From bright orange to deep black and bright pink the entries to the second annual pickled egg championships sponsored by Aspall made for colourful viewing for visitors at the Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival last weekend. 24 entries from amateur cooks to professional chefs and from as far afield as the USA, judging was no mean feat.
We roped in the expertise of celebrity chef, Valentine Warner a self-confessed pickled egg junkie, award-winning chef and writer Madalene Bonvini Hamel of the British Larder and Emma Crowhurst, cookery teacher and former TV chef and of course Aspall’s Henry Chevallier Guild.
Judging was a serious business using paper plates and disposable forks we set about tasting each one, with a glass of Aspall Organic Cyder to cleanse our palettes between eggs! The criteria were appearance, aroma, taste and texture – 5 marks for each and then a final out of 10 score for “overall egg mojo”. So, a total of 30 marks up for grabs.
First impressions are everything and the almost luminous colours of some eggs were enough to put us off. Aroma is second – Dark Horse Eggs really did smell like they’d been pickled in horse manure, while the blackberry vinegar pickled eggs were a striking colour but smelled and tasted far too sweet!
There’s far more to pickled eggs than the flavours in the pickle though – some eggs were tough skinned and dried as you might imagine a dinosaur egg that had been pickled for millennia. Others were perfect, soft-centred, fresh – surely because of the quality of the eggs used and how they were boiled!
Totting up our scores and comparing notes it all boiled down to two in the end – Guys Gourmet which although the pickle was a slightly off-putting grey, Valentine Warner said it was ‘everything a pickled egg should be’. But in the end we agreed the spectacular Egg Cup had to go to Sherri Singleton, chef, restauranteur and cookery teacher from the Mistley Thorn in Essex. Her eggs were a beautiful saffron yellow with green and red chilles, the flavours were strong but not overpowering and the eggs had that perfect texture.
Sherri was thrilled to be presented with the Egg Cup by Valentine Warner in front of an audience of hundreds!
Congratulations to Sherri and we look forward to eating more pickled eggs next September! Start planning your pickle now!