Best Brands 2013-14

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I N S I D E : B e s t B r a n d s s u rv e y G r e at Ta s t e S h o p o f t h e Y e a r E M ER G I N G B RANDS REGIONAL AWARDS ROUND-UP Britain’s Best Cheese Counter BLOGGERS’ TIPS FOR 2014

A Special Report from

I n A ss o c i at i o n w i t h




Flicking through the final page-proofs of this year’s Best Brands I was struck by this slice of honesty from Nottinghamshire’s Georgie Mason: “Sometimes we’re criticised for being boring with our ranging, but we’ve found that if things are too quirky, they won’t sell. Everything has to be commercial.” Mason, whose Gonalston Farm Shop was runner-up for the 2013 Great Taste Shop of the Year award (page 25), is one of the sharpest operators in the business. And her comment sums up the pattern that is emerging clearly after three years of our annual Best Brands survey. We ask Fine Food Digest’s readers to tell us their best-sellers across the key categories in any deli and farm shop. With a bit of minor shuffling in the rankings, it’s the same familiar brands that continue to really do the business. Not only that, but many are to be found in convenience stores and supermarkets too – Tracklements and Montezuma’s are both in Waitrose, for example, while Fentimans is virtually everywhere. As my colleague Michael Lane points out in his analysis of the survey results, Coca Cola, while not quite in the top five soft drinks, is frequently name-checked as a big seller. I can be as guilty of food snobbery as anyone else in this sector, but as a one-time (long ago) struggling Mace c-store operator I know that retailers of all stripes need their guaranteed cash cows. And that’s what our survey helps identify. In the speciality food market, however, you also need a constant flow of interesting, novel, niche lines. And the great news is that you’ll find ample evidence of both in these pages too. Look at the “emerging brands” identified on pages 17-20, or the national and regional award-winners highlighted on pages 38-42. There is no sign of innovation drying up. When we came up with the Best Brands concept in 2011, we saw it as an annual catalogue of the best-selling and best-tasting products available to delis, farm shops and food halls today. For any retailer rethinking their range for 2014, Best Brands is a pretty good starting point.



ere at Le Gruyère AOP we know all about the power of major awards. After all, ours is the only cheese to have achieved three Supreme Champion wins in the World Cheese Awards. And Le Gruyère AOP was up there again in 2013, with a Gruyère Premier Cru from Von Mühlenen taking third place overall out of more than 2,700 entries. That’s just one reason why we are delighted to be sponsoring Fine Food Digest’s Best Brands special edition for the third year running. Along with our lead sponsorship of the World Cheese Awards and our backing for the Big Cheese Challenge (see pages 28-33) it’s part of our continuing support for the UK deli, farm shop and food hall sector – a sector that, like Best Brands, celebrates the best of everything in regional and speciality food.

Helen Daysh, Marketing Manager UK, Le Gruyère AOP

INSIDE Best Brands Survey 2013-14 Emerging Brands Great Taste Shop of the Year Le Gruyère AOP Big Cheese Challenge National & Regional Award Winners Deli of the Month ‘must-stocks’ Editor’s Choice Things To Come

5 17 22 28 38 45 49 51

EDITORIAL Editor: Mick Whitworth Assistant editor: Michael Lane Art director: Mark Windsor Contributors: Patrick McGuigan, Lynda Searby, Hilary Armstrong, Nick Baines Photography: Richard Faulks, Isabelle Plasschaert, Owen Howells Cover illustration: Garen Ewing

ADVERTISING Sales manager: Sally Coley Advertisement sales: Becky Stacey, Ruth Debnam Published by Great Taste Publications Ltd and the Guild of Fine Food Ltd GENERAL ENQUIRIES Tel: 01747 825200 Fax: 01747 824065 Guild of Fine Food, Guild House, 23b Kingsmead Business Park, Shaftesbury Rd, Gillingham, SP8 5FB UK Fine Food Digest is published 11 times a year and is available on subscription for £45pa inclusive of post and packing. Printed by: Blackmore, Shaftesbury, UK © Great Taste Publications Ltd and The Guild of Fine Food Ltd 2013. Reproduction of whole or part of this magazine without the publisher’s prior permission is prohibited. The opinions expressed in articles and advertisements are not necessarily those of the editor or publisher. The publisher cannot accept responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts, photographs or illustrations



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Money Makers There are plenty of familiar faces in the results of the third instalment of FFD’s Best Brands survey but our annual poll of independent retailers has also picked up some newcomers this year. HILARY ARMSTRONG speaks to the category winners, while MICHAEL LANE analyses the responses.

BISCUITS 1st Fine Cheese Co 2nd Peter’s Yard 3rd Border Biscuits 4th Teoni’s Cookies Joint 5th Fudges; Moores; Farmhouse Biscuits; Artisan Biscuits


or the second year running, The Fine Cheese Co’s Toast for Cheese range secured the top spot for the Bath-based firm in this category. The products, specifically tailored to match certain styles of cheese, were one of the most frequently mentioned ranges in the survey alongside Peter’s Yard’s crispbreads, which were propelled into second place and into the top five for the first time. At the sweeter end of the spectrum, Border and Teoni’s have swapped places this year. The former’s dark chocolate gingers and the latter’s stem ginger cookies both garnered multiple votes with ginger, proving a popular flavour across all of the products mentioned.

HOW DOES IT WORK? All the brands and products featured in this report are here because independent retailers put them here. For the third year running, FFD asked buyers in delis, farm shops and food halls to name their top-selling lines in a dozen categories. We posted a survey, with a reply-paid envelope, to every retailer in our readership and a researcher also telephoned a good deal of them too. Once the polling closed in early November, we totted up the votes for each brand and have listed the top scorers in each category over the next six pages.

MEET THE WINNER… The Fine Cheese Co “Everything we do is informed by the fact that we’re artisan cheese specialists,” says The Fine Cheese Co owner Ann-Marie Dyas. The business started out in 1988 with one cheese shop in Bath and has since grown into a £6-7m business exporting to 800 shops in over 50 countries. The biscuit lines now represent 35% of the business, but it all comes back to cheese. “Everything is tested with cheese,” Dyas explains. “It’s not about what we can make or even what retailers want. We always think about the end consumer. I

Ann-Marie Dyas: “What our products do is make cheese fun. They change the eating experience.” am conscious that people like the idea of cheese but sometimes find it challenging. What our products do – an interesting cracker, an interesting chutney – is make it fun. They change the eating experience.” The Fine Cheese Co went into biscuits over 12 years ago. Initially, these were made to its spec by Artisan Biscuits until 2006 when the Fine Cheese Co took over Artisan. There are now 21 biscuits in the range including the seed, nut and fruit Toast for Cheese range – “The most successful launch we’ve ever had” – and the Fine English range, which is the company’s go at producing the definitive oatcake, water biscuit, digestive etc. “The ingredients listed on the oatcakes are just oats and butter – a joy to read!” As for next year, there will be something new in the Toast for Cheese department but there will be no change to the company’s strictly-no-supermarkets policy. “I don’t think you can be a poacher and gamekeeper if you’re a retailer,” says Dyas.




Helen Pattinson: “We get great loyalty from our independent retailers which is so important when there are new brands popping up left right and centre”

1st Montezuma’s 2nd Green & Black’s Joint 3rd James Chocolates; Bon Bons; Divine


his category was dominated by chocolatiers large and small. Even the only confectioner to make the rankings, Yorkshirebased Bon Bons, made the cut on the back of its chocolate fudge. Montezuma’s maintained its 100% Best Brands record as the Brightonbased business continues to balance geographical expansion with cachet. Although larger brands – Green & Blacks and Divine Chocolates – gained more votes, there was a plethora of smaller, regional chocolatiers named in responses, indicating that many retailers are opting to stock their local suppliers and making a success of it.

MEET THE WINNER… Montezuma’s Helen Pattinson has a goal – just a teeny weeny one: she wants to see Montezuma’s, the chocolate brand she founded with husband Simon in 2000, in every single specialist retailer in the country. She’s certainly on the way, as Montezuma’s third successive Best Brands win attests. “We get great loyalty from our independent retailers which is so important when there are new brands popping up left right and centre,” she says. “That’s why customer service is the number one priority.”

TEA 1st Teapigs 2nd Taylor’s of Harrogate 3rd Twinings 4th Miles Joint 5th Clipper; Pukka


eapigs is another brand that has yet to place any lower than first in any of our Best Brands surveys. In a category packed with big hitting brands, some even at supermarket level, it still won comfortably. Taylor’s Yorkshire Tea still remains a big seller in independents despite its prevalence in the multiples, and this year’s results prove that it’s not the only one as Twinings and Clipper made the top five. The majority of topsellers for our surveyed retailers were original or everyday blends while Earl Grey and peppermint teas also featured frequently in the results.



As a retailer herself (Montezuma’s has five stores in the south of England), Pattinson deeply values the independents’ passion. “We take great care over how we merchandise our product. To know that our retailers are doing the same means a lot. It’s one of the main reasons we won’t go into the ‘big four’. We’d lose that control.” The business has grown to 80 staff and a turnover of around £7m, with the wholesale side growing at an average of around 25% a year. Every line is still made at the company’s production site in Sussex and it was expanded this year to keep up with demand.

MEET THE WINNER… Teapigs Teapigs founders Louise Allen and Nick Kilby have been spreading the word about “real tea” since 2006. Though some of their loose teas and whole leaf tea temples can now be found in the multiples, Teapigs’ commitment to the independents that have supported it since day one is undiminished. 2013 was its first year doing Tea School – free one-day training sessions in London and Birmingham – and there are plans for more in 2014. “The coffee industry is really good at training baristas,” says Allen. “There’s not such a huge amount of knowledge around tea. People aren’t being taught how to make natural chai lattes and iced tea. Tea is just dunking a teabag into hot water. “As a result, there’s still a bunch of people not going into cafés to

Montezuma’s benefits greatly from the ‘buy British’ trend, as it does from the trend for experimental flavours, says Pattinson. Its dark chocolate chilli bar won’t relinquish its top spot, but Open Sesame – new for 2013 – has rocketed into the brand’s top five sellers. Salt and chocolate is still, most definitely, a thing; Montezuma’s even gets fan mail for Sea Dog (its dark chocolate, lime and sea salt bar). New flavours for 2014 are under wraps until summer, but the New Year sees the relaunch of Dainty Dollops, Montezuma’s ganache-filled chocolate discs.

drink tea because they can drink their own at home. If they see real whole leaf tea of good quality, they’re prepared to pay for it.” Teapigs launched two new products in 2013: Earl Grey Strong and a Darjeeling. Next year, they will be adding new blends exclusively for the independents including a yet-to-be-revealed stockist’s blend, inspired by and named after a stockist following a feedback survey by Teapigs. Allen sees natural chai latte as another growth area as awareness of it grows. It’s a similar story with Japanese matcha tea, which Teapigs was the first to introduce to the UK ‘in a mainstream format’. It will be promoting matcha with a ‘Take The Matcha Challenge’ campaign in the New Year, when consumers traditionally take their annual health MOT.

