3 spicy food products made in Hampshire
PUBLISHED: 00:00 04 March 2020
Spice and heat lovers rejoice! Our bountiful county is brimming with a range of produce that will light a fire in your belly.
The Wasabi Company
The only wasabi grower in the UK, and one of a few outfits in Europe, can be found right here on Hampshire (and Dorset) soil. According to Jon Old, founder of the Wasabi Company: "The mineral rich water that emerges from artesian springs is a vital element that, without which, we could not grow wasabi."
Once a relatively unknown vegetable, wasabi has had its own renaissance over the past few years - which Jon believes is down to the rise of Japanese cuisine and the availability of UK-grown wasabi, coupled with the adventurous nature of UK foodies.
The company's most popular products are fresh wasabi and wasabi plants - but just how easy is it to grow-your-own? "Wasabi will grow well in the garden or a pot. Yielding perfect rhizomes is not always a guarantee, but a lot of home growers do and the leaves and stems and flowers are all edible and grow very easily," says Jon. After their wildly successful adventures in UK wasabi farming, having won a cumulative 13 Great Taste Gold Stars over seven of their own label products - the Wasabi Company has launched its very own Wasabi vodka. "With artisan distillers, Winchester Distillery, working their magic from our old watercress bunching shed it was only a matter of time before we joined forces," says Jon.
"The result went way beyond anything we could have expected. We are absolutely delighted with the way this vodka captures and releases the flavour and fire of real wasabi."
The Fiesty One
Like all great ideas, the idea for Turner Hardy & Co. Bloody Marys was born out of necessity: "Hugo and I love a great brunch or lunch with friends and couldn't find a delicious tomato juice to make them with - especially a local, sustainable one that actually tastes of tomatoes!" explains co-founder, Ed Turner. "Our juices are all made by hand on the farm on the Isle of Wight. The best tomatoes in the country are grown there - honestly!"
With three Bloody Marys on the market: The Lively One - a lightly-spiced concoction that's low in salt and sugar, gluten-free and high in antioxidant-loaded lycopene. The Pure One - which celebrates the trusty Isle of Wight tomato; and the one we're interested in, spice-induced The Feisty One. "There are lots of chillies and such like," says Ed. "But the key to the Feisty is the naga chillies - smooth taste up front with a lingering heat after.
"It's delicious with a little squeeze of lemon juice and perfect as a Bloody Mary (with vodka) a Red Snapper (with gin) or a Bloody Maria (with tequila). The icing on the cake is a brilliant garnish - we love rosemary, bacon and even a little bit of local cheddar - great using seasonal produce like beetroot and carrots as well, as opposed to celery flown in from miles away!"
The company started in 2015, but it's been the last year that they have really taken off and the response has been fantastic, say Ed: "Once tried, people don't go anywhere else - they use our juices in the Pig Hotels, the Wolseley, Nobu, Gravetye Manor, lots of local pubs and restaurants as well." You can also buy The Feisty One in Sainsbury's, some Hampshire Co-ops and local farm shops. "Both Hugo and I love in Hampshire, our logo was designed by a Hampshire guru - the whole production is on the Isle of Wight. This has always been about something local, premium and bloody delicious!"
Alf Turner, Dragon's Egg
When Paul Turner shared his idea about creating a Scotch egg with a modern twist, he was almost laughed out of the pub! "After the first year, we sold one million Dragon's Eggs," laughs Paul, "and we now sell approximately 12,000 per week!"
Using his award-winning Best of British sausage meat and adding Hot Diggidy Dog Chilli Sauce, the much-loved Dragon's Egg can now be found across the UK in Sainsbury's, Coop and local farm shops. The Dragon's Egg now sits alongside a range of Alf Turner products (chilli-loving carnivores will love the Dragon's Fury Pork Crackling) all created by Paul and proudly named after his late grandad.
After appearing on BBC Dragons' Den in 2012, Paul secured an £80,000 investment from Dragon Peter Jones to take his sausage empire to the next level. But you'll still find Paul at the family butcher's shop in North Lane, Aldershot, opened by Alf in 1956. "The sausages are still made using the process my grandfather used," says Paul.
Unmotivated by money, Paul donates an incredible 40 per cent of all his profits to Help the Heroes and has raised £198,685 from sales since 2012. "It may not be the best business decision, but I love working with Help the Heroes. My grandad served in the Royal Army Service Corp for nearly 20 years and our shop is based in the home of the British Army - so it's good to give something back!"