Masterchef Live 2009

Thought I’d just give a quick run-through of the most exceptional things at Masterchef Live this year. The sheer scale of it elevated it above the average food fair, though I did surprise myself by the amount of food I actually recognised from other shows.

Almost all the cheese was familiar,  but of course welcome all the same. There was a lot of good cheese, but if I had to be more specific I’d say the top three were:

Oxford Blue: An old favourite of mine from the Oxford Cheese Company. It has a creamy texture but with incredible depth of flavour. A truckle of this is probably the keystone of my family’s christmas eating.

Amber Mist: This was already familiar to me from the British Cheese Festival. I never usually like ‘novelty cheeses’, by which I mean Cheddar or other white cheeses stuffed with fruit, herbs and whatever else was lying around the kitchen. The range of Cheddars from the Snowdonia Cheese Company, however, is exceptionally well-made. The texture is probably key to Amber Mist, as well as a suitably wistful name, as the cheese melts into your mouth to leave you with the subtle aftertaste of whiskey. Lovely.

Cornish Blue:  I’m definitely a bit biased towards blue cheese, and I have a bit of a soft spot for this company in general. They sell truckles in really attractive blue ceramic which would definitely come in useful for something, at some point. Not only that, but they also make two ridiculously tasty pates which it is impossible to choose between – blue with fig, and blue with pear and walnut.

Other than that, my favourite exhibitors were:

Thunder Toffee Vodka: Partly because they gave me a free shot every time I walked past.  But also, again, although I usually don’t like flavoured vodkas, this was really well made and really tasted like toffee. I can imagine it being nice in one or two sweet cocktails at the beginning of the night.

Black Garlic: Not necessarily because it changed my view of garlic – more because it was so weird. Tasted like a really mild garlic with the consistency of a wine gum. Odd.

Mr Vikki’s: This company was also a revelation, but more due to its tastes rather than strangeness. There were a lot of good chutneys and preserves at the show, but these really stood out. I bought the Banana Habanero which I was determined to find a good companion for, and it’s actually proved incredibly versatile. The sweetness of the banana is offset by a fiery kick, and it goes well alongside any coconut-based curry, and the website even suggests a ham sandwich.

The Good Chutney Company: More preserves, but again with something really special about them. I particularly like the Curried Rhubarb Chutney, and the Fiery Bengal Chutney.

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