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28 September 2012

Simplicity and elegance with a touch of decadence

Photos: © Simply Ice Cream

Owner Sally Newall, mother of four children, qualified cook and successful wedding and party caterer, produces the range of decadent, luxury ice creams in Kent using British dairy products, seasonal fruits from the county and ingredients from top suppliers sourced locally where possible.

Founder, Sally Newall ran a catering business for over 20 years which became the spring board in making a leap into the ice cream business. After receiving a wealth of positive feedback from happy customers for her homemade ice cream Sally decided to move away from full time catering and concentrate on developing Simply Ice Cream.

In keeping with the belief that simple, natural food tastes best, she has created a range of ice creams that are made using natural locally sourced ingredients (where possible), home-made flavours and free from additives or preservatives. Simply Ice Cream is still made the old fashioned way, by hand in small batches.

From humble beginnings, when the ice cream was sold at one local farm shop, Simply Ice Cream grew in popularity to 16 shops within the first year. The range is available in nearly 400 outlets across the south of England including and this list is growing all the time.

The superior quality and flavour of Simply Ice Cream has been officially recognised and gained many awards, the highest accolade being awarded to Heavenly Honeycomb Crunch for its great taste and texture.

The company operates with a strong, core set of values – passion, integrity, excellence, simplicity and naturalness – and has gone from strength to strength since its creation. They continually update their tastes and flavours to remain in keeping with the changing seasons and high standards of Simply Ice Cream.

In addition to Divine Chocolate ice cream, Dreamy Vanilla ice cream and Sublime Strawberry ice cream, Simply Ice Cream is renowned for its award-winning and best selling flavour Heavenly Honeycomb Crunch. Other favourites from the Simply Special seasonal range include (caramelised) Brown Bread ice cream, Christmas Pudding ice cream, Pistachio ice cream, Coffee and Kentish Cobnut Fudge ice cream and Lemon Curd ice cream.

Find out more about Simply Ice Cream on The Artisan Food Trail here

26 September 2012

Fields of Gold at Yare Valley Oils

Photos: © Yare Valley Oils

Ever since settling beside the Norfolk Broads in the early 1900’s the Mack family have been farming the rich soil of the Yare Valley.

Oilseed rape has been grown across their fields for many years and the crop has become an important part of farming along with potatoes, sugar beet and cereals. From plough to plate every single seed is grown, pressed and bottled for you to enjoy.

The oil has full traceability from field to table and nothing goes to waste – the pulp from the pressing goes straight back into the biomass boiler to fuel the farm.

The oil seed rape is sown on the farm the first week of September with approximately 2½ Kilos of seed per hectare. Pigeons are often a problem as they love the brassica seed. In March the fields are fertilised and by April and May the rape begins to flower creating a brilliant yellow display. After enjoying the sun and insect pollination, the flowers produce pods which are full of rapeseeds.

The rapeseed plants are left in the field and allowed to mature naturally and dry before harvesting in late July to early August. The seed is collected and then stored before being cold pressed using a mechanical screw and then filtered twice to obtain the highest quality when it reaches your plate.

Being cold pressed, Yare Valley’s oil is the purest form of rape oil, no other heat or chemical extraction processes are used and it is healthy too with many nutritional benefits.

As well as selling pure rapeseed oil, Yare Valley also produce a range of dressings containing it carefully blended with other ingredients, some locally sourced to retain the true Norfolk taste. Look out for Chilli, Norfolk Honey & Mustard and Norfolk Vinaigrette.

To find out more about Yare Valley Oils visit their page on The Artisan Food Trail here

25 September 2012

The Artisan Food Trail is a finalist in the Hertfordshire Green Awards

Perhaps we should have told you about this a little earlier but as our Artisan Food Trail members always come first, we've been busy promoting them and completely forgot about ourselves!

Last Wednesday we attended the Hertfordshire Green Awards as we were selected as finalists in ‘The Green Communications Award’.

The awards are organised by Archant Herts & Cambs, the publishers of several newspapers in our county and beyond. This year was the third time the Green Awards were held. It recognises businesses that are already actively involved in championing green issues and at the same time making their businesses and in turn their local communities a greener place to live.

The Green Communications Award recognises the efforts that companies have introduced to communicate in a 'greener' format. This could include the transmission of any marketing messages, the implementation of a greater use of digital media, an increase in employee engagement or an increase in community engagement.

One of the awards sponsors is Environmental Population, an initiative which provides environmental information to people whether they want to improve their home or their business.
As a membership based organisation they offer some great options for their members to promote what they do, develop new business contacts and sales and ultimately help the business community become fully sustainable.
The Artisan Food Trail is a member of Environmental Population (you may have noticed the logo on our website and blog) as we are always looking for ways to improve how we run our business from an environmental aspect and also we want to be able to pass on the benefits to our members too.