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COFFEE 1st Grumpy Mule 2nd Taylors of Harrogate 3rd Union Hand-Roasted


1st Brie de Meaux* 2nd Snowdonia Black Bomber 3rd Colston Bassett Stilton 4th Godminster Cheddar 5th Montgomery’s Cheddar Joint 6th Hawes Wensleydale; Comté *includes Rouzaire, Donge etc.


rie de Meaux was again, by some distance, the best-selling cheese on our respondents’ counters but British cheeses proved to be more popular thereafter. Cheddars dominated the list of British best-sellers but this year saw waxed varieties like Snowdonia’s Black Bomber and Godminster pip farmhouse producers. While Montgomery’s made the rankings, Barber’s, Isle of Mull and Ford Farm cheddars, as well as cheddar-style Lincolnshire Poacher, all garnered multiple votes. Dorset Blue Vinny came very close to breaking into the top six and a host of newer farmhouse cheeses, including Tunworth and Barkham Blue, were also namechecked. The results in this category do not indicate a decline in Continental cheese but have clearly been skewed as a sizeable amount of retailers surveyed chiefly stock British cheese.

his year, we decided to spilt the tea and coffee category to get a clearer representation of the sectors. The move has seen Grumpy Mule come out on top, having previously not featured in the combined hot drinks category, with its organic Sumatran beans earmarked as a top seller in several shops. Close on the roaster’s heels was fellow Yorkshire firm and giant brand Taylor’s of Harrogate, whose Lazy Sunday coffee remains a staple in many independents even though it sits on many supermarket shelves. While Union maintained its presence in the top three, there were a number of regional roasters that won a decent share of the votes, including London’s Monmouth Coffee, Dorset Coffee Co and York Coffee Emporium.

Meet the winner… Grumpy Mule Yorkshire-based coffee roaster Grumpy Mule’s parent company Bolling Coffee was bought by Bewley’s of Dublin in April but it has been business as usual. What’s more, the seven-year-old fine, rare and unusual coffee specialist, headed by coffee buyer Damian Blackburn, has reiterated its commitment to direct sourcing and working closely with farmers at origin. This year, it has introduced three new micro-lot coffees, including one from the Blackburn Estate in Tanzania. Grumpy Mule has also seen a rise in demand for its Roast to Order range, which encompasses seasonal espresso blends and an ongoing rotation of speciality coffees presented as single origins. All of the beans are roasted in small batches on an energy efficient Loring Smart Roaster, one of the industry’s most coveted machines. With 600-plus stockists, including Booths and Waitrose, and an excellent reputation in both retail and foodservice – you don’t get nine awards in Great Taste 2013 for nothing – Grumpy Mule was attractive to Bewley’s, but its new parent company has plenty to offer in return. The Irish brand has a strong presence across the UK and in Ireland and, working together, they can accelerate Grumpy Mule’s impressive momentum.





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BEST BRANDS SURVEY 2013-14 SOFT DRINKS 1st Fentimans Joint 2nd San Pellegrino; Luscombe 3rd Belvoir


n a similar top three to last year, Fentimans has come out on top again with votes for all of its soft drinks, including Curiosity Cola, lemonade and ginger beer. As in 2012, this category was largely taken up with bigger brands that serve the multiples as well as independent retailers. Luscombe is the sole independents-only producer in these rankings and has done well to stand toe-to-toe with Nestlé-owned San Pellegrino. Although these four companies shared most of the votes, a number of shops named their local apple juice producers while others declared that Coca Cola was their best-selling drink.


This year’s hot summer doesn’t deserve all the credit for Fentimans’ bumper year (business is up 32.4%) because loyalty to the Northumberland-based brand is also strong. “We are still a small company and we’re still owned by the


weet preserves are a competitive business and this is reflected in the re-shuffle of last year’s results. Tiptree regained first place this year, pipping last year’s winners Cottage Delight to the top prize. Both notched up a good portion of their votes for their strawberry jam. There were more fruit curds mentioned in 2013’s survey and Mrs Darlington’s re-entered the top five this year after multiple nominations for its lemon curd. Rosebud’s marmalades, particularly the Seville orange variety, also sold well for a number of retailers. As was the case last year, there were also plenty of nominations for local and regional preserve makers

JAMS & PRESERVES 1st Tiptree 2nd Cottage Delight 3rd The Bay Tree Joint 4th Rosebud Preserves; Mrs Darlington’s Joint 5th Kitchen Garden; Thursday Cottage

Fentiman family,” says product manager Mark Robinson. “These are things that are highly thought of by the independents. When we tell our story, we find people listen.” Fentimans prides itself on botanically brewing its drinks to the original recipes, with each one taking seven days. Ginger beer has been the bestseller since 1905 though Robinson reckons tonic water could overtake it soon. Tonic has been a strong story of late – up 95.2% on last year – and performing well in Europe (Spain, in particular). Next year, Fentimans will respond by tailoring much of its show programme around its mixers and its alcoholic ginger beer, Hollows & Fentimans. A third of Fentimans’ business is now export. The brand is “flying the flag for Britain” in 40 countries around the globe and the business has invested heavily. Closer to home, it has other opportunities to explore; Robinson reveals they’re considering TV advertising for the first time and possibly hosting their own events. One of the hits of the hot summer was rose lemonade, a relatively recent launch (up 79% on last year) that’s had a subtle makeover and is now a shade pinker. “People make a beeline for it at shows,” says Robinson. “There’s nothing quite like it on the market.”


“We’re pretty good at growing strawberries,” says a modest Ian Thurgood, joint managing director of Wilkin & Sons. It ought to be good: the firm has been at it since 1885. Its Tiptree jam brand includes over 100 products. It is sold in over 60 countries worldwide, has a £35m turnover and has held a royal warrant since 1911. The bestseller is – what else? – strawberry jam but Thurgood seems as excited about this year’s medlar crop (enough for just two batches of jelly) as he is about Tiptree’s more lucrative products. “The only way we’re going to get that medlar jelly to the people that want it is through the speciality sector,“ he says. “Our feeling is that the sector is doing very well at that moment and that reflects in the sales of things like quince and loganberry. “We’ve got the

confidence to introduce more unusual things such as Early Rivers Plum that we’ve just brought back. We couldn’t do that without the support of the independent retailers.” As those familiar with Tiptree’s tomato ketchup (now a Tiptree bestseller) will attest, jam is not the brand’s only strength. Its own-grown fresh fruit business is growing and it has a ‘blossoming’ savoury section. Thurgood openly reveals current areas of interest for Tiptree – namely a premium chocolate spread, a Victoria sponge cake mix and breakfast cereals with fruit – but says they won’t see the light of day until or, rather, unless, it gets them right. Looking ahead to 2014, Thurgood is feeling particularly optimistic as the company has just got the green light for a new factory in Tiptree village. “It takes some confidence to build a new factory for jam.”



BEST BRANDS SURVEY 2013-14 OILS & VINEGARS 1st Olive Branch 2nd Yorkshire Rapeseed Co Joint 3rd Aspall; Fussels


ll change this year with a completely new line-up in the category. Olive Branch – at less than three years old – is almost certainly the youngest category winner in any of FFD’s Best Brands surveys. During its short time, the company has diversified into a range of products made using olive oil but its original low acidity Cretan extra virgin olive oil was the product that gained the most votes in this category. Rapeseed oil still appears to be enjoying a great deal of popularity in the speciality sector. So much so, that two of the brands (Yorkshire Rapeseed Co and Fussels) mentioned made it into the top three places this year. Plenty of retailers identified olive oils and vinegars as top sellers but these votes were shared across a number of producers which saw last year’s top-ranking brands – Seggiano, Deli-cious and Womersley – place just outside the top three.

PICKLES & CHUTNEYS 1st Tracklements 2nd Cottage Delight 3rd The Bay Tree Joint 4th Dart Valley Foods; Mrs Darlington’s


ven though the results show there are clearly lots of smaller, local producers keeping retailers and their customers happy, Tracklements was the clear winner in this category for the third year running. It goes without saying that its iconic onion marmalade continues to perform well for speciality retailers. Sweet apple chutney, contained in the repertoires of both Cottage Delight and Mrs Darlington’s was a product mentioned by many respondents as a top seller. A number of retailers also said that own label products were their best sellers hence the emergence of Dart Valley Foods in the rankings this year.



MEET THE WINNER… Olive Branch So, how exactly does a new business win a Best Brand title barely two-and-a-half years after it started? “We’re asking that question as much as you are!” says Kamil Shah co-founder of Olive Branch with a laugh. The starting point for the business was the cold-pressed, single varietal, extra virgin olive oil produced in Crete by Shah’s partner Maria Koinaki’s father. It was a ‘very competitive category’ they were entering, but the attractive price point (£8.99/500ml) of the full-bodied, low acidity oil coupled with strong accessible branding from the start played a huge role in getting the brand onto the shelves of close to several hundred shops. Olive oil alone isn’t the only reason for Olive Branch’s 250% growth. The brand is very active in product development, and this year built on the success of its red wine vinegar with thyme honey, creating a new version using orange honey. Its products are versatile too: the new sweet olive, fig & almond can go with goats’ cheese, on ice cream or over Greek yoghurt, while the

MEET THE WINNER… Tracklements Tracklements, the traditional savoury preserves brand founded in 1970, does very well out of its old favourites: the grain mustard it started with, its hugely popular onion marmalade, chilli jam and horseradish cream. But, as marketing director Becky Vale explains, it works hard to keep its category “relevant and exciting”. “I think in our category I could quite happily claim that we do more in terms of point-of-sale promotions and supporting activity than anyone else in the sector,” she says. “We work really hard to drive people to the specialist retailer.” Successful initiatives include the countertop box promotions (offering mini jars to give away), recipe postcards and

bestselling Greek mezze range (also launched this year) includes a sun-dried tomato paste that’s going down well as a pizza sauce. “Social media presents a great opportunity to find out how people are using our products,” says Shah. “We might assume something will be used one way, but then we’ll see people doing something quite different.” Next year is going to be another big one. Shah expects even bigger growth, as Olive Branch sign up with one of the country’s largest speciality wholesalers. www.

limited editions throughout the year such as pumpkin chutney over Halloween. “We talk to the end consumer so that the retailer has an easier job selling our products. It’s not just about getting them on the shelves of the retailer, it’s about getting them off the shelves at the other end.” Tracklements has weathered the economic storm of the last few years – “People revert to the tried, tested and traditional,” says Vale – and has benefited from increased café and catering opportunities within fine food retail. For 2014, Tracklements will be “putting a lot of energy behind mustards”, a growing category that’s being used increasingly in cooking. “It’s our heritage – we introduced the first English wholegrain mustard – so it’s what we know really well.”

