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Ice cream judged best tasting food product in East Anglia

PUBLISHED: 11:30 22 October 2020 | UPDATED: 13:08 23 October 2020

Stephany Hardingham at Alder Tree  Picture: RICHARD FAULKS PHOTOGRAPHY

Stephany Hardingham at Alder Tree Picture: RICHARD FAULKS PHOTOGRAPHY

Richard Faulks Photography / Guild of Fine Food

An ice cream maker based on a traditional Suffolk family smallholding has expressed delight after scooping a top taste accolade.

Alder Carr ice cream has been judged the region's top food  Picture: PAUL DIXONAlder Carr ice cream has been judged the region's top food Picture: PAUL DIXON

Alder Tree’s Blackcurrant Fruit Cream Ice was awarded the Great Taste Golden Fork for East Anglia at the finals of the awards event.

Judges described the ice cream – made by Stephany Hardingham of Alder Tree Farm, Needham Market – as a “match made in heaven”.

They praised “the pairing of fresh, tart blackcurrants and luxuriously smooth and thick cream”, with one judge remarking: “The shackles are definitely off with this one.”

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Stephany is a next-generation smallholder at the farm, which is home to a variety of attractions, including a cafe and craft shops.

Stephany Hardingham digging into an ice cream  Picture: PHIL MORLEYStephany Hardingham digging into an ice cream Picture: PHIL MORLEY

“We were absolutely delighted,” said Stephany. “It brought a tear to our eyes. We have won a lot of Great Taste awards but we have never got regional winners so that’s absolutely fantastic.”

The secret, she said, were “lots and lots of blackcurrants” from local fruit growers DC Williamson of Manningtree, and cream and sugar blended to her grandmother’s recipe, still made in the same way as she did but scaled up.

The win will provide a welcome boost for sales during a year of ups and downs brought about by the coronavirus crisis for the farm-based business. The farm shop has been “unbelievably busy”, she said, but they had to close down the cafe during lockdown until July 15. Sales of ice cream have suffered with the closure of theatres, cafes and restaurants, she said.

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“This award will certainly give us a boost,” she added.

The business used the lockdown period to revamp the courtyard as it correctly anticipated a rise in demand for outdoor eating and drinking. This helped boost sales once restrictions were eased, she explained.

“We have been really, really fortunate here. There are so many businesses out there having a horrendous time,” she said.

A record-breaking 12,777 entries were assessed over 14 weeks of remote judging and socially distanced judging sessions at the awards event, with Alder Carr’s Blackcurrant Fruit Cream Ice judged the best tasting product in East Anglia during a virtual Great Taste Golden Fork award ceremony on Thursday, October 22.

Stephany Hardingham at Alder Tree, who has scooped the Great Taste Golden Fork from East Anglia award Picture: RICHARD FAULKS PHOTOGRAPHYStephany Hardingham at Alder Tree, who has scooped the Great Taste Golden Fork from East Anglia award Picture: RICHARD FAULKS PHOTOGRAPHY

The online event brought together food lovers, producers, retailers, buyers and chefs to discover this year’s stars of food and drink, providing a vital boost to the industry before the crucial Christmas period.

The event was held later than usual after lockdown interrupted judging. The Golden Fork trophy announcements are the final instalment in the Great Taste calendar, which has been revised because of the pandemic.

This year’s panel of judges included cook, writer and sustainable food champion Melissa Hemsley, cook, writer, stylist and voice of modern vegetarian cooking, Anna Jones, celebrated Spanish chef José Pizarro, Kavi Thakrar from Dishoom, food writer and cook Xanthe Clay, and baker and author Martha Collison, as well as food buyers from Selfridges, Fortnum & Mason and Waitrose.

The panel tasted and re-judged three-star winners to agree on the Golden Fork trophy winners and the Great Taste 2020 Supreme Champion.

Stephany Hardingham at Alder Tree, who has scooped the Great Taste Golden Fork from East Anglia award Picture: RICHARD FAULKS PHOTOGRAPHYStephany Hardingham at Alder Tree, who has scooped the Great Taste Golden Fork from East Anglia award Picture: RICHARD FAULKS PHOTOGRAPHY

Also nominated for this year’s Golden Fork from East Anglia were the Great Taste three-star winners Le Rêve Organic Molecular Absinthe from Linden Leaf Botanicals in Cambridge and Seville Orange Gin from SO Drinks in Cornish Hall End, Essex.


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