New Forest firms shining stars in Guild of Fine Food’’s Great Taste Awards
FOOD and drink producers across the New Forest have picked up coveted 3-star Great Taste Awards from the Guild of Fine Food.
Hockey’s Farm in Fordingbridge, The Noble Bee, based in Hythe, and Lyburn Cheese in Landford have all secured the 3-star accolade, while Forest Edge Roasting Company in Lyndhurst scooped two stars.
New Forest Shortbread in Burley took a two-star gong for its rosemary New Forest shortbread, and one star for its Earl Grey New Forest shortbread.
Also winning 1-star awards were Naked Jam in Hordle and Lymington-based New Forest Ice Cream, the former for its raspberry jam and the latter for its dairy spiced fruit shortcake ice cream.
Hockey’s wowed judges with its rare breed British Lop spare rib pork, with the Guild declaring it was “the best pork these judges have ever tasted”.
It was described as a “stunning looking joint which gets the mouth-watering before you even taste it’.”
Judges said: “We are running out of superlatives - it’s a deliciously moist, flavourful piece of pork; even the fat was creamy and the crackling was spectacular.”
The British Lop is born, bred and lovingly cared for in the New Forest, and its pork was one of just 248 products nationally to receive a 3 Star Great Taste award – just 1.75% of the total entries.
In addition, the farm shop also won 1-star accolades for its rare breed British Lop sausages and loin of pork.
Owner Jonathan Stainton Burrell said he had “dreamt of this moment” and was proud to adding this “prestigious badge of honour” to his pork.
“We came to Hockey’s Farm ten years ago and the team here has worked extremely hard, so to be where we are today is truly a dream come true,” he told the A&T.
“Being recognised with a Great Taste 3-star means so much to independent producers such as myself, as it makes all the hard work and determination worth it!
“Great Taste is the most recognised accolade for taste and quality in the food and drink industry, so it’s a huge moment for us.”
The spare rib pork is also available to buy at Shappen Stores in Burley.
Another producer that impressed judges was beekeper and honey producer Simon Noble, who picked up 3-stars for his standout wildflower honey.
Described as “exquisite” by the Great Taste judges, the honey boasts a “unique and delightful flavour” which Simon attributes to the “thoughtful placement of their hives in natural wild areas that offer an abundance of wildflowers”.
“This honey truly captures the essence of nature and The New Forest,” said Simon. “We collaborate with local conservation groups and country estates to ensure the majority of hives are located in dedicated nature reserves that boast an incredible diversity of wildflowers.”
Simon said the award had served to “shine a spotlight” on New Forest honey, adding he was “committed to the traditional craft of beekeeping”.
“I produce honey of exceptional quality, while looking after the environment and the precious bees that make it all possible,” he continued. “This prestigious accolade is a true honour.”
Forest Edge Roasting Company was honoured for its Muddy Paws coffee blend, which judges praised as “competent and confident”.
Robyn Barron-Martin, who runs a coffee shop in Lyndhurst High Street, said she was “thrilled and humbled to have received this award and feedback on our coffee”.
She continued: “This recognition is a testament to our commitment to sourcing exceptional coffee from independent, sustainable farmers and the hard work we have put in building Forest Edge Roasting Company.
“We deliver exceptional coffee to our customers whilst caring for our planet.”
Praising Muddy Paws, judges said: “The acidity is perfectly positioned - citrusy and mouth filling but never steps too far.
“It takes milk well, affording it more layers, almost chocolate orange…all parts are working smoothly together, each complementing the others.”
Muddy Paws was one of the first coffees Robyn produced. “The name actually came from our dogs enjoying The Forest and always coming home with muddy paws,” she said. “It has stuck and the locals and tourists alike love the name as well as the taste!”
Lynburn Cheese took the top award for its Stoney Cross cheese, which is the latest in a string of honours the product has secured.
The youngest of Lyburn’s offering at eight weeks old, Stoney Cross is creamy and buttery in texture, with sweet flavours and a distinctly earthy finish.
Mike Smales, of Lyburn Dairy Farm in Landford, said: “Stoney Cross continues its journey, pleasing new customers all the time and collecting a number of awards in the last two years.”
Tracy Thew’s New Forest Shortbread, made using local ingredients at Burley Rails Cottage, was a big hit with the judges, who described the biscuits as “lovely looking rounds with a light golden bake and good distribution of herbs”.
Of the Earl Grey shortbread, the judges said they “loved the aromatic mouthfeel from these moreish, crunchy biscuits. The bergamot filled the senses and blended well with the sweetness.”
Established in 1994, the Great Taste awards are recognised as one of the world’s largest, longest standing and most respected food accreditation schemes for artisan and speciality food producers.
As well as Great Taste, the Guild of Fine Food is known for publishing the industry-leading magazine, Fine Food Digest, and the global phenomenon that is the World Cheese Awards.