Food Blogging just gets Tougher and Tougher

Posted By Kerri


I spent Friday at the Masterchef Live (previously the BBC Good Food Show) event at Olympia, courtesy of the blogpaper. Arriving early gave us a good opportunity to wander around while it was quiet and check out what was on offer. With a full timetable of Invention Tests and Masterclasses throughout the day, it was necessary to plan our visit with military precision.


We started in the Cookery Experience area watching a ‘Cook-Off’ which was introduced by Olly Smith and hosted by Top-Chef-and-Restaurateur-John-Torode and Ingredients-Expert-Greg-Wallace. Previous winners, James Nathan (who now works for Rick Stein) and Thomasina Miers (owner of Wahaca) were given 20 minutes to create a dish from mystery bags which included prawns, pork chops and chocolate. James was crowned the eventual winner for his chilli prawns as John and Greggy (as he’s affectionately called by John) bemoaned the lack of heat in most dishes they were expected to judge.

I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this as much as I did; having watched a lot of Masterchef lately, I was beginning to tire of the hackneyed phrases and cliches but John and Gregg were much more natural than they come across on camera. Olly Smith was of course as brilliantly extravagant and boisterous as he always is.

After this, we did a little wandering around the 200 producer stands on the top floor before dropping into one of the Masterchef Theatres for a cookery demonstration. I’ve not been to a food event like this for a while and I’ve previously been a little disappointed with some of the exhibitors as the same ones seem to turn up all the time but this seemed to draw a much more diverse crowd showing plenty of things I’d not seen before.

I picked up some Palestinian olive oil, having read about it earlier in the year. It had a distinctive grassy and slightly bitter taste to it and was much more developed in flavour than the Mediterranean oil I’m used to. I also tasted some really good Croatian oil that isn’t yet available in the UK but I’ll be looking out for it when it does arrive.

Rice bran oil was another thing that found it’s way into my shopping bag. Billed as a healthier alternative to vegetable oil, at £1 for 250ml it seemed worth a shot. I’m yet to try it yet and am already beginning to suspect that it’s going to be another one of those ingredients that looks interesting but languishes at the back of the cupboard until the use by date has expired. Which is why I left behind the black garlic.

Alongside oil, cheese was probably the most represented food at the event. I could have spent a fortune but limited myself to some Laverstoke Park Farm mozarella. Stephen and I have had it before and loved it and it was perfect on our Friday night pizza.


Although we had already sampled a fair amount of food, we ate lunch in the Restaurant Experience area which, much like at Taste of London, features several pop-up versions of well-known restaurants. Having seen Theo Randall cook a leg of lamb earlier in the day, I headed towards his Intercontinental stand and opted for the Cape Sante: scallop, pancetta and lentils with capers, parsley and chilli. It wasn’t a huge portion but it was very good, the classic combination of fish and pork was given an earthy, wintery feel with the addition of the puy lentils and the chilli.


The afternoon was spent tasting yet more food and I also spent some time wine tasting. There wasn’t anything particularly remarkable in this area but the Crabbies Ginger Beer was very good though and would be lovely on a hot day.

Seven hours after I’d arrived, my sore feet and arms told me it was time to take my oil and cheese home. I can’t say that this event Changed My Life but it was good to see lots of interesting, new producers in one place and be able to taste their products before buying them. I’d have a cupboard full of black garlic otherwise.

Full set of pictures can be seen here.

Nov 13th, 2009

2 Comments to 'Food Blogging just gets Tougher and Tougher'

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  1. The Gobbler said,

    Sounds like a great day out.

  2. Nate said,

    Can I say “wow” on the Cape Sante dish? What a neat combination!
    .-= Nate´s last blog ..Honey-Glazed Yams =-.

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