Last year we meant to go to the BBC Good Food Show in London but life got busy and we missed it so I was really pleased we managed to make it this year. We went on Saturday, 10th November 2012. I really like the location of the show in the slightly opulent Victorian grandeur of the Kensington Olympia Exhibition Centre (it opened in 1886).
Whitley Neil Gin
We started out on the ground floor. There were quite a few gin manufacturers represented at the show and I sampled several but one stood out for me, Whitley Neil Gin. It is batch distilled gin that was launched in 2005 and is produced in the UK using an antique copper pot still.
Whitley Neil himself says he wanted to create the perfect gin with a twist. It combines all that is good about English gin with a bit of Africa (inspired by his love of his wife’s homeland) through the inclusion of fruit of the Baobab tree and the Cape Goosberry in the list of botanicals used to make the gin. Here is the full list:
- Baobab fruit
- Cape gooseberry
- Juniper berries
- Coriander seed
- Lemon peel
- orange peel
- angelica root
- cassia bark
- Orris root powder
On tasting it I noticed it was smooth but it had a decent juniper taste, and glorious citrus favours but was a bit spicy also. It has a good lingering aftertaste.
I didn’t get to try it with tonic for that perfect G & T but suspect I will have to buy a bottle soon to do just that :-). Christmas is nearly here, so the perfect excuse!
Shocka’s Coconut Hub
Whilst we were wandering around we came across Shocka’s Coconut Hub (find them on Twitter
@shockascoconutH). This is a speciality bar service, perfect for something different at a party. Coconut water was being served directly from the green coconut that was expertly hacked open. It was delicious and far lighter and more refreshing than coconut milk.
This company could be great for a Caribbean themed evening perhaps?
Black River Chocolate
We were really inspired by a chocolate company called Black River Chocolate. Black River Chocolate is a new company, making high quality filled chocolates and bars from single origin Jamaican cocoa beans. You could say it is a fusion of expertise from Jamaica and Belgium since they source their beans in Jamaica and then they are sent to Belgium where the chocolates are made. There are very few companies that specialise in Jamaican single origin chocolate.
The company produces:
Pralines (dark & milk)
Bars (100gr plain chocolate):
Dark 70%, Dark 70% with Vanilla, Dark 70% with no sugar added and milk 48%
Couverture bars (1kg):
Dark 70%, 65%, 60% and 55%
Dark 70% Vanilla, Dark 70% No sugar
Nibs (roasted broken cocoa beans)
We tried a few samples of the pralines and the quality of the chocolate was unmistakeable, the fillings delicious. This is Jamaica’s first luxury chocolate brand and when you taste these chocolates, you will wonder why there hasn’t been one before. Jamaica’s cocoa industry dates back 350 years but it has just entered a new and rather more delicious phase :-).
The Wine Show
What I enjoyed most was that wine was given a much higher profile than the last time I visited the show. In fact, pretty much a whole floor was dedicated to wine and wine tasting. This was called The Wine Show. I even bumped into Oz Clarke and got a wine guide signed by him. Interesting, knowledgeable guy.
One of the most innovative things we saw whilst wandering round the Wine Show was the wine tube map. If you are not an expert in wine but know what you like, the wine tube map is invaluable. Take a look here: http://conviviumwine.com/wine-tube-map. The basic principle is you look at the map, find a wine you know you like and look either side of that wine to see wines that are similar in character and style so there is a strong chance you will like them. What a brilliant idea!
We tried quite a few wines and grape types that were new to us but our favourite wine by far was Carignan. If you get a good one, it is a smooth, intensely flavoured full bodied red. Chile are leading a bit of a revival, as is the Languedoc region of France. Berry Brothers are even doing a special wine tasting event in London about it http://www.bbr.com/products-14661-old-vine-carignan-tutored-tasting-monday-3rd-june). The Telegraph seem to agree that it is becoming more popular: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/9103680/Red-wine-the-rise-in-popularity-of-the-carignan-grape.html. The French Carignan we tried was silky smooth and slipped down far too easily!
We got about half way round the wine tasting and were feeling distinctly tipsy so decided that a late lunch to soak up the alcohol was in order. Luckily the organisers had done some smart planning with its positioning of food as it was located very conveniently alongside the wine and called ‘The Restaurant Experience’. This included Blue Elephant, Kensington Palace, Chutney Mary, Good Food Kitchen by Inside Catering and The Bowler. Torn between the temptation of trying something new or having something from an old favourite Chutney Mary, we opted for Chutney Mary. Below is a picture of the inside of their restaurant (see my separate blog review about Chutney Mary):
You had to buy Dining Currency, which was rather like buying Casino chips :-). We ended up sharing:
Tokri Chaat -Delicate potato lace basket filled with street food goodies
Hyderabadi chicken curry – complex flavours with Kashmiri chilli and a hint of orange rind
Monkfish Biryani with Watercress Raita
These dishes had such divine blends of spices and considering they were operating from a mobile kitchen they were surprisingly close to what I have tried in their restaurant in Chelsea, in terms of quality and taste. We were in foodie heaven :-). It also had the desired effect of being just enough to make us not feel so light headed from all the vino we had been quaffing!
All in all a very interesting, satisfying day and it was topped off by a visit to Chinatown for an early dim sum dinner at Dumplings Legend. The service is often a bit quirky at this restaurant. Don’t go there if you are in a hurry. However, the food is really good, especially the dim sum. We tried the spicy dim sum which was on the edge of our spicy tolerance but delicious all the same. They do standard Chinese dishes also plus a few Malaysian dishes which adds a bit of variety.
Dont miss next year’s show, a note for your diary. It will be held in the Kensington Olympia Exhibition Centre, London from 8-10 November 2013.