Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Ultimate Macaroni Cheese Challenge: the winners!

Well, I knew it was going to be a hard call to decide on our winning entries and it was! I can’t tell you how glad I was to have roped in some guest judges to share the burden of decision-making but we got there in the end!

In an ideal world we’d have made and tasted all the entries but at the end of the day this is just a piece of fun, not a serious competition. So to any of you who feel aggrieved that we’ve overlooked your masterpiece, my sincere apologies.

First off, the best drink match, a last-minute category suggested by Denise of The Wine Sleuth who nobly agreed to judge the entries. We had four which you can see here. We both liked the entries from Andrew Barrow of Spittoon who suggested an English white, the Oakengrove Vineyard Dry White 2006 and Lucy Bridgers of Wine, Food and Other Pleasures who went for a mature white burgundy, Rully 1er Cru 2000 Les Cloux from Vincent Girardin but Denise reckoned that the Rully would be more likely to deliver over a range of mac’n’cheeses and that Lucy made her case persuasively.

The photography category was small but we had one outstanding winner, according to our judge Marie-Louise Avery: Rob of Eat Pictures who submitted a highly original and colourful take on the subject.
“Rob's picture is well lit, nicely composed, uses focus interestingly and is an original approach” said Marie-Louise.

In the artisanal cheese category we felt three entries stood out: Signe Johansen’s version which used Montgomery, Wensleydale, Gorwydd Caerphilly and Stichelton, Sharmila’s, which used Montgomery, Ogleshield and Isle of Mull Cheddar and Scott’s extensively researched Mac and Montgomery Cheddar. It was a tough call but judge Jess Trethowan of Trethowan’s Dairy thought Signe performed the greatest service to the British artisanal cheese cause. “Great cheeses, great crème fraîche - very nice and simple but delicious."

And finally - the big one - the best original recipe which as I explained meant the best recipe invented by you rather than the most off the wall. There were so many outstanding entries in this category judges Xanthe Clay, Marlena Spieler and I really had a struggle. We loved Mathilde’s Mac’n’Cheese à la française, Scott’s Mac ‘n’ (Man)Chego, James’s stylish lobster mac and Susan of Food Blogga’s Italian macaroni and cheese but in the end it was a toss-up between Elly of Pear Café’s delicious-sounding Macaroni cheese with Welsh Rarebit topping and Helen of Food Stories' wickedly indulgent Mac and Cheese for an Army made with cooked ham hocks. And being piggy that was our final choice though Xanthe, who was unable to resist cooking it up, offered the suggestion that it could do with a touch more flour to stablise the lavish amounts of cheese! (Interestingly it looks like it was your choice too. It was the most frequently mentioned of the recipes and attracted no less than 34 comments on Helen’s blog.)

So four worthy winners! Congratulations, all. Your prizes will all be winging their way in the next week or so and I hope those of you who didn’t win will still agree that this was a great deal of fun.


Melissa Cole said...

Fi, wine with cheese! Lady, you know better than that!!!!!!

I can't help feeling that drink category was crying out for a Goose Island Summertime or Sierra Nevada Pale Ale at the very least!

Helen said...

Thank you!! I am so chuffed! I can't wait to receive that dish. I've been fantasising about it. There were some delicious looking entries in there so I am very flattered.

Fiona Beckett said...

The category was billed as the best drink match with cheese so we could have had beers, Melissa. (Although must confess I think cider has the edge with Mac'n'cheese)

And well deserved, Helen. You not only delivered mac'n'cheese heaven but piggy heaven too. Quite an achievement!

scandilicious said...

I never win anything!!! So exciting, thanks for suggesting such a fun challenge for the dog days of January - the stichelton, montgomery's, wensleydale and caerphilly combo went down a treat in my house! Looking forward to that Trethowan's prize...

Cheryl Arkison said...

Congrats to the winners. Glad to have been able to compete!