What better thing to do on an average Tuesday evening in early December than rock up to The Old Mill and partake of Art Plumstead’s inaugural Pickle Festival? Surely anyone who was there will savour the memory. There were two categories – chutney and pickle – and in all there were two dozen entries submitted in all colours and flavours.
Entrants were allocated a number so there could be no accusations of favouritism and soon the jars stretched along the table to make a tempting display. A hungry queue formed as soon as the competition was declared open, eager to partake of all the different flavours available, with many tasters making a sort of savoury (and sometimes sweet) artist’s palette on their paper plate complete with numbers to help them remember their preferred pickles. Judging was done by anyone attending on the night, including the entrants. There were five categories; taste, texture, appearance, recipe, and overall winner. Many people went back for seconds or thirds just to be quite sure they had chosen the ones they liked best. As the judging forms were completed, the scores were collated on Karen’s laptop to produce the winner in each category.
It was a tense moment for the highest scorers to see if they had won, as Erik revealed the three highest marks in reverse order for each category. The same few names kept cropping up, suggesting that the peer voting system evened out any discrepancy to discover the entries that were most liked by the majority of those present. For the winners it was a vindication of their culinary skills, but those who were not placed still had feedback sent later to their email address afterwards, in case they want to fine tune their entry for next time. Everyone who came along had an interesting night with free food and the chance to do something different in a local venue.