Our very own Henry Chevallier Guild, Aspall Partner, participated in an egg-straordinary competition at The Brewery Tap in Ipswich recently – The World Pickled Egg Championship. They hope this to be an annual event at the pub and Aspall supported the occasion with Henry taking his part on the judging panel.
Here is what he had to say about his egg-citing experience…
I’ll let you in to a secret; when I was asked to be a judge for the World Pickled Egg Championships, it was with a clear understanding that I was completely un-qualified. I can’t even remember the last time I ate a pickled egg, but I do remember there being a bag of crisps and some vigorous shaking involved. And quite a lot of beer.
What I do have, is a lifelong interest and passion for vinegar and its vast array of uses. Though not quite dipped in a vat at birth a la Achilles in the River Styx style, I can claim to be ‘man and boy’ in this ubiquitous and oft overlooked store cupboard hero.
So the opportunity to be involved in this inaugural event was too tempting to resist, and I headed out one grey afternoon to the Brewery Tap in Ipswich with a mixture of curiosity, nervousness – would I be found out? – and excitement.
My fellow judges, Gary and Nigel both appeared much more familiar with this forgotten bar snack which was quite reassuring.
Our host, and organiser of the event, Mike Keen – patron of The Brewery Tap, had whittled a long list of 17 eggs down to 9, and they sat invitingly in front of us.
Armed with a cocktail stick, score card and a pint of Crouch Vale Brewers’ Gold, we
set about the task in hand; our judging 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.
The first thing that struck me was the array of colours before us. Pickled Eggs are always white right? Wrong – whilst there were a couple of brilliant white eggs, there were shades of beige through to a deep brown / black egg.
I went in reverse order to avoid a bottle neck – something I was hoping I would personally avoid after eating 9 pickled eggs….
As with all food competitions, the tasting of eggs is a serious business, and I was overwhelmed not only by the quality of some of the eggs, but also the breadth of aroma and flavour; on top of that, there is the obvious skill that goes in to getting your egg to the right consistency – a rubbery egg with a dry yolk is no fun at all. A firm though forgiving white with a creamy centre on the other hand….
We ended up with a top 3, at which point we conferred. Whilst each judge had his personal favourite (mine was the curried variant), we did all agree that one egg had what it takes to stand ahead of the crowd – and that egg was pickled with Aspall Cyder (hurrah) and Marmite. It pretty much scored a bullseye in all criteria, and it certainly had the egg mojo to win the day.
Whilst this inaugural event was relatively low key, it has the makings of a quiet revolution – both for making in the home and consuming at the bar. By the end, we were asking questions such as “which egg would be best in a salad”; “which would lift a curry the most effectively”; and of course, my (dubious) specialist subject in this field “which would be best shaken in a bag of crisps”.
I’ve only just begun; I’ll be back next year, and maybe we’ll have some more categories – and eggs – to review. Can’t wait.