Melanie's Food Adventures

Taste of Grampian 2014 (part 2)

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Hello again! Did you enjoy looking at all those lovely websites from yesterday’s post? Hope you found something you liked!

I’m now going to take you to the inside arena at the Taste of Grampian festival.

The temperature outside was seriously heating up so I headed inside to see what goodies I could spy. The place was packed full of people checking out the stands (and free samples) that I had to shuffle my way from one stand to the next. I decided to cover the balcony area first and found a fantastic array of produce. My first stop was at Tap O’ Noth Fudge. Mr Food Adventurer and I both love fudge so it’s hard to walk past without buying any! They’re based up in Speyside and it’s wonderfully melt in the mouth so I grabbed a couple of bags made with Irish Cream as they were selling fast.

Next along was Letty’s Preserves. These were hand-made pure fruit vinegars. Lots of samples were on offer and working my way along them all (purely for the purpose of this blog, you understand) I decided to buy a raspberry vinegar and a raspberry & blackcurrant vinegar. The leaflet that accompanied my purchase explained all the different suggestions for use including adding to cocktails & salads. I was especially drawn to the idea of adding it to a hot toddy to ease a sore throat (what with me being ill & all!)

My last purchase upstairs was from the lovely Joanna of Jo Jo’s Jam. Joanna was there with her mum selling the tastiest jam around! She had such a delicous range including Kiwi & Apple that I struggled to pick which ones to buy (feel free to judge me now as I tried them all….) However I did manage to come to a decision based on the fact she has managed to combine fruit & chocolate in a jam…. Yes, you read right, does life get much better??? I ended up buying two jars, one Blackforest & Dark Chocolate (surely that can’t even be legal!) and Strawberry Cocktail. I left a very jammy, happy bunny…

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A quick stop off  again at the car and then I headed for Ola Oils. I’ve been a big fan of their Scottish cold pressed rapeseed oils for as long as they’ve been on the go. It’s great to cook with as you can heat it to a very high temperature and you don’t lose any of the flavour. I’d noticed on their Facebook page that they were launching a new product, The Chester Hotel House Dressing, so I knew I had to pop along to try some. After having a wee sample (they were quite insistent!),  I decided to buy a bottle along with a bottle of their Rosemary Infused Oil.

Time was ticking on so I headed to Ring Two to watch Paul Rankin in action. Paul was a natural with the crowd and made it look easy chatting away as he cooked. He talked a wee bit about the upcoming series he & Nick Nairn are currently filming in the States. He talked about how he realised while out there that many of their most famous dishes were “stolen” from the Scots, giving the example of Cullen Skink being the original Chowder… Gave me some food for thought!

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Paul cooked up a fabulous Seafood Style Bruschetta, using smoked & unsmoked haddock, salmon, mussels and prawns in a creamy sauce and for the bruschetta, he used a soda farl. Throughout the demo he gave the audience lots of wee tips which I really appreciated. All that chat resulted in not much time left for a second dish, so Paul rustled up a beef fillet with salsa verde. I cannot believe how quickly he pulled the dish together and even made a quick ratatouille to accompany the steak, impressive stuff.

Despite having to prepare for his next demo. Paul took time to sign a few autographs and I even got my picture taken with him! I did tell him it would take pride of place on my new blog!

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After a quick bite to eat I headed back to the Ring for the Nick Nairn & Paul Rankin show! It had been billed as a duel but they ended up cooking together and it was great fun to watch them. It’s easy to see what a great friendship they have on and off screen as they constantly ribbed each other, with Nick getting a lot of stick for his cookware range! Together they made an Ulster Pastie, Ulster Scotch Egg, using lamb, a cold smoked salmon pate and a fish mousse with smoked haddock & fresh salmon. Things were pretty frantic during the cooking but what a selection of dishes in thirty minutes! It was fantastic to see that all the ingredients they used were local and after the demo you had the opportunity to go out and meet these great producers. It’s what makes this event so special for me.

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Finally, here’s a picture of the goodies I bought! I think my clan will eat well for a while!!

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So, there you have it! I had an amazing day and I hope I’ve managed to put into words what you would have experienced if you’d been there yourself. If you get the chance to come along next year then please do and you will find a wealth of products from a beautiful part of Scotland that I am proud to call home.

Melanie, Food Adventurer

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