from Flavours of Spain, which specialises in artisanal foods from northern Spain, where it sources foods primarily from small, family-run producers.

Each year, the rocky coasts of northern Spain produce an abundant harvest of many different types of seaweed, each with their own unique flavour and texture. Flavours of Spain offers more than 10 varieties, including Nori, Wakame, Dulse, Agar Agar, Kombu and Sea Lettuce.

Chef's comments: "Often an acquired taste, I think the quality of these seaweeds from northern Spain is very good. Not too salty, they let off a lovely aroma when rehydrated and retain their colour well during the cooking process."

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