Christmas starts early in the deli!
For the last 15 years, we have made the annual pilgrimage to Olympia to visit the Speciality Fine Food Fair. We have seen it shrink down to three quarters of the ground floor during the recession and swell right up to filling both floors – and this is what we came across this time. We noticed that there were so many more small start up producers this year, which is a great thing, and makes out job choosing the finest produce for our Bristol deli so much more enjoyable.We were lucky to meet the owner of Cornish Charcuterie (above right) whose pates sell well at the deli. He is working on bringing together a group of Cornish food producers to enable many to sell into a wider market, which is great news for Cornish food lovers.
Some of our favourites chocolatiers were there – it was great to see Prestat and taste their new peach and black tea chocolate discs and earl grey truffles. Prestat is a firm favourite for many of our deli customers. Their chocolates are delicious and their packaging always glamorous and identifiable.
Bodrato (in red packaging above) is a huge seller at Christmas, especially their cherries soaked in grappa, covered in thick chocolate. We were delighted to meet Nom Nom chocolates from West Wales and are looking to stocking their bars, along with Kernow chocolate from Cornwall.
We are always searching for the perfect panettone, and tasted a fair few! One, made with extra virgin olive oil instead of butter was one of the most original.
There is often a new trend that can be spotted – earlier on it was speciality teas, which were new to the market, but these days are pretty well established. The last couple of years saw flavoured popcorns. This year, there were lots of new marshmallow companies. And chillies, chillies are popular.
There were tens of olive producers, a beautiful Portuguese tinned sardine range (which we already stock), parma ham, charcuterie, wines, snacks, biscuits – a huge range of delicious foods. It’s important, we must stress, to visit the show on an empty stomach.
This fair is definitely worth a visit for fine food retailers. It’s great to catch up with lots of our suppliers, and to meet new faces in the food world. A chef visiting looking for fine ingredients may be disappointed as it is very much all about retail. That said, it’s great for anyone involved in the food industry as the packaging is superb on many products, and the knowledge there is wide ranging if you’re wanting a chat about food and what’s hot.
We would certainly recommend it.