Becky Vale: “I could quite happily claim that we do more in terms of point-of-sale promotions and supporting activity than anyone else in the sector. We work really hard to drive people to the specialist retailer.”

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BEST BRANDS SURVEY 2013-14 S AV O U R Y S N A C K S 1st Pipers 2nd Burts 3rd Tyrrells Joint 4th Olives Et Al; Corkers Crisps


his year’s results reinforced conclusions from last year, with crisps accounting for the lion’s share of the votes and independents-only producer Pipers emerging as the clear winner. Even though they both supply the multiples, Burts and Tyrrells still sell well for delis and farm shops while Olives Et Al’s Lapsnacks range, including habas fritas and chilli puffs, enjoys popularity despite the dominance of crisps on the list. The only new entry this year is Cambridgeshire’s Corkers Crisps, which appears to have gained a following for its red Leicester & caramelised onion flavour in particular.

Alex Albone: “You can make a great packet of crisps but the rest of the story is the service we provide.” MEET THE WINNER… Pipers Crisps In April 2004, Pipers Crisps’ Alex Albone cooked 20 boxes of crisps, made the telesales call that sold them and drove the van that delivered them. Fast forward a decade, and though Pipers is now making over a million packets a

month, turning over £5.5m and supplying 3,200 customers direct, Albone is still keeping a close eye on every order. “You can make a great packet of crisps,” says Albone, “but the rest of the story is the service we provide. We go to enormous lengths to make service count not just through making a great product but also delivering it to the company as well.” “That’s why we try desperately hard to speak to great regional wholesalers as well. We’re in the process of installing new technology that will help us do that thing of making the calls at the right time, speaking to people at the right time and making deliveries as close as we can to the right time.”

DISTRIBUTORS & WHOLESALERS 1st Hider Foods 2nd The Cress Co Joint 3rd Rowcliffe; Cotswold Fayre; DW Holley


n a tight category, Hider Foods had first place entirely to itself this year. While Scottish distributor The Cress Co’s continued expansion into the North of England has helped it hang on to second place in 2013. Rowcliffe, Cotswold Fayre and DW Holley all return after making the rankings last year.

MEET THE WINNER… Hider Foods Hider Foods has inched ahead this year to take the top spot among speciality wholesalers and distributors. For the Hull-based family business (est.1965), it’s been another year of “good controlled growth”, says Hider’s joint managing director Duncan Hider. With turnover forecast this year at £27m and the business growing around 10-15% a year for the last decade, the challenge is “to keep ahead of it, to make sure systems can cope and still deliver what the customer wants.” Hider’s customers rate the 3,500-strong range and fleet of 12 Hider delivery vehicles, but what

2013 was a strong year for Pipers. The business has grown over 25% (“without talking to the major multiple supermarkets,” Albone adds), and, after exhibiting at Anuga this year, its opening up some markets in Europe and getting enquiries from further afield. New flavour Kirkby Malham Chorizo, still only its seventh, has been very successful and fans of Pipers’ big bright flavours should keep everything crossed for a new release in 2014. Pipers doesn’t “bring out flavours every ten minutes” and Albone will only launch the one he’s working on when he’s happy with it.

they don’t see is the important work behind the scenes. In 2013, Hider made “a fairly hefty investment” in IT and order collation, bolstering its technical quality control team by three. It recently completed on a 20,000 sq ft building with 900 pallet spaces, with a further 15,000 sq ft

Duncan Hider: “We want to have the facilities where we’re operating at 50% capacity and everything is very comfortable and organised.”

to come in 2014. “At peak times we have five or six weeks where the building’s groaning under the pressure,” says Duncan Hider. “We want to have the facilities where we’re operating at 50% capacity and everything is very comfortable and organised.” Looking ahead, Hider will continue to work around the clock – “We’re not a 9-to-5 business anymore” – with a focus next year on internet marketing and social media. “That’s an area we’re not very strong on at the moment but we’ve spent the last six months getting it right for our customers in 2014. A lot of our customers are small family-run businesses who work hard during the day and want to be able to place orders, check accounts, and talk and link with us out of hours.”



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Ambulance charity. The liqueurs come in 50cl and miniature sizes and are popular, not only as gifts but also for our many dining events.”


atie Taylor (pictured) is the owner of Drewton’s, which houses a farm shop, café, tearoom, delicatessen, butcher, cellar, luxuries store and a private dining restaurant all in restored farm buildings on the Drewton Estate. boozy-infusion

EMERGING BRANDS Having discovered the best selling brands in speciality food and drink today, we went looking for the brands of the future. We asked five top retailers to talk us through their best new additions this year.

LiziBakes “This Lincolnshire business supplies us with a vast range of handmade gluten-free products such as quiches, cakes, breads and puddings. My personal favourite is white chocolate & raspberry tart. We sell this range from the freezer and we also promote Lizi’s delicacies on our menu.”

Lottie Shaw’s range “The lady behind the famous award-winning Yorkshire Parkin has expanded her range of goodies and she is now making bars for sharing, such as Millionaire Shortbread.”

Little Doone balsamic dressings “These flavoured balsamic dressings from Scotland have won various awards and were introduced to Drewton’s this summer. They are so versatile – delicious with fish, meat and puddings as well as salads – and have gone down a storm with customers.”

Breckenholme Trading Company “This producer, based in Malton, North Yorkshire, has introduced a delicious Yorkshire Mayonnaise with lemon to its range of rapeseed oil products.” Richard Faulks

Puckett’s Pickles ‘Puckalilli’ “This is home-made in the York kitchen of Sarah Puckett. It comes in two sizes of kilner jar with the tagline: ‘Spicily delicious & flagwavingly British!’”

Boozy Infusion liqueurs “Along the Yorkshire Parkin theme, Boozy Infusion has an amazing range of liqueurs such as cherry bakewell, sticky toffee pudding and apple crumble, to name a few. I’ve selected the Yorkshire Parkin liqueur because a percentage from the sales goes towards the Yorkshire Air

The Harrogate Cake Co “They supply us with fabulous handmade fruit cakes, which you’ll also see on our menu served with Wensleydale cheese. New this year are their own traditional Christmas puddings, each wrapped in a beautifully branded tea towel or napkin.”




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EMERGING BRANDS S H U M A N A PA L I T Ultracomida Narberth, Wales


Artisan beers from Valencia “Following the popularity and success of Ferran Adria's collaboration with the big brewery Estrella Damm, Inedit, we've been seeing a real rise in the craft, artisan beer industry in Spain. Last year, we came across an amazing brewery in Valencia making a rosemary- and honeybased beer called La Socarrada, which is designed as an alternative to wine rather than as an alternative to lager. “We have since seen a surge in micro-breweries in Spain and are very excited by an addition coming soon, which is made using sea water, called Er Boqueron. “Both beers are brewed in Xativa, Valencia.”

GRAHAM BRIGGS The Food Co Colchester, Essex


raham Briggs looks after the main grocery section at The Food Company, winner of Shop of the Year in 2013. As a store that mixes fine food with more conventional brands to make it an everyday shopping venue, its big sellers at the moment include outsized packs of big US confectionery brands like Hershey’s, but here are Briggs’s ones-to-watch among his speciality suppliers. I Love Italia Sweet Moments “One to watch for 2014 is I Love Italia. Sweet Moments were launched late 2013 and were a

Mouldy Mabel blue cheese “A great new addition to the Welsh cheese market is this blue cheese made using Jersey cows’ milk. The cheese is named after one of the prize-winning cows in the herd at Pen Y Back Farm, where they also make Cow Pots Ice Cream, in Whitland, Carmathernshire. It’s proving to be a huge hit with customers and staff alike.”

Bodegas Estraunza wines “The Spanish wine industry is also going from strength to strength, producing increasingly good wines. One of the new additions to our range is Bodegas Estraunza Rioja. They produce a great range of reds – the reserva deserves a particular mention – as well as a really great white, the Solar de Estraunza, which has a more robust taste than traditional whites from Rioja.”

Owen Howells

humana Palit (pictured) founded Ultracomida with her husband Paul Grimwood in 2001. The business consists of two Spanish-Welsh deli-restaurants in Aberystwyth and Narberth.

hit with all of our customers over Christmas. The range covers a broad selection of traditional Italian pastries and biscuits – Pistachio Baci Di Dama, Chocolate Cream Cannoli and Chocolate Salami, to name a few of my favourites. Expect big things from I Love Italia. They’re always bringing successful products to market.”

taste great and are set to be a bestseller. With each cookie being individually wrapped, they’re ideal for lunch boxes or office snacks. They’re made in Bolivia but packaged and distributed in Braintree, Essex.” www.punkuquinoafoods.

Capsicana chilli range “We’ve seen Capsicana go from strength to strength since introducing their dried Mexican chillies in store, and ready for summer 2014 we have a range of wickedly spiced chilli sauces, each to represent the intensity of a single variety chilli.”

sure to be a bestseller throughout 2014.” www. maxwellschocolates.

Chorizo bacon jam “Another smash from the guys at Eat17, this time introducing a kick of chorizo to their Bacon Jam. I’ve got high hopes for this new variety.”

Punku Foods “While having the benefit of being a low cholesterol snack, Punku gluten-free quinoa cookies

Maxwells chocolates “Maxwells have been providing us with handmade chocolates for our confectionery counter since 2010, but they now offer a range of luxury boxed chocolates too for gifts or indulgent treat,



EMERGING BRANDS John Sinclair Craigies Farm Shop Queensferry, Edinburgh


The Ochil Fudge Pantry fudge and Scottish tablet “Fudge and Scottish tablet have always been big sellers at Craigie’s. It was not an area that we thought could grow much more. How wrong could I be? After supply issues with one of our established brands we gave Ochil Fudge Pantry a go and it has really taken off in the last year. Our sales are three times what they were. The plain fudge and tablet are the most popular lines.”

