29 April 2014

Alan Coxon to promote British food worldwide for the GREAT Britain campaign

We received some very exciting news from one of our AFT members last week which could yield some superb opportunities for The Artisan Food Trail and its members, not to mention the rest of the UK’s artisan food and drink producers.

Alan Coxon met at Number 10 Downing Street and the Prime Minister’s office where he was invited to assist in the Government’s international GREAT Britain campaign.

Alan says, “I am honoured and extremely proud to be a part of the GREAT Britain campaign and I hope that my involvement will make an impact and a difference for the British food, beverage and tourism industries.”

Alan Coxon’s skills and experience as a multi award-winning chef, culinary innovator, TV presenter, author and food archaeologist makes him the ideal candidate to represent and promote the British food, beverage and tourism industries as part of the GREAT campaign.

Working closely alongside Visit Britain, the national tourism agency and UK Trade and Investment, the campaign kicks off in April 2014.
Alan will be helping to promote and expose British food and drink around the world, with the aim of increasing awareness and generating export opportunities.

Alan remarked, “Wherever I go around the world I love to extoll the virtues of our GREAT British culinary heritage; where every ingredient has a place of birth and every recipe a creator. We have a fantastic menu of dishes that have travelled the globe and evolved through the centuries that remain truly GREAT today.”

Over his 30 year career in the industry, Alan Coxon has made numerous important contacts which he will be using to his advantage, having worked in leading hotels and Michelin starred restaurants across Europe, cooking for royalty, heads of state and stars of stage, screen and music.

In addition, Alan will be wearing his ‘Food Archaeologist’ hat helping to promote the culinary heritage within British Tourism.

Alan added, “I am looking forward to working with all the partners involved in the GREAT Britain campaign that are pro-actively working towards making a positive difference around the world and allowing me this opportunity to assist and represent my country in this way.”

At The Artisan Food Trail we’re also looking forward to this campaign and wish Alan every success in carrying it forward on behalf of Britain’s food and drink industry.

Objectives of the GREAT Britain campaign
The over-riding objective of the GREAT Britain campaign is to generate jobs and growth for the UK economy. The campaign generated £500m for the UK economy in its campaign’s first year, and an estimated £600–£800m in 2013/14.

The campaign contributed to:

  • A record year for British tourism in 2013.
  • Significant increases in applications for undergraduate study in the UK from target markets like India, USA and Brazil.
  • More than 1100 UK companies receiving support for their export plans.
  • Nearly 600 new inward investment leads, which led to five companies establishing new operations in the UK.

Useful links
Alan Coxon on The Artisan Food Trail
www.gov.uk/britainisgreat
www.visitbritain.org
www.gov.uk/government/organisations/uk-trade-investment
www.greatbusiness.gov.uk

24 April 2014

Asparagus season is here!

Photo: © childsdesign

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The wonderful thing about eating seasonally is that it really makes an occasion out of consuming the best produce. The British asparagus season is finally upon us and we've enjoyed the building anticipation before it finally arrive in the shops.
Foreign asparagus is available all year round and it does somewhat diminish the specialness of it, plus you really can't top the British variety.

From planting the crowns,  it takes around a cycle of two years before the asparagus reaches maturity and is good enough to harvest. Once fully flourishing though, the spears can be cut after which it takes only 24 hours for a new shoot to appear and grow to an appreciable length. After a slow start it goes off like a rocket!

We discovered that it tastes so much better if you roast it.
The flavour becomes concentrated, something that boiling takes away. Just get the oven nice and hot, put the spears into an ovenproof dish, drizzle with some extra virgin cold pressed rapeseed oil, pop in the oven for about 10 minutes and you have perfectly cooked asparagus.
For a recipe using asparagus cooked in this way, try this recipe using wild venison chorizo from Great Glen Game, which complements the minerally taste of the asparagus so well.

Asparagus Tip: To keep the spears fresh treat them as you would cut flowers. Trim off a small amount from the bottom of the stems, place them in a jug of water and store in the fridge.

23 April 2014

We're celebrating St George's Day and Great British Beef Week

Photo: © childsdesign

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Happy St George's Day… and it's Great British Beef Week!
So what better way to celebrate than with the finest meat from our AFT producers.

Try some delicious traditional and rare breed beef from:

Paganum Produce in the Yorkshire Dales
Paganum Produce is a small artisan butchery & charcuterie based at Church End Farm near Malham in the Yorkshire Dales. With five generations of butchery, curing and farming experience.

The Blackface Meat Company in Scotland for their four year old ‘aged’ Galloway Beef
A family business, rearing Galloway cattle and Blackface sheep on their farm in the South West of Scotland.
All animals feed on a totally natural diet ensuring tender, richly aromatic and savoury meat.

The Beefsmith in South Norfolk for their Red Ruby Devon Beef (one of the oldest native breeds in the UK)
The cattle roam acres of pasture year-round and are allowed to mature over 24 months ensuring the art of slow maturing enriches every bite with sumptuous fuller flavour.

Pilkington Farms (Offley Hoo) in Hertfordshire for their Longhorn Beef
Passionate about the production of quality meat and many of their methods meet or exceed organic standards. The animals are totally free range and graze in the traditional parkland and rolling hillsides of the eastern edge of the Chilterns.

16 April 2014

Artisan Food Trail members to exhibit at the Caffè Culture Show


The Caffè Culture Show is just four weeks away, taking place from 14th-15th May 2014 at London Olympia, and we are busy making preparations to exhibit at the event.
We're very much looking forward to having a presence at this particular trade show, representing our members and spreading the word about artisan food and drink producers.

For those of you that have been watching the new BBC2 television series, Business Boomers, will have seen the first episode, Coffee Shop Hot Shots. This documentary looked at how, despite tough economic times, the café business has remained strong and is continuing to grow. And it's not
just the big chain businesses either, even individuals are grabbing
the opportunity with both hands and independent coffee shops are
opening everywhere.

Of course this means there is going to be competition for these outlets meaning they are looking for other quality products to give them a point
of difference.
A good food offering is key and café owners realise that it means going beyond a mediocre muffin or disappointing panini. They will not only be looking for ready-made products but also exceptional ingredients to create their own sandwiches and the like.
Serving great coffee is one thing, but some people enjoy a good cup of tea
or even a soft drink, so these items will also be on the list.

Several Artisan Food Trail members have already taken the plunge
and booked stands at the show as they wish to reach a wider market with
their products.

So far, they are:
Breckland Orchard stand K35
Cotswold Gold stand AM10
Fudge Kitchen stand A5
The Kandula Tea Company stand J33
You will also be able to find us, The Artisan Food Trail, in the Artisan Food Market area on stand AM8

The Artisan Food Market is filling up and businesses already confirmed are: Eboni ac Eifori, Ganache Macaron, Biscotti di Debora, The Brownie Bar, Chegworth Valley Juices, The Free From Bakehouse, Noshraw, My Sweet Tooth Factory, Cotswold Gold, Anila's Sauces, Clam's Handmade, The Malted Waffle Company, Cuckoo Muesli and Doisy & Dam.

We hope to see more AFT members take part and will keep this post updated as their bookings are confirmed.
The floorplan can also be viewed on the show's website here

We are taking bookings from members and non-members for stands in the Artisan Food Market, so any producers that are interested should contact us soon as time is running out and spaces are limited.
info@artisanfoodtrail.co.uk
0844 995 9996

Register for tickets

9 April 2014

Easter Recipe: Simnel Cake

Photo: © childsdesign

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There are many versions of the story of how the Simnel cake originated, so it is difficult to ascertain which one is actually true, so to save confusion we'll not go into the details. What is known is that nowadays it is made for Easter and decorated with marzipan balls to represent the eleven disciples. Yes eleven not twelve, Judas is left out and if you know your Bible stories, you'll have worked out why.

Simnel cake is very much like a lighter version of Christmas cake. Dotted with juicy fruit and fragranced with a dash of cinnamon it's perfect for any celebration, but you need to like marzipan to enjoy it, there's lots of it – on the top – our favourite part, the seam of gooeyness in the centre.

There probably isn't an authentic recipe left in existence as our research found a multitude of different ones using varying quantities of fruit and even nuts, but we've put together one that appeals to our tastes.

Ingredients
  • 225g butter, softened
  • 225g sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 225g plain flour
  • 335g dried mixed fruit
  • 110g glacé cherries, quartered
  • grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 450g almond paste
  • 2 tbsp orange marmalade
  • 1 egg, beaten

Method
Pre-heat oven to 150°C /Gas 2.
Butter a 20cm diameter deep round cake tin. Line with the bottom and sides with baking parchment making sure you leave a collar of paper sticking above the rim of the tin.

Place the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, mixed dried fruit, glace cherries, lemon zest and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl and beat together until thoroughly blended

Place half the mixture into the cake tin and smooth over the surface.

Take one-third of the almond paste and roll it out into a circle the size of the tin. Place it on top of the cake mixture. Spoon the remaining cake mixture over and smooth the surface.

Bake the cake for about 2 hours 30 minutes until well risen and firm to the touch. Cover with foil after 1 hour if the top is browning too quickly. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out on to a wire rack to cool completely.

When the cake has cooled, brush the top with the warmed marmalade and roll out half of the remaining almond paste to fit the top. Press firmly on the top and crimp the edges to decorate.

Mark a criss-cross pattern on the almond paste with a sharp knife. Form the remaining almond paste into 11 balls (to represent the 11 disciples). Arrange the balls around the outside.

Preheat the grill. Brush the marzipan with a little of the beaten egg. Place the cake under the preheated grill to turn the almond paste golden. Keep an eye on it and turn the cake around to prevent burning.