How many of these 127 Great Taste Award-winning products have you tried?
- Credit: Gregg Brown
Those who live in the east of England will know, and be rightly proud of, the brands that fly the flag for the region’s counties. From farmers and butchers, to distillers, bakers and chocolatiers – Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex brim with foodie talent. And clearly the Guild of Fine Food’s Great Taste Award judges agree, having dished out more than 100 coveted gold stars to our producers this year. Here are just some of the food and drink heroes you should look out for.
Krafty Braumeister’s Schwarz & Weiss – 3 stars
Brewery founder Uli Schiefelbein of Leiston’s Krafty Braumeister, is delighted to be just one of a handful of makers in East Anglia awarded three stars. In fact, of 14,000 GTA entries, just 218 products picked up the honour, meaning they really did make a mark on judges.
As all his beers, Uli’s Schwarz & Weiss is made in small batches using traditional German brewing techniques – and only malted grains, hops, yeast and water. This beer is his take on a Bavarian dunkelweizen, rich with the scent of roasted and oak-smoked barley malts, and with a spicy, fruity, rich finish.
Judges said the brew has a “beautifully complex nose, with cherries and smokiness, coffee and light florals. Perfectly balanced, with a delicious texture. The flavour keeps evolving on the palate bringing forward raisins and cinnamon. The finish is light and very pleasant. We love the mousse and slightly cloudy appearance, and the nose is enthralling with its medley of smoke, banana, caramel, bread notes.”
While Uli adds: “Starting a new business and making it profitable is like running a marathon. This fantastic reward gives us the boost we need after a difficult year. We are proud to be producing a quality beer using the finest Suffolk malts. I hope more people will get to taste the delights of our German inspired beers. A big thankyou to our whole team - all the hard work paid off.”
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Stokes Sauces Blackcurrant Jam – 3 stars
This well-known Suffolk sauce and preserve brand notched up an impressive collection of stars in 2021, including two for its Sweet and Sticky BBQ Sauce, and one apiece for the Spiced Green Tomato and Apple Chutney, Sweet Chilli Sauce, and Pomodoro – all made with premium core ingredients for a ‘better than the big brands’ full flavour.
The biggest winner for Stokes this year, however, was its Blackcurrant Jam, which judges said had a “deep purply colour that is incredibly appealing on the eye. On our palates it is decadent with the sharpness of the berries perfectly balanced with the sweetness. Texturally a delight. Sticky and luxurious.”
A spokesperson from Stokes says: “Our goal and efforts have always been to create the finest, tastiest, well-balanced products –premium sauces, chutneys and preserves for premium, discerning taste buds. Which is why we are always pleased when their quality is recognised by others. Excellent reviews from customers are praise indeed. Just as the praise from the prestigious panel of judges at the Great Taste Awards is an accolade received with overwhelming pride. We could not be happier and thank all concerned.”
The only other three star winner in Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex was master miller Marriage’s, used by baker’s all over the east of England. The brand’s Organic Light Brown Plain Flour, was highly recommended by judges, who also gave Marriage’s two gold stars for its Light Brown Self-Raising Flour, Organic Strong Stoneground Wholemeal Bread Flour, and Light Spelt Flour.
The pride of Norfolk
Three businesses in Norfolk took home two star awards – The Tealady, Old Hall Farm, and Old Rectory Preserves for its Pickled Walnuts.
The Tealady, Elizabeth Walker, says she’s thrilled to have gained stars for her Christmas Marmalade, while also picking up single stars for her Blueberry Jam, Spicy Carrot Relish and Toffee Apple Jelly.
"These awards are a welcome addition to previous product recognition in these, and the World Marmalade Awards,” she smiles.
“When I enter products, rather than make a special ‘award batch’ I select jars from the store, this way I know for sure that the product judged truly reflects the quality that my customers are buying and eating.
“With the exception of citrus fruit wherever possible I choose to use ingredients grown/produced in Norfolk.
“I love navigating the calendar via the growing and harvesting seasons, as it always produces top rate produce. Although not Norfolk grown, there’s such pleasure on a cold dull January day, unwrapping the first box of vibrant cerise pink rhubarb from Yorkshire. Similar I’d say to a new pair of heels, when I wore those to work!”
The English Whisky Company’s Norfolk PX is infused into The Tealady’s Christmas Marmalade. Elizabeth uses bramley apples from Ashill Fruit Farm, and Nelson’s Gold Caramel Vodka in her Toffee Apple Jelly. The blueberries in her jam are from Fairgreen Farms in Middleton. And her Spicy Carrot Relish is packed with local produce, including Frederick Hiam’s carrots, Ashill Fruit Farm’s apples, and onions from RG Abrey Farms.
