Taste of triumph for Capreolus

DAVID and Karen Richards, of Capreolus Fine Foods at Rampisham, have won the prestigious Champion Product Award in this year’s Taste of the West food and drink awards for their Guanciale, a Dorset version of an Italian classic.

Chef and food-writer Mitch Tonks, who was the champion product judge, said: “This really shone out as an extraordinary product that is beautiful in both appearance and taste; it has a strong West Country provenance combined with continental methodology which keeps it true to its roots. This company really cares about what they do. We are not traditional meat curers in this country but Karen and David Richards have perfected their craft. Capreolus Fine Foods are incredible innovators who truly deserve success.”

Capreolus, now established as one of the UK’s leading artisan producers of charcuterie, also won individual product awards – Best of Bacon for Black Strap Streaky Bacon, and Best of Cured Meat for the Guanciale.

Guanciale is an unsmoked Italian bacon prepared with pig’s jowl or cheeks. Its name is derived from guancia, Italian for cheek. Its flavour is stronger than other pork products, such as pancetta, and its texture is more delicate. Guanciale is traditionally used in dishes like pasta all’amatriciana and spaghetti alla carbonara. It is a delicacy of central Italy, particularly Umbria and Lazio.

Among the Best Product awards there were two for the Watercress Company, based on the water meadows of the River Frome near Wareham. Already well-known for their delicious peppery watercress, the company has recently started producing Wasabi, a key ingredient of Sushi. They are the only UK producers of this hot root, and the fresh Wasabi was a worthy winner of the Taste of the West Best New Product award. The Watercress Company went on to win the Carol Trewin South West Producer of the Year award.

Other Taste of the West successes from Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire are:

Best South West Cafe – The Dorset Burger Company; Best South West Dining Pub –

The Fontmell, Fontmell Magna; Best South West Butcher – Walter Rose & Son, Devizes and Trowbridge; Best South West Specialist Retailer/Deli – Blue Quails Deli, Bath; Best South West Farm Shop – The Udder Farm Shop, East Stour near Shaftesbury.

Product awards from Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire: Best of Meat & Poultry, for the Free Range Duck Breast from Beech Ridge Farm, Wellington; Best of Dairy, Whey Butter from Keen’s Cheddar Ltd, Wincanton; Best of Ice Cream & Sorbets, Blackcurrants in Clotted Cream Ice Cream from Marshfield Farm Ice Cream, Chippenham; Best of Fresh Fish, Rainbow Trout from Stream Farm, Broomfield near Bridgwater; Best of Sauces & Accompaniments, Moroccan Spiced Almonds from Filbert’s Fine Foods, West Pennard near Glastonbury; Best of Savoury Bakery, 5-Seed Loaf from Ansty Farm Shop, near Shaftesbury; Best of Wines, Spirits & Liqueurs, Black Cow from Pure Milk Vodka Ltd, from the Marshwood Vale; Best of Cider, Somerset Dabinett Cider from Perry’s Cider, Dowlish Wake near Ilminster; Best Local Food in Schools Award, Bridgwater College.

• David Richards of Capreolus is pictured with some of their charcuterie and other products.