Stoats porridge bars “We have stocked Stoats from day one because they are so local to us. We were really excited when they brought out their new porridge bars in a 50g size and they have proven to be a big hit in the four flavours. I always pick up two when heading to the golf course: one for half way round the first nine and a second for the back nine.”

Katy Rodger’s dairy range “The dairy industry is under a lot of pressure and you don’t hear of many farmers with small herds these days. The Rodger family has bucked this trend. With a herd of 60 British Friesians they produce a lovely range of artisan products, which won 12 stars at Great Taste 2012. My favourite is their raspberry yogurt, a perfect ‘pollutant’ in my morning porridge.”

Spencerfield Spirit Company gins “The Nicol family have some really great products with some quirky marketing; most people will know about their Sheep Dip Whisky. Edinburgh Gin has been a real success story even more so with the introduction of their raspberry gin, elderflower gin and in the last few weeks their spiced orange gin. We have stocked up on their latest one as it is sure to be a winner at Christmas.”

Isle of Mull Hebridean Blue “The Reades from the Isle of Mull Cheese Co have produced this amazing blue cheese with unpasteurised cows’ milk and animal rennet. It’s strong and creamy in flavour, and can only get better as it matures. I can’t believe we have missed out on this for so long.”

Clyde Valley Tomatoes “Last year we could not source any Scottish tomatoes so we were really pleased to hear that David Craig was going to start up in a glasshouse in the Clyde Valley. Although he has grown Classic rounds he has put more emphasis into the more unusual varieties – ones with real flavour. David has done a fantastic job and I am confident that he will really make this work. Our tomato sales were five times that of last year.” ClydeValleyTomatoes


Isabelle Plasschaert

riginally set-up by the Sinclair family in the ’80s to sell their own fruit and veg at West Craigie Farm, Craigies has continued to expand under the management of John Sinclair and now features a full retail offer as well as café and butchery.


Sam Rosen Nash Fortnum & Mason London


am Rosen Nash is one of the Piccadilly store’s most experienced buyers, looking after many of its core ambient ranges, and is a regular Great Taste judge. Stag Bakeries “Although Stag Bakeries has been baking high quality products since 1885, on the Outer Hebridean island of Lewis, their range is new to Fortnum & Mason. We stock their unusual seaweed water biscuits which capture the seaweed flavour exceptionally well and are delicious with smoked salmon. We are delighted to stock their products which our customers enjoy.”

Manfood “A new range that we have also welcomed, and are excited about, is Manfood: piccallili and other accompaniments with clean,

original flavours that are extremely moreish. You can easily munch your way through a jar in one sitting. When these are open for tastings at our Friday market they’re always a popular product. We think it’s a brand that will go far.”

En Place Foods “We really loved all the products introduced by En Place Foods this year. Their sea buckthorn berry & lime jam is such a surprise to the senses – tart yet sweet – and captures the freshness of the berry, which goes wonderfully on toast. Sea salted caramel & fennel pollen spread is also part of the range. The salted caramel is lifted by the aniseed flavour of the fennel – they complement each other perfectly in a combination which most will not be familiar with, but everyone should try.”

TLG Koukakis Farm Greek yoghurt Marianna's Vineleaves Marianna's Petimezi (cooked mast) Marianna's Feta Cheese Pie Marianna's Marmalade (Orange)

Marianna's Vinetops Marianna's Stuffed Vineleaves




treats in store



This year saw the first Great Taste Shop of the Year award. Stores were nominated by 2013’s Great Tastewinning producers, then mysteryshopped by retail experts to find the best of the best. LYNDA SEARBY spoke to the inaugural top 10. WINNER The Food Company, Marks Tey, Essex


ook around this store and you’ll spot something unusual but entirely intentional: there is no equipment on any of the back walls – no sinks, no meat slicers, no heat sealers. There’s a simple reason for this, as Leslie Linch (pictured right), owner of The Food Company, explains: “If you put equipment on the back walls you have to turn away from the customer. Our shop is designed to allow staff to face the customer at all times so they can give knowledge while serving. It’s a very personal business.” This gives a glimpse into the customer-centric philosophy that pervades The Food Company and has enabled Linch to turn his dream of bringing together small traders under one roof into a store that lives up to its proud boast: “Only the best at a fair price”. Relatively young in retailing terms, the shop was set up in 2000 as a way of allowing independent specialists – butcher, fishmonger, deli, greengrocer – to continue with their trades without the pressures of running a high-street shop. The fresh produce counters are set around the perimeter of the shop, surrounding packed central aisles of ambient goods, with the whole shopfloor overlooked by an upstairs mezzanine area stocking classy gifts, cookware and homewares. “It’s a concept based on the fact independents are finding it difficult to trade in the high street, partly because they have to be an expert in so many areas, from IT to VAT,” says Linch. “This gives them the chance to focus on what they are good at. It’s a combination of an open market and the shops that are disappearing from the high street.” Initially, Linch tried to put his ‘market’ idea into practice by handing each section to a specialist concessionaire. However, it quickly became apparent that for the traders, “running a business within a business was almost as difficult as running their own business”. So the store was restructured into departments, each overseen

Shop of the Year

by a manager with specific trade experience, who is responsible for buying and selling. Counter staff then rotate around the shop, working in different departments. “But before we let new staff loose on the shopfloor they spend two weeks in the kitchen – an environment dedicated to serving good, fresh food,” says Linch. This has turned out to be a winning formula, with the store populated by exceptional fresh food departments, supported by a wide range of ambient foods clearly merchandised by product group. There is also a chef’s counter that offers hassle-free ready-meals such as lasagne, moussaka and beef stroganoff, cooked with fresh produce from the store that day, and a chocolaterie selling chocolates made by local firm Maxwells. “I’m not interested in anything other than top quality products,” says Linch. Ironically, though, he adds that the prices charged for fish, meat and poultry are lower than in supermarkets. “We sell a free-range chicken for £8. Waitrose and Tesco sell inferior birds for much more. It’s because we don’t have a long supply chain – the chickens almost walk here!” Customers know exactly where their meat and poultry is coming from, such as free range pork from Blythburgh in Suffolk. This top-quality-at-reasonableprices ethos is clearly working. Six months ago a major refurbishment enlarged the shopfloor by 20% and the restaurant from 70 to 140 covers. “We did this by maxing out the space we’ve got and rationalising our kitchens into one,” says Linch. A large car park and a convenient location on the busy A12 at a junction that connects three major towns are also good for business, attracting a “pretty intelligent base of customers who are not taken in by advertising and BOGOFs”. It all adds up to an engaging shopping experience, which is a world away from filling a trolley with apparent bargains in a strip-lit supermarket aisle.








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Meath based Lir Chocolates are celebrating the sweet taste of success having won 2 gold stars for our GUINNESS TRUFFLE BAR at Great Taste, the Oscars of the food industry organized by the Guild of Fine Food and another for our RASPBERRY ROYALE WATER BASED GANACHE truffle. We are delighted with these awards as it reinforces our position as Award Winning Chocolatiers and we are delighted to work with GUINNESS to produce this award winning delicious chocolate bar. We have enjoyed developing Guinness chocolates from three delicious bars and truffles to sumptuous Fudge Cups.

Preserving British Tradition with Spirit The Provocative Pickle is a wickedly spicy pickled onion pickle with balsamic vinegar. The addition of chillies and tiny silverskin onions give it a mischievous bite that gets juices going.

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award winning chocolatiers

G R E AT TA S T E S H O P O F T H E Y E A R Second Place Gonalston Farm Shop, Lowdham, Nottinghamshire


ome-reared beef that is dry-aged on the bone for up to 42 days is just one very good reason why customers visit this converted farm building located on the rat-run between Lincoln and Nottingham. “Beef is what we’re about,” says Georgie Mason, one half of the husband-and-wife team that opened the shop in 2003. “We’ve always been butchery-led. In the early days a third of the shop was given over to butchery and we did our own lamb as well. Now we sell lamb and pork from local farms but still do 10 metres of scratch butchery.” In 2007, Ross and Georgie Mason doubled their floor space to 3,000 sq ft and added an enviable wet fish counter selling mainly day-boat line-caught fish from the south coast. The shop also boasts rustically presented fruit and veg and a deli counter housing over 100 varieties of farmhouse and territorial cheeses, as well as pies, pasties, cooked meat and charcuterie, among them many Great Taste award winners. “We try to stock as many Great Taste award winners as possible, particularly products with two or three stars,” says Mason. “Sometimes we’re criticised for being boring with our ranging but we’ve found that if things are too

quirky, they won’t sell. Everything has to be commercial.” Repeat custom is rewarded with a loyalty scheme that saves a penny in the pound. “We’ve a very loyal following of customers on butchery and fish as well as those who come here for their weekly shop. They value the accessibility, product knowledge and service with a smile.”

Best of the rest La Fromagerie, Marylebone, London Since opening in 2002, the popularity of Patricia Michelson’s Marylebone store has soared. Customers flock from far and wide to take in this cornucopia for the senses and the store’s themed suppers and tasting events are almost always a sell-out. The impressive array of regional farmhouse cheeses matured on-site

and displayed in a purpose-built, temperature-controlled cheese room is the main event, and knowledgeable staff heighten the experience by telling the story behind the cheeses and suggesting wine, bread and charcuterie pairings. The tasting café with its communal seating is also a focal point, providing a buzz and excitement to the entire store.

Calcott Hall Farm Shop, Brentwood, Essex Genuine farm shops are rare but this family business, run by Peter McTurk and based on a thriving market garden, is the real deal. With 30 varieties of fruit and vegetables grown on the 140-acre farm, produce can be on-shelf just a couple of hours after being harvested. What can’t be grown on the farm is sourced as locally as possible. The franchised butchery counter, fresh bread from Shepherd’s Bakery, Cook readymeals and select dairy, deli and frozen lines make for a rounded shopping experience.

The Cheese Shop, Nottingham October 2012 saw a six-fold expansion for this specialist cheese shop founded by brothers Rob and Webb Freckingham a decade ago. While it still occupies a spot in the same city centre boutique mall, The Cheese Shop now boasts a 32-cover café serving sandwiches, cheese boards and charcuterie platters, a bakery section and concise charcuterie and ambient ranges. But the collection of British and Continental cheeses accompanied by in-depth knowledge and careful, competitive pricing still remain the real feather in its cap.



