Well, this was not a particularly colourful entry into the Tea Time category – but it was a Gin and Tonic Cake so how could one resist that?….
Boris, who took up residence in one judge’s chair and showed very little inclination to move, might have been interested – but really he would have much preferred a good bowl of porridge, preferably covered in cream…. Sadly we had very few porridge entries into the Breakfast category this year (last year we were positively swamped in porridge) so he had to make do with a selection of other Scottish and Northern treats – our first gluten and dairy-free haggis and some very splendid gluten and dairy-free black and white puddings. Not to mention some ostrich sausages!!
Also under the ‘meaty’ heading was this meaty pastie which was not only gluten and dairy free but free of everything that What Allergy? Ruth cannot eat – hence her ‘omigod’ expression when it reached her! (Ruth, who is anaphylactic to peanuts, nuts, milk products and celery and seriously intolerant to soya, tomatoes and a number of herbs, does spend most of our judging sessions just watching the foods pass her by rather than tasting them. So it was a major marker of how freefrom foods have come on that she was able to try well over 50% of the food that came her way during our final judging session.)
OK – but what about the colourful then? Well, I said that we did not have much porridge, but this was one of the two that was entered – a beetroot porridge! Beetroot is not everyone’s idea of what should go into your breakfast bowl but you must admit that it would wake you up of a morning! (Actually, I am really quite partial to beetroot juice on my granola or my muesli in the morning so this was not too weird an idea to me – or to Boris who is quite happy to trade licking out a porridge bowl for licking out a muesli, coconut yogurt and beetroot juice bowl….)
Another very colourful breakfast offering were these chocolate and raspberry breakfast tarts. ‘Breakfast’, I hear you cry! But actually, yes! The case was pretty substantial, the filling was chocolatey without being too sweet and the raspberries gave a pleasant sharpness. Set me up a treat for the last morning’s judging!
However, in colour terms I think that this amazing green soup probably scoops the prize! Green is a difficult colour and it is rare that a food product manages to retain the vibrancy of green peas, spinach and whatever other wonderful greens went into this.
But whatever about dazzling our eyes, entries in the second week of the judging continued to dazzle our tastebuds. We had been seriously impressed by the ‘No Top 14’ and Innovation categories in week one but in week 2 Meaty and Fishy Ready Meals, Confectionery, Tea time and Food to go certainly held their own – as did our new-last-year start ups category. This is only open to those who have already entered another category and who have only been in business for less than two years when the awards opened. This category is sponsored by Tesco who offer mentoring to the winning company/companies – in terms of product development, marketing, packaging, labelling or whatever it is that seems appropriate.
Finally – one last entry that I really cannot leave out of the colourful stakes was the amazing Nono Permissible Indulgent which really defy categorisation! A sort of superfood (lots of chia seeds and baobab and amaranth and quinoa) which, none the less, are pretty enough to fall into a confectionery category! What hours they must have taken to make!!
And (for the benefit of diarists Marvin the Paranoid Android and Galaxy Gazer) here are their parents, Rachel (of 7 years to diagnosis) and Mike who indented for two full days worth of judging on their way to a brief holiday in New York!
Meanwhile, back in the kitchen….
We are delighted this year to have discovered the wonderful City Harvest. City Harvest collect food from supermarkets, restaurants or anyone (such as the FreeFrom Food Awards) who has food to give away. It has always been a struggle for us to find a home for our excess food because we have such a random collection of mixes, sauces, ready meals, desserts, and superfoods and they come all at one time of the year. But that didn’t seem to faze City Harvest at all whose lovely drivers have already made two collections and are due for another one on Monday morning.
If anyone in the London area is wanting to find a good home for surplus or unwanted food, I could not recommend them more highly.
We did celebrate the end of the judging with some vodka martinis (or are they coffee martinis?) out of my father’s silver gilt champagne goblets – although once again, Boris was really not that impressed…
And then it was the clean up – and a final, somewhat weary look around for the C/Katherines before heading for the hills – and the shortlist on Wednesday – and then the party on March 28th!
For some judges’ views on what they have been doing see: