Great Taste Award winners 2021 from Lancashire and the Lake District

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Make room on your table for these tasty treats - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Our region is home to some of the finest foods to be found anywhere and it seems that the judges of the prestigious 2021 Great Taste Awards agree. 108 countries entered over 14,000 products but only 1,138 achieved 2 stars and just 218 gained 3 stars, with several of our local producers gaining entry into this select group. 

They have produced something to tantalise the tastebuds at every course and, as there’s always room for a shining star at every stylish Christmas table, now is the perfect time to sample them.

Fermentation Station UK. Bread and Butter Pickles. 2 Stars 

Bread and Pickles

Bread and Pickles - Credit: Bread and Pickles

Based in Liverpool and owned by Sam Watson and Amy Yarker, the Fermentation Station UK aims to take the mystery out of fermentation while still delivering products with a zing. Their Bread-and-Butter Pickles has been declared one of the best and is hugely versatile. Sharp and juicy, including chilli for a little heat with added mustard seeds, coriander seeds and golden turmeric, it makes an exciting addition to the Christmas cheeseboard and a generous dollop can elevate the humblest Boxing Day cheese toastie or burger to a new taste sensation. Finely chopped, it can be added to homemade tartare sauce and the brine can be drizzled over soups such as minestrone or ramen or, as the name suggests, simply enjoyed with artisan bread and butter. thefermentation-station.co.uk

Exchange Coffee. El Salvador Finca El Gobiado Orange Bourbon: 2 Stars. Sumatra Ketiara Queen Gayo: 2 Stars 

Exchange Coffee

Exchange Coffee - Credit: Robin Lyndon

Exchange Coffee has branches in Clitheroe, Blackburn and Todmorden. The smell of roasting beans and freshly ground coffee has lured many through its doors and it’s difficult to leave without sampling, or taking home, one of the many coffees, or teas. It is no stranger to the Great Taste Awards, always winning something and, this year as well as the two stars hauled for two coffees, it also won one star each for the Costa Rica El Poeta de San Ramon and Ethiopia Kochere. 

The judges felt that the Sumatra Ketiara Queen Gayo had an admirable complexity, with suggestions of burnt caramel and rose water. It could be the perfect coffee to enjoy as a flat white or filter with a lighter Christmas dessert, while the floral notes of the El Salvador Finca El Gobiado Orange Bourbon would round of the festive meal perfectly. Both would be a welcome pick me up on Boxing Day morning. exchangecoffee.co.uk 

Singletons & Co. Parlick and Nocellara Olive Cheese. 2 Stars. 

In the Singletons Dairy

In the Singletons Dairy - Credit: Singletons

A cheeseboard is an essential for the Christmas table: something to linger over and enjoy, once the pressure of cooking and serving is off, so it’s a great time to introduce a local cheese that has been judged one of the best in the world: Parlick and Nocellara Olive Cheese by Singletons &Co. They have been making cheese near Longridge since 1745, exporting all over the world and this award is the latest in a long line.  

It’s a hand-blended sheep’s cheese with the addition of delicious Sicilian green olives: the judges felt it was very attractive to the eye as well as the taste buds. The acidity of the young sweet cheese is really lifted by those salty olives, bestowing more vibrancy and their texture enhances the grainy paste of the cheese. The overall effect is of a well-balanced and well-rounded cheese, perfect on the Christmas table or to savour by the fireside on Christmas Eve. singletonscheese.com 

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Udale Speciality Foods. Dry Aged Lamb Rump. 3 Stars. Dry Aged Herdwick Hogget Shoulder. 2 Stars 

Udale dry aged lamb rump

Udale dry aged lamb rump - Credit: Udale

Based in Lakeland and Morecambe and run by two brothers, Udale was the first in the country to use a Himalayan Salt Chamber, a process which sucks the moisture out of the air, allowing meat to dry naturally. This means the flavour and texture is hugely improved, something the judges of the Great Taste Awards agreed with, awarding a rare 3 star for the lamb rump and an impressive 2 stars for the Herdwick Hogget Shoulder. The herds wander freely across the herb rich pastures of Yew Tree Farm, once owned by Beatrix Potter. 

Both meats are gaining in popularity for the festive season, as diners look for an alternative to turkey and others simply want something equally show stopping for Christmas Eve supper – there will be plenty left for pretty special sandwiches too if a hot stove has lost its appeal by Boxing Day. udale.com 

Lakeland Artisan. Damson Extra Jam 2 Stars. Sweet Garlic Pickle. 2 Stars. Spiced Fruit Rum Liqueur. 2 Star. Rhubarb and Ginger Gin Liqueur.

Lakeland Liqueurs

Lakeland Liqueurs - Credit: Lakeland Liqueurs

Run by a husband-and-wife team in Kendal, making preserves, chutneys, soft drinks and liqueurs, the company has amassed two stars for four of its products. The liqueurs can be enjoyed on their own, but they can also be used as the base of some luxurious cocktails, just the thing to kick-start your Christmas party. The Spiced Fruit Rum and the Rhubarb and Ginger Gin liqueurs are smooth and give a warm, toasty glow. With 37% garlic, the Sweet Garlic Pickle is perfect for adding flavour to any Boxing Day curry or for adding as a glaze to grilled meat or fish and the Damson Extra Jam, with its intense flavour, is perfect for Christmas morning croissants, served with a glass of Bucks Fizz. lakelandartisan.co.uk 

House of Gelato: Sachertorte Gelato. 3 Stars 

House of Gelato 

House of Gelato - Credit: House of Gelato 

The House of Gelato has beaten many other ice cream makers to scoop a Great Taste 3-star award, something which will come as no surprise to those who already know about the Preston-based business. It follows the Italian tradition of using only the best, natural ingredients in order to produce amazing home-made flavours. The Sachertorte gelato is perfect for guests who really don’t feel as if they could quite manage a portion of Christmas pudding. The original Sachertorte gateau was designed for royalty and this gelato version brings all the flavours to the dessert plate, making it a jewel in the crown of a festive lunch. houseofgelato.co.uk 

Mr Vikki’s: Chilli Jam 3 Stars 

Mr Vikki's

Mr Vikki's - Credit: Mr Vikki's

Not only did the Chilli Jam win those elusive three stars, it was also nominated for this year’s Golden Fork award, an honour bestowed on a very small percentage of all worldwide entrants. This isn’t the first time one of Mr Vikki’s Indian fusion pickles, chutneys and sauces has been nominated for a Golden Fork and owner, award winning chef, Adam Marks is ‘super proud’. Including red peppers, red jalapenos, garlic and fenugreek seeds, the chilli jam is warm and intense without being too hot. It can be used as part of a salad dressing or as a marinade, as well as topping sandwiches and works well when added to a stir fry. Most Christmas leftovers will lose their tired taste with a good helping of Chilli Jam and many will appreciate it served with turkey as an alternative to cranberry sauce. mrvikkis.co.uk 

James Peet Southport Potted Shrimps. Potted Shrimps 3 Stars

Southport Potted Shrimps

Southport Potted Shrimps - Credit: Southport Potted Shrimps

James founded the business in 1980 and his shrimps have long been recognised as top quality. This year his attention to detail was rewarded when his potted shrimps earned three Great Taste stars. The brown shrimps are locally caught and prepared with a secret blend of salt, butter and spices following an historic recipe, with no artificial preservatives used. 

They make an elegantly simple Christmas starter, maybe served with melba or hot toast with a wedge of lemon. This has the beauty of needing very little preparation, a bonus for any Christmas chef. Of course, they can be incorporated into other fish dishes, such as sea trout which, according to portion size, could serve as a main or a starter and James suggests that they can also be used to stuff mushrooms or garlic bread for a casual family supper. pottedshrimp.co.uk 

  •  For a full list of Great Taste Award winners, go to gff.co.uk