G R E AT TA S T E S H O P O F T H E Y E A R Third place Macknade Fine Foods, Faversham, Kent


ew people leave this store empty-handed thanks to the breadth of its range, an eclectic selection of painstakingly sourced imports, hard-to-find ingredients and local lines. Stefano Cuomo, whose parents set up the business 30 years ago, keeps this Aladdin’s Cave stocked with rare treasures by working hard at supplier relationships. “We have 300-plus suppliers and rather than dealing with wholesalers we go direct to producers,” he says. “We hunt down individual products.” The store offers a supermarketsized range of loose fruit and vegetables that are comparable in price but superior in quality. It’s also the place to come for more obscure produce, such as romanesco and truffle potatoes. Similarly, Macknade provides a platform for local lines, from made-in-Kent biltong, to beers from Nelson’s brewery. The emphasis is more on

ingredients than pre-packed foods, as Cuomo has learned that the latter don’t sell as well. “Our customers are people who like to assemble their own dinners,” he says. Cuomo and his team of 50 are only too happy to assist, with lines like loose lentils from a farm on the Adriatic, Tommaso's single estate olive oil and hundreds of deli meats and cheeses.

Best of the rest Ludlow Food Centre, Shropshire Customers don’t just come here to buy their food, they also watch it being made. Large windows in the store give shoppers a front-row view of the centre’s eight production kitchens at work, making anything from cheese to bread. More than half of the food sold in the centre comes out of these kitchens and they are part of what makes it more of a leisure destination than a shop. The store is carefully designed with interesting island sites and a well laid out cheese counter.

The House of Bruar, Perthshire Situated on the A9, about 45 minutes north of Perth, this very out-of-town shopping experience is worth the journey. In the food hall, which showcases the best of Scottish produce, customers will find everything to sustain them in the wild north, from impeccably presented own-label jams and chutneys, to luxury chocolates, wines and liqueurs, breads, fruit and meat pies, homemade sausages and smoked fish. Outside, the market stall is stocked full of baskets brimming with seasonal fruit and vegetables: Carse of Gowrie strawberries and raspberries in summer and six varieties of apples and pears from local orchards in winter.

Suffolk Food Hall, Ipswich This food hall is the brainchild of farming cousins Oliver and Rob Paul, who in 2007 set out to create a theatrical complex showcasing Suffolk’s rich larder. Today, the butcher does a very strong trade in beef from the family’s herd of Red Poll cattle, the in-store bakery makes artisan bread from scratch every morning



and the 7m wet fish counter is a visual spectacle of fresh local fish and more exotic catches. Price promotions, demonstrations and knowledgeable and enthusiastic staff all add to the experience. Last year saw £2 million spent on converting a silage clamp into the Cookhouse restaurant and commercial kitchens.

Delilah Deli, Nottingham Located in a grand three-storey Victorian former bank, this city centre deli is packed to the rafters with goodies, from self-serve olive

oils and cheeses from around the world to honey, chutneys, meats and even wine made in the East Midlands. At the heart of the experience is its deli bar, where customers can soak up the ambience whilst sipping a coffee, or tucking into a lunchtime deli platter served by attentive staff, who have been taught by example by owner Sangita Tryner.

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CHEESE COUNTER OF THE YEAR Andy Swinscoe achieved a clean sweep of the cheesemongers’ awards in 2013

Master of all he purveys 28


This year saw the third instalment of Le Gruyére AOP’s dual search for Britain’s best cheese counter and best cheesemonger. Both of 2013’s competitions, which now take place under a new Big Cheese Challenge banner, produced the same new champion. Lead judge PATRICK McGUIGAN spoke to all of the finalists.

WINNER The Courtyard Dairy Settle, North Yorkshire


t only opened a year ago, so it was something of a shock result when The Courtyard Dairy won the Cheese Counter of the Year title at the World Cheese Awards on November 27. Part of the Big Cheese Challenge, sponsored by Le Gruyère AOP, the award was contested by some heavy hitters of the fine food world, including last year’s winner Paxton & Whitfield, which has been in business for more than 200 years. A day later, The Courtyard’s owner Andy Swinscoe made it a clean sweep by winning the Cheesemonger of the Year contest after taking on four of the country’s best retail specialists in a series of cheesey skill and knowledge tests in front of the public. As debuts go, it was one to remember, but just how did a tiny shop hidden away in the Yorkshire Dales come from nowhere to take both Big Cheese Challenge titles? Part of the explanation is that, although the shop is new, Andy Swinscoe is a relatively oldhand at the cheese game. After graduating from Sheffield Hallam University with a first in Culinary Arts and Hospitality, he worked briefly for Paxton & Whitfield and then completed a six-month apprenticeship at affineur Hervé Mons in France. There he learned the dark arts of cheese maturing in the company’s caves and would visit cheese producers at the weekend. A stint at the Fine Cheese Co followed, combined with regular visits to British dairies to make cheese with some of country’s best producers. Andy’s wife Kathy, who runs the shop with him, is just as passionate about food, having worked in fine dining in Edinburgh and the wine trade in Bath, as well as visiting cheese-makers herself. Not bad for a couple that have yet to hit their 30th birthdays. Part of a retail and dining destination just outside Settle, The Courtyard Dairy is housed in a tiny but beautiful converted stone farm building. Most retailers would struggle with the space



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CHEESE COUNTER OF THE YEAR – there’s barely room to swing a salami, only one small window and the walls are two-feet thick. But these are actually positives for a cheese shop, making it much easier to control humidity and temperature, turning the space into a de facto maturing cave. The lack of room has seen the shop hone its range to just 30 cheeses, which means stock is turned over quickly and the product is sold in excellent condition. “Our ethos is to sell only the best cheeses from British and Continental farmhouse cheesemakers,” says Andy Swinscoe. “We want to champion and support people who are making cheese by hand with unpasteurised milk from their own herds. There aren’t many of them left.” Cheese is displayed in eyecatching piles directly on top of the counter, thanks to an airconditioning system that controls the temperature and humidity of the entire shop. The majority are British and include classics such as Kirkham’s Lancashire, Beenleigh Blue and Sparkenhoe Red Leicester, but there are lesser-known cheeses such as newly launched Little Anne and Baron Bigod, and hard-tofind Federia (a hard cows’ milk cheese from Cheshire). Swinscoe manages to get hold of these products because he has such good relationships with cheese-makers. “Pretty much every producer I stock I’ve visited and made cheese with,” says Swinscoe. “That includes French cheeses like Tarentaise: a goats’ cheese made high up on Mont Blanc. I spent time up there when I was with Mons. It’s one of the most beautiful places on earth.” Pictures of the cheese-makers, taken by Andy on his visits, adorn the wall next to a map of British cheeses, while there is further information in framed ‘local hero’ profiles and on handwritten blackboards. Given such a small range in store, The Courtyard Dairy is able to buy whole cheeses directly from farmers, which are matured in the shop. Swinscoe visits Kirkham’s every few months to choose specific cheeses, while Hafod cheddar is bought at 11 months, but matured for another three. “We think it tastes better at 14 months,” he says. Continentals, supplied by Mons, include Gruyère du Jura, Bleu des Causses and Langres, and there is a superb range of Italian charcuterie from eighth-generation Tuscan producer Falorni. Add in extras like Rosebud Preserves, local water crackers and smart cheese boards, plus a growing online and wedding cakes business, and you have pretty much everything you could want from a cheese shop. Maybe this year’s Big Cheese Challenge winner wasn’t such a surprise after all.

SECOND PLACE Paxton and Whitfield, Jermyn Street, London


ast year’s winner may have been pipped at the post for the top title, but it is still undoubtedly one of the great cheese shops of Britain. Over 200 years old, the Jermyn Street store has gone from strength to strength since its sympathetic refurb in 2011. Stocking around 150 cheeses, displayed in dramatic towers on the open counter, the shop has

increased the number of tasting evenings it holds, with recent events such as matching cheese with beer and whisky proving particularly successful. New products include Pablo Cabrito goats’ cheese from Brock

Hall Farm, which producer Sarah Hampton dusts in fennel pollen exclusively for Paxtons, while Baronet (a Reblochon-style cheese made in Wiltshire) and Fearn Abbey ewes’ milk cheese from Highland Fine Cheeses are also recent additions that are selling well. A different cheese producer visits the shop each weekend to run tastings with customers, but they also train staff in how their cheeses are made and what makes them so special. “We’ve had Stacey Hedges from Tunworth and Graham Kirkham from Kirkham’s Lancashire recently,” says store manager Hero Hirsh. “They chat with staff and do private tastings for them so they really know about the cheese they are selling. It really enthuses everyone.” This also feeds into the company’s structured training programme, which sees employees visit producers to make cheese themselves. This knowledge is then shared with other members of staff on their return.

B es t o f t h e r es t

Arcadia Deli, Belfast This family deli has been trading since 1933 and the cheese counter remains the engine of the shop. Irish cheese is naturally well represented, with farmhouse classics such as Gubbeen and Coolea from south of the border and a comprehensive range from Northern Ireland’s up-andcoming cheese sector, including Leggygowan and Kearney Blue. There’s a pleasing Aladdin’s Cave approach to display with around 100 different cheeses closely stacked together and clearly marked in terms of origin and price. The knowledgeable staff are happy to explain the rest to customers.

Arch House Deli, Bristol A well-considered range of mainly British cheeses look stunning against a contrasting backdrop of grey slate on the counter at this Bristol deli. Owners David and Debbie Greenwood do a good job of covering all bases with British territorials, such as Gorwydd Caerphilly and Charles Martell Single Gloucester, and classic Continentals, from Monte Enebro to Fourme d’Ambert. The shop gets through surprisingly high volumes of cheese thanks to a thriving cheese wedding cake business, popular takeaway counter and regular tastings, which means the product on the counter is always in excellent condition.



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CHEESE COUNTER OF THE YEAR THIRD PLACE The Cheese Plate, Buntingford, Herts


oby Archer’s high street shop is a Mecca for lovers of Continental cheese with a stunning range of products from France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, Spain and even Belgium, as well as a good selection of British classics. The beautifully presented counter is unusual in that it is split into three different temperaturecontrolled sections, which are open to customers. Slate covers can be slid across the sections to turn the counter into a table for the shop’s popular tasting nights. Archer, who previously worked in the plastic injection moulding

industry for 25 years, is a natural behind the counter, engaging with customers and getting them to taste products for themselves. That’s important because there are some quirky cheeses in the range, such as Rossini – an Italian cheese matured in wine pressings, the Belgian Gouda-style cheese Brugge Vieux Prestige and Mürgu, a Swiss, stacked blue. “You have to get people to taste the cheese, introduce it to people and then it sells itself,” says Archer.

