This year British Sausage Week runs from November 4 to 10. BPEX product manager Claire Holland’s blog will keep Pig World up to date with the events taking place on this year’s tour.
November 7, 2013 – Bristol to London
Thursday saw the last stop of the tour bus in Bristol at the Clifton Sausage, where we were met by 12 eager finalist butchers who were being looked after by our host Simon.
Also with us were Sally Ham and Helen Thatcher from Lips, who joined Simon and myself for the judging as the chefs already had the cooking of sausages all under control.
Just as well really, as we had 15 sausages to taste! That totalled more than 70 for Simon and I throughout the week, so we were on the verge of being sausaged out. We put our best forks forward and put the past 55 behind us as if we’d never tasted a sausage this week!
A real diverse range of flavours greeted us which made the judging a difficult task. However, after much deliberation, it came down to a Traditional Breed Pork and Chorizo style sausage versus a Pork and Haggis sausage, and by a unanimous verdict the Chorizo Style Sausage won for Primrose Herd Butchers.
For his support, dedication and lastability, after awarding all the regional winners with their Banger Awards, Simon Rimmer was awarded with his own award on Thursday, as the tour came to a close.
Accepting his award, he said he’d had a great week and would never look at sausages the same way again!
Left: Sally Lugg of the Primorose Herd accepts the South-west Regional Award from Simon Rimmer.
Right: Simon gets his own reward from BPEX’s Claire Holland
* * * * *
November 6, 2013 – Cambridge to Birmingham
After a comfortable stay in Cambridge, day three dawned to a wet soggy morning for the regional tour team. Simon began the day before all of us giving an interview to BBC Cambridge on what the morning had in store for him. And then the thought of eating even more sausages drove us on to the first stop of the morning at the Tram Depot, Cambridge, where we were greeted by the lovely Leah, who had the most amazing eyelashes!
With just six finalists at this event Simon, Jane, Leah and myself had a tough start to the day as all these winning sausages were fantastic. To whittle it down to the top three was a difficult decision, but after much deliberation we decided on an amazing Black Pudding and Strawberry Jam Pork Sausage, a Pork Pear and Cider and a traditional Free Range Premium Porker.
The combination of some of the flavours made it a tough decision, but in the end we felt the Black Pudding and Strawberry combo worked really well with hints of both coming through and lasting on the palate. Produced by Perfick Pork from Norfolk, they were amazed and thrilled to receive their Banger Award from Simon.
Filming the whole event was ITV Anglia, who not only interviewed the winner, but filmed the judging and cooking. The winner said they were due to attend a number of food fares and that their Banger Award will be travelling with them and be pride of place on the counter.
After a very wet journey along the A14, and not even a promised coffee stop, as the PR boss lady said we didn’t really have the time! The next stop was central Birmingham in the buzzing Old Joint Stock we all poured over a much needed cuppa. However, we couldn’t sit around for long as we had been met by a bunch of eager butchers who had managed to beat us to the venue, and so it was all go to get the sausages booked in, down to the kitchen and cooked up by the lovely Cheryl from LIPs.
We were also met by some old foodie blogging friends, Foodie-Laura http://www.foodielaura.com/ (one of our Hambassadors) and Jason http://jasonayres70.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/a-butcher-two-bloggers-and-three.html our competition winner from the first round of judging.
So they both joined Simon in the judging along with master butcher Keith Fisher, who managed to spare us a window in his busy schedule to join the team. Together they munched their way through 10 superb pork sausages from the region, and as always the difficulty came in shortlisting the top three, which turned out to be two Traditional Pork Sausages and a Tomato and Basil Pork Sausage, which had a really lovely blend of herbs and tomatoes.
In the end, tradition won out and Rossiter Butchers, from Bournville, Birmingham, won with its organic Traditional Pork Sausage produced from pork from a Duroc crossed with a Gloucester Old Spot. A truly overwhelmed Mr Rossiter said this was only the second time he’d entered his sausages into any competition, so he was really pleased with his Banger Award and couldn’t wait to tell the shop butchers of his win.
We also had a flying visit by Flybe, which was promoting its new route to Ireland from Birmingham by giving passengers award-winning sausage sandwiches from sausages that are produced from butchers in both areas. So Simon was pictured with both butchers and their sausages to promote British Sausage Week and their route.
At 6pm on Wednesday the Lovepork Facebook page offered fans a Q&A session with Simon where answered foodie/sausage related questions. Over 100 comments were received and answers were given where required.
Ladies in Pigs meet Paul Rankin
* * * * *
November 5, 2013 – Leeds to Nottingham
Tuesday kicked off bright and breezy at Sams Chop House in Leeds, where Bryn made us very welcome while we waited for the nine butchers to deliver us with their winning sausages.
Cooking today was Julia Lister and Jacqui Marsden from Lips, who did a sterling job in keeping them coming while Simon, Bryn and myself tasted our way through the judging.
It came down to deliberating over the top five sausages that needed retasting, which included: a Sage and Red Onion Pork Sausage; a Pork, Cabbage & Bacon Sausage; a Pizza Sausage which had a stunning mozzarella flavour; a Bombay Banger, that had a sweet and spicy pineapple plus coriander flavour; and of course a Yorkshire Pork Sausage.
