It’s a double whammy for local organic farm and food business Helen Browning’s Organic. Helen’s pub The Royal Oak appears for the fourth year running in The Good Food Guide (2013) and its Hot Dogs have been ‘Highly Commended’ in the widely respected Soil Association Organic Food Awards.
The Royal Oak is the only establishment within 10 to 15 miles of Swindon to appear in The Good Food Guide, an independent endorsement of its aim to offer good local seasonal food.
The Soil Association Organic Food Awards recognise and celebrate the highest quality organic food and drink. Over three days at the Duke of Cambridge organic pub in London, an expert judging panel of food critics, restaurateurs, broadcasters and chefs, including Hardeep Singh Kohli and Jo Wood, sipped, nibbled and crunched their way through over 500 products across 34 categories – from poultry, preserves and pies to cheese, chocolate and baby food.
Judging in all categories was by blind tasting, with products rated according to smell, texture, appearance, taste and overall ‘yumminess’.
Jo Wood, lifestyle guru and Organic Food Awards judge, said: “It is a great reassurance to see continuing innovation in the organic food industry and the choice of organic produce getting better and better. If we grow food from healthy soil, then we naturally have a healthy organic chemical free diet, both of which go in unison towards living a more sustainable life.”
The Hot Dog market appears to be experiencing a revival with dedicated restaurants springing up in London. Helen Browning was one of the first to recognise that this market was in dire need of a health and taste makeover. She introduced the first organic Hot Dog eighteen months ago, a gluten-free product which is 97% pork, produced from pigs that range freely on Helen’s and several other family farms, and is available online from Ocado and The Royal Oak. The British hot dog, which has evolved as a mealy, mass-produced poor relation of its European counterpart, has been turned on its head.
Rikki McCowen, head chef at Helen’s pub The Royal Oak, in Bishopstone, near Swindon, says “forget everything you thought you knew about hot dogs; there is nothing like these out there.”
Rikki, who has worked at Ballymaloe House in Ireland – famous for its award winning cuisine – has a passion for food that stems back to his childhood. Home was a couple of acres of land which was used to keep animals for the table alongside a superb fruit and veg garden. This theme has continued and today he uses local, fresh and free-range produce and believes that good food is about sourcing the best quality ingredients and treating them with respect.