The Cheese Society, Lincoln There have been some big changes at last year’s runner-up, with a new shop on the Strait in the heart of Lincoln, which has allowed owner Kate O’Meara to expand the cheese café at the original premises. The new retail outlet features a slightly smaller range but does now include an upright chiller display with grab-and-go cheeses. The monthly cheese club remains hugely popular and O’Meara is still passionate about searching out new cheeses, such as Bermondsey Hard Pressed.

Gonalston Farm Shop, Nottingham The cheese counter at this award-winning farm shop near Nottingham achieves a nice balance between local, British and Continental cheeses at different price points. Neil Chambers, who manages the counter, buys directly from suppliers including Lincolnshire Poacher, Goatwood and Colston Bassett, which helps keep prices affordable. He is also a strong believer in getting customers to try before they buy. “Our default question is ‘Would you like to taste?’” he says.

explaining the difference between unpasteurised and pasteurised cheese, and fondue kits that can be hired for free. The counters hold around 150 cheeses with Stilton and West Country cheddars sourced directly from producers. Cheesemakers also visit regularly for ‘meet the producer’ events.

Delifonseca Dockside, Liverpool The cheese counter is the heartbeat of this impressive food hall and restaurant on Liverpool’s famous docks. Manager Lavinia Cooke and her team have eclectic tastes, stocking everything from Wensleydale with cranberries to smoked scamorza and raw milk Feta bought directly from a producer in Greece. “Customers now trust our judgement so they’re willing to try new products,” she says. The cheeses are also highlighted on the restaurant menu, particularly on the cheese board, while the store is keen to host cheese-makers for tasting evenings.

Umami, Wantage, Oxfordshire The counter at this stylish and contemporary deli in Wantage has grown rapidly since the shop opened in 2011, with around 50 cheeses to choose from today. There’s a good balance between British and Continental varieties with some excellent Spanish products from Brindisa, including lesser-known ‘quesos’ such as La Retorta (a sheep’s milk cheese) and the blue Picón Bejes-Tresviso. Owners Michael Dale and Annette Holliday regularly run cheese-tasting events and the shop has an excellent range of accompaniments, including Spanish fig cake and sun-dried Muscatel grapes.

B e s t o f the re s t Cheddar Deli, Ealing, West London If only every local neighbourhood had a cheese shop like Cheddar Deli, the world would be a better place. Run by former cheese wholesaler Brent Wilkinson, the shop has lots of nice touches, including a customer comments book, signs



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Roll of honour G R E AT TA S T E

2013 Supreme Champion and Best Speciality from the Midlands & East Anglia Greek-style yoghurt Marybelle Dairy


hortly after Katherine Manning lifted the Supreme Champion trophy at last September’s Great Taste dinner, she received a friendly warning from the boss of 2012 winner Hannan Meats. “Peter Hannan put his arm round my shoulders – he’s a big bear of a man – and said, ‘Darlin’, are you prepared for the tsunami that’s coming up your drive?’” In fact, says Manning – as diminutive as Hannan is bear-like, but matching him ounce for ounce in charm – it has been “more of a snowball than a tsunami”. Her family’s business, Marybelle Dairy, based on a small Suffolk farm and selling only within East Anglia, was in no position take on a flood of national orders for its champion Greek-style natural yoghurt. “We just didn’t have the distribution,” says Manning. But a few months on, the snowball is starting to roll. Marybelle is edging into the East Midlands and London with help from fresh produce wholesalers such as Barsby in Kings Lynn and Essexbased Anglia Produce. Sales are up more than 25% overall this year,


while demand for the champion yoghurt – a product of “creamy, silky deliciousness” according to Telegraph food writer and Great Taste supreme judging panelist Xanthe Clay – has risen 80%. “Give us another six months and we’ll be ready to take on that tsunami,” says Manning. The dairy, which also produces fresh milk for the East Anglian market, has moved from threedays-a-week production to five. And with yoghurt sales doubling it has invested in smart new foil lids to speed up the packaging


process. “We’re well over 10,000 units a year now, so the guys in the dairy are glad they haven’t got to hand-label the tops any more!” Marybelle was set up by the Strachan family (Manning is Katherine’’s married name) a decade ago. It was a last-ditch attempt to secure the future of an idyllic, centuries-old farm driven to the brink by low milk margins. They started adding value simply by

bottling milk for retail, then moved into yoghurts and crème fraiche. This was no instant financial fix – after borrowing heavily to set up their processing unit the family still came perilously close to losing the farm a few years ago. But Marybelle is now “making good ground”. “We feel we’re on the right footing to take things a step forward,” says Manning, a former IBM marketeer who joined the family business after her first child was born. She and her brother James Strachan run the dairy day-to-day, but the initial impetus for Marybelle came from their father David and mother Collette, who made the first yoghurts in her kitchen, stirring in her own home-made jams. Manning describes her father as “the vision man”, while James, who runs the farm and its small, prize herd of 75 milking cows, excels at the detail. “That’s what makes them a good team,” she says, adding: “I don’t know of many family businesses where they all get on as well together. We all have something different to put into the business, and we all still have a laugh.” Collette Strachan provides “major support” as grandmother to Katherine’s child, but also runs a B&B to help maintain the family’s 17th century farmhouse and administers the farm’s cattle passports. David Strachan still works a full day too, handling orders for the dairy morning and night, and feeding the calves in between.


Looking for the best-tasting food & drink in the UK today? Here's our annual pick of the winners from leading national and regional fine food award schemes, starting at the top with Great Taste 2013.

Marybelle’s latest venture is quite a departure: a range of dairy-free yoghurts, processed under contract for free-from brand Bessant & Drury. “It’s a product James and I developed together,” says Manning. “Bessant & Drury have won a lot of awards for their ice cream, and they will definitely win awards for their yoghurt too. When Xanthe visited us she couldn’t get enough of it!” Whether it’s a potential Great Taste champion is another matter, but Manning plans to enter Marybelle’s natural yoghurt in 2014 “to see how we do”, and adds: “I think in 2014 you’ll see a lot more small dairy producers in Great Taste for the first time. We’ve shown anyone can win if they have the right quality.”

Best Speciality from the South West 28-day dry-aged cote de boeuf

Best Speciality from London & the South East Acacia honey, rosemary & orange zest gelato

Martins Meats

La Gelateria

Best Welsh Speciality Ginger & fennel truffle Fredericks Chocolaterie

Best Imported Speciality Virgin pistachio oil

Best Speciality from the North of England Banana Habanero


Mr Vikki’s

Best Irish Speciality Medium dry cider

Best Speciality from Northern Ireland Salt-aged rack of Glenarm Shorthorn

Stonewell Cider

Hannan Meats

Speciality Producer of the Year More? The Artisan Bakery

Ambient Product of the Year Sea salted caramel with fennel pollen En Place Foods UK

Deli & Farm Shop Signature Dish Braised Irish Beef Cheek & Smoked Potato Pie Yellow Door Deli

Small Artisan Producer of the Year Corleggy Cheeses

Best Speciality from Scotland and Nigel Barden Heritage Award Stornoway water biscuits with Hebridean seaweed Stag Bakeries

Woman & Home Great Taste VIP Lynher Dairies Charcuterie Product of the Year Green pepper venison salami Great Glen Game

Guild of Fine Food Lifetime Achievement Bob and Linda Farrand



You can’t get better than a jar of ‘Kitchen Garden’ in the cupboard ...jams, chutneys and marmalades made to the highest standards... you would think that they were homemade. Their delicious pots are a fine way to start the day on toast, or to accompany cheeses and hams for supper Thomasina Miers Winner of Masterchef (2005), writer, broadcaster and restaurateur

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I had the Berry Pot porridge this morning. I normally have a sachet of other brand porridge and never feel full after, often having a yoghurt or something else. After yours and a coffee I am full.”

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Best of Sweet Preserves Blood orange marmalade The Artisan Kitchen www.

Champion Product 2013 and Best of Cured Meat Guanciale Capreolus Fine Foods

Carol Trewin South West Producer of the Year The Watercress Company

World Champion Montagnolo Affiné Kaserei Champignon / Elite Imports

Best of Confectionery Strawberry & balsamic fudge The Wonky Kitchen

Best Fish Product Manuka smoked salmon paté


Mike’s Smokehouse

Best of Dairy Whey butter

Best of Ready Meals, Soups & Light Eats Pork rillette

Keen’s Cheddar

Cornish Charcuterie


Best of Savoury Preserves Apple mint with cider jelly Highfield Preserves

Best of Wines, Spirits & Liqueurs Pure milk vodka

Desserts and overall TASTE winner Raspberry sorbet Rowlestone Farmhouse Ice Cream

Black Cow

Alcoholic Drinks Christmas Cracker

The Wood Brewery

Best of Beer Single Brew Reserve Sharp’s Brewery

Bakery and Confectionery Saffron truffle

Louis Barnett Chocolates

Best of Cider Somerset Dabinett Cider Perry’s Cider

Scrummy Stuff

Best Packaging Cave Aged Chutney

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The Watercress Company

Best of Cheese Cremet Sharpham Partnership

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Best South West Specialist Retailer/Deli Blue Quails Deli

Best South West Farm Shop The Udder Farm Shop

Filbert’s Fine Foods

Marshfield Farm Ice Cream

Prepared Meats Beef & ale pie Creating Taste www. and

Shropshire Coppa Forest Pig Charcuterie www.forestpig. com

White truffle oil Cotswold Gold

Soft Drinks White grape & elderflower

Dairy Live natural Cheshire yoghurt

Story Brands

Tiresford Guernsey Gold



WORLD’S ORIGINAL M A R M A L A D E AWA R D S Double Gold Lemon marmalade Nase Dobroty





Best of Sauces & Accompaniments Moroccan spiced almonds

Best of Ice Cream & Sorbets Blackcurrants in clotted cream ice cream

The Sauce Queen


Hillside Speciality Foods

Best New Product 2013 Fresh wasabi

Condiments and Preserves Damson chutney

Prepared Foods Proper Porcini mushroom sauce



Supreme Champion Tunworth Hampshire Cheeses




H I G H L A N D S & I S L A N D S F O O D & D R I N K AWA R D S

Supreme Product and Best Bakery Seriously Good Yorkshire Parkin

Best Drink Award Vodka and gin infusions

Environment Award Island Bakery Organics

Berry Good

Healthier Food And Drink Award Easy To Cook range

Lottie Shaw’s

Best Prepared Meat Yorkshire chorizo

Excellence Award Gigha Seafood

British Premium Sausage Company


New Product Award Smoked Gigha halibut

Independent Food And Drink Retailer Of The Year Award 40 North

Gigha Seafood

Best Fish Hot smoked trout Staal Smokehouse


Best Drink Sloe whiskey



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Best Savoury Condiment Raspberry & apple balsamic vinegar

New Business Award and Soup, Preserves & Accompaniments Hebridean Sea Salt

Dairy Arran’s Cheese Shop mustard cheddar


Hebridean Sea Salt

Taste of Arran


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Best Sweet Preserve Blackcurrant conserve Mercers of Yorkshire

Best Confectionery Sea buckthorn truffle Sciolti Chocolates

Best Dairy Toffee & cherry ice cream

Fish & Seafood Hot smoked trout paté with horseradish & dill The Smokehouse

Yummy Yorkshire

Iain Burnett - The Highland Chocolatier

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Best Ready to Eat Sweet cured ham & pickle crisps

Best New Retail Product Award for businesses with up to 25 employees Ola Aioli

Confectionery & Snacking Velvet truffles and spiced pralines

Ola Oils

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Yorkshire Crisps

Bakery & Cereal-Based Product Mary Steele Speciality Biscuits

Dean’s of Huntly

Drink - Alcoholic & NonAlcoholic Dark Island Reserve

Best New Foodservice Product Award for businesses with up to 25 employees 500ml rapeseed oil range Mackintosh of Glendaveny www.mackintoshofglendaveny.

