Image from the Guardian
The Observer newspaper Food Awards show how the range of foods available in the UK has changed; no longer a country of turnips and beer, the awards celebrate the ingenuity and dedication of producers involved in the British food business.
The categories dearest to our heart are food personality, best ethical contribution, best producer, best ethical restaurant and best independent food shop. The Food Personality of the Year is Jamie Oliver and how can anyone not agree. He's pioneering, revolutionary and a national treasure. And he's cooking for the G20 economic summit in April.
Image from Fife Diet
The Best Ethical Contribution is the Fife diet, launched by Mike and Karen Small. They asked Scottish people to eat mainly local food for a year. Think global, eat local is their slogan. With only 14 people participating originally, the number has grown to 600, with Scotland's First Minister eating Scottish-only food for a week. "It's a celebration of local goodness, not an exercise in self-denial." It's an inspiring model for all of us.
Best Independent Food Shop is the Rare Tea Company, selling loose whole-leaf teas. Beanies in Sheffield, a vegetarian and vegan grocer is a runner-up.
Image from Riverford Field Kitchen
Best Ethical Restaurant: the Riverford Field Kitchen in Devon. Runners up: Acorn House, Duke of Cambridge, both in London, Bordeaux Quay in Bristol, Govindas, a vegetarian restaurant in Swansea and Grassroots Cafe, an organic fairtrade cafe in Glasgow.
Image from Carroll's
Best producer is Carroll's Heritage Potatoes. The Carrolls used to supply supermarkets and then they realised that "I was putting all this work into growing varieties that I thought were rubbish and wasn't getting any pleasure out of it." He began growing heritage potatoes, including La Ratte, a french variety dating back to 1872, and Arran Victory that goes back to 1918. The reaction at farmers' markets and shops was instantly favourable and now they are growing 20 varieties.
Image from the Guardian
The Best Reader's Recipe: Spiced Pumpkin and Whiskey Bread Pudding. Sounds pretty wicked...
3 tbs whisky
3 tbs hot water
For the sauce:
100g muscovado sugar
1 tbs golden treacle
For the pudding:
1 whole egg and 3 egg yolks
100g caster sugar
250ml double cream
100g pumpkin, cubed and steamed then puréed
½ tsp ground cinnamon
a little grated fresh nutmeg
½ tsp ground ginger
1 vanilla pod, split and seeded
approximately ½ a stale white baguette, cut into cubes
Soak the raisins in the whisky and hot water until plump. You may want to do this overnight - entirely up to you. Drain and reserve the soaking juices.
Pre-heat the oven to 150°C/gas 2.
To make the sauce, heat the muscovado sugar, treacle and butter in a pan until melted, then pour equal measures into 6 buttered ramekins.
To make the pudding, in a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until pale. Pour in the cream, milk, purée, spices and vanilla pod along with the raisins and a little of the soaking juices and whisk until thoroughly combined.
Stir in the bread cubes and leave for 15 minutes to soak.
Place the ramekins in a deep baking tray and pour in boiling water until it comes halfway up the sides. Fill the ramekins with a few cubes of bread and the custard mixture.
Place on the middle shelf of the oven and cook for approximately 1 hour or until the custard has a slight wobble when shaken. If the top starts to colour too quickly, cover loosely with foil.
Remove from the oven and leave to rest for a few minutes. Then run a knife around and turn out onto a plate. Serve with crème fraîche, yoghurt or whipped cream.
David Hall, Tyne and Wear Observer Food Awards