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Ten of the best: gourmet goodies from the Real Food Festival 2009

Ten of the best: gourmet goodies from the Real Food Festival 2009
Victor and Erika, Nordic Dining
Food festival spy Zoe Perrett made it her personal mission to eat her way to her top ten food favourites from the Real Food Festival 2009
Malmo Nordic Dining
Nordic food's often overlooked in the UK, so it was exciting to discover a stall entirely devoted to the stuff. Malmo brought some refreshingly different products to the mix, including intriguing preserves like Rosehip and sea buckthorn and Blueberry and mint. As well as tasting pretty good, I'm led to believe they deliver a whole host of health benefits, too. I also got stuck into some Swedish cheeses- the Jarlsberg-esque Greve, Pratost (or, 'priest cheese'), the creamy Herrgard , and Svecia, described as 'rustic, full-bodied and fresh'. Learn more about the diverse cuisines of Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland at
Coconut palm sugar
Exotic palates with a sweet tooth will like Speciality Farm Foods' Coconut palm sugar as much as I did. Whilst other jaggeries and palm sugars can be made from any palm, this one comes exclusively from the nectar of the coconut flower. With a deep, rich, toffee-d taste, the free-flowing sugar can replace white sugar anywhere and everywhere- I'm thinking all manner of brownies and bakes, not to mention spicy-sweet Southeast Asian dishes. Coconut palm sugar also boasts a low GI, is low fructose, rich in vitamin B and a number of minerals. With the sustainable product entirely produced by smallholders and the revenue staying in the local economy, what's not to love? It's organic, too, and preservative free- check out

Welsh cheese, walks and mountain biking
Blaenafon Cheddar Co. showcased a number of waxed cheese truckles- I especially liked the Bara Brith- made with Celtic Spirit 'Black Mountain' Liqueur. Thoroughly Welsh ingredients including Penderyn whisky, Welsh Lady preserves, Thomas Watkins and Brain's brewery ales, Hurn's cider and Sugar Loaf wine lend flavour elsewhere in the range. The travel hook is the company's Mountain Tours. As well as conventional bikes, Wheelchair tandems, Tracker and TMX tricycles, and Tandem trikes are on offer to hire from £15 per day, meaning everyone can participate in picturesque rides around the Blaenavon World Heritage site (with en-route pick-ups if you get tired). Prefer your feet firmly on the ground? Guided walks are available- ranging from 2-mile strolls to 9-mile hikes. Have a look at

Jersey Black Butter
La Mare Estate's Jersey Black Butter is a delicious and unusual spread resembling molasses. It's made from apples, cider, licorice and spices and tastes every bit as delicious as that list suggests. A rather superior fudge made with the Butter was on offer, too. If a jar of the Great Taste Gold award-winning Black Butter has given you a taste for the island, visit 22nd-24th October when the National Trust will be running Black Butter making demos. Tennerfest (a month-long event where many establishments offer three-course menus for just £10) happily coincides. With two Michelin-starred restaurants as well as two recipients of the Bib Gourmande, Jersey is a hot foodie destination.

Hush! Italian holidays
Quirky accommodation's always a better bet than anodyne hotels, so I was interested to pick up a leaflet for Hush! Offering a glimpse into 'secret Italy', Hush! claim to go 'beyond the brochure' with stays in converted convents, private villas, historic palazzos and rustic farmsteads. Destinations comprise Tuscany, Umbria, Sicily, the Aeolian Islands, Puglia, and city breaks in Florence, Venice and Rome. Hush! design bespoke breaks tailored to travellers' interests and requirements, meaning you can be as hands-on in planning your getaway as you like. Fancy staying somewhere different? Log on to

German bakery
Really good German baking is a rarity in the UK- leaden breads and dry pastries no doubt spring to the minds of many. But I was impressed by K & S Bakery's goodies. The shop's at 247 Old Brompton Rd- visit for the amazing Hanover butter cake, German cheesecake, the house speciality of Minister Stripes pastry, or savoury items like Anne-Katrin or Lower Saxony breads, or get the digestive juices flowing at

South Devon Chilli Farm
If travels have cursed you with a need for heat when you eat, South Devon Chilli Farm's wares will be right up your street. Chilli sauces and condiments are reliably excellent, but to my mind it's the chocolate that's a real standout. Currently available in plain, fruit, orange, peppermint and (my favourite) coffee varieties, the company aim to introduce a new chilli-infused variety annually. Chilli-heads might want to take a trip to the farm in Loddiswell, Devon- but if you really can't wait, they're online at

The Good Chutney Co.
No doubt many of you have come across the luscious Italian 'mostardas' on your travels. Available in an enormous range of fruit flavours, this sweet-savoury condiment is thoroughly addictive and pairs everything from cheese to meat- even try it on ice cream. Away from speciality delis or online, the Italian products can be hard to procure, so I was thrilled to come across The Good Chutney Company, who make their own Mostarda Di Frutta from their kitchens in the Chiltern hills. Taste-wise, the small-batch product more than stands up to its Italian counterparts. Order online at

One Tree chocolate
I'm a total chocoholic, so I was glad to know indulging my cravings can do the world good! Every Organic Meltdown bar saves one tree in the Ecuadorian rainforest, where the company work with the World Land Trust to produce great chocolate- and great results for its farmers and their environment. I found the muscavado-ey milk and the rooibos and raspberry dark chocolates scrumptious- but the Indian spiced, Cinnamon and chilli and plain old dark versions weren't bad either! Learn more at

Gourmet Switzerland
My chosen reading material this week? A fabulous Gourmet Travel guide to Switzerland I discovered in one of the many bags-for-life I toted home. A veritable treasure trove of food and travel porn, it's got me all excited for cheese-making, chocolate-tasting, restaurant-dining, small-producer-visiting type breaks. This brochure's got info on all the regions, with their corresponding specialities and top tables- get your own copy at or call 00800 100 200 30 and ask for the Gourmet Travel publication.
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17 May 2009
By: Zoe Perrett
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