The Orkney Brewery www.sinclairbreweries.

Packaging Award Mary Steele Speciality Biscuits Dean’s of Huntly

Best New Product Dairy-free frozen dessert range Jollyum

Best New Business Nibnibs

Best Independent Retailer Drewton’s


Katy Rodger’s Artisan Dairy

Local Food Hero Andrew Voakes, Voakes Pies


Foodservice Product of the Year Scottish Breakfast yogurt creamery

Meat - Red, White & Game Dry-cured smoked wild Scottish venison Rannoch Smokery

Healthy Eating Pulsetta rolls

Supreme Champion Claxstone smooth blue

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M U S T- S T O C K S

Most wanted

Here are the products that this year’s FFD Delis of the Month couldn’t live without

Butchers hall Forest Green, Surrey Wright & Co brandy snaps Jude’s salted caramel ice cream Stokes Bloody Mary ketchup Toast for Cheese (Fine Cheese Co) Paynes Farm comb honey Rudgwick Cider Society cider Womersley strawberry and raspberry & mint vinegars Dartford Wobbler beer (Millis Brewing Co) Norbury Blue cheese Coffee Real coffee Kohoh Chocolate – Himalayan pink sea salt Weald Smokery hot roast salmon Barkham Blue cheese Etherley Poultry chicken, turkey and duck

P ERSE P O L I S Peckham, London Persepolis saffron Persepolis dried limes Persepolis rose petals Persepolis sumac Persepolis barberries (all available wholesale from Persepolis) Kambiz pomegranate molasses 1&1 verjuice Sara preserved lemons Al Rabih rose water

ASH B URT O N D EL I Ashburton, Devon Rowcliffe smoked anchovies Red Earth Deli caramelised onion & apricot sausage roll Exploding Bakery brownies Hobbs House almond croissants Riverford yoghurt Fiona Sciolti botanical chocolates Fine Country Lifestyle air-dried coppa Ditchetts ham hock terrine Eat 17 bacon jam Owens of Modbury Fairtrade coffee Cranberry baklava Blue Bay cheese (made by Ticklemore for Country Cheeses) Deli Farm Charcuterie fennel & star anise salami

THE DELI DOWNSTAIRS Hackney, London London Borough of Jam range Gruyère Vieux (Käseswiss) Tomme crayeuse (Hervé Mons) Neal’s Yard Dairy goats’ curd Parmesan and Carne Salata Malenca (The Ham and Cheese Co.) Burrata (Bianca la Bufala) Eat My Pies chicken & ham pie Tom’s Pies range Climpson & Sons coffee Beer from The Kernel, Crate and London Fields breweries Odysea hummus Flour Station bread Fresh Olive Company pesto and noccellara olives Mediteria cooking chorizo

S O URCE D M AR K ET St Pancras Station, London The Kernel Brewery IPA and pale ale Villa Teresa Prosecco Handmade Scotch Egg Co classic and Black Watch (black pudding) Scotch eggs Monmouth espresso beans and ground coffee Adam & Harlow pork pies Cinnamon Tree Bakery’s Tweet Tweet cookies Serious Pig snacking salami Wildes Cheese No 4 (‘The Londonshire’) Flour Power City Hoxton rye loaf The Flour Station Tortano crown loaf Dalston Cola Cannon & Cannon British salamis Ginger’s Kitchen salads

TH Y M E & T I D ES Stockbridge, Hampshire Thyme & Tides crostinis & dips Granny Marmalade range Easy Bean gluten-free flatbreads Ballancourt patés Hennart 14-month old Comté Roar porridge pots Portlebay popcorn Jose Gourmet Portuguese oils Utta Nutta peanut butter Brindisa cooking chorizo

T h e REAL F O O D S t o r e Exeter Riverford Organic vine tomatoes and peppers Vulscombe goats’ cheese Shute Fruit jams The Free Range Farmer pork sausage Hillside Speciality Foods red onion & thyme marmalade South Devon Chilli Farm chilli chocolate Otter Brewery’s Otter Bright beer Exeter Brewery’s Avocet Ale Sandford Orchards’ Devon Red ‘proper cider’ Devon Cottage organic clotted cream fudge Chunk Pies homity pie Clive’s Pies lentil & olive pie Luscombe Sicilian lemonade Sandford Orchard apple juice Tried & Tasted kalamata olives Origin coffee Mike’s Smokehouse Manuka salmon paté

B O D N A N T W ELSH F O O D near Lllandudno Patchwork chicken liver paté with Welsh cider Baravelli’s confectionery Anglesey apple juice Pant Glas Bach lemon & lime curd Geotre Farm mini chutney gift towers Halen Mon sea salt Great Orme brewery Welsh Black and Merlyn Conwy Brewery Clogwyn Gold and Honey Fayre Cilmeityn Farm goats’ cheese Bodnant Aberwen cheese Snowdonia Black Bomber cheddar The Pudding Compartment frozen desserts Anne’s Patisserie frozen desserts

SAW ERS Belfast Belazu balsamic pearls Suki Tea Belfast Brew Our Daily Bread wheaten bread mix De Cecco fusilli, lunghi bucati and bucatini Edinburgh Preserves venison paté gift box Don Antonio sugo alla marinara pasta sauce Erin Grove hot chilli jam Turkish Delight (Med Foods) O’Doherty’s black bacon Jamones Blazquez pre-sliced Jamon Bellota Chocolate Cannolis (Sicilian Fine Foods) Délice de Bourgogne cheese (Rowcliffe) San Nicasio potato crisps

The BETTER FOOD CO Bristol Hobbs House organic sourdough rye bread The Better Food Co pea & mint houmous Clive’s Bakery gluten-free almond slice The Community Farm Swiss chard South Gloucestershire honey (Jekka’s Herb Farm) Godminster cheddar The Story Group organic chicken Pukka three mint tea Stroud Brewery organic beer CoYo coconut yogurt with mixed berries Dr Hauschka rose day cream



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Tipped for greatness

Every month Fine Food Digest highlights one new product or range selected by editor MICK WHITWORTH. Here’s a recap of his picks during 2013.

March The Black Dog Delicatessen range Lefktro

Mick said: “The Black Dog branding wowed us instantly. It’s as non-Mediterranean as you can get and that’s one reason the whole package works: a thoroughly modern-British look for a very unBritish range.”

J a n u a r yFebruary Pork rillette Cornish Charcuterie

J u ly Wolfy’s Howlin’ Good Porridge pots Kitchen Garden Foods

Mick said: “Here’s an unexpected departure by Barbara and Robin Moinet of jam and chutney maker Kitchen Garden Foods. Admittedly, there are already some good quality porridge pots out there but the combo of oats with Kitchen Garden’s own preserves is inspired.”


Mick said: “It’s a cracking artisan rillette made from the producer’s own Cornish Lop pork. You might not have seen this brand unless you were at Exeter’s The Source show or shop at Stein’s Deli in Padstow.”

Seaweed water biscuits Stag Bakeries

Mick said: “Seaweed has been getting trendier for several years but the challenge has been to present it in a way that doesn’t frighten the horses. Incorporating Isle of Lewis seaweed in water biscuits from the same beautiful spot seems like an eminently good idea, and I do like the new packaging they’ve come up with.”

September Sliced salami MAP packs Suffolk Salami


Mick said: “While many producers are wondering how they can afford to move their sliced meats out of vac-packs (which are far from ideal for thin-sliced lines) and into the better presentation of modified atmosphere packs, Suffolk Salami has just gone ahead and made the switch.”

Natural Cyprus sea salt flakes Falksalt

Mick said:“Falksalt combines a suitably ‘speciality’ looking package with enough variants (chilli, rosemary, wild garlic, etc) to let delis offer a good-looking range on-shelf. At an RRP of £2.99 for 125g it will probably go mainstream soon, so grab some while it’s still a novelty.”

M ay Gluten-free cranberry & pecan flapjack Honeybuns

October June Olive & tomato relish Terra Rossa

Mick said: “Honeybuns has now stripped the last traces of gluten from its entire range. I can’t remember what its cranberry & pecan flapjacks tasted like before, but deglutenising (made-up word-alert) sure as hell didn’t do any harm. Moistly sticky with just the right amount of pecan crunch, they tasted freshly made and brought the requisite smile to my face.”

Mick said: “With all Terra Rossa’s usual Middle Eastern herbs and spices, this is much more complex than the name implies. Get some in quickly in case someone magics up a barbecue season.”

House-blend milk chocolate bar with tonka bean Coco Pzazz


British-grown dried peas and beans Hodmedod’s

Mick said: “I’m a sucker for next-tothe-till impulse gifts, but they're often a triumph of style over substance. Not this range of 80g bars, which are surely worth well over their suggested £3 RRP.”

Mick said: “If you spend as much time in the veg seed section of garden centres as I do (showing my age again) you’ll know why these impressed me when they arrived at Guild HQ. I wasn’t immediately sure whether to eat them or plant them, which I reckon is part of the fun. Should be a winner.”



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From the home of fish

Deli cio

EST INGREDIEN TS HE FIN us fishc akes USING T The Chapman Family have been involved in the seafish industry in Grimsby for over fifty years.


