As you all know by now (and of course it’s it’s nothing to do with my repetive postings) last Tuesday saw me hitting the busy streets of London Town for an appearence at The Observer Food Monthly Awards 2014. Nearly three months (embargo) silence precluded picking up the Reader’s Recipe Awards for my “Smokin’ Pig Licker” brownies. Even saying it now still feels odd – the award part, not the name of course!
These brownies were ones I’d been making for a while albeit the only fan they seemed to have was me. I’d seen chocolate combined with bacon in a few recipes but none to the extent of the awe-inspiring and saliva inducing wonder that is a “Pig Licker”. Bear with me, I promise I haven’t made this bit up! The “Pig Licker” is “…a North American dish that consists of cooked bacon with a coating of either milk chocolate or dark chocolate.” (Wikipedia) I’d been toying with the idea of using this somehow for a while, along with the idea of introducing brownies to Mr. Mom’s menu also. It seemed like the perfect excuse to couple the two together. Choosing to ignore my husband’s vierws that “…nobody will eat that…” and “…that name sounds awful – it’ll turn people off…“, I chose to enter it into the Reader’s Recipe competition. My opinion? It taps into the current trend for bacon but maybe the “Pig Licker” aspect would be just enough to make it stand out from the crowd. I wanted to capture that feeling of an All- American barbecue- pork, smokiness, sweetness, savouriness, and saltiness right there in a few mouthfuls. I loved it. And it turned out so did the Observer Food Monthly judges.
The rest as they say is history. If you wish to sample these little wonders (yes, I still hold them close to my heart) you can find the recipe here. Enjoy!
I have to admit to being completey star-struck at the foodie heaveness of it all. Well- actually I was down right gob-smacked. I bottled the chance to talk to Nigella, there to pick up her award for Best Food personality. I wonder if she ever did get to try my brownies? (Nigella – Perhaps if you did could you let me know?…you can find me on Twitter!) I’m not used to gatherings of this sort and even less so ones where people I hold as idols and role-models are standing shoulder-to-shoulder. I end up second-guessing myself and think of the social niceties of my small talk as the bumblings of some derranged wanderer. I know, I know…I’m hoping it improves with practice too. I did however manage to snag a few words with the culinary gravitas that is Jay Rayner. He was a perfect gent and completely encouraging in his praise of my brownies (did I mention they were served to the guests on the night?…Yeah- that was my reaction too when I saw the menu!). Ruby Tandoh was there too- quietly elegant and doe-like amongst everyone. A chat with her revealed her to be a genuine and unassuming person almost as star-struck as me at the affair. Having read her book “Crumb”, I was surprised to find her humbly dismissive, if even oblivious, to her talent and skill. This lady can seriously write a good cook book and I’m looking forward to much more from her, both in prose and pies.
In the run up to the awards I was wondering what the actual awards themselves would be. Last year they were “Edible Awards” alá Heston Blumenthal. This year The Observer decided to break the mold. When I got through the inital early press release from the events team it read “bespoke, hand-crafted knives”. I liked the idea! But surely they’d be ornamental, framed or in some way just the suggestion of a knife? No…indeed they wouldn’t be. After arriving and a quick guide as to what to do I was shown the trophies, one of which I would recieve…
These were indeed bespoke, hand-crafted knives set in a perspex block, fully sharpened and ready to use! These wonders are the labours of one Benjamin Edmonds of Blok Knives. This guy is a true craftsman, crafting each blade and hilt so each complete knive has a character and look as indivudual as it’s owner. To boot he was an absoulte gent to talk to and rocks a killer beard too! I know I’m supposed to take the knife out and use it- kind of fulfill it’s calling but it just looks too damn nice. Also it’s not every day I win an award like this!
Briefly summing up here in a few words and pictures can’t really convey what that night and award has meant to me. For the first time what I do has been acknowledged and recieved by fully professional people in the food industry- some who are my idols, some who have become my idols. I take that award not only as an acknowledgment of writing a good recipe but also an affirmation that “Mr. Mom’s” is the right thing for me. Giving up my day job; late night sugar rushes; early morning caffeine sessions; cramped, anxiety-ridden tube journeys doing cake deliveries on school drop-offs…when I question these all I need to do now is look at that icy-block and unsheath it’s grey glory and it all comes into focus again.
In writing all of this it would be very easy to wax-lyrical to the food world and baking deities, laudit praise and inspiration their way. But for me the praise and inspiration needs to fall closer to home first. My husband Scott- you have been an unfailing companion in this. At times when I wanted to back away in question you kept me contsant- a more solid and steadfast person I could not wish to have beside me on this journey. My children Elle and Kayden – you’re still too young to read this but maybe you will one day. Parenthood has been a learning curve and still is. Who knows- there may always be questions? But some things are worth learning for. At the root of it all you two are the reason I’m a mister who became a “Mom”.
This award is for my family.
In the meantime, “Remember Mom’s the word- that’s Mr. Mom’s!”
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