Sunday, 30 June 2013

June Foodie Penpals

I had a lovely pair of foodie penpals matches this month! The Foodie Penpal powers that be (aka Carol Anne from Rock Salt) had obviously done some alphabetical organisation, so I recieved my parcel from Susan, and sent it to Sue!

Susan, from East Sussex, was a brilliant penpal, who tried really hard to send me a box full of things I'd like. After I told her I cooked a lot of Asian food, she even went to a local Asian supermarket just to buy me some goodies. How sweet is that?! Unfortunately, life has been crazy recently and I haven't had a chance to try out any of my goodies yet. I get fed at work, and while that's handy, it does limit the amount of cooking I do. However, I have a couple of evenings off this week, so will definitely be diving in!

Clockwise from left, my parcel contained:
Divine Chocolate - Delicious and fair trade. Perfect!
Golden Swan Long Life Egg Noodles - We are noodle fiends in this house so these are great.
Coconut Milk Powder - I've been looking for this for a while and I can't wait to try it out. There's a recipe for a coconut creme brulee on the back that I am trying to pluck up courage to try!
Fish Sauce - We use this a lot, so a bottle is always welcome.
Sweet Mango Chilli Sauce - This makes me want to grab some poppadums and dig in.
Chilli Powder - We currently have 2 chilli powders on the go, but one is blow your mouth off spicy and the other is basically just paprika, so hopefully this'll be a happy medium! 
Jelly Belly beans - One of my teachers at Middle School was half American, and always used to bring us these back after the holidays. I don't think I've had them since, but they're just as much fun as I remember!
Lemongrass - Fresh lemongrass is such a treat. It adds a lovely flavour and the smell is one of my all time favourites. 
Pancit Canton Chow Mein Noodles - I wouldn't usually use instant noodles, but they'll be a handy quick lunch for just before work.

Susan also sent me this lovely card that she had leftover from a trip to Japan. Isn't it beautiful?

Thank you for such a fantastic parcel, Susan! I can't wait until I have enough free time to try out all my ingredients! Susan doesn't have a blog, but Sue (the German lady I sent my parcel to) does, so you can see what she thought of my parcel over at Sue in Training. I had a bit of extra time the day I sent her parcel off, so I had fun decorating it with my washi tape! 

If you're interested in joining foodie penpals (and why wouldn't you be?!) this click the button below to find out more!


Friday, 14 June 2013

Good Food Show Summer 2013

I've never been to the Good Food Show before but have always wanted to, and living in Birmingham it would be criminal not to! It's only about 30 minutes from our front door to the NEC, so as soon as I saw the first bit of advertising for it, I knew this was the year to go. And when I saw that Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood were two of this year's celeb guests, my excitement levels went up another few notches! John came along for the ride, as well as 2 of our friends; one bake off mad obsessive like me and another who was more interested in the free alcohol samples!

It was great! I am so glad we went. The definite highlight was getting this:

New favourite possession? Probably!!

Even better, I just had time to ask him why my bread always looks cooked and risen but is still doughy inside (underproving or possible oven temperature), have a brief chat about what kind of oven I have (where I made a fool of myself by just saying "ummm an electric one") and exchange a little smile before my overexcited friend ruined our mature conversation by telling her we loved him. Haha. We made a hasty retreat after that!! 

Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry's talk in the Supertheatre was great fun too. Lots of bake off innuendo, Paul making jokes about his own love life and they made a delicious looking bread and cake. Their banter is top notch and even the baking hating boys we dragged along were giggly.

However, the day wasn't all about the Great British Bake Off. There were loads of fantastic food stalls and cooking demonstrations. My only real criticism was the lack of variety in the produce stalls. Lots of cheese, alcohol, sausages and olive oil, but not much else. Having said that, the cheese was amazing and I ate far more samples than was good for me! I managed to resist buying, but loved the taste of this Castello Creamy White. Another old favourite of mine are Lymn Bank Farm who have an enormous selection of different flavours, all of which are delicious (except the chocolate orange, that's a step too far for me!). 

There were lots of things to tempt us for lunch, but we ended up with a hog roast bun from Castle Moor Farm. It was delicious. I absolutely love hog roasts, and this one was moist and flavoursome and came with the absolutely necessary stuffing/apple sauce/crackling combo that makes any hog roast complete!

True love is...

The only thing that made me regret my hog roast was when I was looking on the Good Food show website, and found there was a small area of the arena we had missed that had the winners of the Midlands Best Street Food competition. All the vendors look amazing, but I was especially sad to have missed Fresh Rootz, who look absolutely incredible. Their veggie and vegan, eclectic and sustainable selection of food looks right up my street. Hopefully I'll be able to catch them somewhere later this summer.

Another stall that definitely deserves an 'honorable mention' is Good Hemp. John has been using soya milk for a long time because it is meant to be more eco, but when we actually thought about it we weren't sure how it could be. Aside from the issues to do with rainforests (which is hard to find info out about), soy isn't really grown in the UK, so its all imported, which certainly isn't helping anyone. Enter Good Hemp. A UK grown product made into a milk that John actually much prefers to soy. We've been buying their milk for a while, and were really pleased to see a wider variety of their products at the show.

I also bought some amazing lemon and chilli fudge from Tan Rosie Foods (whose spice rubs and marinades were also delicious),a little treat for this month's foodie penpal from Cornish Sea Salt and a mandolin (the slicing kind, not the musical Captain Corelli kind!).

However, we spent longest browsing the Fox's Spices stall. We'd bought some stuff from them at the Ideal Home show a couple of years ago, and I was still dreaming about their Spicy Pineapple Chutney, so we knew that would be on the shopping list this time. They have so many amazing smelling spices, delicious condiments and dried products that we could have spent a fortune! Their products cover a massive range, from Indonesian sambals to whole spices to cury powder to mustard to dried mushrooms to Mexican flavourings. My only criticism is that they don't have a website; if you want to buy from them you need to call 01789-266420 to request a mail order catalogue. Hopefully they'll have a website soon! I could have bought everything from their stall, but limited myself to this selection.
Chipotle chillies, Ketjap manis, hot mago pickle, spicy pineapple chutney and smoked paprika. I've been on the hunt for smoked paprika, chipotles and ketjap manis for ages but not managed to find them anywhere, and the mango pickle and pineapple chutney are both ones we've had before and taste amazing with poppadoms or stirred into a curry. 

All of us had a fantastic day, and I would definitely recommend it. It's probably a bit late notice for this show (although there are still tickets left for Sunday), but there are 3 others later in the year in Glasgow, London and a winter one back here in Birmingham. I haven't booked a ticket for the winter one yet, but I don't think it will be long until I do!