Good Food Show Winter 2010 (very special competition)

I’ve been to local food festivals, I’ve been to food trade shows but I’ve never been to any of the big, big food shows like The Good Food Show. The idea of the NEC packed with good food is is slightly overwhelming.

But this year I’m going to be there. Not cruising the aisles checking the produce mind you. Oh no. I shall be a Pop-Up Pie Assistant to the wonderful Brays Cottage Pork Pies. If you are in any doubt about their wonderfulness then consider that they were one of only ten producers selected from over 70 to win a Bursary Award to enable them to have a stall at the show. And the list of people who rave about their pies is simply too long to mention…

I’m really excited about being Pop-Up Pie Assistant, I’m following in the trailblazing shoes of this list of luminaries of the Pop-Up Pie Assistant academy:

@Farctum and @Josordoni and @DrTimKinnaird and @deantoms and @enjoynorwich and @JonnyB and apparently even an MEP

…..each had their trade mark style I’m hoping mine will be a porkpie hat…

So of course naturally you want to come along and see me being pie assistant. You want to meet Sarah the driving force behind Brays Cottage. You want to sample the pies. Of course you do. Who wouldn’t.

And you’ve two ways to get there:

1. The usual way: pay your entrance fee pop along to the stall and buy a pie. We’ll be thrilled to see you.


2. The GSD special way: enter my competition to win one of 3 pairs of entrance tickets donated by the show organisers, pop along to the stall, flash your special Pie Voucher and YES YES YES you get Bray’s Cottage pie for FREE. And better still you get a special GSD/WKF limited edition for this competition only gift.

WOW. This is truly an exclusive competition. You CANNOT get this deal anywhere else.

So what do you need to do:

Leave a comment on this post telling me why you deserve to win and how will your life be changed by experiencing pork pie nirvana. I’ll pick 3 entries (pair of tickets to each winner) on some basis yet to be determined, probably the 3 that I like most and failing that by random number generator.

Get entering you have until midnight on Friday 19 November. I’ll pick the winners on Saturday 20th and mail the tickets out to you.

Small print:

1. Tickets are general admission only. Excluding Saturday. They are non transferable and cannot be exchanged for cash.

2. You must present your special Pie Voucher to claim your free pie. One pie per person. And I’ll have a cunning system in place to ensure only the winners get their mitts on the free pies so don’t bother making your own, photocopying or anything else ‘smart’.

3. The Pie Voucher is also used to collect your GSD/WKF exclusive gift.

4. I’m the judge and my decision on who wins is final.

5. You can’t enter if you are related to me, sorry.

6. Oh and I’m there Thursday and Friday but you’ll still be able to claim your pie etc if you choose to go a different day

Competition results

So the closing date is passed. The entries are in. I’m about to draw the results for my first ever blog competition.

But first let me indulge in a little wander through some of the thoughts I’ve had about running a competition on my blog…..

1. It was fun, people do bother to write good replies if you set them a topic and now I know there are quite a few other stationery geeks out there.

2. You get way more comments on your posts if people think they are in with the chance of winning and from all sorts of people who either don’t normally visit the blog or don’t normally comment. So it does seem to drive traffic (the google stats confirm this too).

3. You get more comments so you kind of feel more popular but of course it’s important to remember it’s a ‘buying friends with the promise of sweets’ approach.

4. There are people out there who like real old fashioned fountain pens, maybe we need to form a club (there probably already is one!)

5. Random number generators are great fun for playing with for some unfathomable reason (ooo look another random number).

6. Random number generators made me think about what we mean by random. The winning number (which I’ll reveal in a minute) kind of felt like a swizz when it popped up (not, I’m sure for the person who has won), it didn’t feel random. Which takes me back to point 5 as I then spent a good 10 minutes clicking the ‘Generate’ button to see what happened.

7. I like competitions so if you’re reading this and you have fab prizes you’d like me to offer to readers then hey get in touch :)

Right onto the draw. There were 50 comments overall. The first one is a trackback so doesn’t count. Two people commented twice but don’t worry they don’t get to be in the draw twice their first comment only counts. So although I put in 1 -50 to the random number generator we really only had 47 entries, I would just draw again if a non winning number came up.

Anyway it didn’t because here it is (drum roll):

The winner is comment 2 which in the way I have done the draw means Kelly has won.

WELL DONE (rounds of applause).

Thanks to everyone for taking part I really did love reading all your favourite stationery items.

Competition time

I’ve not run a competition on the blog before. I’ve thought about it a few times and played with different ideas but never actually taken the plunge.