While all were fantastic, it took a while for the judges to agree, but ultimately the winner was chosen as Bobby’s Bombay Bangers, as they delivered so much on taste and flavour. A delighted Bobby accepted his award from Simon after which the Yorkshire Evening Post and ITV Yorkshire interviewed him.
Then it was back in the tour bus for an hour or two as we wended our way to Underwood Meat Company, in Rotherham, to present the Foodservice Sausage of the Year winner with its Banger Award. Tony Goodger met us and guided us to the company’s board room, where a photocall took place with Simon and members of Underwoods and its Foodservice trophy.
Then followed a half-hour journey to Nottingham to the ever-friendly Orange Tree pub, where we were met by the manager Del Frith and his team as they prepared to be overtaken by 14 good butchers of East Midlands.
Julia Blant and Mary Ibbottson took over the cooking reigns as well as judging while they cooked, in parallel to Simon, Del and myself out in the restaurant.
Amazingly, we all reached the same conclusion in needing to retaste the top four which included: a Thick Pork, Sage, Red Onion & Cracked Black Pepper; an Argy Bargy that contained some fantastic Indian spices and mango chutney; a traditional Lincolnshire Pork Sausage; and a Ploughmans Sausage that contained a strong cheese and apple flavour.
This was one of the most difficult, not only because of the amount we had to taste, but because the level was so high. In the end a traditional recipe won out and the Lincolnshire Pork sausage, which was produced by Trevor Fairburn Butchers of Louth with a time-honoured sausage recipe, won.
A delighted Trevor collected his award from Simon, whom I suspect he had never heard of!
Also Twitter and Facebook has been hot all day with messages from butchers and the trade & consumer press about Sausage Sandwiches & recipes, offers on winning sausages, sausage competitions and prizes, it felt like the social media world was on Sausage Fever.
Judging underway in Leeds
* * * * *
November 4, 2013 – Newcastle
Monday saw an early start as the BSW tour team travelled four hours up the country to begin the regional cook-off in Newcastle at 2pm.
A warm returning welcome from the restaurant manager, Andy, greeted the event team, as we all appeared from the back of the tour bus, squinting in to the Northern sunshine.
The eight regional butchers arrived at Blackfriars Restaurant with their superb-looking raw sausages for cooking by Rita Wells and Judith Weighell from Ladies in Pigs. To ensure we were not swayed or nobbled by the contestants, the judging area was a small dark corner of the restaurant where Andy, Simon and myself were seated for the all-important tasting.
It boiled down to three top-scoring sausages, which meant we had to retaste these to ensure we all agreed on the overall winner. These included The Blagdon Birthday Banger, which contained sweet caramelised onion and porcini mushrooms, an Old Style Farmhouse Sausage, which is produced from rare-breed pork, and a regional favourite the Northumbrian Sausage.
All were superb but, the Blagdon Banger just pipped the others to the post as its flavour and taste really shone through.
The Farm Shop, from Blagdon in Newcastle, was overjoyed with its win and Simon, from the Shop said: We enter the competition every year, and were thrilled to win with our Birthday Banger, which was created to celebrate our 10th birthday.
“We wanted something that represented us, so we used caramelised onions and porcini mushrooms to deliver that hint of sweetness, with a memorable aftertaste.
And so, with all the certificates duly awarded and the North-east Banger Award heading home to Blagdon, Steve packed us all into the tour bus for the two hour journey to Leeds for our first overnight stay, so that we could be bright eyed and ready for the Yorkshire cook-off in the morning.
Not a sausage in sight for dinner but they did make an appearance for breakfast!
Sausage tasting in Newcastle
* * * * *
November 1, 2013 – London
100s of winning sausages were put on display to showcase the breadth of sausages available across Britain today and to launch the 16th British Sausage Week with TV celebrity chef Simon Rimmer.
After a morning of talking Sausages with 17 regional radio stations, followed by an interview with the Evening Standard, Simon popped along to the Sausage Pop-up shop in Spitalfields Market. He joined master butcher Keith Fisher and Sausage Sommelier Shaun Vining to judge the final three London and South-east Butchers regional cook-off heat.
It was a close call, but one had to win and after much deliberation and a second tasting it was decided that Uptons of Bassett was champion with its Traditional Pork Sausage. At the awards lunch in Smiths of Spitalfield, a delighted Simon Broadribb went up to collect his golden Banger Award from Simon Rimmer.
Then followed the multiple retailer awards. After two rounds of judging the following Banger Awards were announced:
Gold – Waitrose 6 Pork Sausages with Caramelised Red Onion Confit
Silver – Marks and Spencer Grill Posh Dogs
Silver – Waitrose 12 Pork & Herb Chipolatas Seasoned with Rosemary & Thyme
Bronze – Tesco Finest 6 Pork Cheddar & Onion Sausages
Bronze – Asda Butchers Selection Cocktail Cocktails
The pop-up shop was open from 10-4pm and also saw visitors from Red Tractor and the Sausage King, plus 100’s of sausages were cooked up by Judy and Jane from Ladies in Pigs for sampling by the general public and visiting media.
Left: The Sausage King with ladies in Pigs
Right: Simon Rimmer