Friday, 2 December 2011

My day out at Good Food Show Winter

You may remember that last year, if you've stuck around these parts that long, I went to the Good Food Show Winter for the very first time after a lovely blogger gave me the ticket that she had won and couldn't use. I had a great time and vowed to go back. Somehow, going to the Summer show never quite happened and before I knew it, November was upon us again and I was trying to decide if this year, I really ought to buy a ticket. When, out of the blue, an invitation arrived from Sainsbury's to come to the last day of the show to a blogger's lunch. I was not going to say no! I found it funny that I then had to register as press to attend the show.

This year, I decided to travel down to Birmingham on Saturday - and this gave me the opportunity to meet up with my lovely friend Ruth and head down to the pub for some food that evening and get to the show bright and early. And bright and early it was, because my hotel was at the end of the runway of Birmingham airport and the planes start landing and taking off at 6am.

I got there just before the show opened, as I wanted to get round the parts that get crowded early on. I went to collect my press badge and discovered the press office was an oasis of calm - and free coffee. Still, not much time to enjoy it as the show opened and the race was on to get out round the stalls before the crowds arrived and try lots of different things. This was why I'd had no breakfast! This year, there was a lot of cheese on offer, as well as flavoured oils and oatcakes. My favourite things I tried were:

Findlater's Pate
Cornish Sea Salt (who made me try sea salt and then table salt and wow, what a difference)
Rubis Chocolate Wine (yes, really - and it was lovely)
Orkney Herring and Salmon in different sauces, especially honey, mustard and dill

And, after a while, I was feeling full. Even the ice cream samples (admittedly huge) were too much for me so no more trying to fit in my lunch! It really struck me how much competition there is if you go into business selling food products in this country. That's good for the consumer, but it must be really hard for the producers to get noticed and their products established.

Some of our lunch, coconut prawns on the right
Talking of which, we met Thomas from Sainsbury's on what was by then a very packed stand and he took us all, including Ruth, myself, Chris, and Maggie - a real mix of parent and foodie bloggers - off to a room. Our lunch consisted of many items from the Sainsbury's party food ranges for Christmas. My favourite things were the coconut prawns, the whisky smoked salmon, and some lovely little individual christmas pudding desserts in shot type glasses.

After lunch, and a trip round some of the stalls for a closer look and a peaceful retreat to the press office again for coffee and a quick charge of my phone, we met up again and collected tickets to go into the Supertheatre to see a cook off between Mat Follas and Tim Anderson, both Masterchef champions. It was gratifying to see that part of Mat's dish didn't work - even if I was gutted for him as well - because I like to think no-one is perfect and everyone has off days, and that just proved it. Of course, John Torode and Greg Wallace were also there with their usual banter, although it felt more like Ready Steady Cook than Masterchef! By the time we had taken our seats, I'd also bought a new toaster and we'd been given a Sainsbury's goody bag so it was also nice to get a sit down and not have to lug all my stuff around. One day, I will remember to take a trolley!

One last purchase of a pink baking set for a Christmas present for Missy Woo and I then had to stagger back to my car with everything and get myself home. On getting a proper look in that goody bag, I discovered a kit to decorate my Christmas cake, a fajita kit, some cheese fudge bites, chocolates, some recipe cards, and a bottle of ready mixed mojito. All in this handy canvas bag. Huge thanks to Sainsbury's for inviting me along, I had a brilliant day, and can't wait for the next show already.

If you do go to the Good Food Show, my tips would be:

  • Weekdays are apparently much quieter so go then if you can.
  • If you do go at the weekend, Sunday is best; apparently, it was really packed on Saturday.
  • Sunday is the best day for bargains as many stalls offer further discounts towards the end of the day.
  • Plan before you go and check out where any demonstrations you want to see are taking place.
  • Get there early, preferably for the show opening, as you'll get a nearer car park and a chance to walk round without too many crowds.
  • Comfortable shoes are a must as you will be on your feet an awful lot. 
  • Don't wear a coat as it can get really warm and you don't need to be carrying anything else!
  • Pace yourself when trying samples, you'll soon fill up
  • If you are thinking of buying something, buy it there and then as it can be hard to locate a stall later on.

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