It’s not always about winning, 

but about taking part and meeting people…

We weren't chosen as winners of our category, but we still feel very honoured to be finalists and congratulations to The Eco Schools Network who took the top prize.

There is always an upside to events like this though as it provides the perfect opportunity to meet new people and share what we do with them. Let's face it there aren't many people who don't have an interest in food.

Prior to the awards ceremony an exhibition was put on for businesses to showcase their products and services – all green, of course. We spoke to companies offering electric and hybrid cars, solar panels, waste management/ compliance, environmental consultants and digital marketing services. You may well ask what has that got to do with food? Well, we are developing many more angles to The Artisan Food Trail, all of which will be put in place to help our members with their businesses.

Valuable connections

The awards dinner offered a particularly favourable moment as we not only shared our table with the mayor and mayoress of Stevenage but also the managing director of Lussmanns.
Andrei Lussmann runs two restaurants in Hertfordshire, in St Albans and Hertford where ethical practice, sustainability and the sourcing of food from regional artisan producers is key. Because of its values, Lussmanns scooped the ‘Winner’ status in ‘Best Hotel or Hospitality Environmental Programme’.

It was Andrei that approached us as he is very interested in how we could work together. This a very exciting proposition and plans will be made for us to meet again soon and discuss things further.

Being a finalist is one thing, but to leave feeling very excited because of a chance meeting is something else altogether as the spirit is lifted by the prospect of widening horizons in the future.

21 September 2012

Thame Food Festival: 29th September 2012

In the words of Lotte Duncan, patron of the Thame Food Festival, it is ‘fabulous food fun’. The festival promises to be a showcase for all that is best in local food and drink and will be fantastic free day out for all the family in the heart of the historic market town.
Thame has a thriving agricultural heritage and provides the perfect setting for the festival.

Now in its fifth year there will be a line-up of star chefs and celebrities in the cookery theatre including Adam Simmonds of Michelin starred restaurant Adam Simmonds at Danesfield House in Marlow, Laurie Gear of The Artichoke in Amersham and Marcus Bean celebrity TV chef who runs The New Inn Pub, Baschurch.

Raymond Blanc will be signing copies of his cook books at the ‘Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons’ stall as well as giving a demo in the cookery theatre with Kush. Festival regulars Katie & Giancarlo Caldesi have entitled their demo ‘Cucina Contadina’ – The Peasant Kitchen.

In addition to the cookery theatre there will also be food related demos, workshops and talks – in the AGA shop, the Town Hall and the stables of The James Figg Free House.

As part of the lengthy line-up of food producers taking part will be four of our Artisan Food Trail members. They are:

Mortimer Chocolate Company – Award Winning Chocolate Powders; to make delicious hot chocolate, ideal for creating stunning chocolate recipes and for melting and dipping, they even have a fondue for the BBQ.

Womersley Fruit & Herb Vinegars – Artisan maker of fine fruit vinegars and herb jellies. Balanced recipes allow maximum versatility in the kitchen ensuring that the true aromas of all the flavours shine through.

Cotswold Gold – Extra Virgin Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil grown and produced on the family farm by Charlie. This is a very healthy and versatile oil for all culinary needs.

David's Chilli Oil – A rich, exotic, healthy and intensely flavoured chilli oil perfect for drizzling over food, cooking, marinating and dipping. Made with quality produce from the Cotswolds.

For more information about the festival visit the website: www.thamefoodfestival.co.uk
You can also download a PDF of the programme here

Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival: 29th – 30th September 2012

The festival is held each year at Snape Maltings, situated on the river Alde in the beautiful Suffolk landscape of open skies, marshland and reed beds. For 2012 the event will be held over the weekend of 29th and 30th September.

This year the festival is expecting over 90 exhibitors showcasing organic vegetables, fresh and smoked fish, rare breed meat and game, cheeses, frozen yoghurt, jams, beer, wine and lager. Nearly all of the exhibitors’ businesses are based in East Suffolk, reflecting the high quality and huge array of food and drink in the region.

The Artisan Food Trail producers/businesses that will be attending are:

Alder Tree – Award winning ices are handmade on their fruit farm in Suffolk to a traditional family recipe. Made with only fruit, cream and sugar, they are naturally delicious.

Breckland Orchard – Award winning ‘Posh Pop’. Produced with passion and available throughout the UK.

Food Safari – Gourmet food experiences that go beyond a traditional cookery school. Unique days combine meeting inspirational food and drink producers with learning new skills like butchery and bakery.

The Artisan Smokehouse – A small family run and owned smokehouse on the Suffolk coast producing award-winning smoked food, made in small quantities to ensure quality and freshness.

The festival also hosts a two-day programme of talks, workshops and cookery demonstrations from top chefs. Confirmed Chefs that will be visiting in 2012 include Henry Harris, Matthew Fort, Angela Hartnett, Valentine Warner and Emma Crowhurst as well as many of the finest local Suffolk chefs.

