Saturday 8 September 2007

z sits in Judgment

This morning, I lost my car key. I parked the car, took some carrier bags to Al, who demands that his customers use their own bags or else recycle supermarket ones, went to the cashpoint and the butcher, then back to Al for some calabrese and, while I was about it, served a customer with a chilli pepper, two limes, a bunch of spring onions and a head of garlic, which cost £1.53 (this last to demonstrate that, while I may be scatty, I do have some sort of a memory). While I was doing this, I lost the key. I turned my bag out twice - Sarah and Amy were particularly bemused by the gavel - and retraced my footsteps. I am in despair.

I expect you think I am the sort of woman who has no idea where her spare key is, but I know what a fool I am and so make provision for it, and I was able to phone the Sage, direct him to the key and Dilly came in to deliver it.

I went to judge the Domestic classes at the next-door village Autumn Show. This was most enjoyable and allowed the bossy and decisive part of my nature full rein (I am, normally, sweet and biddable of course). Of course, one has to taste everything. The classes were Fruit Cake, Shortbread, Apple Pie, Bread Rolls, Canapés, Marmalade, Mint Sauce, Chutney, Pickles, Eggs (these, being au naturel, I did not taste, but I cracked one of each on to a plate to judge the quality), non-alcoholic Summer Drink and the gentleman's class, a Lemon Drizzle Cake. Men were not, of course, excluded from any of the other classes.

I ate a bit of everything. Including nine different chutneys. The standard was very high and it was hard to choose. Afterwards, I was given lunch. Of course I ate it - it was Denton, where the food is fantastic.

However good it all is, though, there is usually one outstanding item, which demands first place. It's the later places that are harder to evaluate. The chutneys were all so different and it was hard to judge one against another so I had to go through them all again. The best of all were a courgette chutney and a mango chutney with sultanas and almonds and I liked them both equally. I gave first prize to the courgette, as it used local ingredients, gave a splendid flavour to a not-very-flavourful base and helpfully used something that comes in a glut at this time of the year. The lemon cakes were gorgeous and the two best were outstanding. Far better than any cake I make. I did the drink last, by which time four people were standing watching me. One, who had been helping with the labels, stood back as her drink was among the entrants. I tried them all, twice (including the one I didn't much like, in case it was hers). Then I tried some of them again. I picked an elderflower cordial, a lemonade and an iced mint tea (this was actual tea flavoured with mint, not a herb tisane). I tasted them for a fourth time. Everyone was vastly impressed by my rigour. I gave the elderflower first prize, the tea second and the lemonade third. After the cards had gone on, my helper beamed. Hers had been the elderflower...

I'll prepare supper tonight, as the children, all seven of them, have gone to Southwold. We'll eat next door with Al and Dilly though, so that they won't have to leave to put the children to bed. El trotted out in her lunch hour yesterday and bought smoked trout, hare and goose terrines from Fortnum & Mason, so we'll start the meal with those. She also bought some kudu biltong, just to give me something I've never eaten before. I feel quite shockingly decadent, to be sampling a South African antelope, but it is very tasty.


mike said...

I'd find that sort of judging completely terrifying. My taste buds would probably seize up in fright. It's bad enough judging Post of the Week, let alone nine diffrent chutneys!

I'm a sucker for a good terrine, and my taste buds are fairly popping in envy.

Anonymous said...

The judging sounds like it would be quite fun (except for having to sample items that weren't tasty). I've always wanted a F&M picnic hamper full of exotic treats. Last year I went to their website and well,the same amount of money could pay for a new kitchen countertop and then some!

luckyzmom said...

There must be a lot of people who think you have good taste. I agree.

Z said...

One does not know who has entered what, so can be objective. It's fine if something is really good, but it's not so easy if there is a con to every pro. I reckon taste as being more important than appearance, but if tastes are equally good, presentation comes in. What's hardest - and was today with the canapés - is when they are very different and impossible to compare.

The terrines are delicious.

Back in the 1960s, Martina, my parents used to order a great Christmas box from Fortnums. It cost about £25. Probably nearer £750 now.

Luckyz, you do say charming things!

Dave said...

I ate some tomatoes from my garden yesterday - the first ones that have turned red. I haven't eaten anything that I've grown myself for at least four years (the time I've been here).

That was the most exciting part of my day yesterday. Yours just exhausts me.

Z said...

Dave, I think that is certainly exciting and worth celebrating.

Friday was absurd, especially as I didn't sleep the night before or after, but yesterday was lovely. Not tiring at all.

And I was wrong, we had twenty-three cyclists.

The Boy said...

Our fete has given up on any domestic judging at the fete, and I keep meaning to join in the next villages efforts. I'm not sure about there being a gentlemen's class. Did any men enter the other classes?

Antelope is a lovely meat, and not decadent at all as presumably this was one of the farmed rather then endangered species.

Z said...

Entrants had numbers rather than names, although the prizewinners had their names on the certificates, so I don't know how many men entered. There were some though. In particular, a 19-year-old boy, whose lemon cake was superb, entered some other classes, as well as the vegetable ones.

I'm sure the kudu wasn't endangered.