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Blog: Love Dorset Food...from the Jurassic larder

Blog: Love Dorset Food...from the Jurassic larder

Blog: Love Dorset Food...from the Jurassic larder

AUTUMN arrived with a bang at the weekend but with the delights on offer at Sturminster Cheese Festival, a bit of wind and rain hardly spoiled our enjoyment.

With the Wessex Food Festival at Weymouth as well, this was the last of the really busy event weekends. There are still a couple of festivals, notable Screen Bites Food Film Festival (3rd October to 2nd November – more on this next week) and Eat Dorset Food Fair at Parnham near Beaminster on 13th-14th October (more on that nearer the time).

Say cheese

Our two star cheesemakers – Annette Lee of Woolsery at Up Sydling and James McCall of James’s Cheese at Child Okeford, winners respectively of the British Cheese Awards for best goat’s cheese (Nanette) and best semi-soft cheese (Francis) – were among the line-up from all over the region in the Cheese Festival main tent, alongside Dorset’s unique Blue Vinny from the Davies family at Woodbridge Farm near Stalbridge.

There is a lot more than cheese going on, of course ... show-goers can sample and buy from many of the county’s finest producers, from the big boys like Olives Et Al, Ford Farm and Godminster to the tiny artisan businesses like Ajar Of, From Dorset With Love, Comin’s Tea House, and the irresistible delights of the Baking Birds.

I visited Lizzie and Bekki at their Windsbatch Bakery last week and was blown away, all over again, by how hard these two birds work to create their fabulous cakes and breads and tarts and savoury pastries. I will definitely be making a return visit to write about them for the Jurassic Larder.

Outside the food marquee, you could relax with a beer or cider and listen to some of the area’s best bands, spend time and cash in the craft tent and find about some of the many local organisations and charities, including Sturminster’s Exchange centre and Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’s Dorset Food and Drink brand where visitors could sample mini Dorset ploughmans, with Dorset cheese and chutneys.

Preserving passions

Cheese and chutney are such natural bedfellows that there were plenty of preserve makers at the festival, including From Dorset With Love and Ajar Of. Both these artisan producers are making waves with their savoury sauces and chutneys.

From Dorset – Karl and Chrissy Regler – and Ajar Of – Tracey and David Collins – have been using locally sourced ingredients to create new products which are proving a big hit with showgoers.

From Dorset With Love’s Dorsetshire Sauce – the county’s answer to the legendary Worcester Sauce – is flying off the shelves as fast as Karl can make it. It is even being stocked at Fortnum & Mason, and it doesn’t get much better than that in the food world!

Tracey Collins moved from jars into a bottle for her new product, the Dorset Naga Chilli Sauce, which she launched at Sturminster Newton. She makes it with chillis that she grows herself, and the newfound national passion for the hot stuff saw her back in her kitchen on Saturday night making more for Sunday after her first batch sold out during the first day.

Jampire Jampion

Another Dorset preserve maker has been making her mark on the international stage. Sue Young, of the Alweston Jam and Chutney Empire, has just been named World Jampion, after beating 300 competitors in the competition in Perthshire.

Sue was the first ever national Jampion in 2011 and won silver last year and was back on top form to be crowned 2013 World Jampion at the finals at Dundee Flower and Food Festival. The competition is based in Scotland, in the heart of the berry fields, and this year’s event was launched at historic Scone Palace.

Sue’s winning preserve is Passionfruit and Raspberry Jam, a jewel-like jam dotted with passionfruit seeds, with the tart bite you want from raspberries and a luscious sweetness from the passionfruit. You really want to put this on a freshly made scone with the best clotted cream you can get!

As well as meeting the demand for her Jampion product, Sue also has a year as Jambassador (the organisers of this event leave no pun unturned!) so look out for her warm smile and delicious jams at many events around the region and further afield this year.

Sue’s range includes a Great Taste Award-winning Passionfruit Curd and many traditional and innovative jams and chutneys, often using produce from her garden and the hedgerows around her home near Sherborne.

She says: “My organisation is small - just me and my large preserving pan in a little kitchen in a tiny village in Dorset, but my Empire is expanding!”

Love Dorset Food

It’s British Food Fortnight of course – look elsewhere on this website for all the info. But just a plug for one of Dorset’s finest restaurants, at Summer Lodge hotel and spa in the village of Evershot.

Executive chef Steve Titman, who is genuinely passionate about using the best of local produce, has created menus for British Food Fortnight that are 100 per cent Dorset sourced and produced, with many ingredients coming from the hotel’s own gardens.