For more more information about the event visit www.aldeburghfoodanddrink.co.uk

18 September 2012

Alan Coxon is headlining chef at Stratford upon Avon Food Festival

The historic setting of Stratford upon Avon will once again be the backdrop for a fabulous food festival bringing a wealth of edible and quaffable treats as well as great live entertainment for all to enjoy. Celebrity chefs, artisan producers and great local watering-holes will come together on the banks of the River Avon and the home of Shakespeare in a fantastic two-day foodie event, which takes place on Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd September 2012.

Visitors will be able to munch their way through an amazing selection of artisan food products, many of them locally produced, as well as sample superb wines, champagnes and craft beers, then sit back and watch inspirational culinary demonstrations.

Topping the culinary bill will be the Fabulous Baker Brothers, and chef and TV presenter Alan Coxon who we're proud to have as a member of The Artisan Food Trail. He is also the official ambassador for the Stratford Food Festival.

Alan Coxon
Alan's love of culinary history helps to bring alive the historic originations of our everyday ingredients. Ranked amongst the Top 10 TV Chefs of the world by BBC world viewers, Alan has starred in TV shows across the globe, cooked for kings and celebrities and is an inspiration in countless kitchens with his range of award winning historic ingredients and cookbooks.

To celebrate his new TV series From Birmingham to Bombay (to be screened across the UK soon) and to pay homage to the Indian summer that he hopes we will all be enjoying during the festival, Alan will be demonstrating Indian influenced recipes.
You can watch Alan Coxon in the cookery theatre on both Saturday and Sunday at 2pm.

The Stratford Food Festival takes place from 10am to 7pm on Saturday 22nd and from 10am to 5pm on Sunday 23rd September. 
Tickets cost £5 on the gate.

More info about the festival here www.stratfordfoodfestival.co.uk

To find out more about Alan Coxon visit his page on 
The Artisan Food Trail here

8 September 2012

Grand Opening of Malhamdale Butchery & Charcuterie

After months of hard work the 'Grand Opening' of Paganum's new artisan butchery and charcuterie building will take place on Tuesday 11th Sept 2012 from 6.00pm.

Comedian, actor and TV presenter, Adrian Edmondson will be officially opening the butchery and cutting the ribbon at the Kirkby Malham farm in Yorkshire.
Earlier this year Chris Wildman, who runs Paganum, was featured on ITV's 'The Dales' when Adrian Edmondson visited just as the new charcuterie was still being constructed.

The opening is bound to be an exciting event and Chris Wildman says, "Come along and meet our pigs, take a quick tour of the Butchery, enjoy a bite to eat, could be a BBQ, a hog roast or maybe a suckling pig, sample some Yorkshire Chorizo washed down with a local beer and even watch a demo."

Where is it?
Paganum Farm Butchery, Cow Close Lane,
Kirkby Malham, Skipton, Yorkshire BD23 4DP

View AFT_Paganum Produce in a larger map

To find out more about Paganum Produce visit their page on 
The Artisan Food Trail here

4 September 2012

World Class Flavour: Mortimer Chocolate Company

Photos: © Mortimer Chocolate Company

The Mortimer Chocolate Company is very much a family business run by Adrian Smith and his wife Felicity who helps out in between looking after their three young children.

The company was started after Adrian decided to leave his position at Masterfoods where he’d enjoyed a successful career for nearly 20 years managing well known hot chocolate drinks brands as well as being one of their top cocoa tasters.

Major chocolate manufacturers blend cocoas to make a product that tastes the same year after year, a process which Adrian felt was depriving the consumer of real and distinct chocolate flavour. This spurred him on in his mission to find and produce fine quality chocolate from around the world. By focusing on small growers who nurture their cocoa to produce fine quality beans, the cocoa is made into a 100% plain chocolate powder, retaining its unique flavour, with no need for additives.

Chocolate is made from cocoa beans, which, like coffee and wine, vary in flavour according to the soil, season and region in which they were grown. Adrian uses his experience and knowledge to select cocoas direct from origin, such as West Africa, Ghana, Ecuador and Venezuela, to produce a 100% chocolate powder, ideal for making delicious chocolate drinks. This way the consumer can experience and understand the variety of cocoa flavours from around the world.

Mortimer Chocolate works with local growers towards Rainforest Alliance and Fair Trade Accreditation. Although some growers are just too small for such a step, Adrian is currently working with a co-operative in Ghana to do just that.

As well as making delicious hot chocolate drinks, this unique range of global chocolate powders can be used for cooking, particularly in recipes requiring a good quality dark chocolate.
Felicity’s nutritional and culinary expertise quickly revealed the extent to which the quality plain chocolate powders can be used. By experimenting with a variety of recipes, it became clear that they can be used in savoury,
as well as sweet recipes, not to mention making actual bars of real luxurious chocolate.

Find out more about Mortimer Chocolate Company on The Artisan Food Trail here