A well-recognised accolade that celebrates the best products on the market, Great Taste had a lot of entrants to wade through this year. The awards from the Guild of Fine Food examined a whopping 12,634 products, which were judged by chefs, food buyers, bakers and food writers. Of those products, 192 received a three-star rating, 1,207 nabbed two stars and 3,254 were given one star.
Food Spark highlights some winners of the Golden Fork – which are only given to 16 entries – as well as three-star products that are dipping into trends.
Having already noted how hot sauces are making people sweat with new innovations, and as retailers also look to expand their condiment ranges, it’s no surprise that the Brazilian chilli and coconut hot sauce from Capsicana in Hertfordshire was a Golden Fork winner.
Packed with frutescens chillies and coconut, it was described by the judges as “wonderfully fruity, tangy and complex” and “punchy with a good heat level and huge length,” making it a versatile ingredient for adding to meat, fish or vegetable-based dishes.
The spreads section is due a shake-up according to sweet hummus start-up Hou Loves Hou. Food producer Terra Rossa, which specialises in Arabian specialities, is taking up the challenge. It has drawn on another popular cuisine, Middle Eastern, to create its Golden Fork-winning spread called Baba’s Rashi & Dibis with Sesame Seeds.
It was described as a “genius blend” of tahini and molasses and had the judges going back for more as they “loved the crunchy bite from the seeds and the unctuous molasses.” The sweet halva-like spread was a “great marriage of sweet and savoury,” added the judges, and can be spread on toast or digestive biscuits, stirred through porridge, rice pudding or custard, or simply drizzled over bananas.
A mushroom salt from Ballyhoura Mountain Mushrooms was a 3-star winner. Made by extracting and concentrating the naturally present salts from mushrooms, the microfine powdered blend is a mix of shiitake, porcini and kombu seaweed. The company also makes mushroom ketchup and vinegar.
The rising interest in gut health has been fanning the flames of fermentation.
Winning 3-star products included the incredibly trendy raw, vegan and gluten-free Original Kimchi (Sesame) from The Urban Fermentery in Bethnal Green, which was applauded for its “superb texture, stunning aroma and well balanced heat.”
Then there were the fermented green Kampot peppercorns – an ingredient sourced from Cambodia that is a fave of Wahaca founder Thomasina Miers – made by Kadode Kampot Pepper UK, which is based in Lower Clapton. It impressed the Great Taste panel with its “heady floral aroma, intense building flavour and a great numbing heat on the tip of the tongue.”
New flavours and the increasing interest in pickling has put vinegar straight on the innovation train, as Food Spark has previously noted, and the winners reflect this trend.
A jammy and syrupy raspberry vinegar from Chipping Norton-based Womersley Fruit & Herb Vinegars received high praise for its versatility and “nice delicate natural raspberry flavour,” while a sushi ginger vinegar was also recognised from the Middlesex-based Vinegar Shed, which makes its condiment with white Pineau des Charentes (fortified wine), fresh and confit ginger, lime zest and fleur de sel (salt collected from surface of seawater).
Nuts for healthy snacking
Tiger nuts, baru nuts and activated nuts are just some of the nuts that we have previously highlighted – and, of course, pili nuts. Good thing we did as the top honour of Great Taste Supreme Champion was awarded to premium pili nuts with Ecuadorian cacao from Mount Mayon Brand, which is based in Olongapo City in the Philippines. The product also received the Golden Fork for Best Imported Food.
The Great Taste judges were “nuts about these nuts,” which “explode in the mouth with a fun mouthfeel and warm nut flavour”.
Wild harvested from the volcanic soil surrounding Mount Mayon, using a sustainable and environmentally friendly process that goes back thousands of years, these vitamin E and omega-rich pili nuts are pre-sprouted in purified mountain water before undergoing a 17-step slow-dry process to retain all the flavour and nutrients. Super-satiating and naturally high in fibre, protein and magnesium, these Ecuadorian cocoa-dusted pili nuts have an “ethereal texture,” “toasty cereal flavour” and “incredible creaminess,” making them a “stunning” and “moreish” healthy snack, according to the judges.
John Farrand, managing director of the Guild of Fine Food, added: “These pili nuts are a great example of the scope and diversity of food and drink available in the UK and Ireland today, demonstrating how fine food producers are evolving and experimenting to meet the changing tastes and dietary needs of consumers.
"Pili nuts are already very popular across Asia, and Mount Mayon Brand clearly sees the UK as a vibrant and growing market to enter, even with the uncertainties of Brexit, which is positive news for us all in food. We wish them every success in cracking the UK market and are certain that the Great Taste Supreme Champion gong will help grab the attention of retailers, buyers and distributors alike”.