This week I used my “day off” to visit the Fine Food Show at the Harrogate Event Centre. Admittedly part of the attraction is that, on this rare occasion, travel time was literally 20 minutes (we live locally) so no expensive train ticket; also the fair opening times are a very civilised from 10am – 4pm so no struggle with the school run!
Ultimately it’s a gathering for smaller or startup businesses, so we can find products that are just launched, that haven’t made it to the supermarkets (thank goodness!) and who really value the opportunity to be showcased by the “independents”.
I don’t usually go to a show like this thinking that there will be aisles full of amazing new business leads, I’m happy to find one or two but this year I was spoilt!!
Here’s the low down on some of the people who took my eye with an appealing stand and intrigued me enough to stop me in my tracks and connect:
1. Sweet Revolution: This is a family company who create a range of rather delicious superfood instant drinks. I think the word instant has a rather negative connotation, but what this means is the drinks are made up with the ease of boiling a kettle. The ingredients have integrity, here’s what they say
“Eating should be a joy – but it should also be nourishing too! All our recipes are created using the highest quality ingredients, with an emphasis on ethically-produced, organic wholefoods, which are delicious and nutritious, to nourish your body and feed your soul. We select the ingredients for our products with great care and take time to understand how, where and by whom the product is produced. Everything is sourced not only for its suitability for the recipe but also for all the good things it contains. They’re all plant-based, processed as little as possible and many are used in their raw state.”
Who could argue with that? I placed an order there and then so watch our shelves for these great new products..
The flavours they have are: Organic Instant Hot Chocolate with Raw Cacoa & Coconut Milk, Organic Instant Matcha Latte with Coconut Milk, Organic Instant Turmeric with Coconut Milk, Organic Instant Reishi Chai Latte with Coconut Milk, Organic Coconut Milk Powder.
2. Darkwoods Coffee: The packaging for this brand is what drew me instantly to the stand. My design background does mean that “the look” of a product is important, you buy with your eyes and we re-buy on taste so packaging is important in the first instance.
Paul made me a cappuccino with their “Under Milkwood” blend – origin Brazil, India & Ethiopia. It was smooth, sweet like caramel yet with a freshness given by the medium roasted Ethiopian element. The provenance of the staff is as impressive as the coffee, Tom is a coffee expert having previously roasted our House Blend at another roaster, Paul a former World Barista Championships judge has headed up a very impressive list of companies and training teams. I am excited to collaborate on whatever level we can.
3. Love Cocoa: The great great great grandson of Mr John Cadbury has taken over the mantle of producing chocolate. There is a very informative bio on their website explaining the position of Cadbury and how John Cadbury set up the business to the hostile take over bid that was made by the Americans in 2010. James Cadbury is young, charming and makes delicious chocolate – I feel compelled to have his products on our shelves. He has a great ethos and his chocolate contains no gluten, refined sugar or soya and the 70% dark chocolate was as smooth as I have tasted in a very long time.
Gin & Tonic 70% bar – what a lovely combination for a summers evening picnic?
4. Shepherds Purse Artisan Cheese: We already stock a number of cheeses from Judy Bell of Thrisk, however, it’s always good to refresh the knowledge and the tastebuds. Three cheeses that I will be rotating in the counter are Mrs Bell’s Blue, a ewe’s milk blue cheese; Bluemin White and No. 7 Blue Monday (developed by Alex James of Blur). Katie from Shepherds Purse also said she would come and do a cheese tasting day around Christmas time so watch this space for an event date!
5. Nutural World: I was fed every sort of nut in a butter form by the most charming older gentleman who was positively nutty about his products. All hand roasted and ground by him, all vegan and gluten free, with no added sugars or sweeteners, no added salt, oil or artificial flavours. My favourite was Pecan & Fig, there was also a great chocolate and Carob spread although knocking the Nutella jar off the shelf might not be as easy with the children.
6. Keeping in the nutty realm I also visited The Nut Kitchen. Here was yet another stand selling crushed nuts but packaged in a prettier pot or so I thought, but this company wasn’t just another nut butter company. The Nut Kitchen mkes nut paste, this isn’t a smooth or crunchy nut butter it is a perfectly smooth paste, with the mouth feel of cream. What sets this product apart is that you can take a small pot of the paste and make your own nut milk, no sugars, no thickeners, just nuts. The average nut milk contains just 1-2% nuts the rest is water and to get the texture and sweetness rice and a touch of oil is added, but with the nut paste here is the recipe:
20g Almond paste, 250 ml cold water, Blend – et voila you have an 8% almond drink
– you could add a sweetener if you wanted to but I found it naturally sweet enough. It was AMAZING. Add a banana or some berries and you have a nutritious smoothie.
I also found a source of Yorkshire cured meats & salami, as well as a fish smokery. I ate and drank my way around the food hall, which was obviously SUCH a chore but I’m selfless what can I say ?
So as we make another attempt to shoe horn some more new and excititng products onto our shelves – it’s already time for us to place Christmas orders, no more room I can hear Santa shouting already. It will be mincepies and mulled wine before we know it…..