Three up-and-coming Northants producers
Published on February 24, 2015
By Carmela Sereno Hayes, Northamptonshire correspondent
Here are three Northants producers to seek out. Each has impressed me recently with their wonderful creations…
1) Bite Me Spices
Sera Harman started Bite Me Spices just over 18 months ago armed with one commercial blender and six tried-and-tested spice blends. She has always loved food and cooking, having a passion for spices and chilli heat that has now developed into a business, providing freshly ground spice blends to order, freshly ground chilli powders and a range of sauces. Based in Northampton and currently working from her home kitchen, Sera primarily uses whole spices, roasting and grinding them to ensure customers receive the freshest products possible. All Bite Me Spices products are preservative free, gluten free and contain no fillers.
Due to excellent customer feedback and good independent reviews, Bite Me Spices is rapidly gaining a great reputation through social media and word of mouth. This year Sera has extended the BBQ range, which includes several delicious rubs and sauces to spice up outdoor cooking.
2) Replete Flatbreads
I remember the first time I met Iain Cowan and tried his Replete Flatbreads – I ended up going back to his stand three times for more!
What Iain doesn’t know about flatbreads isn’t worth knowing. They are not only delicious but also make great sides for many dishes. During his first year in business he made it a priority to sell at as many markets and food festivals as possible to discover the ones that worked best for his business. Iain now attends a core of 10 farmers’ markets each month, interspersed with several festivals throughout the year.
The range of flatbreads is up to around 12, all vegetarian, some vegan, plus a few gluten-free options. They include his original Indian kulcha filled with onion bhaji; a Greek pitta filled with spanakopita; a Spanish coca flatbread with patatas bravas; Georgian khatchapuri filled with cheese, caramelised onion and kidney beans; Italian flatbreads with pesto, and a wonderful stromboli filled with sun-dried tomato, picante peppers and garlic mushrooms. Iain uses gram flour to make gluten-free faina flatbreads.
Replete Flatbreads, based in Wymington near Rushden, has been nominated for two categories in the Bedfordshire Food & Drink Awards this year: Best Farmers’ Market Stall and Independent Local Food Producer.
3) Hamm Tun Fine Foods
As an Italian food writer, this next producer excites me tremendously. Cheese is without doubt my weakness…
Hamm Tun Fine Foods was founded in 2013 by Gary Bradshaw and produces Cobblers Nibble – a hard English cheese made from pasteurised cows’ milk from a Northamptonshire Friesian herd. It is made in a traditional open vat in the traditional manner, and the pressing process helps to produce its distinctive rind. It is a smooth and creamy cheese, mild in flavour with a tangy finish.
Gary has now recently launched Northamptonshire Blue, a cheese he began experimenting with in April 2014, resulting in a few successes and some epic failures. His successes were often with soft and semi-soft cheeses of Italian ilk, and Northamptonshire Blue is loosely based on an old Gorgonzola recipe that Gary found on the internet. He changed a few things to suit his tastes, including the starter cultures, and made two kilo test cheese.
“After waiting seven weeks it was ready,” says Gary. “I thought it tasted fantastic and after giving samples to all my customers, plus 30 or so people at a Made in Northampton meeting, everyone liked it, so it was obvious I had to start making it. The first batch was made on December 16 and delivered to our customers on February 12, and most had sold out by February 14. The cheese has been described as a rich semi-soft cows’ milk blue, with a delicate citrus edge – a nod to the great Italian blues. It’s now in full production and we make 28 kilos every Monday.”
Gary Bradshaw can be contacted on 07701 089513.
These local creations from Gary, plus Iain’s flatbreads and Sera’s spices, all lend support to the idea that Northamptonshire is becoming a county full of exceptional artisan food producers. If you have any other Northants recommendations, please email me. I’d love to hear from you.