The team at Old Hall Farm in Woodton are equally over-the-moon about the two stars for their Raw Jersey Cultured Butter, and for the one star, awarded to their Raw Jersey Cream.
Rebecca Mayhew and her family got their first cow in 2017 – milking 12 within a year, and selling raw milk from and honesty-based farm shop. Today, they run a bustling butchery, deli, café, and vineyard, with 40 Jersey cows (kept calf at foot), supplying the raw ingredients for many of their products.
“We’ve been making butter for three years,” says Rebcca. “I often go to cookery demos at Morston Hall. Galton has been a big supporter since the beginning, and has always encouraged us to make different products, as has Greg Anderson at Meadowsweet, and Tom Aitkens at Muse.
“It’s a fabulous accolade to receive stars for our raw cultured butter - it’s a really special product and fantastic for it to be recognised in this way. I believe that there are only two raw cultured butters in the UK. Not only does raw butter taste amazing, but it’s incredibly good for us as well - particularly when purely pasture fed - with many more available nutrients and vitamins than in butter made from pasteurised cream.
“Our cream also received one star - it’s the same luxurious, thick Jersey cream that our butter is made from. We’re now using it to make creme fraiche and mascarpone, as well as fudge!”
Keeping it cool
Local ice cream proved a smash hit this year. Newcomer to the scene, Panache of East Bergholt, picked up two stars for its Raspberry ice cream, and one star for its White Chocolate and Honeycomb variety.
Former music teacher, now full-time ice cream aficionado Michael Searle says: “We’re incredibly proud. We’ve worked really hard for a very long time and spent countless hours perfectly our recipes. To have feedback from customers is great, but it’s so nice to be validated by a team of experts too.”
Panache started life at a family party, when Michael’s aunt (visiting from South Africa) whipped up a batch for a celebration. “It was a lightbulb moment,” he says. “Everyone was raving about it and we begged her for the base recipe. That was the start of everything.”
Made in small batches using Suffolk cream and eggs, and natural inclusions (sourced locally), Panache ice cream is available wholesale in flavours such as gin and tonic, peanut butter, and salted black treacle, with Michael working with local business on bespoke batches – Mariners in Ipswich, for example has its own Panache Cognac ice cream.
And this year, for the first time, they’ve branched out to sell in shops too. You’ll find their core range of White Chocolate and Honeycomb, Raspberry, Espresso Martini, Pistachio, Salted Caramel Bourbon and Cookies and Cream at Snape Maltings Food Hall, Suffolk Food Hall and Willow Tree Farm Shop.
“My favourite is the salted caramel,” says Michael. “It’s got a nice warm kick to it!”
Perhaps one of the biggest success stories in the east is that of Jane Hadley, who owns Hadley’s Dairy, and operates a cute, pastel-coloured ice cream parlour in the medieval village of Lavenham – which has just been taken over by Netflix for filming.
Jane has picked up 10 awards: two stars for Belize Chocolate Ice Cream, Belize Hot Chocolate, Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream, Gingerbread Truffles and Gluten-Free Great Start Granola, and one star for her Mint Chocolate Truffle, Sour Cherry Amaretti, Rhubarb Ice Cream, Coffee Truffle, Loganberry Ice Cream.
“Because it’s just me doing this it’s really quite humbling to win,” says Jane. “The feedback is really important and the judging panel have done such a great job at being able to stage these in light of what’s going on in the world. The comments I get from them are so positive and they help you to try and improve what you do.”
As we move into the cooler months, visitors to the parlour in Lavenham will find more truffles and chocolates on the counter, made with the same Tosier and Pump Street chocolate Jane uses for her award-winning hot chocolate.
“The gingerbread truffles are made with the Belize chocolate from Tosier. I infuse the cream with those warm spices – cinnamon, mixed spice and nutmeg – which complements the chocolate so well. And the mint chocolate truffles are made with an infusion of chocolate mint I grow myself.”
She says the soft, squidgy amaretti will be in abundance from October onwards too – made with the egg whites left over from the ice cream making process. “I serve them with coffees at the shop and customers really do like them!”
