Last month we took a jaunt around the Royal Highland Show. The sun was being a wee bit shy though thankfully the rain was kind enough to stay away from the proceedings on the day that we attended.
I have gone to the Highland Show for quite a few consecutive years now and the main focus of my attention is always the Food Hall which is impressive both in terms of size and quality. There are always plenty of familiar faces to be spotted and its great to stock up on products that I only seem to see from show to show. Then there are the new faces with delectable foodie delights that I have never tasted before and that is always a real treat.
The whole no sugar malarkey has not been going too well for me to be honest and events like the Royal Highland Show do not help, especially when businesses like THE BROWNIE BAR exist. The Brownie Bar was set up by two Geordie sisters and the business is still based in Newcastle (I am grateful for the distance as are my scales). They bake the perfect gooey brownies in the widest range of flavours. Everything from chocolate, bailies and nutella through to raspberry and almond are incorporated into their sinful treats. I tried to walk past them because well – they are pretty evil. But then I spotted an unusual item on their stand. Was it a cookie or a brownie? Hell it was both. They call it the Corker – a chocolate cookie with a gooey brownie core. Who would do such a thing? The bloody Brownie Bar that is who. My resolve was dissolved as I wrapped my gob around a super tasty brownie cookie concoction. The taste was amazing … like really amazing with only a small after taste of guilt.
One of my favourite old timers at the Royal Highland Show are SUPER NATURE who do a wonderfully diverse range of flavoured oils. The one oil that I am always very keen on and always stock up is Lime Oil which is just fresh, zingy and screams summer. Supernature cold pressed rapeseed oil is produced, harvested and bottled at Carrington Barns. Unlike most oilseed rape grown in Scotland, they choose a spring rather than a winter variety, which is planted in April and harvested in September. Its natural rapid growth means that there is no need for the use of any herbicides or fungicides. All as natural as you can get – hence the name.
What on earth is it good for? Well I am glad you ask. Here is what I have done with my small bottle which has run out already (need some more).
- I rub it on salmon or chicken before shoving in the oven along with other herbs and or spices
- I drizzle it on all of my salads
- I add it to cous cous when it is cooked to give a lovely zing
- I pour some in a little bowl and dip pitta breads into it whilst nibbling on feta or halloumi
- I marinade prawns in it before a bit of flash frying
- And the list could I am sure go on …….. buy it and try it
I am a big fan of SUMMER HARVEST and I always plump for their oils and vinegars but this year I went feral and opted for a mayonnaise – wild I am! I was attracted to their mayo largely because of the colour – a beautiful smooth yellow and I am also aware that my love of Hellman’s is probably not the healthiest. Made with rapeseed oil this mayonnaise looks and tastes so, well homemade. I would love to make mayonnaise but frankly I don’t really have the time and this is absolutely the next best thing. In fact scrap that – this is much better. It is smooth rather than thick and gloopy and tastes delightful.
This week I made my friend a wee al fresco lunch of salmon salad drizzled with Summer Harvest mayonnaise and it was divine.
The guys behind Summer Harvest hail from the Strathearn Valley in Perthshire. Everything needed to make the rapeseed oil used in their products comes from their 400 acres – from the crop growing to the pressing of the oil.
My final pick of the pops is a company called Organic Blending who produce a fab range of organic sprinkles, spices, marinaes, gravies and stuffings from their HQ in Glasgow.
They were cooking up a storm from their stand at the Highland Show – chicken, onions and pepppers with one of their sprinkles, Organic Sweet Chilli Exposion. This is described as a sweeet burst of organic chillies and peppers with a kick! It sure was. I asked what else went into the dish they were preparing and the only other ingredient was a touch of olive oil. Offered this heady concoction of good taste and time saving simplicity I was sold. I have since cooked every week with this fantastic sprinkle – I have rubbed it on fish and I have done the do with the chicken and peppers and served it up with cous cous. It is delicious and a great addition to the kitchen. For somebody who does not always have the time to chop up chillies and garlic and a dizzy mix of other spices this does the job nicely.
I admit at some shows to writing about products I genuinely loved to taste but did not perhaps end up buying (you can’t buy em all) but this year every one of these products (apart from the brownies as that would be wrong) has landed in my cupboard and are either finished or well on their way. Most of them are time saving ways to deliver REAL flavour to my cooking without me having to do all the work. They are this cooks best mates and maybe they can become yours too ….. go on give them a try.