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The Big Bite - The hot ticket at Venues & Events 2010 was undoubtedly the fiercely fought Square Meal Canapé Cup. Ten exhibitors threw their aprons into the ring, but who emerged victorious?
The third annual Square Meal Canapé Cup competition was again a highlight of the show, fusing, as it does, the premium foodieness of the Square Meal brand with a key element of so many events – canapés. Sponsored by event furniture and catering supplier Thorns Group, the competition was fierce this year, as the standard across the board took another step up as new and returning entrants alike strove to prize away the coveted trophy from the clutches of current champions Cinnamon Kitchen. Indeed, all the entrants hit the party-food spot – but some, inevitably, hit it better than others.
Some 350 specially invited visitor-judges who were lucky enough to munch their way through the contest, clearing their palates with regular swigs of Champagne, had a tough time picking their top three, as did our hardened food critics. It was the closest contest so far, with every entrant attracting plaudits from the pundits. Indeed, there were just a few votes separating the finalists, and not much space between them and the rest of the competitors.
However high the overall standard, in the end there could be only one victor. Read on to find out who lifted the Cup this year.
Critics’ Verdict: ‘The Welsh cake really works as a base, especially with a lovely big lump of foie gras – suitably sweetened by honeycomb, but also tempered with a citrus zing.’
Critics’ Verdict: ‘The vegetarian venue produced a wholesome and thought-provoking canapé, with faux yet tasty “tuna” to the fore, made from a combination of dulse, kelp and almonds.’
Critics’ Verdict: ‘There was some debate over the validity of a canapé that really wasn’t a salad and that needed to be eaten with two hands. However, it was certainly worth digging into the classic combo set in multi-layers.’
Critics’ Verdict: ‘The primary ingredient of vodka-marinated sea bass was a delicious and fascinating flavour. Certainly good enough for a Russian monarch, although we didn’t love the rice blini base quite so much.’
Olive oil Pâté de Fruit, Manchego & Serrano Ham by Vacherin for the Chemistry Centre and Imagination Gallery
Critics’ Verdict: ‘This classic combination was seasonally set off by fig compote and tasted great, with Manchego in the form of a firm mousse. However, the cumbersome shortbread base didn’t quite cut the same dash.’
Critics’ Verdict: ‘On first viewing this looked a little simple, but once you got it in your mouth the silky textures packed a real punch as the quality of ingredients became apparent.’
Pain d’epice Macaroon with Foie Gras and Golden Raison Puree by Searcys for The Commonwealth Club
Critics’ Verdict: ‘Has foie gras ever been more imaginatively served – in a perfect savoury macaroon, suitably sweetened. The critics had this high up the rankings, but it was less popular with visitors.’
Critics’ Verdict: ‘The spicing of quality meat marked out its Cup-holding maker. The simple but practical biscuity base may have counted against it. However, once softened by the relish the combination really tingled the taste buds.’
Critics’ Verdict: ‘Not steak, but another crowd pleaser that won the unofficial “most fun” award, as the combination worked best when the cake was popped in the mouth before being washed over by the milkshake.’
Critics’ Verdict: ‘Sensibly given the end-of-row ‘pudding position’, the velvety chocolate mousse atop a crispy base made for fab finish, but was outdone by its savoury rivals.’
Spice Roasted Venison with Beetroot Relish on Chickpea Bread by Cinnamon Kitchen
For the second year running, Cinnamon Kitchen’s Abdul Yaseen was presented with the Canapé Cup by Joe Frazer, director of event sponsors Thorns Group, with the restaurant’s marketing manager Priyanka Sharma (far right) in attendance alongside Venues & Events editor Annica Wainwright, plus Square Meal’s marketing manager Rachel Harty (far left) and event manager Chloe Kingham
A Match Made in Heaven by Green’s Restaurant & Oyster Bar