The best of the rest
Meat and fish
2 stars - Passion for Seafood Ness Point Smokehouse Cold Smoked Wild Bass
2 stars – PA Mobbs Free-Range White Turkey
1 star – Taste of Suffolk Premium Pork Sausage
1 star – Pinney's Freedom Farmed Smoked Salmon, and Smoked Mackerel Fillets
1 star – Black Dog Deli Caramelised Red Onion and Wholegrain Mustard Sausage Roll, Lamb Tagine
1 star – Morton's Traditional Taste Lemon and Black Pepper Hot Smoked Chicken, Beer Can Chicken, Hot Smoked Chicken Breast
1 star – Staith Smokehouse Artisan Style Oak Smoked Salmon
1 star- Worstead Farms F1 Wagyu Ribeye Steak
1 star – Lambton and Jackson Maldon Royal Smoked Salmon
1 star – Direct Meats Elidure salami
2 stars – Hodmedod Fermented Wholegrain Naked Barley
2 stars – Hillfarm Smoked Chilli Oil
1 star – Aspalls Raw Cyder Vinegar with Honey
1 star – Hillfarm Runny Honey, Extra Virgin Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil
1 star- Munchy Seeds Warm Cumin and Fennel
1 star – Hodmedod Roast Yellow Peas with Smoked Paprika
1 star – Good to Go Buckwheat and Blueberry Granola
1 star – Serious Rub Company, Serious Rub No. 1
1 star – Bonallack Home Cooked Original Granola, Stem Ginger and Walnut Granola, Walnut Oatbakes
1 star – The Norwich Porridge Co Grain and 5 Seed Porridge
1 star – Jack & Bye Jackfruit Burgers
1 star – Fairfield Slightly Salted Crisps, Sweet Chilli Crisps
1 star – Surya Foods Thai Dragon Pad Thai Noodles
1 star – The Foraging Fox Spicy Turmeric Mayo, Original Tomato Ketchup, Smoked Garlic Mayo
1 star – The Sticky Pickle Co Pickled Red Cabbage, Mr Beaird’s Pickle
2 stars - Freshpac Three Bean Blend coffee
2 stars – Harris and James House Blend coffee
2 stars – Bush Rum Co Haymans London Dry Gin, Haymans Old Tom Gin
1 star– LA Brewery Citrus Hop Kombucha
1 star – Aspall Imperial Vintage Cyder
1 star – Big Drop Brewery Poolside
1 star – Freshpac Cameroon Boyo Noni-Din Arabica coffee
1 star- Maynard House Orchards Cox and Bramley Apple Juice, Russet Apple Juice
1 star – Nonsuch Shrubs Wild Hedgerow and Rose Shrub
1 star – Aspall Pip and Wild, Wild Strawberry and Rose Cyder
1 star – The Artisan Drinks Company Fiery Ginger Beer, Pink Citrus Tonic, Skinny London Tonic, Amalfi Lime Tonic, Agave Lemon Tonic
1 star – Whatahoot Tawny Orange Gin, Navy Strength Gin, Signature Vodka
1 star – Mindful Mixology Salted Coconut Espresso Martini, Grapefruit Margarita, 0% Grapefruit Margarita
1 star- Bullard Spirits Coastal Gin
1 star – Oichi Ferments Lemon, Ginger and Turmeric Kombucha, Lime, Ginger and Mint Kombucha, Hibiscus and Rose Kombucha
1 star - Norfolk Coffee Company Holkham Estate blend
1 star – 3 Amigos Artisan Spirits Oysterman London Dry Gin
1 star- Bishop Nick Martyr beer
1 star- Barn Farm Drinks Strawberry and Cucumber Presse
1 star- English Spirit Company English Spiced Rum
1 star - Newmarket Gin
Confectionary and desserts
2 stars – Lilly Puds Premium Traditional Christmas Pudding
2 stars – Harris and James Intense Dark Chocolate
1 star – Posy Vanilla Fudge
1 star – Harris and James Whitby Gin Dark Chocolate
1 star – Lilly Puds Premier Gluten-Free Christmas Pudding
1 star – Hilton Macarons Blackcurrant, Hazelnut
1 star – Cocoa Collective Luscious Orange Craft Chocolate
1 star- Booja Booja Almond Salted Caramel Chocolate Truffles, Hazelnut Crunch Chocolate Truffles
1 star – Maldon Chocolates Peanut Butter Fudge
1 star – The Pickled Jam Co Brinjal Pickle
1 star – Scarlett and Mustard Rosemary Jelly
1 star – Old Rectory Preserves Raspberry Coulis
1 star- Thursday Cottage Amaretto Butter, Brandy Butter, Spiced Cherry Jam with Cherry Brandy, English Heritage All Butter Raspberry Curd, English Heritage All Butter Apple Curd
2 stars – Alder Tree Raspberry Fruit Cream Ice
1 star – Suffolk Meadow Ice Cream Vanilla
1 star – Alder Tree Gooseberry and Elderflower Fruit Cream Ice, Damson Fruit Cream Ice, Summer Berries Fruit Cream Ice
1 star- East Coast Gelato Raspberry Sorbet, Banoffee Gelato