At the Small Food Awards 2016 we had several entries in the charcuterie category and they included smoked, air dried and fermented products. In the process of judging it became apparent how difficult it is to make good charcuterie. If you are smoking something you need to enable the taster to taste the smoke as well as the meat. If you are drying something you need to strike so many balances: not too wet or dry; not too "high" and still flavourful; not like shoe leather; etc. Then, there is salami! It has to be well cut (no honking great pieces that are hard to chew). It has to be well blended so that every bite is different and the ingredients are well distributed and balanced; each piece needs to be well made so that the little ends are not "leftovers" from the piece made before; and because it is fermented, it has to taste slightly acidic but not sour - as that is both unpleasant and may indicate it is rotten. Yikes!
Here are the winners! For their smoked duck, Tim and Gill Matthews from the Artisan Smoke House! The duck was DELICIOUS. Smoky and ducky. Great ratio of fat to lean meat. Slices perfectly sized (not too thick or thin) and lovely colour! Congratulations!
In second and third place for his wagyu bresaola and his pork, chili and rosemary salami came Marc Dennis from Duchy Charcuterie. Both were just wonderful!
Congratulations to everyone! And thanks to our sponsors Russums for the generous kitchen kit for both prize winners and a wonderful, new knife for the first prize winners. Thanks also to Camilla Barnard from Rude Health and Jane Mason from Virtuous Bread for the branding and business coaching they are going to provide to the first prize winners.