Over which time they have amassed invaluable knowledge especially with regards to recognizing and sourcing the best fish available.





Like many Grimsby housewives, the late Mavis Chapman had her own recipe for fishcakes using the fish that husband Terry would fetch from work.




Now, her sons Kevin and Paul have taken this recipe to produce a traditional fishcake, and using their mum’s principal of incorporating only the finest ingredients, they manufacture a range of fishcakes. Based in Grimsby, Lincolnshire, Kevin and Paul have the pick of the fish from local producers and the pick of the crop of Maris Piper potatoes from local growers.




telephone 01472 269871


2014: Year of the…?


2013 was the year seaweed rose to the fore, hamburgers became a cultlike totem of the hipster class and baking arguably became one of the nation’s favourite pastimes. So what, then, for 2014? NICK BAINES asked those in the know: bloggers, food writers, producers and retailers. Hero Hirsh Manager, Paxton & Whitfield, London @paxtonscheese

“Two things that I think will be ‘in vogue’ for 2014 are more interesting flavoured cheeses from artisan producers and also more unusual condiments to enjoy with them. “Sarah Hampton’s Fennel Log (pictured) for example is a goats’ cheese rolled in wild fennel pollen, which has been popular with chefs. Condiments like chestnut paste will also be more commonly seen.”

MiMi Aye Burmese food writer and author of NOODLE! out in May @meemalee

“2014 will be the year of the yuzu: a sweet, aromatic Japanese citrus which works well in both sweet and savoury. Yuzu’s been around for a while, but only in Japanese supermarkets and restaurants “Now you can get yuzu juice in Waitrose, it’s cropping up on menus everywhere, and you can even buy yuzucello. Yuzu juice appears in my book in a salad dressing and a noodle broth – it really makes a dish sing and kicks it up a notch.”

Sean Cannon Cannon & Cannon Deli

Richard Johnson British Street Food Awards @richardjohnsonx

“We will see a lot more street food in 2014. And not just in the big cities: smart vans will start to do the rounds, bringing wood-fired pizza and wokfried noodles to Britain’s villages and small towns. That’s why we started the British Street Food app. It’s the easiest way to keep up with who is serving what and where. Kimchi [Korean fermented food] was big in 2013, but we haven’t seen the full extent of pickling craziness that’s going to happen in 2014.”

“On the Continent, each region has its own proudly guarded culinary traditions and speciality ingredients and I think we are moving more and more that way. “The success of British cheese is testament to that, with customers often asking for a cheese from their home county or region. The growth of British charcuterie also, with wild cobnut salami from Kent and red deer chorizo from Fort William being products that can only be produced from local ingredients. “For me, I think 2014 will be the year of the forager. I love the idea of getting out and about and finding good ingredients growing wild. You cannot get more local than that; and us Brits do love a freebie!”

Hotel Chocolat



Katy Truss @katytruss

“There’ll be more to choose from in terms of high quality everyday items like salt, spices, chocolate, tea and coffee as consumer demand to know the provenance, variety and processing methods increases. “For example, British bean-to-bar chocolatiers are on the increase. Bean variety, country or estate of origin and production methods will reward foodies with kudos as they share with friends after dinner, or more likely, over Twitter!” FINE FOOD DIGEST BEST BRANDS 2013-14


Spreading crumbs of happiness for 30 years Our quest to fulfil our potential and that of the humble biscuit has gone on for three decades now. From our little corner of Lanark, we wanted to say a huge thank you to all the independent retailers who have helped us on that journey. We couldn’t have done it without you.

Charlotte Brown’s Handmade

Artisan Preserves and Relishes

Passionate about Preserving What is it that makes Charlotte Brown’s products so good? Charlotte would say that fresh, high-quality ingredients, mastery of traditional methods and great attention to detail are what make the difference. Her growing band of devoted return customers rate her PiCCalilli, rasPBerry Conserve, Chilli Jam and other delicious treats outstanding. One described them as “life-changing”!

With 32 biscuits in the range, we continue to say to people ‘why have a boring biscuit, when you can have a Border biscuit?’

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Tel 02380 671047 / 07826 835127

Award Winning, Premium Quality, Natural Fruit Syrups

Amazing versatile ingredients with a really fresh fruit flavour and a surprising natural acidity

Anila’s Authentic, Natural and Great Tasting Sauces & Accompaniments Free From Added Sugar, Dairy, Gluten, Onion, Garlic, Colouring & Preservatives

Drizzled over pancakes, porridge, waffles, ice cream, yoghurt, used in cake batter or icing, soufflés, marinades, makes great ice cream, an excellent drink ingredient too for cocktails or for use like a cordial and excellent in milkshakes. 0845 474 2027 info@ P O Box 407, Walton-on-Thames KT12 3WS



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THINGS TO COME Danny Kingston Food writer and blogger

James Ramsden Food Writer and author of Do Ahead Dinners

www.foodurchin. @foodurchin

“Such is the plethora of spirit producers in this country now, I would say that we were in danger of heading back to the old days of Hogarth and Gin Lane. But it’s interesting to see that some distilleries are diversifying and experimenting further. Southwestern Distillery is a case in point. Taking a French classic and giving it a contemporary twist, they have started to produce their very own Cornish Pastis (get it?) and I expect more and more home-grown producers will start to do the same.”


“After the long-term dominance of couscous, and the more recent rise of quinoa, there’s room for a new grain in the mix. My money’s on buckwheat. It’s not actually a grain, or for that matter a wheat, but it does both jobs, keeping the health food crowd happy, the gluten-free crowd happy, and no doubt the ‘superfood’ peddling supermarkets happy. Good stuff all round.”

Stefano Cuomo Owner, Macknade Fine Foods @macknade

“The most important change we are beginning to see is in how people are spending. Coming out of the five -year dip, people want the best return on the money they spend. I think we’re going to see a lot more interest in regional Italian cheeses and also indigenous German products like frankfurters and mustards.”

The best blog… chosen by the best blogger

“Margaret O’Farrell writes an evocative blog on her North Tipperary farm in Ireland, where she and her husband rear British Saddleback pigs and teach pigkeeping courses. “On the blog – A Year in Redwood – you can read about the happenings on the farm, what the animals get up to, and you can also find a fair number of recipes. “As an outsider to farming, it’s an interesting read. “For the farmer it’s often a great source of information on dealing with those annoying little things like

certificates and even tackling where the right-hand rubber gloves always disappear to. “As a customer it’s a pleasure to see how well the animals are treated and to read about the farmers’ enthusiasm. This alone adds flavour to the pork, sold from their website and farm gate. “Not only does Margaret blog about her own experiences on the pig farm, she is also on hand to advise others on their projects and gives lectures on social media for small business owners. “She and her husband have also

Who to read online in 2014? We asked our favourite ‘50s-style blogger, REGULA YSEWIJN, aka Miss Foodwise (left), who chooses rural charm over urban chatter achieved an important milestone in free-range pig husbandry. A few years ago they asked themselves why was there no ‘label’ for free-range pork, and set out to investigate. Unfortunately, as individual farmers, they had some difficulties getting answers from Bord Bia, the Irish Food Board, so they teamed up with 20 others to start the Irish Free Range Association to find out how to get a ‘free-range label’ for their pork. “After two years of travelling back and forth to Dublin to meet with Bord Bia’s Pig Meat Board, a framework was agreed as to what the definition of ‘free-range pork’ should be. “The couple continue to advocate non-GMO naturally raised pork, and the blog is a perfect place to keep up with their endeavour.” • Regula Ysewijn is a Belgian photographer and graphic designer whose Miss Foodwise blog reflects her passion for British food and culture. Jamie Oliver name-checked her in te Sunday Times as his favourite food blogger.



 Winners of 9 Great Taste  Awards                                                                                     

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Discover La Bandiera Premium Olive Oil

Connoisseurs of olive oil will delight in tasting the exceptional extra virgin olive oil from La Bandiera. This delicious olive oil is produced in the traditional wine growing area of Bolgheri on the Tuscan coast – home of the Super Tuscan vineyards of Ornellaia and Sassicaia.

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The team at La Bandiera continues to use the traditional methods of selecting the best time to harvest the olives to ensure the acidity level is low thereby creating the perfect blend. The result is a smooth yet full-bodied olive oil, endorsed by the IGP in recognition of its quality and origin. Gold award winner in the 2013 New York International Olive Oil Competition, La Bandiera olive oil is available for delivery throughout the UK in sizes ranging from 250ml bottles up to 5 litre cans. Visit or call 0207 243 5150

Liven up lunch,

with a little crunch. Nothing sets off your lunch like the crunch of our thick cut, delicious, traditional British crisps. That’s why at Corkers we’ve grown our own variety of luscious potatoes in rich Fenland soil. Expertly sliced and sprinkled with a taste of England, they’re sure to add a kick & a crunch to any lunch. Call us today on 01353 699 000 or email:









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AOP, the sign of special products... A traditional cheese

Appellation d'origine protégée

The cheese of western Switzerland, with a delicate, distinguished flavour. Made since at least 1115 AD in and around the small town of Gruyères, today it is still produced by village cheese dairies in western Switzerland according to the traditional recipe. Le Gruyère AOP owes its characteristic delicacy and flavour to the top quality raw milk produced by cows fed on grass in the summer and hay in winter, coupled with the skill of the mastercheesemakers. No less than 400 litres of fresh milk are needed to produce a single wheel weighing around 35kg. During the slow maturation process, which takes several months in special cheese cellars, the wheels are turned regularly and rubbed down with saltywater. The maturing process lasts between five and 18 months.

Each cheese is systematically identified by the number of the mould and code of the cheese dairy. The day and month of production are also noted on the wheel. These black markings are made with casein, the cheese protein. No artificial additives are involved here either.

Le Gruyère AOP takes pride of place on any cheese platter. It makes for a delicious desert and can be used in tasty warm dishes. What’s more, no real fondue would be complete without genuine Gruyère AOP.

From this time on, the name ‘Gruyère AOP’ and the code of the production facility appears on the heel of each wheel of Gruyère AOP as an effective way of preventing fakes and guaranteeing authenticity. This technique employs branding irons, which give an indentation in the wheel. It is this marking that makes it possible to identify and trace each individual cheese.

The humidity and rind washing process develops the characteristic appearance of the cheese and assists in bringing the cheese into full maturity. This is what gives Le Gruyère AOP its famous, distinct flavour. It’s no great surprise that this authentic gift of nature is appreciated by cheeselovers throughout the world. Cheeses from Switzerland. Switzerland. Naturally. FINE FOOD DIGEST BEST BRANDS 2013-14