Last Friday, my husband, Sam, and I visited the BBC Good Food Show London. The three-day event held in the iconic Olympia exhibition centre offers visitors the opportunity to meet artisan producers, get up close and personal with their favourite TV personalities and discover the latest food trends.
Sam and I went to the show for the first time last year and had a lovely day out. We discovered many producers, some of whom have found a place in my kitchen cupboard, such as Bim’s Kitchen with their African-inspired sauces; Arganic oil, whose rare argan oil gives a nutty taste to many of my dishes; and the Duke of Delhi with their unique range of Indo-Western snacks. The Duke of Delhi were back again this year with a new range of chocolates, of which the vanilla and cardamom bar was our favourite.
This year, we were lucky enough to be given press passes. We left super early to trek it down to the other end of London as I didn’t want to miss Paul Hollywood, Mary Berry and Michel Roux Jr open the show. We must have walked for over eight hours, trying to catch as many stalls as possible! My aching legs are only just recovering. Below is a summary of the show.
After a cup of coffee in the press room, Sam and I headed to the interview area to listen to Janet Street Porter talk about her time on Celebrity Masterchef, where she refused to conform to their way of presenting food and served a pheasant roadkill dish to the judges. She was just as entertaining and witty as she comes across on the tele.
We also managed to catch Michel Roux Jr at the interview theatre, talking about being a judge on Masterchef Professionals, convincing us that Monica is not as scary as she comes across on the TV and discussing kitchen disasters on the show, such as the recent gnocchi-gate. Michel revealed that he would be cooking Goose stuffed with rice this Christmas, a recipe that will appear in his upcoming Food and Drink TV show; and that his guilty pleasure is good quality dark chocolate – apparently James Martin and Paul Hollywood were asked the same question and answered KFC and iced buns respectively. We also watched him at the Supertheatre later cooking scallop velouté.
Great British Bakeoff’s Frances Quinn rustled up some interesting cauliflower cheese scones at the cooking theatre.
We also bumped into Cyrus Todiwala of Café Spice Namaste, who approached us after he spotted us trying to sneak a photo of him. He was incredibly friendly and chatty. I had no idea he sold a range of pickles, despite them being around for the last 10 years – how embarrassing! We headed straight to his stand and tried the most amazing aubergine pickle and parsee wedding pickle.
Despite it only being 10:30am, we couldn’t resist stopping at the Bad Ass Cakes stand to sample their Jamaican Rum Cake. Barabara told us that she and her mum have spent several hours in the kitchen tweaking her gran’s recipe to improve the flavour of the cakes. She has also carefully sourced the rum to keep it authentic. Sam and I were big fans, the cake was very moist, with just the right amount of booze. In addition to lots of lovely cakes and biscuits, Barabara is also selling two kits, the Jamaican Rum Cake Mix and the Ginger Cake Mix, which make for great christmas presents for baking enthusiasts.
This year we noticed quite a few stands selling brownie and cake mixes. It must be a new trend. One that stood out for us was Crazy Moose Jars, run by Christie, who only sells her cookie, soup and brownie mixes at crafts and food fairs. We tried some of her cookies and they were amazing. We also loved The Brownie Bar, who sell a fab range of brownies, as well as brownie mixes for anyone wanting to bake them at home.
Anjula Devi runs a cookery school near Richmond, teaching authentic Indian dishes, including making your own chapatis and bombay mix – great for me as I still haven’t mastered making round chapatis, much to my mum’s dismay! At the show, Anjula was selling her tikka masala mango marinade, which is made of green mangos, giving a wonderful tangy flavour to any dish.
We decided to head back to the press room to take a break and arrived in time to hear a presentation by Tom Warner of Harrington Dry Gin. His gin is made on his family’s farm in Northamptonshire, in a 200 year old copper still. He and his business partner, Sion Edwards, are involved in every stage of the process and as it is handmade, they can only produce 700 bottles at any one time. The elderflower gin has a lovely sweet caramel taste with spicy notes coming from the black pepper, cardamom and nutmeg. I’ve never really liked gin (more of a neat vodka drinker!) but I was sold on this one and happily sneaked a couple of tester bottles into my bag. We also got to try a festive gin cocktail, similar to mulled cider. It had a refreshingly warm flavour, perfect for drinking while wandering through the christmas markets on a frosty day.
Back at the main floor, we came across the Frozen Fruit company, whose range of frozen fruit desserts make a healthy alternative to ice-creams. My favourite was their strawgo, made up of strawberries and alphonso mango that was not too sweet.
Sam and I had to make a stop at the Garrett Popcorn stand to get our fix of their Chicago Mix. We tried some other flavours too: almond caramel crisp and hazelnut caramel crisp, both had a delicious nutty creme brûlée taste. It was lovely meeting Garrett’s Brand Director, Catherine, who told us more about their UK launch next year, and the pop-up shop that has opened in London for the next two weeks (18th Nov – 10th Dec), so that us Brits can get hold of their delicious popcorn. If the picture below has not managed to convince you to order a batch (what’s wrong with you!) then click here, as my review most certainly will.
We also enjoyed sampling jams by The Artisan Kitchen, with the toffee apple jam and damson raspberry jam being my favourite. Sarah makes the jams herself in her small kitchen in Gloucester, sourcing local ingredients from Herefordshire. She also participates in a crop swap, where she swaps her preserves for locally grown fruits and veg.
The guys at Cotswolds Gold managed to convince me to swap olive oil in my kitchen for rapeseed oil. Apparently this locally grown oil contains the same amount of antioxidants but less saturated fat, and unlike olive oil, does not release toxins when cooking at high temperatures. I will be interested to see how I get on with cooking with this oil, especially in Indian dishes.
After much walking around, Sam and I were in need of a pick me up and were grateful to sample the lovely teas at Choi Time. They were all incredibly tasty, especially the green tea, which did not have a weird after taste compared with other brands I’ve tasted. I loved their glass tea pots too and couldn’t resist buying one, along with some of their refreshing chrysanthemum flower tea.
We also tried a range of dips from Terra Rossa. I first met its founder, Hanan, at FBC5 in July, where I tried freekah. The ancient grain has a wonderful smoky nutty taste and is a great alternative to rice and pasta. I cook it quite often at home, with some roasted aubergine and spices – her sumac is the best I’ve tasted. While at the show, I walked away with some green harissa paste and hummus dip and can’t wait to tuck in.
Just before hitting the wine show, we went over to the Gran Luchito stand. I am already a big fan of their smoked chilli honey, which I plan to serve on this year’s christmas cheese board and couldn’t wait to try some their other sauces. We chatted to Gran Luchito’s owner, Fergus Chamberlain, who talked about his travels in Mexico and his foray into the food world. Before leaving, I couldn’t resist buying a jar of their smoke chilli paste, which is mind blowingly good.
All in all we had an awesome day out and will definitely be back next year.
Disclosure: We were given press passes to the BBC Good Food Show London. All opinions are my own and I was not obliged to write a review.