The overall winner of the Great Taste Awards is Walter Smith?s pork pies, made with free-range Duroc-Landrace gilts crossed with Large White boars. The pastry is made with the firm?s own recipe to produce moist and meaty pies, the smooth pastry contrasting with the chunky filling. Walter Smith (www.waltersmith.co.uk), the country?s largest independent butcher, began trading in 1885 and has 27 branches around the West Midlands. The firm began to make the pies only two years ago, when it became dissatisfied with its suppliers. They cost £2.99 for a 450g pie. Andrew Ayres, the managing director, says: ?When we first put the pies on sale, customers complained that the cost had gone up from £1.59. But, gradually, they all tasted one, and now the pies are selling very well indeed.? They?ll sell even better now.
En-Place Foods (www.en-placefoods.com) of Silver-stream, Co Monaghan, was shortlisted for its balsamic reduction with sherry and fig which was originally developed for a restaurant at Castle Leslie. A litre of good balsamic vinegar is reduced to what the firm describes as ?intense, piquant and rich?. Add it to stocks and dressings and drizzle over ice cream. Sweet and fruity vinegars are surprisingly good with puddings.
Other shortlisted producers (from a field of 4,500) for the Great Taste Awards this month included almond biscuits from Honeybuns (www.wemadeitourselves.com); Hi-T?s Traditional Velvet Fudge (www.hi-ts.com); Cretan sauce from Gaea (www.rhamar.com); Northfield Farm salt beef (www.northfieldfarm.com); rhubarb-and-ginger jam from Nicoll?s of Strathmore (www.miltonhaugh.com); and Olives et Al?s tomato-stuffed olives (www.olivesetal.co.uk). Quite how the judges compare salt beef with fudge is a mystery.