I spent rather too much of Friday evening last week pouring over the Great Taste Award website, looking through the results to see who had got what and for what and so on (and by the way did I mention that we got 2 Gold Stars for the Scots pine ganache?). Very impressed to see my neighbours Kenmore Bakery got a bouquet of 2 stars - well done Keith and Sheila - and further down the valley, Iain Burnett got a covetted three stars for his Velvet Truffle. A gourmet valley indeed.
This year the Guild of Fine Food have got very clever and you can log in to see the judges comments on your entries. This is wonderful for the terminally disorganised such as myself - last year I never really got my act together to write and ask them for their feedback - but this year they are just there; so grateful that someone else has been so organised and thoughtful.
Anyway, the comments on the Meadowsweet thins that I put in made me smile and think a little. The Meadowsweet thins are really popular - but I think it is one of those things that you either like or you don't. I love them, they are my mother's favourite, and to those that know and love meadowsweet already they are a source of familiar contentment. Clearly though, the Great Taste Award judges have not reached that level of familiarity with the fine herb.
The comments went something like this: 'Presentation is lovely [thank-you] but we felt that the aroma and taste is perhaps too unusual, verging on unpleasant. Bravo for trying something unusual, other herbs or flowers might work better.' I loved the 'Bravo' bit - this sort of feels like an award in its own right. It made me think back to the brave Logierait market customers who took wild garlic truffles in their stride; they certainly got my own 'Bravo' award for that. 'Bravo' for having a go - this is what we say to people who we think are slightly foolish - attempting something foolhardy but interesting. I choose not to read it as a condescending salve, sweetening the rejection of our entry, but rather a good natured 'Good on you girl for trying something new'
Maybe we are flavour pioneers up here - ready to push boundaries and explore. I wonder whether we might be on the forefront of a meadowsweet 'wave'. A couple of years ago, when I first tried sea buckthorn as a flavour - I could not find anyone else in the UK using it as a flavour - not through Google anyway; now - it is an essential must-have ingredient of swanky Edinburgh restaurants, and Likwid Ice cream parlour in Perth serves sea buckthorn flavoured ice cream.
Who would like to join me in a little sweepstake on how many years will it be before meadowsweet is as common as elderflower in the flavour lexicon of soft drinks and posh puddings? 2011? 2012?