One of the things about being an adult is that there aren’t quite so many events in life to get really excited about. Do you remember as a child being so excited about your birthday or Christmas that you can’t get to sleep the night before? Well, that was me the night before my first day as a judge at the Guild of Fine Food Great Taste Award. To be fair, my train to London was at silly o’clock in the morning and I was worried about missing it, but it was excitement too!
And the day itself didn’t disappoint. I think I was the only newbie on the day and my fellow judges were an eclectic mix of chefs, retailers, journalists, buyers, and tasters. Foodies one and all.
By one of those wonderful quirks of synchronicity, we tasted two Greek EVOOs to start the day off and this one from Crete was perfectly pleasant but not absolutely stand out.
During the course of the morning, our table of three judges worked our way through a lot of Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Sugar-Free, Vegan products. And I’m not against any of these products but we really did have a lot of them, not all very pleasant it has to be said. One of the things I love about the Great Taste Awards is that anyone can enter (indeed there are 12,772 entries this year from around the world) and, even if your product is not deemed worthy of a star, you get unbiased, constructive feedback from a range of judges all of whom want your product to taste delicious. The other ‘trend’ this year seems to be for honey and we tasted some that simply tasted of honey. But some of them, wow! All you needed was a spoon.
I found myself so immersed in the tasting/talking process that I realised I’d forgotten to take many photos but I’ll share three more with you. A bar of dairy-free chocolate so delicious that none of us wanted to pass it on to another set of judges!
An unusually shaped Rye bread that divided the room. We loved it but this went against several other judges so it was referred to more experienced tasters who over-ruled us. If this is your bread, keep making it, it’s gorgeous!
And the absolute star of the day, which also divided the room and caused some friendly, impassioned debate, this absolutely delicious Spanish salchichon with fat that melted on the lips and a combination of flavours that could turn even the most moderate of eaters into a glutton.
I haven’t told you about the fruit crisps – with the watermelon being light, crispy, fruity sweet and way too moreish; cheeses, granola, fruit teas, brownies, truffles infusions, sorbets, curry sauces, flavoured popcorn (which I really did not want to like and then nearly ended up in an unseemly fight for the last few pieces!).
No longer a newbie, I’m at the Guild of Fine Foods HQ later this week and will do my best to stop eating long enough to take more photos and share them with you. Look out for the 2019 results from 1st August at Great Taste where you can also see winners from previous years.
Don’t let all this food tasting distract you from the real gold though. The EVOO new harvests are beginning to appear on the shelves and it’s the perfect time to be trying something new or stocking up on an old favourite. Take a look at our own EVOO from Crete, produced by the fabulous Eirini at O-Olive
Until next time,