Until now.


Well two things really, someone offered a lovely prize, one I’d be happy to have myself and when I asked Twitter the verdict was resoundingly that competitions are GOOD….. I assume everyone is hoping to win. So good it would seem that one cheeky chappy (he knows who he is) suggested I design the rules such that he was guaranteed to win, very naughty. And I won’t be doing that.

So what’s the competition and what’s the prize?

Well the prize is this hamper of goodies:

which has been supplied courtesy of, who provide a wide range of hampers, chocolate gifts and mothers day baskets.

I particularly like the fact that as well as the food goodies it comes in rather nice looking boxes, but that’s probably because I’m a bit of a stationery and storage fan, as evidenced by some of my posterous posts.

So what do you have to do to be in with a chance of winning? Well you have to post a comment on this post by 20th September telling me what your favourite stationery item is. I’ll then pick a winner using a complex spreadsheet formula or much more possibly a random number generator. If you don’t list a favourite stationery item your comment won’t be included in the draw and if you comment more than once the earliest comment that meets the competition rules will be the one that counts… Dan there is little chance of rigging it in your favour….

Over to you to try and win the hamper.

Please note the hamper will be dispatched direct form the supplier so if you are feeling very generous you could choose to send it to someone as a gift. Note that delivery can be anywhere in the UK except the Channel Islands, PO Box or BFPO Box addresses.

A Lancashire Macaroni Cheese

I don’t particulary recall eating macaroni cheese as a child not from a Heinz tin, not lovingly made by mother or grandmother, its simply not a dish that springs to mind as something we ate often. I don’t know why. So when Fiona Beckett started the idea of the ultimate mac n’ cheese (as our friends in the US of A call it) I thought this would be an ideal opportunity to create my own version. Fiona’s competition started out simple and then got lots of categories (best this, best that, best other and so on) and I toyed with the artisanal cheese category for quite sometime knowing which cheese I would choose. And then Fiona announced the prizes and my mind was made up I had to have the Emma Bridgewater macaroni cheese dish come what may. So my entry is for the most original recipe.

Starting with my artisanal cheese idea and then spooling it out into the dish my mother or grandmother could have made I decide this had to be a dish based in the foods of Lancashire (well apart from the macaroni of course). I played with adding things like vimto or tizer, might they be secret umami giving ingredients, unlikely, so they were consigned to the ‘too original’ slot. Some researching in Laura Mason and Catherine Brown’s Traditional Foods of Britain (if you don’t have this book and you love British food just get it) led me to two possibilities: potted shrimps or bury black pudding. A tough one a really tough one. So I flipped a coin and it came down on the side of the black pudding.

Here’s what I did (its in old measures in honour of my Grandma):

A Lancashire Macaroni Cheese

Ingredients (for 2 hungry people):

1 bury black pudding (the sort in a hoop shape and of about 1” diameter)
3-4 oz dried macaroni each – depending on your greed
¾ pint full fat milk
1 oz flour
1 oz butter and some for frying
4 oz Sandhams Tasty Lancashire cheese*
2 oz Booths** Special Reserve Tasty Lancashire Cheese*, grated/crumbled

pre heat oven to R4/180C


  1. Cook the macaroni in boiling lightly salted water as per the instructions on your packet (mine said 8 minutes). When cooked drain and keep on one side.
  2. Slices the black pudding into ½” rounds and fry quickly on either side in a small amount of butter. You are aiming for the outside to be crispy and the middle still soft. Removes the skin from the pudding and crumble the slices.
  3. Make a white sauce of a thickish consistency (between coating and panada) using the ‘all in one’ method. So put the flour, milk and butter in a pan and heat gently stirring continouosly until it thickens. Add the 4oz of Sandhams Tasty Lancashire cheese and season to taste.
  4. Find a shallow dish, butter it (dream of it being this Emma Bridgewater dish).
  5. Toss the crumbled black pudding in with the cooked macaroni, stir in the cheese sauce. Tip it all in the buttered dish.
  6. Sprinkle with the 2oz of Booths Special Reserve Tasty Lancashire.
  7. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
  8. Eat and dream of Lancashire.

* If you don’t know that there’s more than 1 version of real Lancashire cheese then watch out for my tasting of seven types coming soon. I’ve picked these two examples because like all Lancashire they melt beautifully and because they differ in strength, the Sandhams is slighty milder (but still with a good tang) the Booths** has a strong tasty Lancs hit.

** Booths is a small supermarket chain based in the North West of England. If all supermarkets were like Booths it would be a good thing.