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It's all about the taste

Each year the Great Taste Awards grows a little larger. In 2014 10,000 products were tasted and assessed during nearly fifty tasting days. For the record this was the year of meat and a succession of magnificent ribs of beef, legs of lamb and joints of pork were brought out for the judges to ponder. The selection of beers has grown. The array of ciders is larger. As readers of these musings may have noticed that this was the year when the awards went to Belfast. At the end of the day devoted to selecting the Supreme Champion, forty of us went to dinner at the White Post.
Over several years chef Brett Sutton has done his share of judging at the Awards. This year he cooked the GTA judge’s dinner at the White Post – a pub at the top of Rimpton Hill recently taken over by Brett and his wife Kelly. His task was to produce a dinner using only products that had won three stars. His menu started with something flashy, good to eat, dangerously tricksy and new to me. Brett sent out a few slices of a mixed grain loaf on a board with a miniature glass of Thornbridge Brewery’s peerless Jaipur, some flakes of Cornish sea salt and a candle burning bright. The candle was made from a wick set in a piece of beef dripping from James Whelan Butchers. The intention was that the melted dripping should be spread on the bread. It was reassuringly delicious.
The next course was a summer salad: pickled vegetables, Cornish lomo, aged Gouda, lemon olive oil, a grand combination of flavours and textures – the Gouda from Ribblesdale Cheese was particularly fine.
The next course was a seared smoked scallop from Ewing seafood with cured lardo from Capreolus Fine Foods, peas and Pilton cider.
The next course was “Himalayan salt-aged rib chop and fillet of beef” from Hannan Meats, plated with an Iberico streaky bacon croquette. Magnificent beef from Northern Ireland matured to perfection, a stunning example.
For pud – gooseberry fool with the 2013 supreme champion Greek yogurt from Marybell and elderflower and lime ice cream
Then a splendid array of goats’ cheeses – fresh, old, hard, all with thyme honey.
It’s never easy to cook a complex menu for forty. It’s never easy to cook for an audience all of whom are in the business of fine foods and fine cooking. The Great Taste Awards has probably the most rigorous judging of all the food awards, and the charm lies in the uncompromising nature of the criteria. The awards go to the products with the best taste. Not the packaging. Not the marketing. Not the price. The Great Taste Awards is all about the taste and that’s why it should be cherished.
The White Post, Rimpton, Somerset/Dorset BA22 8AR. (01935 851525)

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Charles Campion - Monday 21st July 2014

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